Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, is a gateway to an exotic land. It has a world heritage site, the largest religious complex in the world, the temples of Angkor in the west, the beaches of the southern coast and the ethnic minorities of the North-eastern provinces. However, it cannot be denied that the place, as everywhere else, has its own share of dangers and annoyances. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Don’t go out alone at night
Or if you really have to, try to avoid taking dark roads. This might prove difficult as most streets are. Armed robbery could be among the most notorious dangers of Phnom Penh. Don’t take more than $15 with you, and no flashy or expensive stuff. If you do get mugged, better to hand it over than get harmed.
Never underestimate the sun
Bring sun protection or sun lotion. Too much sun can cause sun burn and peeling. You can also bring some hat or umbrella to protect you or wear clothes that covers your skin. Always make sure you drink plenty of water in the heat. Extreme heat and humidity makes it necessary to always carry plenty of fresh drinking water as it is surprising just how much your body loses in the heat of the day.
Crossing the street is adventure itself
There are so many cars, motorcycles and bicycles to dodge. It is twice the work to do when the street has 2 or more lanes. Traffic however does not seem to care for traffic rules and regulations, try to appear confident and walk like a local. Better yet, walk with a local. Time it after one vehicle and before the next one. Vehicles will slow down, dodge or go around you if they see you attempting to cross the street.
Be aware when dealing with beggars
Begging is very common throughout Cambodia, especially in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Many of them are children and some might even masquerade as fake monks or disabled people. Avoid giving them money, you don’t know if they are just used by syndicates or their parents for money, and you will then be helping them to depend on this way of living. Better yet, give them something to eat or drink instead of money.
Get hold and keen eye on your bags
Snatching is also very common here, even in daylight hours. Always wear bags that have tight and strong straps and always be aware of your valuables. Try to put a strap on your mobile phones and gadgets. Whenever riding a vehicle, close and lock all doors firmly. If you’re riding a cyclo, keep a tight hold on your bags and belongings. Bikes are utilized as a quick getaway vehicle with the passenger riding behind the back grabbing whatever is loosely secured so beware when two guys on a bike pull up next to you, you might just be marked as a target.