Cambodia has changed, and not for the better.

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Riverfront, Phnom Penh

Three years ago, I fell madly in love with Cambodia. For three years, it occupied a top five spot on my list of favorite countries.

So when it came time to go back to Southeast Asia, I knew that Cambodia would be a mandatory stop. I was beyond excited to return to this wonderful country.

If you’ve been following on Facebook, you know that things didn’t go as expected.

I used to ADORE Cambodia.

I first visited Cambodia in December 2010, and eventually spent about seven weeks in Cambodia total. I visited several different places in the country: Phnom Penh, Kampot, Kep, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap, and the countryside outside Phnom Penh.

My favorite thing about Cambodia was the people — the kind, warmhearted Khmer people who greet you with smiles and waves wherever you go, who take you into their homes and treat you like a member of the family, who would give you the shirt off their backs if you asked.

My memories of Cambodia are happy ones, like the night a family invited us to celebrate the end of harvest in the countryside with them.

Did I have any problems? Yes, I did. My friend and I got robbed while skinny-dipping in Sihanoukville. But I didn’t blame anyone for that but myself. We were asking for it.

So please know that that the following words don’t come from a place of deep-rooted hatred. It breaks my heart that a country I loved so much has turned out this way.

Cambodia has changed — and not for the better.

Since the beginning of my trip, I’ve been involved in what has felt like a continuous crime wave. The country that I once regarded as rough in some places but largely peaceful has turned into a place that leaves me feeling unnerved and uncomfortable.

Here’s a rundown on what has happened:

Phnom Penh Market

Bag Snatchings in Phnom Penh

When I got into my first tuk-tuk in Phnom Penh, our driver warned me that men on motorbikes sometimes snatch bags from tuk-tuks, and he promptly closed the fabric on the sides of the tuk-tuk, sealing open space off as much as possible. I had never heard this from a tuk-tuk driver in Cambodia on my earlier visits, but it made sense.

To my surprise, I got the same warning again and again. These muggings were common.

And then it happened — my good friend S. was in a tuk-tuk with a friend (incidentally, his friend was one of my readers) and a motorbike driver reached in and pulled out S.’s friend’s bag.

S. is very athletic and vaulted out of the tuk-tuk, chasing down the thief. He and the thief fought over the bag and S. eventually punched his teeth out. Soon it became clear that the thief was part of a gang of five, and S.’s tuk-tuk driver joined in the fight, pulling off his belt to whip the accomplices.

S. got his friend’s bag back, and by that point, people were watching — some even videotaping — and the military police got involved.

S. later got a phone call from the military police. The thief was probably going to die, they told him, because he didn’t have health insurance and couldn’t afford healthcare. S. was shocked by this news, because the thief didn’t appear to be gravely injured. He now thinks that the thief was beaten more brutally after he left. The thief eventually died.

S. was featured on the news in Cambodia as the man who killed a bag snatcher. He was getting recognized on the street as far away as Siem Reap.

You need to get out of Cambodia, I urged him. What if his family comes after you? He has since left the country safely.

Beachfront on Cambodia's South Coast

Extortion in Kampot

I decided to take a half-day tour to some of the sights around Kampot: salt flats, burned-out French mansions, Muslim fishing villages, a pepper plantation.

Early in the trip, on the road from Kampot to Kep, my phone bounced out of the tuk-tuk.

The man who picked it up would not give it back to me for less than $200.

I completely take responsibility for dropping my phone. It was an incredibly dumb move. I guard my phone closely and haven’t lost or broken it in years — but this was a moment of idiocy on my part combined with some bad luck.

As soon as the man picked up the phone, he began taking it to different shops and seeing how much they would pay him for it. $250 was what he was offered, he told our tuk-tuk driver over the phone. He’d “help us out” and give it back to us for just $200.

I wanted to involve the police, but having had bad experiences with the police in the developing world in the past, I opted to just pay the man and chalk it up to an expensive lesson.

Kep Beach

Sihanoukville’s New Edge

While in Kampot,  I chatted with a friend who has visited Cambodia off and on for years. We chatted about Sihanoukville, and he told me about the latest developments — that the Road to Serendipity has been paved and that Monkey Republic has reopened after being destroyed by a fire.

But the changes weren’t all positive.

Sihanoukville’s got an edge now, he told us. And not a good edge.

He described recent incidents in Sihanoukville — a woman was raped on the beach; a man was robbed on the beach. But the most striking story was that five different women got their drinks spiked while he was there.

Drink spikings happen all over Southeast Asia and the world, from frat houses to exclusive clubs. Most of the time, you can avoid spikings if you’re hyper-aware of your drink, but truthfully, you won’t be able to avoid them completely unless you have both a lid and a trustworthy bartender. But still, five different incidents — five different REPORTED incidents — within a short time frame, in my opinion, casts a serious reflection on Sihanoukville today as a whole.

Bayon Temple, Angkor

Mugged in Siem Reap

Our friend S., the very same guy who fought off the bag-snatcher in Phnom Penh, was mugged by a gang of children in Siem Reap. He didn’t even have any valuables showing — one of the children reached into his pocket and stole his phone.

After running after the kid and smacking him, S. got his phone back. The children retaliated by throwing glass bottles at him, cutting his feet.

Kampot

Others Confirm

On the minibus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, the girl sitting next to us told us that minutes after leaving the airport in Phnom Penh, she saw a motorbike driver rip a backpack right off a tourist’s back.

And while this incident didn’t affect tourists directly, my friends Dalene and Pete witnessed the recent Phnom Penh protest where police opened fire on unarmed workers, killing one woman.

I’ve also heard lots of stories about drug users being blackmailed by locals threatening to turn them in to the police. My opinion on that hasn’t changed since the beginning: if you’re dumb enough to 1) do drugs in a developing country 2) get caught doing drugs in a developing country, you deserve all of the consequences, whether it’s going to jail or getting blackmailed for hundreds of dollars.

Doing drugs publicly makes you a target. Period. This has always happened throughout Southeast Asia and other developing countries, and for that reason, I don’t consider it a factor in this analysis.

Family on a Motorbike in Kampot

Cambodia’s Defenders

I have several friends who have fallen as deeply in love with Cambodia as I did that first time. Many of them are expats who have lived here long-term; others are travelers who found themselves returning to Cambodia again and again. And they haven’t been happy with what they’ve heard from me and Mario.

Here is a selection of what I’ve heard recently:

Bad things happen everywhere, not just Cambodia. Yes, I’m aware of that. The one time I was mugged was in front of my apartment in Boston.

