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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Cambodia. Use common sense. Look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travel conditions.
  • If you plan to volunteer in Cambodia, read our volunteering overseas page to help ensure that your volunteering experience is safe, ethical and worthwhile. Research your host organisation thoroughly, especially any overseas organisation offering opportunities to volunteer with children. See Additional information.

  • 'Snatch and grab' crimes against foreigners by thieves on motorcycles are frequent and have sometimes resulted in injuries to victims. Assaults and armed robberies against foreigners have also been reported. See Safety and security.

  • Foreigners have been the target of sexual assault in Cambodia, particularly in Sihanoukville, Siem Reap and other tourist locations. Victims are often targeted at night, when intoxicated and travelling alone. See Safety and security.

  • Be wary of accepting invitations from strangers. Criminals representing themselves as friendly locals sometimes invite tourists into private homes where they are coerced into playing card games. Travellers have lost large amounts of money, sometimes at gun point. See Safety and security.

  • Penalties for drug offences, including those involving "soft drugs", are severe. See Laws.

  • Avoid all political gatherings, protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent. If you appear to be involved, you could be arrested and deported. See Safety and security.

  • Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, dengue fever, hepatitis, tuberculosis, typhoid and rabies are common. See Health.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

You'll need a visa to visit Cambodia.

If you are travelling to Cambodia for tourism, you can apply for an electronic tourist visa ("e-visa") online through the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. E-visas are valid for entry through Phnom Penh International Airport, Siem Reap International Airport, Cham Yeam (Koh Kong), Poipet (Banteay Meanchey) and Bavet (Svay Rieng). E-visas are not supported at other entry points.

Tourist visas are also available 'on arrival' at air and land entry points that are open to foreigners, including those where e-visas are accepted.  

Tourist visas are valid for thirty days. For longer stays, or if you are travelling to Cambodia for a purpose other than tourism (such as work or study), you'll need to arrange a visa in advance through the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Cambodia.

Day trips (arriving and departing on the same day) are not permitted except when arriving and departing via Phnom Penh International Airport.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Cambodia for up-to-date information.

Land border crossings and visas on arrival

Cambodia-Thailand Border

Six legal international border crossing points are open for foreign travellers on the Cambodian-Thai border at Cham Yeam (Koh Kong), O Smach (Oddar Meanchey), Poipet (Banteay Meanchey), Prom (Pailin), Daung (Battambang) and Chorma (Oddar Meanchey).

Tourist visas can be obtained on arrival at these border crossings during opening hours. If you are travelling to Thailand for tourism, you may be eligible for a 15-day "visa exemption" - see Thailand.

Cambodia-Vietnam Border

There are several legal international border crossing points open to foreign travellers along the Cambodia-Vietnam border, including at Bavet (Svay Rieng), Kaam Samnor (Kandal Mekong), Trapaing Sre (Kratie) and Phnom Den (Takeo).

Tourist visas can be obtained on arrival at these border crossings during opening hours. Visas for Vietnam are not available at the border - see Vietnam.

If you plan to enter or exit Cambodia via a land border crossing, first confirm that it is open to foreigners and, if required, that visas on arrival are available. Entry and exit conditions change regularly.

Cambodia-Laos Border

The Lao side of the border crossing at Dong Krolo (Stung Treng) is often closed to foreign travellers with little notice. The border crossing is in an isolated location 50km to the north of the Cambodian provincial centre of Stung Treng. It is not serviced by public transport, although rudimentary and unreliable private motorbike and truck services run to Stung Treng.

Tourist visas can be obtained at the border, but services are unreliable and you should consider other options. Visas for Laos are not available at the border – see Laos travel advice.

Visas – overstays

Make sure you have a valid visa for the duration of your stay in Cambodia. Overstaying your visa is a serious offence: you may not be allowed to leave Cambodia until you pay a fine or serve a prison sentence.

