Is Cambodia Dangerous For Ex-Pats? | Your Complete Guide


Is Cambodia Dangerous For Ex-pats? | Your Complete Guide

Having lived in Cambodia in 2017, I thought I’d let you guys know how safe it is for ex-pats?  On the whole, my experience was fine, but their were a few incidents that caused concern. I want to give you tips and info to keep you safe while living in this beautiful country!

Cambodia is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been to in my life, but it’s essential to realize it’s a developing country, and you need to have your head on your shoulders. I will talk about a range of topics that will give you a heads up on what you need to know before moving to Cambodia! I will be iterate that Cambodia has some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and is easily one of the most beautiful countries in Asia.

If you want to know about the criminality in Cambodia, how safe the transport is, the food and the 6 million land mines still active in this country- keep reading!

Criminality In Cambodia

The most probable type of criminality in Cambodia is bag-snatching or pickpocketing. Thieves use a wide range of methods to steal from you. The most common way is on Tuk Tuk’s then areas like markets and small towns, so be on your guard!  But compared to some places I’ve been in South America, Cambodia is a million times safer.

Again Tuk Tuk’s are the worst place to get your bag snatched. Be warned: A bag snatch can drag you out of the Tuk Tuk! So don’t fight back, give the bag up and live another day.

Key Cutting For Doors

When you get a key cut, go to a market that’s far from your house. The issue of going to a local market, the key cutter may make a copy the key, follow you home and rob your house. So go to a market that’s further away from your property, just in case.

When you first move into Cambodia, try and find a property with security. Most modern buildings have 24-hour surveillance, which dentures thieves. The Cambodian police won’t help you out without being paid if you have a problem.

Try speaking to ex-pats how they handle issues if your not sure? Most are willing to help and share their knowledge.

How Safe Is Transport?

Back in the 90s, Cambodia was like the Wild West, and I remember you weren’t allowed to travel on roads between cities and towns in case of Khmer Rouge abductions or general crime like a muggins.

Dodgy taxi’s will scam you with meters that aren’t encrypted correctly, charging you more. Look out for the taxis, that are different colours compared to the yellow/white ones.

If you decide to rent a motorbike, be careful; The odd local will try to push you off and Rob your bags. Check your surroundings, and if your gut feeling tells you something is wrong, go with that feeling and try to avoid situations.

Cambodia Safety

Some Simply Logic

Theirs a simple rule to follow when you move to any developing nation, which is “never argue with the locals” I always found in South East Asia that arguments escalate quickly. Before you know it, a crowd of people can surround you fast. Just swallow your pride and move on

Foodie Dangers

I never experienced any food poisoning in Cambodia, but I know people who have, whether that’s from the food or water.

Cambodia’s food is highly nutritious and healthier than western food, with excellent dishes like Amok curry (the national dish), fresh fish, and vegetables. In recent years, the country had a massive influx of tourists from the West and China, which adds to food supply and demand. Sadly this has left Cambodia with unsafe practices and less transparency in the food industry.

The government is looking into safer ways to produce food to keep its quality, but be on your guard. If something doesn’t look right, don’t eat it. When I lived in Cambodia, I was a vegetarian, and I didn’t get sick once, so if it helps, go veggie. The big chain supermarkets are pretty good and safe now in PP.

Lucky Supermarket

Address: Address: Cambodia, KH Phnom Penh Preah Sihanouk Boulevard (274 #154 CD

Phone: +855 81 222 028

Opening Hours

Mon-Sun 8am-10pm

Self Exploding Land mines AKA Land Mines

Cambodia had a hostile pass with the American bombing in the 1970s, and recently, the Khmer Rouge planting thousands of land mines in the western side of Cambodia near the Thai border.

If you plan to live in Cambodia, make sure you always stay on route, and if you go off track, get yourself a guide.

Their are still today live bombs from the American bombing, which left thousands live in certain areas.

Scammy scammers- The Scams n Cambodia

A lot of scams in Cambodia aren’t too taxing. Most of the time it’s just a Tuk Tuk driver trying to make money by charging more. Make sure you always agree on a price before going anywhere.

The police are corrupt and even openly corrupt, sometimes, its just the Cambodian way. If you do get in trouble, they’ll most likely bribe you out of money. I would pay the amount and don’t make a big deal of it. For the most part, the police are out to make money, so be careful and stay calm and try not to go to the police station for any reason.

The Top 10 Crimes In Cambodia

Is Cambodia Safe


If you need medication, I would try and get prescriptions from your country delivered to Cambodia. Some of their medicines are fake and not proper medication, so be warned. I do believe there are some excellent pharmacies in Phnom Penh but do your research.


Beggars are apart of a syndicate exploiting people to keep up their bad habits. They often use their children as bait ad the money doesn’t go to the kids it goes to the parents. Try to avoid giving them any money. If a child looks hungry or needs water, feel free to buy them something but don’t give them money.

This quite interesting FB group called Cambodian scammers on Facebook. I’ll leave the link just here for you to get to know faces.

Dodgy Drugs

One thing you need to do in Cambodia is to stay away from drugs! The drugs are laced with poisonous substances like Mercury, lithium, and more toxic crap.

The drug is called Yama (Hindu God) and is essentially crystal meth, produced in China and hidden labs around Cambodia, and is highly toxic. The side effects of the drugs are hallucinations, sleeping issues, and psychosis. Make sure you stay away from drugs at all costs!