Lots of places have worse crime than Cambodia, even in Southeast Asia. That may be, but I’m not comparing places. I’m talking about Cambodia.

If you have common sense, you’ll be fine. Often. But common sense is not a cure-all for anything bad that could happen to you. Some places need more preparation than just common sense.

Cambodia is in a tough position. It’s not just poverty, but poverty on top of corruption, domestic violence, no safety net, and painful recent history. Indeed, it is in a very tough position — tougher than anywhere else I’ve been. But just because it can be explained doesn’t make it any less true.

As technology becomes more widespread, more Khmers are learning how little they have compared to the rest of the world. Indeed, that’s true, and that must undoubtedly be a factor toward escalating crimes against tourists in the country.

Cambodia used to be a destination for serious travelers only, but these days is also popular with affluent inexperienced travelers and partying backpackers, my friend Michael Turtle astutely pointed out. Adding this to the previous points is like igniting a powder keg.

But if Cambodia loses the economic benefits of tourism, it will descend into chaos. That’s very true, and losing tourism would be the worst thing to happen to Cambodia. But I’m not going to omit critical information from my readers for the sake of keeping Cambodia’s tourism numbers up.

Let me be clear: I completely understand my friends’ points. Before this trip, I myself was one of Cambodia’s staunchest defenders!

But things have changed. I’m not here to demonize or destroy Cambodia — I’m just here to tell you what it was like for me to travel in Cambodia in late 2013.

Tuk-tuk in Cambodia

My View on Cambodia

After the incidents of this trip, I can say without a doubt that Cambodia has changed since I was last here three years ago.

An isolated crime, or even multiple crimes, is one thing. But in Cambodia my friends and I experienced a series of ongoing incidents that altogether end up painting a pattern markedly different than a few years ago.

I won’t go so far to say that I feel unsafe here. I will say that I am no longer comfortable here, and have felt constantly on edge.

I even changed my travel plans. I was planning to visit the temple of Preah Vihear, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but upon hearing that there are no longer group tours from Siem Reap and that I would need to hire a private driver, I declined. I don’t feel comfortable being on my own with a driver in a very rural part of Cambodia.

Of all the questions that I get from readers, most of them are about Southeast Asia. Of all the readers that follow in my footsteps, most do so in Southeast Asia. Even though I’ve spent much more time in Europe, Southeast Asia is what I am best known for and the region on which people seek my guidance.

For that reason, I know my opinions on Southeast Asia carry weight. Writing a negative post about Cambodia could result in some of my readers — maybe two, maybe a dozen, who knows? — to skip Cambodia and spend more time in Laos or Vietnam or Thailand instead. And for that reason, I need to be very careful about what I write.

Killing Fields, Cambodia

Should You Go to Cambodia?

YES. Despite its troubles, you absolutely should go.

Cambodia is one of the places that I have long believed all travelers must visit, because it shows you the reality of a country that is still raw from decades of blood, war, genocide, chaos, and death — yet despite this, the people will be some of the kindest people you will ever meet. In addition to that, it’s got so many cultural treasures, like Angkor, and nice beaches and peaceful towns and delicious food, all for dirt-cheap prices.

BUT — Cambodia is no longer the of-COURSE-it’s-safe! destination that I once lauded. Make no mistake, it’s not Somalia, but visiting Cambodia does require a greater level of caution than other countries in Southeast Asia, just as visiting Barcelona requires a greater level of caution than, say, Reykjavik.

Do visit Cambodia, but be vigilant throughout your visit. Hold on to your bags. Stay in lodging that locks properly. Lock up your valuables. Keep your purse zipped up. Don’t pay drivers in full in advance. Avoid isolating situations when possible. Watch your drink like a hawk. Don’t get too drunk.

Make sure you get travel insurance before you go to Cambodia – it will cover many of the things that might go wrong. I never travel without it and always use World Nomads.

And for travelers who are cautious and street-smart, you will find Cambodia to be an enormously rewarding destination.

Have you been to Cambodia? When were you last there? What do you think about safety in Cambodia?

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367 thoughts on “Cambodia has changed, and not for the better.”

  1. Hi Kate,

    thanks for the article. It is certainly a nightmare that you were affected by crime yourself. I think as travellers we have all met people who have been robbed or mugged and its easy for those stories to stick in our minds and we forget that we have met thousands of people who have never been victims of crime, including ourselves during our last 7 months in Asia.
    Either way we’ll be keeping our bags close whilst riding around Phnom penh next week, you can never be too careful.

  2. I first visited Cambodia back in 2007 and, like you, fell in love with the place and it’s warm hearted people. I went back last month and I have to say I agree with you – Cambodia just felt different to me in a way I couldn’t put my finger on, until I had spoken to several fellow travellers who had had horrible experiences, usually involving being robbed. On one occasion a girl ran into our dorm in Sihanoukville in tears after having had her bag ripped from around her neck by a motorbike driver. That said, I did also speak to a lot of expats and travellers who still love being there and haven’t experienced anything negative – but personally I didn’t feel comfortable there on this trip and found it quite an exhausting experience. It’s such a shame as Cambodia is such a beautiful place, and as much as tourism is vital for building the economy there I do think the influx of tourists has a lot to answer for.

  3. It seems like a lot of countries go through an awkward transition period as tourists start to discover them…if you get there before the onslaught, it’s a completely different story. Makes me sad I waited on Cambodia! The part of that story that is most depressing is the story of the thief who died….I wonder what your friend thinks about that in hindsight and whether he would fight back again…that’s always an interesting ‘debate.’ Although I can understand either choice, my personal philosophy is to stay as far away physically as possible, rather than get involved, because even if I was confident about my abilities to fight them, I wouldn’t be confident about my ability to live with those ramifications.Interesting post!

  4. Hi Kate, I just came back from 5 nights travel to Siem Reap. I am glad I came back safely. Things I really hate the most is people keep asking for tips as if we never pay for their services.Other than that everything was fine. It is a horror to read people almost got raped. Enjoy reading you post Kate!

  5. Dear Kate,

    Thanks for a very interesting article about Cambodia, and I feel very sorry to hear what happened to you and your friends while spending your time at the country.

    As a Cambodian my self, I am very shameful to what you have encountered, not something I am very proud of. However, as a regular traveler in south east Asia and been doing it as a full time job for over 6 years, the amount of crimes you happened to witnessed there, is more than what I have personally experienced in the whole region for the entire time. I am not comparing any crimes, countries etc…however, I found it very surprise that your personal experience seemed to reflect on your view of Cambodia in general ,and to me it is a little unfair in some aspects.