If you overstay your visa by less than one month, you'll probably get away with paying the fine at the airport on departure. If you overstay your visa by more than one month, you risk severe penalties, including imprisonment, deportation and/or being placed on an immigration blacklist (preventing you from returning to Cambodia).

Check your visa validity dates carefully.  If your visa is issued outside Cambodia, it may provide for a validity period that is in excess of thirty days. This validity period refers to the period in which you are able to commence your thirty-day visit to Cambodia. It does not extend the time you are permitted to stay in Cambodia beyond thirty days. Tourist visas must be renewed if you intend to stay in Cambodia more than thirty days. Tourist visas can be renewed once.

Other formalities

Foreigners who wish to work in Cambodia need a valid work permit from the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training. If you enter Cambodia on an ordinary/business visa, you must obtain a work permit regardless of your employment status.

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Some operators may ask to hold your passport as a deposit or guarantee before hiring vehicles to you. Passports are valuable documents that should be protected – don't provide your passport as a deposit or guarantee under any circumstances. Offer a photocopy or another form of ID instead.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception.  If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

By law, you must, as soon as possible:

If your passport is lost or stolen in Cambodia, you'll also need to:

  • get a police report – you must apply in person at the tourist police station closest to where the incident occurred
  • get a replacement passport – contact the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh, and
  • get an exit visa from the Cambodian Department of Immigration – approval for an exit visa will take around three working days from when you submit your police report, passport and exit visa request.

Make sure you allow enough time to obtain a new passport and exit visa before your planned departure. If you don't have a valid visa in your passport, your departure may be delayed, resulting in fines and/or detention.

Money

The official currency of Cambodia is the Cambodian Riel but US dollars are also legal tender. You can use Riel for small transactions but you'll need US dollars for most purchases.

ATM facilities are widely available in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang and Sihanoukville. Cashing services for credit card cash advances and traveller's cheques are available for a fee at banks in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville and Battambang.

Take enough US dollars in good condition to cover basic travelling expenses. Sellers may refuse to accept notes that are dirty or torn, or of high denominations. Counterfeit bills are in circulation in Cambodia.

Safety and security

Crime

Theft

'Snatch-and-grab' crimes against tourists by thieves on motorcycles are frequent. Many foreigners have been injured in these attacks, particularly when walking along footpaths or travelling on motorbike taxis or tuk-tuks. Some thieves use knives to cut bags as they snatch them.

Travellers have had valuables, such as money and passports, stolen from locked hotel and guesthouse rooms, particularly in cheaper accommodation. Items have been removed from luggage stored in the luggage compartments of buses, including on bus journeys between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap or Sihanoukville.

Bag-snatching, pick-pocketing and other theft can occur at any time, particularly in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap.

There have been reports of people being robbed after withdrawing cash from ATMs. ATM skimming machine scams have also been reported.

  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables, including your passport, in a secure location.
  • Avoid carrying bags that are easy to snatch.
  • Walk on footpaths (where available), away from the curb, with your bag held on the opposite side to the traffic.
  • If travelling by tuk-tuk, use those with barriers (such as curtains or netting) covering the passenger sides to reduce the opportunity for thieves to snatch-and-grab your possessions.
  • When walking along roads or on footpaths, walk against the traffic where possible and be careful when crossing roads.
  • Don't leave your passport or other valuables in luggage stored under busses or away from you on trains or other transport – keep valuables on you and out of sight.
  • Don't tempt thieves – avoid wearing expensive watches, jewellery and cameras.
  • Pay close attention to your personal possessions at all times, particularly items that can be easily grabbed.
  • Avoid using ATMs on the street – use ATMs inside hotels, banks and shopping centres wherever possible.
  • Take care not to expose your PIN to others, particularly when using ATMs.

Sexual assault

Foreigners have been the target of sexual assault in Cambodia, particularly in Sihanoukville, Siem Reap and other tourist locations. Victims are often targeted at night, when intoxicated and/or travelling alone.