I knew a guy I use to play pool with, and he stayed in a dodgy hostel on Riverside. He took (Red Devil MDMA) from his landlord one night and started hallucinating with other strange side effects. It took him months to get sorted, but Luckily he is okay now.

Cambodian Police

How Corrupt Are The Police?

The police force in Cambodia is a Catch 22. Cambodia’s regular police officer doesn’t make enough money to survive, take his kids to school, and pay rent for his family. So, in turn, corruption is created with small bribes or worse.

When I lived in Phnom Penh, the open corruption I saw was mainly from the traffic police. They usually would sit on the roadside and pull up random motorbikes for not having helmets or insurance. If you decide to get a motorbike, make sure you have a helmet, this will cover your insurance and give the police no excuses to pull you up.

You always receive corruption payments for little things like police report for your holiday insurance. They will often ask you to hire a translator, which costs around $10. The simple way around this is to ask someone who speaks Cambodian to come with you to the police station, and they will be your translator.

Again if you need some legal advice, ask around and speak to expats you trust. They will probably know someone who’s been in a similar situation.

Areas To Avoid!

I never found any areas in Cambodia that were dodgy, but I noticed at night certain areas like Riverside in Phnom Penh, there were a few sketchy people around. If you’re alone, always try and keep your wits about you and try not to get too drunk or ask a friend to come with you if you’re going bars.

When you live in a developing country, you need to have more common sense than you do in a western country for the most part. Avoid confrontations and walk away at all times.

You need a friendly manner about yourself if you decide to live in Cambodia and learn to let things go. I had no issues while living in Cambodia in 2017, and I met some fantastic people.

It’s all common sense that’s all it is!

How Good Is The HealthCare?

Overall the healthcare in Cambodia isn’t great compared to a country like Thailand or Vietnam. They do have a good hospital, Royal Phnom Penh Hospital, which meets international standards but overall is just good, not excellent.

The best healthcare in Cambodia is in the capital Phnom Penh. The medical treatment is so much more superior to anywhere else in Cambodia.

If I had a severe illness, I would leave Cambodia and go to a country like Thailand or Singapore to receive better healthcare. Thailand, for instance, has fantastic facilities with English-speaking doctors. If its an emergency, you need to be airlifted to Bangkok, which costs around $10,000  

One positive I will say Cambodia is getting better medical healthcare as time goes by, but at the minute, it’s nowhere near as good as Thailand or Singapore.

How Good Is The English In Cambodia?

The current stats for Cambodian speaking English is around 3.5 million people. In the last 20 years, education has got bigger in Cambodia, and most people can talk about a bit a level of English.

The conversation might be static at times, and you may have to explain in detail what you mean. But if you’re thinking about moving to Cambodia, I think you should learn the language. When you speak  Khmer person in Cambodian, their eyes light up, and they love it.

You can always use many apps if you get in trouble, like Translate voice

STD’s Info

Std’s are prevalent in Cambodian society, with a lot of women working in the sex industry. You need to follow the Golden and have protective sex at all times.

There is an estimation of 73,000 adults contracting HIV aids, which is quite high for a small population. Recently Cambodia has a bit more of a drug problem, and needles have helped the spreading HIV.

Dangerous Animals In Cambodia

Cambodia’s has a vast array of wildlife, from bears to snakes that mainly live in jungle areas of the country.


King Cobra

The most famous snake in Cambodia is the venomous King cobra which can grow up to four meters long. If you come across a King cobra most of the time, it will just try and escape and leave you alone. If you try and battle, it will stand its ground and try to intimidate you.

The Cobra has a white stripe on its hood, and the venom can kill you within 30 minutes after a strike.

To remedy the venom, you drink alcohol with root Turmeric as a residence to fight the poison. But I wouldn’t use this as a medical fact. Try to seek a doctor.

Indochinese spitting cobra (Naja siamensis)

The spitting cobra can turn up at your house if its hunting for small rodents and mainly hunt at night. The cobras are only one meter long and quite slim.

If you do come in contact with a spitting cobra, be careful as the snake can spit venom, reacting with the skin and causing sores and even blindness.

Trimeresurus albolabris, Viper

The Viper mainly lives in the jungle and climbs trees looking for prey, frogs, birds, and lizards. One Positive about this snake the Venum is weak.


The sun bear is found all over South East Asia, China, India, and Indonesia. The bear has a bib-shaped Golden Patch on his chest, which mimics a rising sun. The bear itself has a stocky build, small ears, a small muzzle, and looks a little bit like a dog. The coat is quite short to keep the bear cool.

Hi, I’m Ian

I started traveling in 2006 when I was 21 and still today it’s the best experience of my life! I grew up in a rural town in England and I couldn’t wait to get away and explore the big wide world.

My first destination in 2006 was Singapour. After I visited Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos the dream continued and every day was a new experience with new foods, temples, lush countryside, and quirky boutique hotels. The variance of my days was tremendous from waking up in Jungles to a tropical island sipping an ice-cold beer 24hrs later.

With all this travel experience I started traveltin to help people who want to take the plunge into travel and seek advice. I really want to help people live their dreams and share knowledge and tips to help you have the best trip possible.

If you need anything just ask! I’ll get straight back to you.

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