    It is not a new thing that the amount of crimes arise whenever the opportunities are ( yes I call these cases are the opportunity crimes because they are avoidable with a bit more ” mind your own belongings and common sense ), especially for the developing countries like Cambodia. I would not make this out as the excuses for people to commit it, but sadly it happens elsewhere, everywhere. We all have to accept the changes ( sadly of course ) and deal with it, at the end of the day that is what the adventure is all about.There is no deny what had happened to you and your travel companions were such a horrid thing in a foreign country, however it is the sort of things that would happen while you are traveling, wanderers around the world etc…with what I have heard from the crimes that travelers experienced in various countries, it could put many people off to go on their little exciting adventure, if they all been made out like the sort of things you have painted about Cambodia. It’s a bit of a lucky draw really when you leave your comfort zone.

    I would like to point out as well that with the amount of tourists/travelers increasing each year, you will unfortunately find the generous of locals more challenging in those big cities or main tourist attractions. The sometime-easy $ given to them made them more greedy, the luxury of life style of night clubbing, materialistic tourists who travel with their iPads, smart phones etc, are some of the factors that Cambodian people had never handled before. Outside those cities, you will of course find the curious faces when they see westerners, While it is harder to get to, it could be a real desire for those who are seeking for the off beaten tracks and to feel the authentic way of locals life, but not for everyone Of course. The fact that you have only been to major tourists town/cities in Cambodia, I am not very surprise about your view of the people compared to 3 years ago. Be it Bali 10 years ago and now, same could be for most places in Thailand, Vietnam etc. Laos and Burma next.

    I guess there will always be the change somewhere, somehow…new destinations found, endless adventure stories …etc, that’s why some people can’t stop traveling and it’s a beautiful world for us all to share, to appreciate it :-).

    Cheers

    1. Thank you for responding, Chandara — I appreciate your perspective.

      I understand that this is a lot more crime than you’ve experienced, but isn’t that because you’re Cambodian yourself and these crimes are all directed at tourists? It doesn’t seem like you’d be a target in the same way.

      I think you have a good point about the difference in attitudes once you get off the beaten path.

      1. Dear Kate,

        Yes, the crimes target tourists more and i am poitning out the tourists that i have showned them in south east asia, with my job, I am taking small group of aprox 15 people to travel to Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos as an adventure group. I give them the suggestions and advices of how to travel safe, yet we aren’t holding their hands and organize everything. Be prepared and a bit of awareness are the main keys to avoid the unfortunate experiences.

  6. I am so so sad to read your post Kate – these incidents sound like horrible experiences. But I am worried that we are forgetting how lax travellers are becoming.

    I live in London, and if you have been in here in the last year or so, you may have noticed posters all over the place warning against getting into unbooked mini cabs (the tagline is “you are just getting into a stranger’s car”). So when Ashley writes that her friend jumped on the back of some bloke’s motorbike in the middle of the night, I want to scream. Just because it is hot and pretty and everyone goes around on motorbikes doesn’t mean to say we should be so casual. Similarly, on a smaller scale, get drunk in Shoreditch, East London, on a Friday night and I can guarantee someone in your group will get pickpocketed. And don’t walk in quiet places ANYWHERE alone. My point is that you wouldn’t take these risks at home, so don’t take them elsewhere.

    Equally, don’t mistrust everyone you meet. I was in Cambodia a year and a half ago, travelling alone. I can drive a car, but not a motorbike, but I was desperate to do the Sen Monorom to Banlung dirt track. I arranged to hire a motorbike and driver through my hostel. OK, it was a risk, and ultimately, a rapist or thief can be in a recognised, registered position, but the fact that a lot of people knew where I was going and who I was going with narrowed those chances.

    I’d also like to ask whether or not the nicer, less touristy places are as problematic (as far as you have heard)? I thought Siem Reap was a hideous place when I was there – developed for the tourist dollar, and full of irresponsible travellers flashing their cash and behaving badly. Don’t even get me started on Sihanoukville (my first night was spent in very clear earshot of two randoms who had clearly only just met, shagging. If backpackers behave like this in what is still a modest, conservative and sheltered country, how can we expect the locals to treat single travellers with respect? Guys will be offered prostitutes and girls will be propositioned). But places like Battambang, Kompong Cham and Banlung felt very different. Probably because of the travellers they attract.

    I’m sure Cambodia has changed, and I don’t doubt any of the accounts that you have listed above. But I am concerned with how naive some of the responses to your post have been, and feel that this debate doesn’t recognise the damage travellers can cause. I really don’t want to cause offence, but I would hate for people to be put off travelling to Cambodia by the misfortune, or worse still, irresponsibility, of others. Be sensible, behave as you would at home (with a fair bit of caution!) and remember that ultimately your bag isn’t really worth fighting for (mine certainly isn’t). And that fellow travellers can’t always be trusted either.

    1. Yes, Kate, I agree — a lot of people end up doing things that they wouldn’t do at home. The biggest one I see is getting blackout drunk and walking home alone.

      I think an additional problem is the dichotomy of Cambodians — many of the Cambodia-philes will only say the most positive things, and that the people are the nicest and kindest people ever, without acknowledging the darker aspects. I think that poses an enormous disservice to travelers, which is one reason why I wrote this post.

  7. Haven’t been to Cambodia – and it’s not on the list to visit in the near future – but I completely appreciate your honesty and decision to write this post! One of the reasons yours is one of the few blogs I read on a regular basis. I want to know the good and the bad in any destination I’m visiting. A post like this doesn’t make me not want to visit Cambodia; it just reminds me of the importance of being a responsible and cautious traveler.

  8. It’s such a shame that you had this experience. I feel similar about some of the places I visited in South America. It’s hard not to let the actions of a few people affect your overall view of a place. Despite one successful and one attempted mugging, I still would never discourage anyone from visiting what is still my favourite continent. I guess you just have to be extra vigilant and maybe even accept that when you’re in a developing country, there will probably be people desperate enough to mug or attack you. I’m off to warn my flatmate to be careful. She’s heading to Cambodia in one week!

  9. Hi Kate,
    this was a good read, came across it in Twitter. I was in Cambodia with my firend (we’re both women) in summer 2012, visiting all those places too (except Sihanoukville) and also Sen Monorom, Battambang & Kratie. We had read about the bag snatchings in PP etc. so we knew quite a lot beforehand and therefore we knew how to be special prepared. (I myself am always a bit more “alert” but that maybe comes from me doing Krav Maga.. 😉 But traveling as two women all across the globe me& my friend have become quite cautious. We did feel ourselves quite comfrotable in Cambodia most of the time, though. Even when we hired private drivers f.ex. to go to see Koh Ker in Preah Vihear province, etc., ’cause we hate group tours. We also didn’t use minibuses because they are generally very unsafe (not just the possibilities of muggings but their condition. too..). But we too did feel sometimes a little “edgy”. It has a lot to do with being maybe a bit more “alert” than most of the common travelers but nevertheless that kind of feeling doesn’t come if there’s no reason for it.

