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:


interesting question

I would also like to ask what safety concerns there are on KR and KRS ?

AdB50 :

interesting question

I would also like to ask what safety concerns there are on KR and KRS ?

There aren't any, unless you're neglecting basic common sense in traveling.



Well I live in Phnom Penh have been for three years, I have never been scammed, or stolen from , a few lame attempts , but I find bar girls and especially tuk tuk drivers to be mostly honest hard working peopl, as well as I have stated the same with most bar girls, here is the real problem , it’s us
1. Stumbling drunk down the street walking home at 2 am  talking on your cell phone , it might get snatched, but you will not be beat for your shoes just grab and run .
2. When you get in a tuk tuk and I advise you to take one after a night session of drinking etc, not a moto, sit in the middle with your bag between your legs ( this is all after midnight advice)  always tell him what you will pay him not ask how much huge mistake, have a idea where you need to go , because if you ask a tuk tuk driver in Phnom Penh to take you to San Francisco’, they would say get in I know exactly where that is , you decide the price, he will not let you walk unless you are to low tip him 1000-2000 Reil ( 25 cents  or 50 cents) if he argues about the agreed on price do not worry walk away, tourist police in Cambodia is a tuk tuk drivers worst night mare , so don’t threaten him with this he know, but in three years only one guy tried for more money from me, I just laughed and walked away no problem, no physical violence etc, but spell out the price and you make the price, 250 anywhere in town give him 3$ to the airport take the train from the train station as rides to the airport by tuk tuk can be as high as 10-12$ , hire a tuk tuk for the whole day go and he will wait all day 20$ give him a 5$ tip, but if he says no, 20 feet away there is another tuk tuk waiting to serve you , they are safe and reliable transportation around Cambodia, not crooks , never take a moto late at night , by the way a moto ride is about half of tuk tuk , but dangerous by any standards , although I still take them from time to time .
3. Weed is all over Southeast Asia , but still illegal to smoke , but many bars have people smoking weed passing it around , if you need to smoke weed no problem, be discrete on your private balcony etc, but if they are smoking in the bar , my advice is to move away , don’t be associated with them smoking in public, just for your information, I’m 60 and have been smoking weed for over 45 years , so no objection, I’m not a drinker, in Thailand DO NOT SMOKE WEED, IN VIETNAM DO NOT SMOKE WEED  in Laos no problem , be alittle discrete, I heard of one expat in a bar and a drunk police came up to him and said 10$ fine and let him keep smoking away , so don’t be petrified of going to jail, but best advice is to best not smoke at all, but if you must be discrete , every street you go on you will smell people smoking , better safe than sorry , any big problems go to tourists police they are helpful I hear , Cambodian police generally always cut you a break if your a western tourist , they want you here and happy, where as I find Thailand police are looking for you to step out of line to get some money, if caught in any southeast Asian country doing something wrong , especially Thailand or Vietnam , do not go to the police station with them get out your wallet atm whatever it takes to get out of your problem, this is highly unlikely in Cambodia, but highly likely in Thailand after midnight, use common sense, but of most of the south East Asia country’s you will find Cambodian police and the people the kindest towards foreigners,

New topic