Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Phnom Penh is NOT a Scary Place!


I love Phnom Penh. I’ve been twice on this trip so far, and I keep feeling the urge to return again and again.

Before arriving in Phnom Penh, I had the image of it as this dirty, dangerous city in the middle of an extremely poor country, with trash everywhere, crime on every corner, flooded streets, yet somehow, many KFCs. (I blame an episode of Will & Grace for the latter.)

Then I got to Phnom Penh and realized just how skewed my image was. Sure, it’s not the cleanest place in the world, but it’s surprisingly laid-back, friendly, and relaxing. Not to mention one of the safest cities in Southeast Asia. (And yes, there are many KFCs.)

I took a video of my tuk-tuk ride through town to show people that Phnom Penh isn’t as scary as you think it is.

Check it out!


14 Responses to “Phnom Penh is NOT a Scary Place!”
  1. Maria says:

    Kate, nice post on Phnom Penh – lots of folks think Cambodia is dangerous. Well, danger (much like Elvis) is everywhere! I’ve chronicled a lot of sketchy moments from my time living in Seattle and other US cities – Haven’t seen or heard anything as intense in PP during this decade. Glad to read you enjoyed it.

  2. Adrian B. says:

    It really looks like a friendly and relaxing – despite the huge number of mopeds on those streets 🙂 – city, just like a lot of other not-so-popular cities in Asia, Africa or even Eastern Europe. All I can say is: don’t believe everything you see in TV!

  3. Amanda says:

    Love the video, Kate! And it certainly doesn’t LOOK that dirty or scary from your perspective. It’s unfortunate how a bad stereotype can persist, even if the so-called “bad” aspects aren’t really as present as they perhaps used to be.

  4. Great video. I really like this post because there are a lot of people out there that think Phnom Penh is dangerous and it is great to read someone’s experience there. Maybe even being a “girl” makes it seem less scary in a way.

  5. kea says:

    There are many barangs, like myself that have lived here [ Cambodia ] for years, and yes you will find us and the locals here very friendly.and safe. But don’t start running ” our ” country down or you will find our attitude will change.

  6. Andy says:

    I loved Phnom Penh! It was a bit hectic at times but everyone was very chill and friendly and I never once felt unsafe. Some of the vendors and tuktuk drivers can be a little aggressive/annoying, but hey what place doesn’t have that. All in all, a great experience and I can’t wait to go back.

  7. Stella says:

    I too love PP; it’s certainly less dangerous and prettier than I expected. However, I do STRONGLY recommend that you keep your bag away from the edge of any tuk tuk you are riding in. In one short ride with 3 girl friends we were swarmed and surrounded by guys on bikes twice who were obviously attempting to snatch our bags. All the tuk tuk drivers will usually warn you of this. I believe that some people have been dragged from the tuk tuk while trying to hold on to their bag; it is much better to make sure it is unreachable and if someone does take hold of it, just let it go!

  8. SistaVoyage says:

    Hi Kate! Thanks for your honesty about your initial thoughts of Phnom Penh. I am hopefully heading to Cambodia this year for what will be my longest flight and length of stay ever (2-3 weeks, whew!) Anyway, whenever I discuss my exciting upcoming plans, I tend to hear the same things you did- it’s poor, it’s dirty or worse yet, it’s so dangerous- you may end up being taken as a sex slave. While people mean well, in my mind I am thinking…hey, you just described where you and I currently live 🙂

  9. JUles says:

    Really? You think Phnom Penh is safe? Well that is assuming you dont get mugged and end up in Bangkok hospital (as the hospital here is not adequate) with multiple fractures and PTSD. I lived here for 1 and a half years before it happened but I can tell you now mine and others is not the only story. You were just lucky- but you cannot claim Phnom Penh is safe- as that is INCORRECT. Sorry.

  10. Ryan says:

    I’m leaving Cambodia today (early), because of how unsafe this country is. If you are thinking of visiting here, I would rethink it! Siem Reap is ok, minus the constant hassle of tuk tuk drivers trying to sell you rides, women, and drugs (sometimes not taking no for an answer), and your average local as seeing you as nothing more than a walking dollar. But the rest of the country is just downright dangerous with a police force that would probably watch you be killed then just walk away. Everywhere I have met, and ever hotel I’ve stayed at has been a constant tale of stolen iPhones, muggings, and bag snatchings. I had my iPad stolen right out of the backpack I was wearing in PP, and the police here are a joke. Tried reporting it to a few different police on the street, and two different police stations and none would even take the time of day to talk to me (one station had only one policemen playing games on his phone and he would only shoe me away with his hand when I even tried to talk to him). I finally did find an immigration police station to give me a report, but I had to pay a bribe to get a copy if it. If you value your safety and your possessions avoid this country.

    • Ryan says:

      BTW this is coming from someone who grew up in Los Angeles (i.e. around gangs so I have street smarts), and has no fear or has had no incidents (one potential incident had I been completely stupid which I was not) in my over 20 times traveling in Mexico. Cambodia is by far the most dangerous country I have ever been to. There is just zero civil order (policing) here, and the value given to others life/possessions is basically zero also (at least as a foreigner). If you come here be very carefull!


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  1. […] of my first day there, walking around, feeling a little lost and alone but loving it all the same. Phnom Penh is not a scary place – it’s a must-visit destination on any trip to […]

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