    In Cambodia (too) one must be really careful who to trust and always be a bit vary, especially when you’re a woman, unfortunately. We were ok throughout our tour in Cambodia and were left with a nice picture of the country and we liked it a lot. Especially in the province of Mondulkiri people were super nice. It was a sad reading this post of yours about it going for a worse direction but I do not doubt that this is the case nowadays. It is a pity. Often many tourists put themselves subjected to crimes by being way too careless but if the people of Cambodia are taking more and more advantage of that and doing more crimes against tourists, it is a bad sign.

    We personally still felt more unsafe in Vietnam, where we were first before coming to Cambodia. In HCMC we too almost got robbed: someone driving past with a scooter tried to snatch my friends phone from her hand but she didn’t let go, when she finally did the phone flew to the middle of crossroads, I ran after the thief who fell off with his scooter but still got away. We also got the phone back and it still worked though the back glass was shattered. But that incident taught us a lesson.

    Even though things have then seemingly got more serious in Cambodia, too, I’d still say the same thing as you: DO travel to Cambodia. It has marvellous sites and genereally nice people. But be always a bit extra cautious – it pays off!
    I also always try to remember that _if smth happens sometimes, in many times it’s´a better idea just to give your items (after all they’re just that – ITEMS & your insurance will compensate them to you) than risk your own or your companions safety. But if your own safety is threatened, it’s another case. That’s why I started to do Krav Maga about a year ago. But even thóugh I also understand your friend S’s reaction to the bag snatching, ’cause sometimes it’s just your instinct in your backbone that tells you how to react..

  10. This has been really interesting to read, and also sad to hear of recent changes. I have also had friends who have recently visited, and been victims of what seems now to be common – bag theft. Sadly one friend was dragged alongside the motorcycle and incurred bad injuries. It seems like lots of these crimes are opportunist, so the only thing to do is to be aware of your surroundings. That said, Cambodia is still a wonderful country, with the Khmer people undoubtedly being one of the friendliest populations on Earth.

  11. Yes, it is very true that such incidents happen at very places. But the most important thing to keep in mind is we have to be alert all the time specially while travelling at new places.

  12. Hi Kate,
    I’ve just discovered your website and am loving reading your posts. I was in S.E Asia about 3 years ago on a backpacking tour so I never encountered any trouble being in a big mixed group and had a Cambodian guy with us. Even so, I did think that it felt edgier than the rest of S.E Asia, particularly the massive groups of children who made our lives miserable until we bought something off them in Sihanoukville.
    But I have a friend who went to Cambodia last summer and had a lot of trouble. Firstly she had a hoard of children in Siem Reap try to mug her by forcible putting their hands in her pockets to the point she had to force a little hand off her phone and only just managed it. Then sadly got her bagged snatched in Phnom Penh by a guy on a motorbike.
    After everything I’ve read I’m not sure I’d venture back for several years. I’m very glad I’ve experienced it, Angkor Wat is just incredible, but it sounds like crime is taking the joy out of the experience. Sad but I don’t think it’s worth the stress.

    Thank you for making people more aware of the real situation.
    Harri x

  13. I will be heading to Siam Reap in early February! Although the current Cambodia situation is slightly disappointing to read about, I am glad I have been made aware! Thank you for the honesty!

  14. Hi! I read about these problems on Lonely Planet guide, but now after reading your opinion I am more scared than before. I will be going to Camodia next week with my boyfriend (siem reap and phnom pehn). I understand I have to keep my purse close to my body, but what about an expensive camera? Do you have any experience on that matter? Is it safe to walk with a camera around the neck? You think they’ll try to take it off?

    1. I travel with a DSLR myself, Cory. The best thing to do is only take it out when you need it — don’t leave it around your neck when you aren’t doing anything. I personally haven’t heard any stories about cameras being stolen from around people’s necks; it seems like it would make more sense to steal something like an iPhone, as it’s smaller, easy to grab, and in demand.

  15. This really is a very good post. Not fun but important and I’ll definitely bear it all in mind when I visit Cambodia next year for the first time. I wish I could have seen it 3 years ago when you did. I really liked the section where you wrote other people’s comments and your responses to them. I would probably have said the same as the person who said “Bad things happen everywhere, not just Cambodia.” I’ve been grabbed and groped in Japan – the beacon of safety – as well as stared at while a guy touched himself opposite me on the train so obviously it pays to be aware wherever you are but it’s important to stay updated on those places which typically now require that extra caution. Thanks for being honest.

  16. 6 weeks ago I took the family including 6 and 8 year old daughters to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Kampot and Sihuanoukville for a very different 3 week school holiday than the normal Fiji or Sunshine Coast relative boredom.

    As background I might add that over the last 20 odd years I’ve worked in 15 different countries around the world including Bolivia (6 yrs), Egypt (1 yr), Indonesia (6 mths), Libya (3 yrs), Paraguay (3 mths) and Thailand (6 mths) so am fairly cognisant of potential dangers. Traveling to Cambodia with our young children ceratinly meant I was more aware than usual and we didn’t stay in 4 or 5 star hotels or backpacker hostels as wanted to meet and interact with locals rather than barangs like ourselves as that’s half the adventure.

    Bottom line is the family absolutely loved Cambodia. Incredibly friendly helpful people (no doubt helped by our kids with us), great food and generally relaxed ambience. Obviously it’s possible anywhere in the world to be in the wrong place at the wrong time but I’ve never made a habit of staggering out of bars at 3am so in all my travels never had any issues (apart from checked baggage airport thievery twice in Buenos Aires) and certainly not in Cambodia.

    Anyway I certainly recommend Cambodia as one of the much safer places I’ve been to – including safe enough for my family! However visitors need to put in perspective they’ve probably spent considerably more on the return airfare than the average employed Cambodian earns in a year or two and bag-snatchers also have families to support so need to actively avoid providing temptation. Obviously women alone probably have to be careful wherever in the world they are, certainly not helped by the Hollywood genre portrait of women which is all the locals know from movies.

    In conclusion don’t let a few heavily internet publicised incidents put you off visiting a remarkable country and people who have come through some of the most horrific adversity of the last few of decades but can still smile!

