When I’m planning a solo trip, one of deciding factors on where I go is how safe the country is for lone female travellers. There are certain countries that I would never ever travel to solo, but with a lot of places it’s less black and white.
When I decided to book a solo trip to Cambodia back in 2016, there were times before I jetted off when I seriously questioned my decision. I’d been dying to visit the Angkor Temples for a while and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go as I had a trip to neighbouring Vietnam booked but was Cambodia actually safe for solo female travellers?
I’ll be honest and say that I’d heard a fair few bad things about Cambodia before I went from friends and acquaintances; such as robberies, muggings and catching dengue fever. I’d also heard more positive stories and read some blog posts that deemed Cambodia safe for solo travellers.
After spending 6 days travelling solo in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, I’d say Cambodia is safe for female travellers and would really encourage you to visit. It’s an amazing place with the kindest people ever; despite their troubled history, everybody was so welcoming and friendly. Particularly in Siem Reap, most things are geared towards tourists and you certainly won’t be the only non-local around.
Like with any destination, you should take precautions, especially if you’re travelling solo as a female. It’s true that you probably need to take a little more care than travelling in most places in Europe, but I found Cambodia to be a wonderful country for solo travel. I was welcomed by the locals but not hassled. Nobody tried to scam me or made advances which were uncomfortable. Most people spoke English, which made things a lot easier. The country is quite used to tourists by now, and as such, it’s relatively easy to travel around.
My positive experience could well have been influenced by how organised I was before my trip; I’d researched possible dangers and how to stay safe quite thoroughly. I’m also quite a cautious person by nature, so didn’t take any risks. I’d recommend that you are quite organised before travelling to Cambodia solo, it definitely feels like somewhere that it pays to be aware and ready.
Here are some of my top tips on travelling around Cambodia safely:
Keep valuables hidden, especially at night
I’ve heard stories from others and online about bag snatching, and this seems to be more of a danger at night, as you’d expect. If you’re travelling alone, I’d suggest taking a money belt that you can wear under your clothes when you’re out and about. If you need a bag, go for rucksack or a bag with a strap that can’t be cut. Definitely don’t flash your phone around.
Ensure you have access to cash at all times
During my time in Phnom Penh, I had some trouble finding ATMs that would accept my card, or even ones that worked! Although I wouldn’t recommend carrying around much cash at any time, make sure you’ve got enough to keep you going if you do struggle to get to an ATM. You don’t want to be stranded without cash.
Organise a transfer from the airport in advance
This is especially important if you’re arriving late at night. For piece of mind, I’d organise for your hotel to pick you up from the airport. Some hotels offer this service for free. If your budget doesn’t allow this, be sure to research how to get from the airport to your accommodation safely before you go on your trip.
Choose transport options carefully
This applies to all travellers, not just those going solo. Cambodia is notorious for road accidents, so it’s really important to travel with a reputable company to reduce your risk of being in an accident when travelling between cities.
I travelled from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh with Cambodia Post VIP van and can highly recommend it as a safe and comfortable option. Read more here.
I also used Giant Ibis buses to travel from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. The travel time is slightly longer as it’s on a coach rather than a minibus but they have a good safety record and cater heavily to tourists.
I would advise that you avoid night buses altogether if possible, they’re just not that safe in terms of road accidents. Obviously travelling on a night bus saves time and money but I just don’t think it’s worth taking the risk given the country’s very poor road safety.
Watch your drink and never accept one from a stranger
This goes for all solo travellers, everywhere. Enjoy yourself but keep your wits about you and your eyes on your drink at all times.
Join group tours
Group tours are a great way to see a country if you’re travelling alone and are a bit of a security blanket. I’d encourage you to join a group tour, even if it’s just for the day.If you’re heading to the Angkor Temples, why not book a group tour to do so. That way everything is organised for you and you can enjoy an amazing wonder with other people! I went on the Angkor Sunrise Discovery cycle tour with Grasshopper Adventures and absolutely loved it!
Stay on the beaten path
Cambodia is one the countries most affected by landmines. I met so many locals who had been affected by landmines, either personally or through somebody in their family. It’s so very, very sad, especially in a country that has had more than it’s fair share of tragedy.
Don’t stray off the main routes in rural areas or around temples, and don’t pick up metal objects. If you are out in a rural area, it would be best to be with a local guide.
Take extra care if visiting Sihanoukville
Most of the horror stories I’ve heard about Cambodia happened in Sihanoukville. I’m not sure why, but it seems to be a hotspot for robberies from what I’ve heard. So my advice was whilst you should take extra care anywhere in the country, be particularly careful in Sihanoukville.
Don’t let my tips put you off taking a trip Cambodia. Yes you should take care but it is such a fascinating, friendly and beautiful country. The people are incredible and I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time should you visit!For more safety information, check out the advice on the gov.uk website.