Parties, including organised dance parties on islands off the coast of Sihanoukville and other locations, may place you at increased risk of sexual assault (as well as robbery, injury, death, and loss of belongings, including travel documents). These islands are often isolated and access to medical or emergency assistance may be limited or non-existent. Excessive consumption of alcohol may make you more vulnerable to violent crime, including robbery or assault.

  • Consider pre-arranging transport with your accommodation when heading out at night.
  • Stick with people you trust at parties, in bars, nightclubs and taxis.
  • Take particular care when consuming alcoholic beverages in popular tourist spots.
  • Read Sexual Assault Overseas before you travel.  It includes information on how to avoid becoming a victim of sexual assault and on the assistance available to victims.
  • If you become a victim of violent crime, especially rape, seek immediate medical attention – HIV/AIDS is prevalent in Cambodia. Also contact the the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh as soon as possible. See Where to get help

More information:

Gun violence

The level of firearm ownership in Cambodia is high and guns are sometimes used to resolve disputes. Gun shots have been fired into businesses, and shootouts have occurred. Traffic disputes have also resulted in violence involving weapons. Bystanders can get caught up in these disputes. In 2015, a tourist was injured in a shooting near Olympic Market in Phnom Penh.

Armed robberies and home invasions targeting businesses or business owners have increased significantly across Cambodia. Assaults and armed robberies against foreigners have also occurred, and foreigners have been seriously injured and killed.

Late night assault and robbery against foreigners by motorcycle taxi drivers also occur. Areas frequented by tourists and expatriate residents are particularly targeted, including the Riverfront area, Tonle Bassac and Boeung Keng Kang 1 (BKK1) in Phnom Penh, as well as the town of Sihanoukville and surrounding beaches.

  • Be alert to danger at all times, especially after dark.
  • Avoid travelling alone at night and limit night-time travel to well-lit public areas, especially around Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap. Travel in groups wherever possible.
  • Don't travel by motorcycle taxi at night.
  • At night, travel by car is generally safer than by motorcycle, tuk-tuk or cyclo (cycle-rickshaw).

Scams

Tourists may encounter scams and associated serious criminal activity in Cambodia. Criminal rings operating in Cambodia, particularly in Phnom Penh, often use a friendly person to approach tourists and invite them to a private home on various pretexts. Some tourists have been coerced into playing card games and have lost large amounts of money, or have been forced to withdraw money from an ATM or shop, often at gunpoint.

Online relationship and friendship scams also occur. Some Australians involved in such scams have been asked to carry items concealing narcotics out of Cambodia.

Credit card and ATM fraud, including the use of 'skimming' machines which can store card data, happens in Cambodia.

  • Be wary of accepting invitations from strangers, including to visit private homes.
  • Never carry parcels or luggage for others.
  • Check for skimming machines before using ATMs.
  • Take care not to expose your PIN to others, particularly when using ATMs.
  • Monitor your transaction statements.

Piracy

Piracy has occurred in the coastal areas of Cambodia. The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports on its website.

More information: Piracy

Civil unrest and political tension

You should avoid all political gatherings, protests and demonstrations can turn violent, sometimes resulting in injuries and deaths. Local police and security forces have responded with force on occasion, and may not distinguish between demonstrators and bystanders. Large crowds present an added safety risk. Foreigners involved in protests and demonstrations may face arrest and deportation.

In Phnom Penh, possible sites for rallies include political party offices, the National Assembly building, the Prime Minister's residence (by the Independence Monument), Wat Phnom, the Phnom Penh Municipal Government Office (also known as Phnom Penh City Hall, located on Monivong Boulevard, near Freedom Park), Phnom Penh Municipal Court and other government and military buildings or compounds.

Freedom Park in Phnom Penh (also known as Democracy Park – on street 106, between street 61 and Norodom Boulevard) is a common site for public gatherings and demonstrations. Violent clashes between security forces and protestors have occurred there and in surrounding streets. 