    1. Fiji and the Sunshine Coast are great family holiday destinations and anything but boring. Cambodia can be interesting for a change though but if you’re like me who’s been to Cambodia like 20 times for one reason or another let me tell you, it’s getting boring! I’d rather go back to the Sunshine Coast or even Fiji where I’ve never been before. The long flight from where I’m based in Thailand is the main factor that turns me off when I can just drive a few hours and I’m already in Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar.

      Anyway, is Cambodia recommend for kids? Is it kid friendly? While many locals will take a liking and interest in your children when traveling there including helping with carrying prams (baby strollers) and the like it doesn’t make you immune from becoming a victim of crime. Many desperate criminals in Cambodia wouldn’t hesitate to slap down a father, even an elderly person if they’re desperate enough. It’s rare but it can happen.

      If traveling with kids in Cambodia I would stick to nice hotels (3-5 star major chains or boutique hotels), renting cars (with drivers if you don’t want to drive yourself) and avoiding walking the hot, dirty and dusty streets more than necessary. Stick to proper restaurants not just food stalls which could get your children sick. All of this helps to minimize trouble.

      If you try to go too local by being a cheapskate your children will resent you for it. Additionally, you run the risk of getting them sick. Kids anywhere would normally be much more excited to travel to the Gold Coast with its theme parks and beaches than a strange unknown country like Cambodia.

      Btw you never see foreign Asian tourists taking their kids to Cambodia and not staying in good accommodation etc. Similarly, a rich Aussie shouldn’t make themselves the subject of ridicule amongst the locals and other tourists by trying to travel too “local” and roughing it. While it’s all good and well wanting to meet locals realistically the cultural differences, language difficulties will make it all but impossible. Hire a fluent English speaking local guide if you want to learn more about the country.

      Follow this advice and you can have a fun filled and safe trip with children to Cambodia.

  17. None of the incidents you have written about are new in Cambodia. I have lived here for well over ten years and have heard about all of these things happening before. If you search through the Thorn Tree forum I am sure you will find them there. Robberies, drinks being spiked, rapes etc all happen in Thailand too. As to whether these incidents are happening more frequently in Cambodia than three years ago, I don’t know. But nor do you and you do not provide any evidence to back up your claims (other than anecdotes, which are hardly representative and may or may not be significant) Perhaps what has happened is, rather like meeting someone you are attracted to and “fall in love with”, you eventually find out that person was not who you thought they were and have faults that you really cannot deal with.

  18. Hi Kate,

    It’s sad to read and learned that you had a bad experience in your last trip to Cambodia. I hope I could find a way to give this blog post to the ministry of tourists. I hope they need to think and take the necessary actions to prevent such bad things that could happen to tourists in the country.

    I know you don’t have bad attention but to tell the true and what really happened during your trip. What I want to tell to all if you is to be careful. We as local people are always have some caution in mind such as don’t go to a silence place alone, don’t hand any bag if we’re on motorbike etc … these are the cautions we always have in mind.

    But maybe it is not the way you imagine when you visit the country …

  19. Been visiting Cambodia regularly since moving to Thailand in 2000 and never had a major problem there. It’s always been a place plagued by crime and violence since the civil war in the 60’s and you have to be careful. However in contrast I know of several expats that have been murdered in Thailand and none that have suffered the same fate in Cambodia throughout the years.

  20. I’m sorry to hear of your negative experiences in Cambodia, Kate – I first visited in January and loved it so much I returned to the country in July. I’ve now lived here for four months.

    Maybe it’s luck. Maybe it’s being able to speak a bit of Khmer. Maybe it’s avoiding Sihanoukville. Maybe it’s having Khmer friends who have shown me the ropes. Whatever it is, while I do know of others who have been the victims of petty theft, I have had no issues in the four months I’ve lived here.

    Rather than cautioning people about crime, I would caution about the traffic. Cambodian highways at night are very dangerous, and I would take a tuk tuk rather than a motorbike at night in Phnom Penh because motorbikes are just not as safe. I know more people who have been in accidents than who have been the victims of crime (I’m one of them!)

  21. I read the post VERY carefully as im heading back to Asia in a few weeks and this time i will be traveling solo.
    One of my top countries was Cambodia. I’ve already been there and i was robbed in my own bedroom in a pretty decent hostel in Siem Reap. I was sharing the room with one friend and, my fault, i went yo bed later than him and stupidly forgot to lock the door from the inside. It was very naive i know, but i am just human after all. The next morning we woke up and everything looked normal. Until my friend reached out for his mobile on the night stand and couldnt find it. I then searched for mine. Same thing. We noticed that the door was still slightly open, but lucky for us, they didnt steal anything else (we had expensive cameras and the bag with the documents and credit cards on display).

    The weird thing is, the hostel had security guards to the entrance so i suspect that it might have been one of the guests.

    Anyway… that was my first time in Cambodia, and despite this incident ( that was mainly caused by my lack of attention, i totally fell in love with Cambodia, i walked down the streets in siem reap by night and by myself. There were times when i had a slightly uncomfortable feeling as some guys were following me on a dark street at some point, but nothing happened. Reading this posts made me realize that i may have risked a bit too much. I think i will still be going to cambodia next month but i will pay super extra attention.

    On a side note. I know we are here to talk about safefy in Cambodia and not to compare countries, but i just had an incident in London, less than 2 weeks ago, where i was almost kidnapped by a crazy taxi driver. In a pretty decent area. All this to say, always be careful and guarded, no matter where u are.
    But its also common sense to be extra careful in under developed countries, as poor social condition always lead to a higher risk of crimes. That’s the reality and we just need to decide if we can put up with that and take our chances or just skip these countries.

    In my opinion would be highly stupid to skip them, as if we use this “phylosophy” we should just stay home, and avoid any risky situation.

  22. Hi Cori… i jump in as i also have a very expensive camera. What i did was never displaying it more than necessary (meaning: i kept it on a very anonimous bag and took it out only if i had to shoot something).

    I didnt bring the usual camera holder as i thought it screamed “steal my expensive camera!”

    I also wanted to change the stripe with the brand with something anonimous, but for now im leaving it like it is.

    For the purse, i now just take with me small cash, put it in a tiny bag which i always hold close to my body (covered by the bigger one)…

    this doesnt guarantee you 100% safety of course…but i think it helps a bit!

  23. This article is of 1 persons experience and is NOT consistent with 99% of other people who have visited the country.

    Lets look at the facts:

    Your friend was told to keep his belongings safely hidden when riding in a tuk tuk. He obviously didn’t as the robber reached in with no opposition to grab the bag. I bet it was sitting on the seat next to him.

