The first thing the visitor to Cambodia should understand is that this land still suffers from a stigma that conjures images in the average Westerner’s mind of being “dark” and “dangerously mysterious”. This comes from a lack of education and awareness neither of which are discussed much at any level of the educational systems of the western world. To that degree, Cambodia is a seldom-spoken agenda item in most all public classrooms around the world.
The Vietnam War of the 60’s and the subsequent assumption of power by the Khmer Rouge - certainly horrific and unfortunate events - are long gone and buried. These are events that the Khmer culture wishes very much to put behind them and look to a bright and peaceful future.
The fact of the matter is that one of the most endearing traits of the people of Cambodia is that in as much as it was the U.S. Government that not only caused the de-stabilization of Cambodia that allowed the Khmer Rouge to take control and consequently did nothing in the wake of the genocide that followed it, you as an American will be hard pressed to find anywhere in the world that is as genuinely warm and friendly to you as Cambodia and surprisingly more so when your hosts discover you are an American.
The people of Cambodia are quite aware of the Western stigma and are doing their best to open their wonderful country to the world and invite them in. If anything, you will leave Cambodia with warm lifetime memories of people who are always smiling, constantly considerate and respectful, and wish to be your friend.
That is not to say that there are not factors to be aware of and no need to take precautions. Land mines are still prevalent but don’t think every square foot of the country is littered with them. Around the temples and in urban areas, the chances of encountering them are practically zero. It’s never a bad idea to stick to established pathways and not stray too far off into the jungle, though.
Really, safety in Cambodia doesn’t differ much from wherever it is that you are coming from. Using common sense and being aware of your surroundings reduces you chances of a bad experience to nearly zero. Petty crime is prevalent is the large urban areas in Cambodia just as it is in the United States or Europe. Don’t leave valuables in plainly spotted places unattended, don’t travel on foot alone after dark, don’t flash a lot of money, and don’t allow yourself to be talked into something by someone you don’t know. These are all things that your common sense tells you to do, as it would at the place you call “home”.
What you can be prepared for is a wonderfully unforgettable experience amongst people who will impress you with their honesty and down-to-earth approach to life. Cambodia is a place like no other, and to apply just a bit of thought in regards to your actions and awareness will ensure your time here ensures a lifetime of treasured memories.
The Khmer Rouge, as a viable political, military or even criminal force in Cambodia, is dead and buried. The Khmer Rouge is no longer a security concern and hasn't been for several years.
When the topic is landmines, Cambodia is usually one of the first countries to be mentioned, but fortunately, mines are not a concern for the average tourist. The remaining mines are concentrated in border areas (particularly the Thai border), some mountain areas and other old war zones. There are no mines in major cities and towns where most tourists frequent. The areas around heavily touristed temple ruins in Siem Reap were demined long ago and is generally considered quite safe. If you plan to visit less-frequented, distant temple ruins it is best to stick to paths. Adventure travelers to remote sections of Cambodia need to take extra mine safety precautions.
Disease and Vaccinations
For disease concerns see the Visas and Vaccinations page. Remember that AIDS/HIV and Hepatitis B are very prevalent amongst Cambodia's sex workers.
Traffic and Transportation
Traffic accidents are not uncommon in the chaotic traffic of Cambodia, particularly Phnom Penh. The most common and convenient form of public transportation is the motorcycle taxi, Everybody uses them at some point but there are safer ways to get around. Unless you buy your own, there are no helmets and the moto drivers are usually not licensed. Car taxi is the safest way to move around the city. For taxi contact details see: