Recommended vaccinations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for all travellers to Cambodia:
Recommended vaccinations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for some travellers to Cambodia:
Other diseases to consider while travelling to Cambodia:
Cambodia is famous for the magnificent Angkor Wat, a sprawling stone temple complex dating back to the 12th century. Its crumbling ruins surrounded by jungle have sparked the imagination of thousands and were used as a shooting location for the film Tomb Raider. Angkor Wat’s central structure is so iconic that it’s even on the country’s flag. But dig a little deeper into this rich, complex country, and you’ll discover there’s so much more to explore – from dreamy island shores to a vibrant contemporary arts scene, via world-class dining and colourful, lively markets.
Capital Phnom Penh is home to the country’s golden, glimmering Royal Palace, vibrant markets, and some of the best restaurants in the country, which put a modern twist on traditional Cambodian dishes and ingredients. Many of these restaurants are social enterprises, which give back to the communities that they are based in. Battambang is known for its lively contemporary arts scene and for the pioneering Phare Circus which also performs in Siem Reap, the town closest to Angkor Wat. Head down to the country’s southern coast for tropical white-sand beaches at the old resort town of Kep, and the sleepy riverside town of Kampot, whose charming streets are marked out by tumbledown French colonial buildings which now house hip, creative coffee shops, restaurants, and small indie businesses.
Public health facilities in Cambodia are very poor. Private clinics and hospitals in Phnom Penh are often better equipped, but are of variable quality and can be expensive. Many treatments and procedures are not available in Cambodia. Many people travel to neighbouring countries for medical treatment. The standards maintained by Cambodian emergency services may not be on par with those maintained by Singapore and evacuation may be necessary for medical emergencies and anything other than minor medical concerns. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and that you also have accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation as some hospitals will expect payment by you at the time of treatment.
Local pharmacies provide a limited supply of medications. Many sell counterfeit or out of date products. Make sure you bring adequate supplies for the duration of your stay.
Zika and Dengue
Cambodia has a risk of Zika virus transmission and there has been a significant increase in the number of cases of Dengue Fever in recent months, leading to some deaths. Although severe dengue is rare in travellers, you should avoid mosquito bites particularly between dawn and dusk. The mosquitoes that transmit dengue are most abundant in towns, cities and surrounding areas.
The line of the international border near the Preah Vihear temple (Khaoi Pra Viharn in Thai) was disputed by Cambodia and Thailand. Since 2008, there have been occasional clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops in the area, with fighting between Cambodian and Thai troops at Ta Krabey in 2011. There have also been disputes over control of the Ta Moan and Ta Krabey temples, which lie close to the Thailand-Cambodia border. In 2013, the International Court of Justice ruled that Cambodia has sovereignty over the whole territory of the Preah Vihear temple.
Although relations between the two countries concerning the border have improved, you should take extra care when travelling in this area, and follow the instructions of the local authorities.
Cambodia remains heavily affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance. Mined areas are often unmarked. Don’t stray off main routes in rural areas, including around temple complexes and don’t pick up metal objects.
Cambodia has one of the highest rates of road traffic accidents in the region. There are high numbers of fatalities and serious injuries. Many accidents are due to poor vehicle and driver safety standards. Travel after dark significantly increases the risk of accidents.
You’ll need a Cambodian driving licence to drive a vehicle, including a motorcycle. If you have an International Driving Permit, you can apply for a Cambodian licence for US $32. Some local travel agencies can arrange this for a fee. Driving or riding a motorbike without a licence may invalidate your travel insurance in the event of an accident. Your vehicle may also be impounded.
Travelling as a passenger by motorcycle taxi (‘motodop’) is dangerous. Vehicles are poorly maintained and driving standards are low. There is also a risk of bag snatching, particularly in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville.
The police can impose an on-the-spot fine if you ride a motorcycle without a helmet. Riding without a helmet may also invalidate your insurance. The police have also been known to stop tourists without Cambodian driving licences and advise them to return their motorcycles immediately. Sometimes a fine is imposed. In Sihanoukville, it’s a requirement for police to issue a receipt when issuing a fine for a traffic violation.
Before you hire a vehicle, check your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered (as either a driver or passenger for motorcycles) and check the small print of the rental agreement. Don’t use your passport as security for motorcycle or car rental. Owners have been known to hold on to passports against claimed damage to the motorcycle or scooter.
Accidents have occurred due to overloaded or poorly maintained boats. There have also been reports of tourist boats continuing to operate despite weather warnings, particularly between Sihanoukville and the nearby islands. In 2016, 2 incidents (one off the coast at Sihanoukville and the other on the river near Kampot) saw tourist vessels sink.
Boat travel on rivers becomes difficult in the dry season (March – May). Water levels in rivers and lakes are high during the rainy season (June to October).
There have been attacks against ships in the South China Sea and surrounding seas. Mariners should be vigilant, reduce opportunities for theft, establish secure areas on-board and report all incidents to the coastal and Flag State authorities.
Adventurous activities and swimming
If you’re considering jungle trekking, use a reputable tour guide. There’s no licensing system for tour guides, so seek advice from other travellers, your hotel and look at online reviews before hiring a guide.
Take care when swimming, diving, kayaking or white water rafting in rivers or close to waterfalls, particularly in the rainy season from May to October. Currents can be extremely strong and there have been fatalities because of this. Jellyfish can be found close to the shore, particularly during the rainy season. Their sting can be fatal. If in doubt, take local advice from hotel management and dive centres.
If you rent jet skis or water sports’ equipment, make sure adequate safety precautions are in place. Rent only from reputable operators, thoroughly check for damage before use and insist on training.
The standards maintained by diving schools and rescue services are not always as high as in Singapore. Check a dive operator’s credentials carefully before using them and make sure you’re covered by your insurance. If you have not had any previous diving experience, ask your dive operator to explain what cover they offer before signing up for a course. Make sure safety equipment is available on the boat, particularly oxygen. You should also ask about contingency plans including the ability to call for help while at sea and to evacuate divers to the nearest hyperbaric chamber if necessary.
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.