Phnom Penh Safety

After my trip to Central America at the end of this month I was considering a trip to South east Asia around August. I am a solo male traveler in my late 30's. CAn anyone comment on safety in terms of walking around during the day and at night. I will be in Phnom Penh. Considering staying at THe White Mansion Hotel or Amanjaya. Any advice is appreciated.

Hello.

Amanjaya hotel is in the entertainment area, White Mansion a bit further out of that.

Safety is mainly due to your own behaviour and care.

Don't walk around alone and very drunk at 3 am, showing your Rolex and iPhone X, asking for trouble, but that goes for about every large city in the world.

If you are careful, and everyone should, there is no risk, PP is not more unsafe than any other large city. Avoid walking along the river late at night, and the area around Wat Phnom. Not only you will be approached by freelancers but some of them are also on drugs, so better avoid it.

That's all the risk. If you visit the bar area take small notes with you and never pay with 100 usd, as there is a trick that they go away to change then come back and give you [another] note back saying it's fake. So pay with 10, 20 and max. 50 notes. The larger notes you can change in the hotel or at a fancy restaurant, no risk there. If you happen to still have to pay with a large note, either note or photograph the serial number, best with the waitress or cashier present.

That's about safety and precautions, but I think after a trip to Central America you will be seasoned in that respect.

Phnom Penh is safe, don't worry.

Cheers.

Joe
Cambodia expert
Expat.com team

Thanks for your help, Joe.

I have lived here three years , I am from USA where they will beat you for your shoes , killing is a everyday thing, Phnom Penh is safer than any large cities in USA , violence hardly exist, except for domestic issues, but as jo said snatching of purses , iPhones , bags are common, and mostly at night, I have not once in three years even been cheated out of anything, but I must disqualify myself as I usually don’t go out at night , but snatching especially by the riverside by passing motos are not uncommon, just use your head, couldn’t have put it any better  than jo , if you stumbling around drunk at 2 am , well that’s when you will have a problem , be safe , you will be fine by the way in my experience, the police here are very polite to foreigners , and be sensible and you should not have a problem .

Thanks Twinsguy. Glad both you guys are in agreement.
The internet is full of inaccurate information about Phnom Penh.  Everything from it being nearly crime free, to armed robbery and violent crime being an everyday occurrence. 
As usual the truth seems to be somewhere in the middle. Common sense and a bit of street smarts should serve me well. I am from Chicago so I will probably feel much safer.

Well you should have said you were from Chicago, jeez this is nothing , you will look back from now in a few months and laugh that you even brought it up , now Chicago, I’m from Los Angeles, so , once again very opportunistic crime , not violent the citizens will be the first to protect you, this will be a wonderful experience for you a large city with this degree of crime is non existent in USA

I can confirm what twinsguy and joekhmer have said, exactly how I’ve experienced it. Be smart, be aware of your surroundings, just like in any large city, but I’ve never felt unsafe for a second in PP. Scammers are much more of a risk than robbers, watch out for all the known scams.

If you don’t get obviously drunk, walk around the streets behind Amanjaya (nice hotel) late at night, solicit children or behave in an unseemly manner, you won’t have any problems. Doing any of the above will almost certainly attract serious attention. Enjoy Cambodia!

It is dangerous for robberies and people are constantly staring at you! If you go with it you will have a fight on every streetcorner and in almost every shop. don't let all those fairydust throwers fool you!   only if you bend your head and look to the floor you can live here, they love it if they feel you are lower then them!
They will not allow any form of competition or if they feel they have to look up to you..

DrewCG3000 :

It is dangerous for robberies and people are constantly staring at you! If you go with it you will have a fight on every streetcorner and in almost every shop. don't let all those fairydust throwers fool you!   only if you bend your head and look to the floor you can live here, they love it if they feel you are lower then them!
They will not allow any form of competition or if they feel they have to look up to you..

You must have a miserable life to be so negative and offending the people of this country.

You're wrong in all aspects. But your attitude of hate against the Cambodian people could make them feel higher than you, and rightly so.

Do all involved a favour: stay out of this beautiful country with lovely people.

Joe
Cambodia expert
Expat.com team

Yes good point JoeKhmer,  actually a warning to everybody reading this you can never ever speak negative about them or try to expose them the locals will hate you to the bone.

just try it you will see what happens if you try to expose them in daily life or facebook hundreds of comments will go against you it is never like that and so on...

Even on this forum I have seen expats leaving the country because of all the things what happened to them..  The reactions similar as from Joe they will make you look like an idiot.

Ofcourse not all cambodians are bad people I have met so many nice people here but the majority of them still think and believe that they have to scam or squeeze a foreigner and they get great pleasure out of it.
If you confront them they will play stupid or even worse make you the bad guy!
There is never any consequence for them anyway so this will not chance. it only gets more sophisticated.

Back on Topic I personally know 3 people who got robbed in Phnom Penh the last 2 years. My local Khmer friends also warned me to avoid certain areas at night and so on..

the most things that happen are bag en phone snatches, if you are sitting in a Tuk Tuk never ever take your phone or valuebles out. 
My friend stopped a robber and grabbed his arm and he fell of the motobike on the street. Than my friend ordered the tuk tuk to stop but the tuk tuk didn't stop whatever he did so seems they work together often.

also better not get drunk at night and go home alone they will see an easy target in that and many people get robbed like that.

You will not see a lot of in your face robberies because it always has to go sneaky. but those in your face robberies are also there only rare.  Those happen if you live in those dark alley apartments they will follow you and than do it when you are in the dark.

What you are saying is caught under the heading "common sense".

Try walking in the Bronx with an iPhone at 3 am, totally drunk. You think you won't get robbed?

Letting hang your handbag outside the tuktuk is stupid and it can lead to problems.

It has been said before: don't do stupid things. Stay relatively sober, take a rickshaw as they are more closed and their details are known, car, plate number, driver, customer, where got in, where go to, what time. Hard to grab a bag or phone from inside a rickshaw.

Get a cheap phone when you arrive, take that with you when you go out, nobody wants to rob you. It's all so simple and only common sense is asked. Don't wear thick golden chains, don't have a stash of cash in your wallet. Don't wear a Rolex watch.

Provoking people is a bad idea. It's their country, you are a guest. If you want to buy something and you feel they charge too much, smile and walk away. Mostly they will offer you a lower price.
I always had a Khmer girl doing shopping for me, other than groceries. Like buying a toaster. She knew what I wanted, went alone to the shop and bought it for Khmer price. Easy? Yes.

I have never had friends or friends of friends being robbed, I never heard of them having fights with locals. I never heard them saying they feel threatened.

So you are a special case, someone who attracts trouble. Might be caused by yourself?

Ever tried smiling? A smile makes people smile, even pretty girls or ugly guys. Being relaxed and friendly has not hurt anyone and is highly appreciated by the lovely people of this country.

Of course there are criminals. As everywhere in the world. Crime is not a major thing in PP, it happens, and as my US friend always says: I feel safer in PP than in most US cities. Think of that.

Cheers.

Joe

Moderated by Bhavna 4 months ago
Reason : Too many external links
We invite you to read the forum code of conduct

@Joe Khmer,
Maybe slightly off topic here Joe.. but being your are a photographer, I have two questions:

I like to use a smartphone camera on a gimbal to do video captures of street scene activity as well as scenic shots out in the countryside. Always daytime however - i.e: sun-up to sunset.
Never night time bar scenes - but maybe occasionally during midday hours only.

1. How much of a risk is this activity for theft, (i.e: grab-and-run) or other theft scenarios?

2. In general, how do Khmer's react to a barang walking videoing them and everything round them?
-   Are they shy, or 'put-off, or offended with such intrusions?

What has your experience been like shooting along the streets and market scenes?

I will answer to it, although I have no experience with camera on gimbal in street or bar area at night.

I sometimes take shots at night in bars, using the excellent Leica double lenses of my Huawei P9P. It makes flash unnecessary.

One rule I hold on to and advise everyone: If you film or picture someone particular, say a beautiful girl, always ask her permission. If she rejects, don't do it. People have seen their pics in porn websites and they had no knowledge of that, so they are careful.

If you film a group of people, like doing sports on the riverside, ask them and say it's for yourself only. That way you express respect and they like that, will probably allow you.

Shooting from a terrace, just the general public, should be no problem.

Hope that answers your questions.

Cheers.

Joe

Hi Joe,  or anyone..

.. Okay, I understand the etiquette of asking permission if taking photo's (Vid's) of individuals, or groups of people beforehand, and that has been my practice.

- I know that walking in a dark alley at 3 am with a smartphone & gimbal is just begging for trouble.

But I'm still wondering about 'general filming', for example:  capturing the ambiance of a street market or night market scene, but not of any individuals in particular.

How do Khmer's react in general to foreigners walking about with a selfie-stick filming in their environment?
- Do they view it as an acceptable practice?  Only just tolerable?  Or intrusive and offensive?

- And my other question,  what's the risk level for theft, (i.e: 'a grab & run') of one's camera gear in a crowded, busy street market scene? 

.. Anyone?
ben2b

They will behave more correct because they are affraid that anything negative is captured so  they will wave at you and smile

Thanks DrewCG300, that's one of the things I was wondering about.

