Safety in Sihanoukville

Hi All,

When I learned about Sihanoukville, I was really excited -- it seemed like the perfect place to live. Only... well, I started researching safety, and the information I found indicated that a) if you were a woman, you were in real danger, and b) even if you were a man, theft was endemic. For those of you who have actually lived there for awhile: is this true?



Yes, thats very true.

There are many other towns, cities and so-called sea side resorts across the world that function in the same manner and cater exclusivly to expat tourists. 

Tons of girls get druged and raped on Thailand's islands, full moon parties and the notorius Pattaya aka Sin City.  And the same applies to India's Goa and their beach parties etc.  Maybe less than half of such crimes are reported by the girls; they'd rather leave it all behind and fly back home.

Guys are often drugged and robbed esp by ladyboys across Asia and South America.  I remember my drink being spiked twice; once in Pattaya and once in Phnom Penn clubs.  Luckly i realized what had happened and managed to get back to my hotel safely. 

I know what im getting myself into and therefore take all precautions.  Such destinations can be either fun if you're a seasoned expat or it can turn into a living hell.

Expats are the sole targets of scammers, tuk tuk drivers, pushers and it goes without saying by 99% of the female population catering to expats and that speak fluent English. 

They struggle for a living and we go there to have fun; so its fair game.  Look at their living conditions out in the country and villages; and look at us on holiday, cant blame them for wanting to be rich quick. 

Good luck.

Simon, don't believe all that generalized comments about Sihanoukville.
I lived there for the past 3 years and not only have I never been a victim of crime, I've also not have any friends having experiienced any crime.

Scamming tuktuk drivers or bar girls do not fall under the category criminals, but rather opportunists, that try to get advantage of stupid foreigners. If you're clever enough you won't even get scammed.

There are rules to avoid problems and as long as you stick to those rules which is nothing more than common sense you won't get in trouble.

I've written answers to the same quesrion here, maybe you can find them Simon, but  believe me, Sihanoukville is safer rhan any big city in US or anywhere in the world.


Cambodia expat-advisor team

Hi everyone,

Please note that some posts have been removed from this thread.

As a reminder, it would be much appreciated if you can give both positive and negative feedback when you reply to questions.

Generalized comments are not reliable and should therefore be avoided.


Priscilla team  :cheers:

It doesn't matter where in the world you are, it can be dangerous everywhere. On the other hand, it plays big role how your personality is, and where and who you choose to spend time with and why you choose to stay at a special place. Many come to Sihanoukville because of the easiness to drugs, but then they have also chosen an illegal life together with drug users and the risk of problems increases. But are you living a normal quiet life and follow the laws that are in place, and do not try to teach the citizens of your country standards because you think they're better. And if you understand that Cambodia has laws that sometimes do not comply with what you are familiar with in your homecountry . If you understand that the police are often a bit corrupt because they have poor salaries and that the few dollars extra for you is not really so much, when you can put much more on other pointless purchases. Then you can live a good life without any problems in Sihanoukville, I lived there for 2 years and are moving in a few days back after a year in Thailand and I have never felt unsafe in Sihanoukville regardless of time of day. But I'm good at to adapt myself to the place I live in. And I don't use drogs. And as JoeKhmer say, who poor people don't use stupid foreigner who want sex for nothing only because they think they are more worth because they come from a rich country. That's same all over the world. Be nice, smile politely and accept that you're in their country as a guest. And they have every right to throw you out if you can't adapt.

Excellent post and a good view on living in a third world country.



It’s good that recurring questions arise in the forum from time to time. Likewise, having others express their insights are good too, e.g. the commentary about Chinese investments in Cambodia. It has always been useful to me to read the threads to assimilate the copious information into actions that I can use in my decision-making while traveling.

So much can be expressed about the safety issue in any locale.  But regarding Sihanoukville, a city where I've stayed for weeks many times during my travels, not once have I experienced anything criminal in nature. Nor have I ever felt unsafe. Perhaps it’s because of luck; or perhaps it’s because of common sense practices that I’ve learned to consistently & routinely employ in the USA over many years, where I am actually more fearful. I simply use those same practices and routines abroad to learn and manage risks. The stereotypes, or sometimes very unfortunate subjective experiences others report, should not serve as cause to indict Sihanoukville or all of Cambodia but definitely should be factored in to one’s own research and subsequent assessments about a place.

For me, the adventure of travel and staying more than a week in a place is complemented by ridding myself of notions about how things are (or are done) back home. I try my best not to be the ugly American. Instead, observing/listening to others (expats and locals) in the location to gain familiarity is helpful and then just going with the flow of the new place can be stabilizing. Friendliness, smiles, patience and not being judgmental are practices that are helpful too. Respect & generosity are noteworthy too, even when transacting business with opportunists, as Joe aptly characterizes them. I feel more thievery takes place by corporations than by tuk tuk drivers.   I try never to get into the comparisons game either— just not helpful.

Good read riholley  :top:


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