Is Cambodia Safe for a Solo Female Traveler to Travel Alone?

Young girl biking, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

When you are traveling to a new place, and you do not really know anyone, it may seem overwhelming to think about traveling alone, especially if you are a woman traveling alone. This can be especially true for a country like Cambodia that has had a violent and checkered past.

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Cambodia is a safe country for a female traveler to travel solo. But with any developing country, there are precautions that you must take to ensure your safety. I have traveled alone to Cambodia many times and have always felt safe.

From all my years of experience in traveling alone in many countries and especially in Cambodia, here are some precautions that need to be taken:

Keep your eyes open

Cambodia is a developing country. There is a lot of poverty there, so you must expect there will be pickpockets, especially in the foreigners’ areas, as many thieves see stealing from foreigners as a way to make some easy money.

Keep your eyes open and look around at your surroundings. There is no reason to be hyper about this, so you walk around looking like a scared cat all the time, but do keep a watch out.

I would also recommend that every solo female traveler get a perfect backpack with some anti-theft protection. I have purchased some PacSafe bags and found them to be excellent. One of the reasons I like them is their bags do not look like anti-theft bags. You can check out their bags by clicking here.

Here are some of the places you should be extra careful:

  • At the ATM’s – Like many places in Asia, Cambodia has a lot of ATM”s that are completely exposed to the streets. So when you withdraw money, you are usually doing it out on the street. Look around. Do you see anyone sitting and watching the ATM that looks suspicious? If so, consider walking away and going to another ATM. Also, when you do withdraw your cash, do it quickly and get away quickly. Don’t stand there slowly counting your money so that everyone knows how much you have.
  • In the markets – Cambodia has some wonderful markets, but these markets are usually very crowded. They are fun to go shopping in, but also are a perfect place for pickpockets to operate. Many times the pickpockets will operate in a team. One finds the target, or they may find a way to distract you, while the other team member moves in to rob you. So make sure your money is not easy to get to or easy for them to cut off your bag strap or grab a handbag.
  • In a Tuk-Tuk – Riding a Tuk-tuk is a lot of fun in Cambodia, but they are also places where the thieves will come by and grab your bag; many tuk-tuks try to protect against this, but if you make it easy for them, they can still get your bag from you. So hold your bag tight against your chest when you are riding in a tuk-tuk, and do not just set your bag on the seat or the floor of the tuk-tuk.
  • Around Tourist locations – Thieves are usually looking to rob foreigners. They are not so interested in the local Cambodias as they realize the jackpot or the real money can be made in the tourist areas. They also know that many tourists are just careless with their belongings. So the best way to stay safe is for you to keep your eye out for thieves especially when you are near any tourist destination.
  • Outside Airports – You come into the airports, and many times, people will crowd around you asking you where you want to go to. Someone will try to start to grab your luggage to get you into their car or tuk-tuk. The danger here is that they grab your luggage and other things and then walk off with them. I have known that to happen to people, so I tell the drivers, “No, I will handle my bags.” I handle them until I am in the car or taxi, or know that I will be taking their taxi and they are a real driver. Also, make sure your bags actually go into the taxi’s trunk to make sure nothing gets lost along the way. If you are worried about this, the safest method is to ask your hotel to send a car and driver to pick you up from the airport.
Laborers on their way to work
Laborers on their way to work in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Do not flash your cash

Never flash cash around. This is why I usually always travel with 2 wallets or have money in several areas and I will always keep my cash safe and hidden. I may have a smaller change location to buy some drinks or for small purchases in one pocket of my backpack. The other money will be hidden deep down in the backpack.

Usually, thieves are out looking for a target. If they are going to rob someone they want to, first of all, know it is worth the risk and their effort. So if you are flashing a lot of large dollar bills around or you keep bringing out a wallet to show people you have a lot of money in there, you are asking for someone to come and take it from you. This is why the best rule is to never flash cash around.

Stay on the beaten path.

Cambodia is still filled with landmines, and there are still people, even today, dying or losing their limbs from landmine explosions. Though many groups are working to clean up the land mine ordinances from the countryside, it is no yet 100% completed.

It is estimated that 4 to 6 million landmines are still in Cambodia. Because of this, it is always best to stay on the beaten path and not try to wander off to some field or countryside location you have no idea about, especially by yourself and without a local guide.

Monks in Cambodia
Monks walking near Grand Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Find yourself a friend you feel you can trust

Cambodians are very kind and friendly people. I have met many very nice friends throughout my travels in Cambodia; many of these friends were tuk-tuk drivers or local guides.

By finding some local friends, it will make your experience in Cambodia more rewarding. I have also found that these friends I have found along the way have also helped ensure I was safe. My tuk-tuk driver friend would make sure nothing happened to me or the things I purchased. The local guide would ensure I was safe and taken care of.

Cambodia is a fascinating and beautiful country to travel to. It is also a developing country, so you will need to take precautions for your personal safety. But if you take those precautions, you should find that you will have a safe and rewarding time during your travels there.

Do they speak English in Cambodia?

Many people in Cambodia speak English, especially in hotels and other tourist areas. You may also find that many street sellers selling trinkets and other things to foreigners also speak excellent English. But when you are out in the countryside or in an area where there are not many tourists, it will be harder to find any English speakers.

What is the best city in Cambodia to visit?

If you only had time to visit one city in Cambodia, I would visit Angkor Wat or Siem Reap. It is rightfully one of the wonders of the world with so many marvelous ancient temple complexes. You can read this article on Wikipedia to find out more about Angkor Wat and why it is a must-see place to visit.

Anita L Hummel

Hi, I live in Hanoi, Vietnam but spend time traveling the region. I love to share with you things I see and learn through my travels.

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