Roadblocks restricting access through the city can occur with little warning.

Outside of Phnom Penh, land and border disputes along the Cambodia-Vietnam and Cambodia-Thailand borders have resulted in demonstrations, violence and cross-border fighting. Ongoing border demarcation disputes and alleged encroachment by Vietnamese onto Cambodian land have fuelled protests in Tbong Khmum and Svay Rieng provinces and disputes in Kandal and Ratanakkiri provinces.

There is an ongoing dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over their shared border. The dispute resulted in fighting as recently as April 2012 and has resulted in fatalities. If you visit the Thai-Cambodia border area, you could encounter landmines and unexploded military ordnance. You could also encounter armed conflict, particularly in the areas surrounding:

  • the Preah Vihear temple (known as Khao Pra Viharn temple in Thailand), which is located between Sisaket Province in Thailand and Preah Vihear Province in Cambodia.
  • the Ta Krabei (known as Ta Kwai temple in Thailand) and Ta Moan Thom (known as Ta Muen temple in Thailand) temples, located in Oddar Meanchey province.

Demonstrations have also occurred along the Cambodia-Thai border, most recently in Poipet City.

Tourist attractions and border crossing points in these areas can be closed with little or no notice.

  • Stay well clear of all demonstrations, political events, protests, large-scale public gatherings and roadblocks.
  • Avoid Freedom Park (also known as Democracy Park) in Phnom Penh and surrounding streets.
  • Keep an eye on the news and other sources for advice of possible unrest, protest locations and road blocks. Avoid those areas.
  • Take official warnings seriously and follow the advice of local authorities.
  • Be particularly vigilant in the lead-up to and during religious or national festivals, days of national significance and commemorations.
  • Show an appropriate level of respect, particularly in areas where commemorative activities for the royal family or religious activities are taking place.

Terrorism

In recent years, Cambodian authorities have averted a number of attempted bomb and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Local travel

Tours and adventure activities

The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities such as scuba diving, are not always met. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed.

If you plan to participate in adventure activities, first talk to your travel insurer to check if the activity is covered by your insurance policy. Don't be afraid to ask about or insist on minimal safety requirements. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider.

Landmines

Landmines are a danger in many parts of Cambodia, especially along the border with Thailand. Large areas of rural Cambodia are still contaminated with unexploded ordnance. If you visit the north and northwest of Cambodia, do not stray from clearly marked pathways. Be careful if travelling beyond the Angkor Wat temple complex to outlying temples in the Siem Reap area.

Road travel

Travel by roads, especially at night, is dangerous because of poor road conditions, wandering livestock and the risk of crime. Driving standards and vehicle and road maintenance are generally poor. Streets are crowded in major cities and road rules are routinely ignored. Serious injuries from road accidents occur daily in Cambodia. Motorcycle and coach/bus travel have particularly high accident rates. Large crowds can form quickly after road accidents and the occupants of the vehicle are at risk of becoming victims of extortion.

Speed limits in Cambodia restrict motorcycle drivers to 30km per hour in towns and 60km per hour on the outskirts. Other vehicle drivers are restricted to 40km per hour in towns and 80km per hour outside. You must wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle.

In January 2016, police announced a ticket system to replace payment of on-the-spot fines for traffic infringements. Tickets will be issued and payment should be made within 30 days at a payment centre. It may take several months for the ticket system to be implemented across the country. If paying a fine, ask for a receipt.

  • Familiarise yourself with Cambodian traffic laws before driving.
  • Don't drink and drive.
  • Drive defensively and according to road conditions.
  • Avoid driving at night, where possible.
  • If stopped by police, follow their instructions.
  • If you are walking, look carefully in both directions before crossing streets as traffic can appear from any direction.

More information: Road travel

Drivers' license 

If you want to drive or ride a motorcycle with an engine capacity over 125cc, you'll need a Cambodian drivers' (or motorcycle) licence. Apply for a licence in person at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport using a valid car or motorcycle licence from Australia; otherwise you will be required to undergo testing.

