Survival Tips in CambodiaKirsty Turner
This is a great time to visit Cambodia as the years of war and instability are finally over and the country is rebuilding itself slowly but surely. People are generally friendly and honest and roads are much better than they have been in recent years. However, you still need to apply a certain amount of common sense when travelling through Cambodia and there are a few things to watch out for or avoid.
Avoid drinking tap water and drinks with ice in Cambodian. Bottled water is cheap and easy to find.
Avoid deals that seem too good to be true such as buying ‘precious gems’ as they are often worthless stones that have been chemically treated. There is also a considerable amount of counterfeit medication around, so only buy from trustworthy pharmacies and clinics.
Despite the efforts being made to sweep the countryside for landmines, there are still believed to be as many as six million unexploded landmines in Cambodia. Visitors should take extreme caution when wandering off the beaten track, and it is best to hire a guide when exploring rural areas independently, preferably someone who knows the area extremely well and can steer you away from danger.
Keep abreast of the current political situation while visiting Cambodia by reading the local newspaper regularly. Violent outbursts do spring up from time to time as well as demonstrations and political gatherings and should be avoided at all costs.
Although you should always keep valuables hidden, extra caution should be taken at night and it is a good idea to take a close-sided taxi rather than a cyclo or moto, especially when exploring touristy areas such as Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
Cambodia is famed for its corrupt police force, who are known to try almost every trick in the book to get fines from tourists. If you are stopped by the police at any time, make sure you keep a close eye on your belongings, as it has been known for the police to plant drugs on foreigners in the hope of receiving a fine or a bribe. In confrontations with the police it is important to keep your cool, arguing in a firm yet friendly manner and solving the situation without heading to the police station.