    Then you dropped your phone out of a tuk tuk (Again not heeding advise from many tuk tuk drivers and after your friends experience). What city in the world could you lose your phone on the street and expect to have it returned?

    Then you obviously went around talking about this and asking people what crimes they have seen. Again, ask people in any city about crimes and everyone will have a story. This is NOT the way to gather accurate crime stats and base a whole article on the safety of a whole country.

    I have been living in Phnom Penh for 5 years and have traveled to both North and South America, Africa, Australia, new Zealand and I am from western Europe. In all my time in Phnom Penh I never got mugged, beaten up, raped, drugged but i did lose my phone a couple of times not expecting to get it back. (Once i lost it at Poontoon Night club and the staff found it and got it back to me).

    I would take Motos and Tuk Tuk everywhere and at all times of the day, from sober to blind drunk.

    I have been mugged and felt more uneasy in America and Europe than in Asia.
    So what does this mean about the safety of Cambodia now?

  24. I was in Cambodia one year ago. I stayed in a fairly nice hotel in Siem Reap, $30 a night. I “hid” my iphone while I was out in the drawer of the night stand by the bed, in the back, under a book. I came back hours later to my locked private hotel room and could not find my phone. The manager said our air conditioner broke and that the repair man was in there. The manager admitted to “looking away” for a few minutes while the guy was in our room. Not sure what happened exactly. All I know is that my iphone is worth at least 3x the average monthly income for a Khmer adult, working in a hotel per say. My fault I guess, I should have used the safe and should have perceived the value of my possessions in the eyes of the locals. Sometimes, I forget that an iphone is super expensive – because they are cheap and widespread in the USA.

    Even with this incident I loved Cambodia, but it is really developing towards tourists, and locals are taking advantage of that, some aggressively.

  25. Just today I recommended someone take a vacation to Cambodia. I’m going to make sure she reads this post first before making her decision. I’m sorry you had to go through all of this, what a horrific time! Cambodia has dropped a few spots on my list due to this post.

  26. I live in Phnom Penh and i also lived in Sihanoukville.

    This article is barely scratching the surface, there are SO many more scams going on but probably you guys haven’t noticed.

    Security is definitely going down the drain especially in Sihanoukville, however it would be time for random tourists coming here with rosy glasses to be a bit more careful, you can’t expect safety in a 3rd world country like Cambodia when so many people fresh off the boat go in Siem Reap with pockets full of money and iPhones, they’re just asking for it, the locals earn 70-100$ per month and areas like SR have been literally raped by mass tourism, who’s going to work his ass off when they can easily ripoff a tourist and make in 5 minutes what it would take 3 days of work in a factory or in a shop ?

    Too much easy money going on, and too many careless and irresponsible tourists.
    Besides, i wouldn’t recommend this place for solo female travellers if they don’t know the score, after midnight Phnom Penh can be a rough place if you don’t stick to the usual safe areas or if you trust the khmers too much.

    Stop giving money or gifts to the begging children, stop giving tips to anybody as tipping is NOT expected anywhere in SE Asia anyway, stop carrying credit cards and 500$ phones around, i mean it’s a matter of common sense but i’ve more and more the feeling tourists live their brains at the airport, this is not the land of milk and honey, if shit happens here you’re just on your own, you’re fucked, and police will not move a finger unless you pay a bribe (from 10 to 50$ usually).

    Tuktuk, a plain mafia and bunch of criminals but as you noticed there’s almost no taxis and the mototaxis are also in league with the tuktuk scammers.

    I would not survive without my moto in this city, it would be a nightmare, just rent a scooter and drive on your own or it will be a continous ripoff and it can also end up very bad when they turn nasty or if they’re drunk.

    In conclusion, sorry but the overpaying tourists can only blame themselves for having ruined this place and there’s no going back, and the wave crime actually now is slowing down as its peak was in low season when there were few tourists left to rob.

    Nothing will ever change as long as there’s no shortage of fools paying 3-4 times the going rates and accepting extortionate deals and scams of any sort.

    My 2 cents,
    BarangPrinz

    1. I agree with a lot of this. I only spent 6 days in Cambodia (and 4 weeks in Vietnam), but in that time I found the behaviour of many tourists to be very offputting. They would swan down the street at night carrying expensive cameras and I phones, and have the phones out talking or texting on them a lot. When I travel I take a smallish camera (not my best one from home), and have it tucked away in a shoulder bag. When I left my hotel to go somewhere I’d usually have not more than $20 USD on me, unless I knew there was something specific I had to buy. Dressing discreetly in a culturally appropriate way is another thing tourists often just don’t get -they expect to visit a country and take a little slice of their own lifestyle and customs with them.

      There’s never a good excuse for crime, but there are valid explanations, and as you say, in this country the price of an I Phone could feed a family for several months. Some locals may (rightly or wrongly) perceive that tourists flaunt their (relative) wealth in front of them, and therefore deserve to be ripped off. I also agree that tourists in Cambodia passively accept the ‘dual economy’ where we pay 3-4 times the ‘local’ price, when we should be challenging this. If we don’t, there’s no incentive for the locals not to rip us off. Toward the end of my stay I began asking to pay for things in riel, and when vendors refused I’d just walk away. If I were living there, I certainly wouldn’t be part of the dual economy.

      1. Exactly.

        Too many female tourists dressed like sluts for instance, you might have noticed that even the bargirls working in hostess bars and the freelance hookers dress more modestly.

        Besides, they’re often shitfaced drunk as well, what are the local khmer guys supposed to think about these western girls when they act and dress worse than their local crack whores ? What is considered normal in the West is just not normal and not accepted here, but nobody will listen and these drunk girls can even get violent and stir up any sort of trouble as anyone can see in Sihanoukville after midnight in the beach.

        Too many people in general flashing money and gold and iPhones in front of peopel that is roughing it out with 70$/month and seeing nothing wrong with it and taking pictures too as if poverty was a tourist attraction,

        And indeed too many walking around with all their credit cards, passport, and 500$ in cash and wondering in despair why they get robbed by these gangs of street children roaming in the Riverside and Siem Reap.

        And yes, paying in US $ will only make sure you get scammed pretty much anywhere, and those who don’t like the idea of bargaining hard should better go elsewhere and forget about SE Asia in general.

        In a nutshell, i see no solutions and mixing poverty with wealthy spoiled tourists created the actual disastrous situation, which is not so different from what we see now in Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, the issues at stake are exactly the same.