Under Cambodian law, you can ride a motorcycle with an engine capacity of up to 125cc without a licence. However, check first with your insurer. Some travel insurers may not cover you for riding a motorcycle at all, even if you're fully licensed. Others will not cover riders unless they hold an Australian motorcycle licence, even if riding a motorcycle with capacity less than 125cc.

Motorcycles

Motorcycles are a common form of urban public transport. Make sure your insurance policy provides coverage for riding motorcycles, either as a driver or passenger. It is illegal to have more than two adults and one child travelling on a motorcycle.

Take precautions, including the use of a helmet and protective clothing when travelling on a motorcycle or moto-scooter, even as a passenger. Most locally purchased helmets do not meet Australian standards. If you are travelling to Cambodia to participate in a motorcycle tour or you are expecting to travel extensively by motorcycle, consider bringing a helmet and protective clothing from Australia.

Taxis

Official, metered, taxis are generally safe and convenient but be alert to possible scams and safety risks. Riding in tuk tuks (motorised three-wheel vehicles) or on motorcycle 'taxis' poses additional safety and security risks.

  • Make sure you agree on both the fare and route before engaging an unmetered taxi, a tuk tuk or a motorcycle taxi.
  • Secure your possessions while travelling in tuk tuks or on motorcycle taxis.

Public transport

There is no formal public transport system in Cambodia, except for one bus route travelling through the centre of Phnom Penh.

Motorcycle taxis (moto) and motorised three-wheel vehicles (tuk-tuk or remork) are commonly used for short distance transport. Three-wheel bicycle taxis (cyclo) can also be found in some cities. Fares are not metered and may be set according to distance travelled, number of passengers and time of day. Occasionally, drivers accept passengers without full comprehension of the requested destination. Destinations are often identified by common landmarks, such as the nearest pagoda.

  • Agree on the fare before engaging a motorcycle taxi, a tuk tuk or a cyclo.
  • Carry a map and have some idea of the direction you are required to take to reach your final destination.

Rail travel

After a 14-year hiatus, passenger train services recommenced in Cambodia in 2016. Services operate between Phnom Penh, Takeo, Kompot and Sihanoukville.

Boat travel

Travel by boat in Cambodia can be dangerous. Boats ferrying passengers to islands off the coast of Sihanoukville have sunk, most recently in February 2016. Even modern vessels may be overcrowded and lack basic safety equipment (such as life jackets, life rafts and fire extinguishers).

  • Make sure that any vessel you plan to board is carrying appropriate safety equipment, including life jackets for all passengers.
  • Wear your life jacket at all times.
  • Check with your tour operator or vessel management that appropriate safety standards (including passenger/weight limits) are upheld. If not, find another vessel.

Air safety

The safety and maintenance standards of aircraft owned by local airlines operating internal flights may be deficient. Local airlines often cancel or reschedule internal flights at short notice.

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Cambodia.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences, including those involving "soft drugs", are severe and include long jail sentences for possession of even small quantities of recreational drugs.

More information: Drugs

Surrogacy and adoption laws

On 24 October 2016, the Cambodian Government issued a ministerial directive reaffirming that surrogacy is banned Cambodia.  

Australia does not currently have an intercountry adoption program with Cambodia. As a result, the Australian Government cannot process adoption requests at this time. The Attorney-General's Department is monitoring Cambodia's progress on implementation of an intercountry adoption framework and practical compliance with the Hague Convention standards and principles.

More information:

Marriage laws

Foreigners wishing to marry a Cambodian citizen must seek approval to marry from the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. This requirement does not apply to dual Australian/Cambodian citizens, or Cambodian citizens who hold a permanent resident visa in Australia.

Foreign men wishing to marry a Cambodian woman must be under 50 years of age, and have a monthly income of at least US$2,500 at the time their marriage is approved. These requirements do not apply if both people are over 50 years of age.

