Cambodia has a high crime rate, including street crime. Military weapons and explosives are readily available to criminals despite authorities’ efforts to collect and destroy such weapons. Armed robberies occur frequently, and foreign residents and visitors, including U.S. citizens, are among the victims. The Embassy has also received reports that hotel rooms of U.S. citizen visitors in Phnom Penh were burglarized while the occupants were asleep.
The most common type of theft is “snatch and grab” robbery, and anything that can be quickly grabbed is at risk: cameras, jewelry, purses, backpacks, mobile phones, etc. Exercise caution and keep belongings out of sight if you travel via “tuk-tuk,” as passengers in these open-air vehicles have been targeted by thieves. If walking along the street, make yourself less of a target by carrying bags or items in your hand or on the shoulder this is furthest from the street. If someone attempts to rob you, you should surrender your valuables immediately, since any perceived resistance may be met with physical violence, including lethal force.
Pickpockets, some of whom are beggars, are present in the markets and at the tourist sites. Sometimes they may act overly friendly, placing their hand on your shoulder or back to distract you in order to pick your pocket.
To avoid the risk of theft or confiscation of original documents, the U.S. Embassy advises its personnel and all U.S. citizens traveling to, or residing in, Cambodia to carry photocopies of their U.S. passport, driver's license, and other important documents and to leave the originals in a hotel safe or other secure place. Local police rarely investigate reports of crime against tourists, and travelers should not expect to recover stolen items. It has also been reported that some police stations charge foreigners from $20-$100 to file a police report.
In 2011 and 2012, the U.S. Embassy received reports of presumed ATM/debit card fraud. ATM fraud can take place in many different ways, but the most common method is “skimming” card data as a transaction is made, while simultaneously recording the Personal Identification Number (PIN) that corresponds with the card. Several people have reported that unauthorized transactions have occurred after they have used their ATM cards in Cambodia. In light of these events, you should exercise caution by planning ahead and making copies of your ATM card, front and back, so that if you lose it, you still have the card number and contact information. Use ATMs located in secure areas, such as bank or hotel lobbies. Consider using only a few ATMs, and be aware of their appearance. If something looks unfamiliar about a machine, don’t use it until you have verified that any modification is legitimate. You should also be aware of your surroundings when using an ATM. Robberies are more likely to occur as you depart an ATM, so please stay alert to your surroundings and depart an ATM quickly.
The U.S. Embassy advises its personnel who travel to the provinces to exercise extreme caution outside the provincial towns at all times. Many rural parts of the country remain without effective policing. Avoid walking alone after dusk anywhere in Sihanoukville, especially along the waterfront. You should be particularly vigilant during annual festivals and at tourist sites in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville, where there have been marked increases in motorcycle “snatch and grab” thefts of bags and purses.
If you are visiting Cambodia, you should practice sound personal security awareness by varying your routes and routines, maintaining a low profile, not carrying or displaying large amounts of cash, not wearing flashy or expensive jewelry, and not walking alone after dark. In addition, you should travel by automobile and not use local moto-taxis or cyclos (passenger-carrying bicycles). These vehicles are more vulnerable to armed robberies and offer no protection against injury when involved in traffic accidents.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the ‘bootlegs’ illegal in the United States, if you purchase them or try to bring them back into the United States you may also be breaking local or federal laws.
You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.