- So I should be OK for the most part while making a nuisance of myself..  Cool.!
- It's not like I post this stuff on YouTube for the world to see.
- It's just family & close friends who want to see what my life is like in SEA.

Cheers
ben2b

Moderated by Bhavna 4 months ago
Reason : Misleading information
We invite you to read the forum code of conduct

Okay, I think I get it now..  and how I might deal with any 'sensitivity' ..

DrewCG, thank you for the little 'Khmer psychology lesson'. 
- Great insights.. and good points!  Exactly what I was looking for.

- Believe it or not, this really helps to understand what is going on in their heads.
- I wondered how they might react to filming and in particular police or government types, who are always looking for an excuse to find a problem. (maybe a little tea-money as well?)

Your example about filming 'on the roads' and how to explain away any 'security questions', with a smile and a bunch of well directed complements, 'like a dumb tourist', was really helpful!. 
- I'm more confident now about what to expect and how to play along to ease much of the tension.

I also do some drone work (aerial scenery shots). but think I'll park that idea for Cambodia until I get a full  handle on their rules & regulations about drone flights.
- This was never a problem in Thailand except for flying near Airports or over Military bases, along  with clearly defined rules.   Cambodia? .. I'm not so sure!

Thanks again..
ben2b

ben2b.

Realize that the information that was given, is one-sided, biased and misleading.

I say not more.

Use your common sense.

Filming the guards in front of Mr. Erdokan's residence would also not be a good idea.

Flying a drone over the White House neither.

Got it?

Stay safe, don't take unnecessary risks, you will always be the loser.

Good luck.

Joe

Hey Joe, I know what your saying.

I've seen Drew's other comments in various threads and I can see he has some, shall I say..  'strong opinions' about the people and culture of Cambodia.
- I also see that many of his posts are often moderated out of existence.
- So he may not always be politically correct while expressing his opinions, but again, I don't throw an opinion away out of hand just because I can.
There is always some truth to be found if one listens beyond the personal prejudices.   

But I'm certainly able to read between the lines in sifting out the pertinent information from most any biased and BS feedback.

Everybody has a perspective and opinion whether it be biased or not depending or their experiences.

I don't see where he was completely out of line or 'misleading' in his comments, as much of what he had to say I have already encountered in Thailand.
- His suggestion to ask permission prior to taking an individuals photo's makes sense.
- The suggestion on dealing with inquiring authority types, with a smile and courtesy makes sense.
- Playing the dumb.. 'sorry, I didn't know..'  tourist routine has gotten me out of a bind more than a few times in Thailand, and always with positive results for both parties.

And yes, I understand who and what cannot be photographed, because I ask questions first before I act. 
- Same goes for the drone work, ask the question or get permission first.
'Better safe than sorry.. Right?   I know brother.. I know!

BTW Joe, I'd I be curious to know on which points you feel I may have been misled.
- As said, I'm open to listening to all opinions..

ben​2b.

Just short.

I don't think you are misled as you take out the points that you believe.

Misleading information is not misleading all readers, but it's still an attempt to do so.

Provoking military authorities is risky, and more so in Cambodia than in Thailand.

Those military are not there for nothing. They guard the government buildings and residences of ministers and the PM.

If on guard they are alarmed by any idiot who takes photos of them or of the buildings. In the US such an idiot would be killed immediately. Over here they might knock him down and later ask questions.

So how clever do people want to be? As I said stay on the safe side, don't provoke military. Those that were mentioned are the BGU, body guard unit of the PM, not the softest and not the most polite. But they have to do their job. People can make that job easier by not provoking those guys. Not even as a "dumb" tourist, it could turn out wrong.

A golden rule for foreigners, tourists or expats, is: stay away from politics and demonstrations.

Cheers.

Joe
























@JoeKhmer,

"A golden rule for foreigners, tourists or expats, is: stay away from politics and demonstrations."

I get it Joe.. really!

Thanks again for your 'straight-up' feedback.
- Much appreciated.

ben2b

On to better topics next time

I’ve lived in Cambodia for three years , I love it the people even the police are nice but the golden rule is
1. Don’t talk about their government, don’t participate in any political activities, you are a guest in this country it’s not our business , it’s really easy , I am from the USA , so I certainly don’t have anything to say about politics nor should any foreigner, enjoy the great people and be smart , don’t even entertain the thought of photos of army cops especially body guard unit , these people do a great job and don’t need any interference from us westerners, it’s bad for all of us !  Stick to having fun , photo opportunities are everywhere, lots of beautiful kids and people and markets , stick with these , this wonderful country has let me stay with them at this wonderful city , I’m grateful,  I’ve got nothing to criticize, good luck

Hello twinsguy20,

Thank you for adding your commentary and advice regarding my posting.
- I agree whole hardheartedly with your comments and sentiments for Cambodia.