More information: Legal and Consular Department, Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation - telephone +855 23 212 641 or visit mfaic.gov.kh

Other laws

While perhaps legal in some countries, the following activities are illegal in Cambodia:

  • working without a valid work permit – see Entry and exit
  • making a false statement to police, including in relation to an insurance claim – this includes reporting any crime that did not actually take place or lying about the circumstances of an incident
  • possession or production of pornographic material, including personal images taken on mobile phones, cameras or computers for personal use
  • nudity in public places or at sacred sites, including Angkor Wat
  • purchase or possession of cultural or archaeological artefacts without a permit
  • wildlife trafficking
  • unauthorised hunting of wildlife.  

Australian and Cambodian authorities are committed to combating child sex offences. There are severe penalties under both Australian and Cambodian law for those participating in such activity. Australians may be prosecuted either in Cambodia or at home under Australian law. In Cambodia, a person under the age of 18 years is considered a minor and penalties for engaging in sexual activity with a minor include lengthy prison terms.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering.

More information: Staying within the law

Local customs

Since August 2016, Cambodian authorities have been enforcing modesty laws at prominent sites of religious significance such as the Angkor Wat temple complex. All visitors are required to dress modestly, including covering their knees and shoulders. Expect to be denied entry if your attire is deemed inappropriate.

Photographing members of the public without prior permission, especially monks and other religious figures, is culturally inappropriate.

Avoid taking photographs near sensitive sites such as military zones, assets or personnel, transportation facilities and government buildings.

Dual Nationals

Under Cambodian law, Cambodian citizenship cannot be relinquished, even if a Cambodian citizen acquires the nationality of another country. Always travel on your Australian passport.

Cambodian dual nationals aged 18 to 30 who reside permanently in Cambodia may be liable for compulsory military service. According to Cambodian law, military obligations for female citizens are applied on a voluntary basis.

For further information on issues relating to dual nationality, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Cambodia before you travel.

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

It's important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

If you need counselling services while overseas, contact the Australian Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 and ask to speak to a Lifeline telephone counsellor.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor. Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to.

Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry on your person a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

Take care if purchasing medication in Cambodia. Local pharmacies may sell counterfeit medication which is often indistinguishable from authentic medication.

More information:

Health risks

Methanol poisoning

Do not consume home-made or unlabelled alcohol in Cambodia. These alcoholic drinks may contain harmful substances, particularly methanol, which can cause serious illness, blindness, brain injury or death. Symptoms of methanol poisoning can include fatigue, headaches and nausea, similar to the effects of excessive drinking, but with pronounced vision problems that may include blurred or snowfield vision, flashes of light, tunnel vision, changes in colour perception, dilated pupils, difficulty looking at bright lights, or blindness.

If you suspect that you, or anyone you are travelling with, have been affected by methanol or other poisoning, seek immediate medical attention. This could be vital to avoiding permanent disability or death. Report all suspected cases of methanol poisoning to local police.

Insect borne illnesses

Mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis are widespread in Cambodia. Malaria is also prevalent in some regions, particularly along the borders in mountainous regions.

Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, including always using insect repellent and wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing
  • take prophylaxis against malaria where necessary
  • get vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis before you travel
  • discuss your travel plans and other vaccination needs with your doctor before you travel.

More information

HIV/AIDS

Travellers who engage in high risk activities such as unprotected sex or injecting drugs face a significant risk of contracting HIV/AIDS in Cambodia. In late 2014, a cluster of HIV cases was reported in Battambang Province.

Rabies

Rabies can be found in animals across Cambodia. Rabies is a deadly virus that can be transmitted to humans by mammals such as dogs, monkeys, cats, rats or bats. Take care when dealing with all animals and seek immediate medical attention if you sustain a bite or scratch from an animal. In the absence of vaccination and/or post-exposure treatment, rabies is 100 per cent fatal.

