Travelling is an exciting experience. The memories we collect and the stories we create last us a lifetime! To try and avoid stories about scams and memories of incidents one would rather forget about, best to be safety wise. The tips listed below are useful for any traveller, anywhere in the world, but especially applicable while travelling through Cambodia and SEA region in general.
Bag Snatching: With mopeds and bikes whizzing around everywhere, it’s easy to pay less attention to your belongings, and hence become an easy target for a moped driver to swipe your valuables away. This also applies for when you are in a Tuk Tuk. Ensure all your valuables are well within your grasp not to attract attention of opportunity seekers.
Mobile Phone Snatching: With the rise of the popularity of selfies so has been the increase of mobile phone snatching! Before taking that perfect shot, consider your surrounds and be weary of drive by phone snatchers.
Friendly Locals: Cambodians are a super friendly nation, respectful of others. However people are people all over the world and some seem to appear friendly but are scammers. One scam is an extremely friendly local (can be non Cambodian) will invite you to their house, being very hospitable and even offering you food & drink. They will suggest a game of cards and inevitably you will be set up to lose the game and end up owing large sum of money. If you don’t pay back, they get aggressive really fast and demand you to pay up.
So how can you tell if the friendly local is genuine or a scammer? Use clear judgement. If a situation is either moving too fast (you don’t seem to have much influence on) or if it’s too good to be true (eg a beautiful guy/lady is inviting you), think twice before accepting any invitation. Find an excuse and move away from the trap!
In addition to the above three main safety precautions for travelling in the SEA region, the following tips are common sense for all travellers, everywhere!
Passport Theft: It’s important to have ID on you while travel, but be careful who you give your passport to. It’s easy for someone to dress in a uniform and ask to see your ID and then extort you to return the passport. Best to carry a copy of your passport to show in circumstances you are unsure if the real passport is necessary.
Transport Pricing: Whether it’s a Tuk Tuk ride in Phnom Penh, a Taxi ride in Athens or even a gondola ride in Vienna, do your research and know what is a fair price for private transportation. Always agree in advance the rate before accepting the ride so there are no nasty surprises. Some taxis even have fake meters installed so knowing the fair price for the ride is important even in seemingly metered taxis.
While in Phnom Penh, if unsure ask the team at Envoy Hostel to find out reasonable prices for Tuk Tuk rides around town.
Pick Pocketing: This can happen even in your own hometown but if you are travelling, the impact of losing your wallet holding your ID and credit cards could be hard to recover from. Easy suggestion for men is to carry your wallet in your front pockets rather than the back pockets. It’s harder to steal! For Ladies, zip up the access to your purse regardless if it’s in a handbag or a back pack. Sounds too simple, but often we get blasé during extended travel and these simple actions can save you from a lot of hassle.
Dress to Blend in: Don’t dress to impress when you are on the road. Its common sense, but leave valuables at home! Don’t flash any expensive items (including tech devices), carry a slim and simple wallet (a velcro $5 wallet rather than a nice leather wallet) and present yourself similar to the locals in attire. Don’t stand out in the crowd so you don’t become an easy target.
The good news is that if you are staying at Envoy Hostel in Phnom Penh, not only do you have access to knowledgeable team members who can give you advise, but also the location of the hostel is in one of the safest and upmarket areas in town (no ‘shady’ streets to walk through at night time). Highly rated by travellers for being safe and secure, Envoy has a full security system fitted throughout the hostel, key card entry and 24 hour reception, you can secure all your valuables away in your lockers and sleep easy knowing in you are safe and sound 🙂
Travel safe, travel far and collect fantastic travel memories!