  27. I’m really sorry to hear about this, esp since your site was the reason I chose to go to Cambodia almost 2 years ago. I had an excellent time with no problems although I felt a little uneasy in Sihanoukville even then. I adored Siem Reap and enjoyed Phnom Penh although I did find PP quite sad with the killing fields and all, I’ve still been dying to go back. I think I still would though but Id definitely be of the mind to stay totally sober and be much more wary now

  28. Kayleigh Thompson

    I spent a month in Cambodia earlier this year and I found it the most difficult of all the places I visited in South East Asia. I had read your blog posts before I visited, and like somebody else has commented, I felt like I was in a completely different country! I was really looking forward to Sihanoukville but found it a deeply disturbing place; small children mixing with wasted tourists in the early hours of the morning trying to flog fireworks, having to give bribes to corrupt police, overly pushy and intimidating tuk tuk drivers, people trying to sell us drugs, constant warnings about bag snatchings and drink spikings. I spent a couple of weeks working in a bar on Otres Beach (15 minutes from Sihanoukville) and the Khmer lived in metal shacks by the side of the road. The local school had basically no equipment or running water, and the small kids only attended for a few hours in the morning before they were sent out to work flogging stuff to tourists on the beach. It’s very easy to see how Western tourists coming there to get wasted and splashing their cash would rub the impoverished locals up the wrong way.

    With all that said, I am so glad I visited Cambodia as it is the most thought-provoking place I have ever visited, and made me realise just how petty our first-world complaints are. I feel like it left a real impact on me and changed the way I see the world.

  29. I’ve lived in Sihanoukville for 7 yeaers. Was told how dangerous it was then, but it wasn’t the case with me. Am being told how dangerous it is now, but it’s still not the case with me. Otres beach is about as mellow as they get, for example. In my opinion, the risks increase the lter you stay out at night, the more you drink and the more you do drugs. A new group is tackling the crime issue by working with the police and starting a tourist education campaign. That seems like the first positive collective move to me. I appreciate your sensitivity on the issue, but I’ve seen too many barang do too much harm in Cambodia to single out Cambodians as the source of problems.

  30. I’ve lived in Cambodia for more than 8 years and never had the slightest problem, but then I don’t get into street fights or smack children. It’s hard to believe this litany of disaster, I also know a lot of other people here and none of them have had so many bad experiences.

  31. A Cambodian friend brought your blog to my attention. He was concerned about the negative image of the blog and also wanted to know if, in my opinion, there was any truth to it. While I appreciate your sincerity and don’t doubt the truth of what you say, let me put in my two cents worth.

    I’ve been living in Sihanoukville since January of 2007 after having visited in September 2006. When I first arrived, I was told all the stories about crime and corruption, but never experienced any of it myself. As the years rolled on, I continued to live peacefully in Sihanoukville and finally decided to write a blog promoting the area, not because I have a business here (I don’t) or hoped to make a fortune on affiliate sales (about enough to pay my web host), but because the Sihanoukville I know is a wonderful place to live and is improving all the time.

    My biggest gripe has been with barang, both expats and backpackers. I’ve had my life threatened twice – once for politely asking a guy to move his motorbike and once for trying to calm down a deranged barang who was threatening neighbours. My wife was once asked to help the police as a translator when they broke up a fight between two drunken barang. One of them spat in her face. Incidents like these made me come to blanket conclusions about all visitors and expats in Cambodia until someone called me on it. Now I see that it’s easy to focus on the negative after having bad experiences. There are also plenty of wonderful visitors and expats here.

    There is a problem with crime in Sihanoukville, but I don’t think crime has increased per capita (capita being tourist numbers), but because there are more visitors in town – all year ’round. It seems to be largely focused in the backpacker areas as it always has and the crimes are usually things like purse snatching and pickpocketing. A local business group is tackling the problem in what I think is a positive way. They have had meetings with the chief of police and other officials, set up a hotline and are working on an informational pamphlet for tourists outlining the things they can do to stay safe.

    I know of two cases of drink spiking. One happened to an Austrian guy who took a girl to his room. She spiked his drink and when he woke up, his iPad was gone. It was traced to Kampong Shnang (sp?) and recovered. The other was my daughter. It happened in a bar in Sydney, Australia. Which one do you think disturbs me the most?

    I posted earlier from my phone, but don’t see the comment above. Forgive me if it’s there and I overlooked it, but this is an important issue to me. Visitors to Cambodia or any other country have to take some responsibility for their own safety. In the majority of cases, common sense will see you through. Don’t carry large amounts of cash with you. Don’t make your electronic devices easy targets. Crime rates increase at night and in areas where drunk and/or stoned tourists make easy targets. Violent crimes happen in deserted areas. Of course, there are exceptions, but reduce the odds by taking common sense precautions.

    1. Woops! My earlier comment appeared above. Sorry about that. Please delete the first one if you want to. I think I expressed my point of view better in the second comment. Sorry about that.

  32. Oh my. I can’t believe you had such terrible luck in Cambodia this time. I’ve been there twice in the last year or two, once I was alone, and I didn’t encounter anything but nice people and a few, expected, attempted scams. That story about S. is so tragic! I’m sorry this all had to happen to you guys.

  33. I’ve read your website for a while. I’m really sorry you’ve had these experiences.
    I live in Sihanoukville and have for over a year. I have heard of incidents, but I’ve never had a negative experience myself, I’ve only ever had wonderful encounters with Cambodian people and I have so many great friends here. I think the thing to remember is that so many Cambodian people are friendly and helpful, It is a minority of them that commit crimes.
    However, it’s great that you are pointing out these problems, it’s a difficult time in Cambodia with the recent elections etc. People need to be careful, especially in touristy areas where you can sometimes let your guard down. I see it so many times on the beach that people just leave there friends when they are drunk, this can be dangerous for girls if they wander into dark areas, you just don’t know what could happen.
    I would totally encourage anybody to visit here, it’s a wonderful place – but take care of yourself and your friends. I hope this hasn’t changed your opinion of Cambodia totally, robberies and muggings have always (unfortunately) been common and probably will continue to be when people are living in poverty, you were probably lucky the first time you came here.

    1. Thank you, Gemma. I have been wondering a bit about that — if my first time was the exception rather than the rule. And it is true that most Cambodian people are absolutely wonderful.

  34. So sad to read this about Cambodia, but at the same time I’m not surprised. The country is in a really bad place right now… I’m still going there though. I’m spending a year studying international health in Bangkok and I just can’t skip Cambodia. I’m not sure when I’m heading there, but I definitively will.

    1. And I especially agree with him on this point that if you bring young children to settle in Cambodia, you’re not putting their needs first.

      Before this recent trip, I said that I would never live in Cambodia because I didn’t trust the medical system. Could you imagine having a seriously ill child in Cambodia?! Could you ever forgive yourself if your child died in a completely preventable way?

  35. This is crazy! We had to keep shutting our mouths after reading each new incident. We cannot believe all of these things happened over the course of one trip! We are glad to hear you aren’t completely turned off to Cambodia and that you left your readers with some advice if they choose to travel there.

    We went to Siem Reap in September 2013 and had a good experience. While the border crossing seemed sketchy, and children were trying to sell us trinkets in the temples, we otherwise enjoyed our trip and plan to go again in the near future. We’ll keep your warnings in mind, though!

  36. I’m in Cambodia – I feel safe here. The worst violence i’ve seen here was commited by drunk Russians.
    I feel less safe when in London, Paris or some parts of Australia & NZ – just saying…

  37. This is really sad to hear. i was not aware of these problems. One thing that really surprises me is that it has changed so much in only three years. Is there a chance that it was always a place where these issues existed albiet on a lesser scale?

    1. Absolutely, Francis. None of these issues were completely unheard of three years ago. I was just amazed at the prevalence this time around. Every single traveler had a story (the vast majority of which I did not mention in this piece).

  38. What a wonderfully written article and another gem with loads of helpful information. I currently did an internship and lived in Vietnam for 5 months, only returning to Canada 2 months ago. I was lucky enough to spend my holiday time from work in Cambodia and was full on in LOVE with the country and I can say I do agree with you! It was one of the most amazing countries I had ever been to, everything was exciting and new and different as I was on my own as a young female having just turned 21 weeks before arriving in the country. But to tell you the truth there was always an edge that I felt and I hadn’t noticed it really until now? I suppose I felt the same edge when going out sometimes at my home in Vietnam but I was told regularly by my vietnamese friends to be more careful in Cambodia, the tuk tuk drivers reminded me constantly to hold on to my bags as tightly as possible. I was lucky enough to meet some amazing people throughout my Cambodia visit so I wasn’t alone at night EVER and can honestly say that it was a smart decision. I did do day trips on my own as I was there to spend time on and for myself and I can also certainly say that in the day time my trips around Phnom Penh, the countryside and Sirm Reap were wonderful solo experiences. I would say, yes hold a high degree of caution keep your belongings tight to you and not in your pocket, boys! But experience this country for what it is as I had life changing experiences there and met some truely amazing Khmer people as well as other tourists, and can say with honesty that it was overall a great experience and not something to miss!
    Much love

  39. Thanks for the write-up Kate. I went solo to Vietnam about 6 years ago and unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get to Cambodia. What a shame now that I think about it. I like the fact that your post is balanced. I love Asia but that doesn’t mean I have to be foolish about things. The fact is, it isn’t home. Most people are absolutely lovely, others just saw me as a walking bank or a silly European! I even got verbally abused in India by a random passer-by ‘cos I refused to get into a tuk-tuk. I was walking you see!
    However, crime can happen anywhere. A friend of mine got her bag snatched by a motorist, in Barcelona, and I got mugged in a leafy part of London, 10 minutes from my London home! Enjoy your time abroad definitely, but keep an eye out on your surroundings and the people you’re with. If it doesn’t feel right, take a step back if you can, don’t argue, pay up and walk away!

  40. Kate,

    I have lived in Phnom Penh for 13 years. IMO, the crime rate may have increased a bit in the last few years, but not much. What has increased is the number of hapless tourists who make themselves an easy mark. If you want to feel an edge…………try out South America, which makes Cambodia look like a Doris Day movie. BTW, if you are afraid to travel with a private hired driver to Preah Vihear, perhaps you should change the name to not adventurous Kate.

  41. Hi Kate, it is sad to read about the experiences you, your friends and people you met made in Cambodia. I have been to the country twice. The first time in February 2005 I only visiting Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor, the second time, in November 2011 I travelled overland from Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok, staying in both Phnom Penh and again in Siem Reap for a couple of days. I loved Cambodia and so did other people I know, but I can imagine that things change quickly nowadays, not only in Cambodia. Right before visiting Cambodia in November 2011 I got mugged in Vietnam what happened to me in Hanoi in the French quarter right in front of the Opera House in the middle of the day and I heard the same from other people.

  42. Thanks for posting the article. I’m a Cambodian American, I was there with my buddy this past April for Cambodian New Year and was told the same by our tuk tuk driver “keep your belonging away from the edge”. I agree you have to be more alert at all time. Although I have not witness or had any incident happen to me (knock on wood) these things do take place. Our driver told us of an incident happened recent where his passenger’s cellphone got snatched by a passing moped. Unlucky for the thief he was going too fast, his moped fish tail and crashed into the side of an SUV. Our driver said if any thief gets caught and police not around the people takes the matter into their own hands. May be because I’m a native but I had a great time in Sihanoukvile at JJ. We are going back this December new year’s eve to celebrate 2014. Travel safe everyone.

  43. Interesting to hear your thoughts on your return Kate.
    I rocked up in Sihanoakville I couple of months ago inspired by your posts and hated it. Shocked to hear the intensity of the crimes though, sounds a lot like the stories that were coming out of Vietnam.

  44. Lets face it folks, some backpackers are so young and naive they are going to be the victims of crime no matter where they go. Many UK backpackers are made up of what we call gap year kids. 17-18 year olds with a year to kill between finishing school and starting university. Many are middle class from relatively wealthy backgrounds. Poverty and corrupt police officers are alien to them . They have no street sense whatsoever basically because they have never needed it in the safe neighbourhoods where they grew up. .All of a sudden they find themselves in a country like Cambodia with lots of poor desperate people. They have no idea how to react to them or get themselves out of tricky situatIons. Some of them might as well have MUG Me written across their foreheads.
    Of Course there is crime in Cambo same as anywhere else but i always think its always certain people to seem to fall victim to it.

    1. I think it’s a dangerous assumption that the only people at risk, whether in Cambodia or elsewhere, are 17-18-year-olds on gap year trips. Even my friends who have been traveling nonstop for several years now are victims to crimes on occasion.

  45. Hi Kate, me and the guys at the cambodia forums are wondering if you delete posts that disagree with you, is that true? I hope it isn’t.

    1. If I deleted comments that disagreed with me, all the comments on this site would be positive. You can see on this post and throughout the site that that is not the case.

      I don’t delete posts that disagree with me.

      I DO delete posts are abusive to me, my readers, and/or site commenters, comments designed to game SEO, and other spam comments. Other comments that appear to be spam (more than one link in the comment, certain keywords) are automatically sent to spam as well.

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