Rabies vaccinations and post-exposure treatments can usually be obtained at Institute Pasteur Rabies Clinic, No.5, Monivong Boulevard, 12201 Phnom Penh. They are generally not available elsewhere in Cambodia.

More information:  Infectious diseases

Bird flu

In recent years, the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed a number of human cases of avian influenza ('bird flu') in Cambodia.

More information: Avian influenza

Hand, foot and mouth disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is common in Cambodia with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. It mostly affects children under the age of 10 years but adult cases (particularly young adults) are not unusual. To minimise the risk of contracting or transmitting HFMD, pay close attention to hygiene, including by carefully and frequently washing your hands.

More information: HFMD Information Sheet (World Health Organization).

Other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis, tuberculosis, typhoid and rabies) are common with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. Isolated outbreaks of cholera also occur in some rural areas. Fresh water sources such as rivers and lakes house parasitic diseases such as schistosomiasis (bilharzia).

  • Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.
  • Do not swim or bathe in fresh water sources.
  • Seek urgent medical attention if you suspect poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities in Cambodia are generally of a very poor quality and very limited in the services they can provide.

Outside Phnom Penh there are almost no medical facilities equipped to deal with medical emergencies.

Hospitals and doctors generally require up-front payment in cash or evidence of valid medical insurance before commencing treatment. Hospital stays can be expensive, with costs often increasing quickly into thousands of dollars. Passports are often withheld until payment is received.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Air evacuations, usually to Bangkok or Singapore, are very expensive. All medical costs, including evacuations, are at the traveller's expense.

More information: List of medical services in Cambodia (Australian Embassy, Phnom Penh)

Medical tourism

Medical tourism is growing in many countries in Asia, including Cambodia. However, the standard of medical care in Cambodia does not yet meet international expectations. Serious and possibly life-threatening complications can result.

Avoid elective and cosmetic surgery in Cambodia.

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer, or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergencies

  • Fire: 118
  • Medical emergencies: 119
  • Criminal issues, contact police: 117 or contact the Tourist Police.

 Local law enforcement may lack the resources to assist you in an emergency situation or to investigate crimes. Police stations and emergency numbers might not be available 24-hours a day.
In Phnom Penh, contact the Tourist Police at Number 13, Street 158, near Wat Koh. In Siem Reap, the tourist police are located on Charles de Gaulle road, south of the Angkor Wat main entrance and ticket booths. 

In other towns, contact the nearest police station for advice on reporting a crime. As local police may not speak, read or write English, consider seeking assistance from a translator prior to visiting a local police station. Be wary of providing your fingerprint or signature to a police document if you are unable to read it.

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly. If you are not satisfied with their response, report the issue to the tourist police.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

For consular assistance, contact:

Australian Embassy, Phnom Penh

No. 16B, National Assembly Street
Sangkat Tonle Bassac
Khan Chamkamon
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Telephone +855 (0) 23 213 470
Facsimile +855 (0) 23 213 413
Email: australian.embassy.cambodia@dfat.gov.au
Website: cambodia.embassy.gov.au

Check the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are unable to contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Volunteering

Reading and following the advice on Volunteering overseas will help to ensure that your overseas volunteering experience is safe, ethical and worthwhile. Research particularly thoroughly any overseas organisation offering opportunities to volunteer with children, especially in orphanages.

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Severe storms and widespread seasonal flooding, including localised flash flooding, can occur without warning in Cambodia, particularly during the local wet season from July to November. Floods may disrupt travel to some provinces. The Mekong River Commission website contains information on flood levels for the Mekong River.

  • Keep an eye on media, weather and flood level reports, especially during the wet season.
  • Check with your tour operator for the latest information on disruptions.
  • Take official warnings seriously.
  • Don't enter areas affected by flooding without first seeking advice from local authorities.
  • Follow the instructions and advice of local authorities.

If there is a natural disaster:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag)
  • contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts
  • closely monitor the media, other local sources of information and the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • follow the instructions and advice of local authorities.

Additional Resources