Cambodia Travel Advisory

When speaking about whether Cambodia is a dangerous country or not, one should not miss out on valuable pointers provided by the travel advisory of each of the western governments. If you read through the Cambodia Travel Advisories, you will find repeated statements warning you about Cambodia, off the hook muggings and violent crime, including rape and murder against foreigners, but somehow this message gets lost in the translation. The following are extracts from the travel advisories posted on government websites of a few (English speaking) western countries:

Cambodia Travel Advisory by the Government of Canada

Violence in Phnom Penh and other cities occurs occasionally.

Street crime, targeting foreigners, has been occurring with increasing frequency in urban areas, including Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, even during daylight hours. There are reports of armed assaults along the riverfront in Phnom Penh and on isolated beaches in Sihanoukville. Canadians have been injured in the course of assaults and armed robberies. Thieves, sometimes on motorcycles, grab bags and other valuables from pedestrians, motorcycle drivers and their passengers. Banditry continues, largely at night, in rural areas and on routes between Snoul, Kratie and Stung Treng in the northeastern provinces. Sexual assaults have been reported. There have been reports that foreigners have encountered difficulties with ill-disciplined police or military personnel. Canadians are advised to exercise a high degree of caution at all times, avoid travelling alone, especially at night, and ensure personal belongings, passports, and other travel documents are secure at all times.


Cambodia Travel Advisory by the Government of the USA

Cambodia has a high crime rate, including street crime. Military weapons and explosives are readily available to criminals despite authorities’ efforts to collect and destroy such weapons. Armed robberies occur frequently in Phnom Penh. Foreign residents and visitors are among the victims. Victims of armed robberies are reminded not to resist their attackers and to surrender their valuables, since any perceived resistance may be met with physical violence, including lethal force.

Local police rarely investigate reports of crime against tourists, and travelers should not expect to recover stolen items.

The U.S. Embassy advises its personnel who travel to the provinces to exercise extreme caution outside the provincial towns at all times. Many rural parts of the country remain without effective policing. Individuals should avoid walking alone after dusk anywhere in Sihanoukville, especially along the waterfront. Some of the beaches are secluded, and the Embassy has received reports that women have been attacked along the Sihanoukville waterfront during the evening hours. Take security precautions when visiting the Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) area. Travelers should be particularly vigilant during annual festivals and at tourist sites in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville, where there have been marked increases in motorcycle “snatch and grab” thefts of bags and purses. In August 2008, the Embassy received reports of unaccompanied U.S. citizen females being robbed at knifepoint during daylight hours in Sihanoukville. Another U.S. citizen female was sexually assaulted in October 2009 while walking alone at night in Kompong Thom province.


Cambodia Travel Advisory by the Government of UK

Particular areas where crime levels have been relatively high in recent months have been the riverfront and BKK areas of Phnom Penh, and the beaches and tourist areas of Sihanoukville, although incidents are not confined to these areas. You should be particularly vigilant at night, and in deserted areas, although incidents have occurred at all times of day.

There have also been a small number of rapes and sexual assaults in various locations.


Cambodia Travel Advisory by the Government of Australia

Opportunistic crime is common in Cambodia and the frequency of incidents is increasing. Thieves frequently snatch foreigners’ bags and pick-pocketing is a problem in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap. Several foreigners have been injured in the course of these incidents, in particular when bags are pulled from passengers on moving motorbike taxis. Bag-snatching, other robberies and assaults often occur during daylight hours.

There have been reports of assaults and armed robberies against foreigners, especially in areas frequented by tourists and expatriate residents, including the Riverfront in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville (particularly at isolated beaches). You should exercise vigilance when travelling through these areas at all times, but especially after dark.

You should limit night time travel around Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap to well-lit public areas and travel in groups. At night, travel by car is safer than motorcycle, moto-scooter or cyclo (cycle-rickshaw).

Foreigners have been the target of sexual assault in Cambodia. Due to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.

Levels of firearm ownership in Cambodia are high and guns are sometimes used to resolve disputes. There have been reports of traffic disputes resulting in violence involving weapons. Bystanders can get caught up in these disputes. Foreigners have been threatened with handguns for perceived rudeness to local patrons in popular Phnom Penh nightclubs and elsewhere.

Banditry and extortion, including by military and police personnel, continue in some rural areas, particularly at night in areas between Snoul, Kratie and Stung Treng in the north-eastern provinces.


Cambodia Travel Advisory by the Government of New Zealand

There has been an increase in violent crime against foreign travellers, particularly in areas frequented by tourists and expatriates including the river front area of Phnom Penh, and at isolated beaches in Sihanoukville. New Zealanders are advised to be vigilant and maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times.


So there you have it. It’s all between the lines of each travel advisory. Some of the most repeated statements include warnings that there have been an increasing number of violent attacks in Cambodia, including sexual attacks (rapes) against foreign nationals and they are urged to exercise an increased degree of caution. Don’t take these warnings lightly unless you intend to stick with visiting the tourist Cambodia, not the real one!

Angkor Beer – The National Beer of Cambodia

The first thing that went through my mouth in Cambodia was Angkor Beer. I went to have my first Cambodian meal at Khmer Family Restaurant on Pub Street in Siem Reap and since I was there in the morning (aka while business is slow, as Siem Reap comes alive in the evening after tourists have returned from exploring Angkor Wat temples), the “happy hour” value prices were in effect (happy hour lasts form opening until 6pm – they call it “happy day” since it’s in effect most of the day, rather than just for an hour). Drink was included in price of meal which only totalled to $3, making it an overall great deal for a westerner. The choice of free drink included local beer, soft drink (coca cola or similar) or fresh coconut. Fresh coconut sounded tempting, but coconuts taste pretty much the same everywhere in the world. I wanted to get a taste of local cuisine and local drink. Beer was my pick.

Draught Angkor Beer - My First Beer in Cambodia
Draught Angkor Beer - My First Beer in Cambodia

Since food is prepared fresh on per order basis in the kitchen of each restaurant, it takes about 10 minutes to get it on the table after ordering. You can enjoy your drink while you’re waiting which is served quickly. I was truly looking forward to my beer which came soon after ordering and bore the name of place I came to see – Angkor Wat.

Angkor Beer prides itself on being the National Beer of Cambodia. I thought that name must count for something and sure enough, the beer tastes great. I consider myself being a little bit of beer connoisseur (or at least a passionate beer drinker – explains the beer gut on me) so I truly appreciate quality beers. And Angkor beer does not lack in taste regard. I have never felt any unpleasant after-taste following a thirsty gulp. Angkor Beer always comes down your throat smoothly and feel very enjoyable to drink.

Drinking Draught Beer in Cambodia

Cambodian laws are not as strict about alcohol as laws in my home country of Canada so beer is served freely in most establishments. You will see signs advertising sale prices for draught beer set down to $0.50, often claiming that this is today’s special. It’s never a special, these are regular prices offered by each establishment every day, they just use fancy advertising slogans to entice you into buying a beer from them. More upscale bars and clubs sometimes sell draught beer for more (Temple Club charges $0.75, Island Bar in Night Market sells draughts for $1).

The only thing that sets draught beer served in Cambodian establishments apart from draught beer at home is size. Sure, beer here is darn cheap ($0.50 for a draught is a great price any way you spin it), however you are not getting a whole pint for this money. I don’t know how much exactly it is, but it looks like it could be half pint. Still great price for draught beer, just be ready for drinking from the smallest beer glass you have ever seen.

Black and White Photo of Me Drinking Angkor Beer Draught
Black and White Photo of Me Drinking Angkor Beer Draught

Angkor Beer Factory in Sihanoukville

I was interested in learning more about Angkor Beer as I truly did not think they knew much about brewing beer in Cambodia, nevermind brewing of tasty beers. I was wrong. Cambodians are actually big beer drinkers and the history of beer drinking goes a long way back in Cambodia. There are pre-historic drawings in caves showing drunk men laying around after drinking rice beer from coconut shells. Not much has changed in this regard to this day. Cambodians still enjoy drinking beer and do so each time there is an occasion worth celebrating (basically any time).

Angkor Beer is brewed by Cambrew in Sihanoukville, Cambodia – the town most famous for best Cambodian beaches. I have not been to the brewery nor Sihanoukville itself yet (though I’m planning on going soon), but I’ve heard the brewery is on top of the mountain overlooking Sihanoukville, only about 10 minutes from downtown.

Angkor Brewery started brewing Angkor Beer in 1963 and produces over 250 million cans of beer per year, making it the biggest beer brewery in Cambodia. Aside from being the most popular beer in Cambodia enjoyed by both tourists and locals alike, Angkor Beer is also exported to countries all over the world.

Photo: Fresh Glass of Angkor Draught
Photo: Fresh Glass of Angkor Draught

Other Cambodian Beers

While Angkor Beer seems to be the most popular and most served beer in Cambodia, it’s not the only beer produced by this beer hungry country. Tiger Beer seems to be on the rise with lots of advertising and sponsorships of major sporting events across South East Asia. Anchor Beer seems to ride the tail of Angkor Beer by having the name that resembles the more popular alternative. There are also rumors that Carlsberg Beer will be opening a brewery in Cambodia soon. Japanese Asahi Beer is also available throughout Cambodia, even though it’s usually a bit more expensive.