After having now received your further cautionary advice about 'photographing police',
I began wondering.. "where is this coming from?"  I had no intention to ever photograph police officers under any circumstances and was becoming confused about all the warnings!   
I do know better - really!

- But after reviewing my response to 'Drew' in post #21, 2nd paragraph, I can now clearly understand the reason for all your warnings.!

I see now that my poor writing skill in attempting to say one thing, ended up describing something altogether different from what I intended to convey.  Yikes! 

My original question had been about the general Khmer reaction to foreigners using phone cameras on a selfie stick,  while taking videos in busy public street market scenes.

- The reason I asked was because I wanted to understand and be aware of any sensitivity the Khmer people might have at being captured on video, even if not the intended subject.

At the same time, I mentioned that I liked to 'capture rural scenic landscapes when out on the roads'.  Like colorful scenes of rice fields or interesting landscape  scenes etc.

It was then Drew offered "a caution about filming from the roads", or actually filming the road itself? ..which I didn't quite understand?

- He ventured further that police, upon seeing this activity, may have concerns and question me about what I was up to. 
- He then went on to described how one, dealing with the police, should respectfully diffuse their concerns in a cheerful and apologetic.. "I didn't know".. dumb tourist manner. 

So while I was composing my reply I managed to stupidly join two separate thoughts together, one about filming the general public, then inadvertently included my second thought about the road police in one stupid, long, 'run-on-sentence',  ..making it appear like I was asking  how the police would react to having their photo taken as well!
- Please, not so..

What I meant to convey about the police was not about 'filming them', but rather how the 'road police' would react to my filming rural scenes from the road.!
- And how one might alleviate their concern for my suspect activities.     

So I must apologize to JoeKhmer and yourself for my writing blunder, which ultimately caused much confusion for myself.

But I can say one thing with certainty today, 
- I absolutely appreciate the concern you both expressed for my safety and well being,  despite my appearing to be the resident forum idiot!

Sincerely,  I've gained a lot more respect and appreciation for you as members on this forum. 
- It gives me all the more reason to be here.

God bless and I thank you! 

Ben2b

Here here, thank you very much.

Cheers.

Joe

Yes this advice I wanted to share not pointed at you , I’ve seen many expats who are activists back home and just wanted to share this is absolutely not the place , nothing personal, and I’m still the king of bad writers, don’t try to take that from me, sounds like you will be fine here

twinsguy20,   Again, I appreciate all that you advised as well as your positive comments and experience about Cambodia and your feelings for the Khmer people.
Your confidence for Cambodia goes a long  way in building my own.

Hey,  I'd  be more than happy to bow to you as the reigning king of bad script.
But if you ever need a few more tips to help maintain the throne, just give me a shout!

Thanks again, and for vote of confidence as well.
The more I learn, the more I'm sure I will fit in.

Just my two cents worth to the OP,  so far the only daily danger I've encountered is ridding a moto, you will have to have eyes in the back of your head. Be ready to dodge pot holes (in the country side), dogs, cattle, drivers pulling out in front of you, no signaling, opening doors without checking etc. But I've seen this happen all over SEA, it's getting better but take great caution.
Enjoy, it's a great place.
# And check your insurance cover fine print, over a certain age, 60 I believe, you won't be covered for riding motor bikes even though they will accept your money. This could have changed, but worthy to check up.

I willhave addone more note of cautiothat should be common sense but I witnessed tgis very thing. A foreigner was taking pictures at a khmer cafe and started snaping phontos of a young Khmer girl with her husband. The husband git quite upset. The tourist haddestination not asked permission first and it was in the province, the attitude is different away from the city as they see fewer tourists. Fortunately cooler heads prevailed and he was asked to delete the photos.

Khmer people are friendly and polite but disrespecting them can change that. There will be those who are rude, (mostly young men who think they have something to prove) but just smile and walk on and problems will evaporate.

Good point Warpoet, I'm a photographer [hobby] and although I don't shoot "people" often, if I do I always ask if they don't mind. It's so easy and it works.

If I'm with my cute young girlfriend [hypothetical] in a cafe and a stranger starts to take pictures of her I would be baffled too and ask the guy what he is up to. As I'm one of the most patient and quiet persons you can imagine what this foreigner caused at the young Khmer guy. Also think that there are weirdos around that take pics of young girls for use on porn sites.

So be genuine and ask the person if he/she has a problem if you take a picture. Don't take 10 pics as it's not a casting for a film, just take one or two and show the result to them. No problem.

Cheers.

Joe

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