Asia and Oceania

Cambodia Flag of Cambodia

Still current at: 10 June 2008
Updated: 01 May 2008


This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Health section (prevalence of HIV/AIDS).   The overall level of the advice has not changed.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)

Travel advice for this country


Travel Summary

  • There is an underlying threat from terrorism in Cambodia.  Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.  Visitors should continue to avoid crowds and, in particular, political gatherings.

  • Outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Cambodia have to a small number of human fatalities. The last fatality was in 2007.  See the Health (Avian Influenza) section of this advice for more details.

  • It is envisaged that there will be a number of political demonstrations in the run-up to the General Election on 27 July 2008.  You are advised to keep away from large gatherings, demonstrations and political meetings.  You should also avoid expressing forcible opinions on Cambodian politics or culture.

  • Around 85,000 British nationals visited Cambodia in 2007 (Source:  Cambodia Ministry of Tourism).  Most visits to Cambodia are trouble-free.  The main type of incidents for which British nationals required consular assistance in Cambodia in 2007 were replacing lost and stolen passports (over 45 cases); and dealing with deaths and hospitalisations, mostly from road traffic accidents (25 cases), bag snatches and drug related issues.  You should also be aware of landmines and unexploded ordnance in rural areas.

  • You should keep a photocopy of your passport with you at all time for identification purposes.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.  See the General (Insurance) section of this advice and Travel Insurance for more details.

Safety and security

Terrorism/Security

There is an underlying threat from terrorism in Cambodia. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.  For more general information see Terrorism Abroad.
On 29 July 2007 two small explosive devices were found (a third exploded) at the Cambodian/Vietnamese Friendship Monument (off Sothearos Boulevard) inPhnom Penh.  
 
There have been serious attacks in other parts of South East Asia.  In neighbouring Indonesia, Westerners were killed and injured following the terrorist attacks in Bali (October 2002 and October 2005) and Jakarta (August 2003 and September 2004).
 
There have been incidents of politically motivated violence.  However, these do not appear to have been aimed specifically at foreigners. You should avoid crowds and political gatherings.

Crime

You should be aware of the risk of robbery and other crime (including sexual offences) in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap particularly after dark.  You should take sensible precautions and be on your guard against pickpockets and bag snatchers especially when travelling around the cities.  There is no public transport system as such, the normal way of travelling around is by Tuk-Tuk or motorcycle taxi (moto). However, it is possible to travel by bus between the larger cities. Travellers are however, advised to remain vigilant against petty theft should they use this method of transportation. Foreigners walking or travelling as passengers on both Tuk-Tuks and motos in downtown Phnom Penh and other cities have had bags, cameras and mobile phones snatched or have been robbed after dark and increasingly during daylight hours.  Travel by car and in groups will significantly reduce the risk as will limiting night time travel around Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap to well-lit public areas.  You should avoid isolated areas after dark, including beaches in the Sihanoukville area, where there have been an increasing number of violent incidents. There are high levels of firearm ownership in Cambodia and guns are sometimes used to resolve disputes.  However, these disputes rarely involve foreigners.

Banditry and extortion, including cases involving poorly disciplined military and police personnel, continue in some rural areas, particularly at night in areas between Snoul, Kratie and Stung Treng in the north eastern provinces.

There have been a small number of grenade / bomb attacks, although most have been linked to business or personal disputes.  There is no evidence to suggest that British nationals, or Western interests more generally, have been the targets of these attacks.  However, there is a danger foreigners might get caught up in any further attacks.
 
For more general information see Victims of Crime Abroad

Political Situation

Cambodia Country Profile.

It is envisaged that there will be a number of political demonstrations in the run-up to the General Election on 27 July. You are advised to keep away from large gatherings, demonstrations and political meetings.  You should also avoid expressing forcible opinions on Cambodian politics or culture.

Local Travel

Cambodia remains heavily affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance.  Mined areas are frequently unmarked.  You should therefore not stray off main routes in rural areas, including around temple complexes.

Seasonal flooding occurs both in Phnom Penh and the rest of Cambodia starting at the end of July or early August and continuing until November.  Travel to some provinces can be seriously disrupted during this time.

Road Travel

In order to drive in Cambodia local legislation requires holders of International Driving permits to exchange these for Cambodian driving licenses.  There is a fee for the exchange of US $25.

The majority of roads in Cambodia are in a very poor condition.  Travel after dark significantly increases the risk of an accident.  Vehicles often do not have lights and cattle stray onto roads.  Overloaded vehicles coupled with erratic driving skills make road traffic accidents (RTAs) potentially the greatest risk to visitors.  Due to the high number of RTAs involving tourists on motorcycles in Siem Reap and in Sihanoukville, the local police have banned rental outlets from hiring motorcycles to tourists.  Furthermore, the police authorities are known to be stopping tourists on motorcycles to advise them to return bikes immediately occasionally also resulting in a demand for money.  You are advised against travelling as a passenger by motorcycle taxi because of poor road and vehicle maintenance, the low level of driver skills and the risk of crime.  However, if you travel by motorcycle you are advised to take precautions including the use of a helmet and protective clothing as either a driver or passenger.  You should also ensure that your insurance policy provides coverage for riding motorcycles either as a driver or passenger.

 

For more general information see Driving Abroad.

Sea/River Travel

Accidents have occurred due to overloaded or poorly maintained boats on all routes.  Even modern vessels may be overcrowded and life-vests and other safety equipment are not routinely provided.  Boats operating on Cambodia’s inland waterways are also susceptible to robbery by armed gangs.  Boat travel on rivers becomes difficult in the dry season (March – May)

There have been attacks against ships in the South China Sea and surrounding seas.  Mariners should be vigilant; reduce opportunities for theft; establish secure areas onboard; and report all incidents to the coastal and Flag State authorities.

 

For more general information see River and Sea Safety.

Air Travel

Domestic air services in Cambodia are limited.  Evidence suggests that Cambodia is unable to ensure that its airlines meet international safety standards.  As no airlines from Cambodia operate to the UK or the EU it has not been possible to assess their safety standards.  FCO staff have therefore been advised to avoid flying with airlines within Cambodia other than Siem Reap or Bangkok Airways. 


On 25 June 2007, a PMT Air flight crashed between Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.  In May 2006, the civil aviation authorities issued a warning to PMT Air for failing to report within 24 hours a mid-flight engine failure which had forced a plane to return to Phnom Penh.  In November 2005 a PMT Air flight overshot the runway at Banlung.  You should be aware that there may also be safety risks associated with travel on Cambodian Government aircraft, including those operated by the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

Further information on airlines can be obtained from organisations such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation http://www.icao.int and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority http://www.casa.gov.au/airsafe/index.htm.

Rail Travel

We advise against travelling by train.  Trains and rail track are poorly maintained which increases the risk of accidents.

Local laws and customs

You are advised to keep away from large gatherings, demonstrations and political meetings.  You should also avoid expressing forcible opinions on Cambodian politics or culture.

Marriages between Cambodians and foreigners have been suspended until further notice.  The Cambodian Government has instructed all registrar officers in Cambodia to temporarily stop issuing certificates of marriage between Cambodians and foreigners until further notice.  Please see BE Phnom Penh website for more details.

The sexual abuse of children is a serious crime.  The UK and Cambodian authorities are committed to combating travelling child sex offenders and the Cambodian government continues to crack down on those who commit such offences.  Those arrested and convicted can expect to receive long sentences in a Cambodian prison where facilities are very poor.  The UK has no prisoner transfer agreement with Cambodia and those found guilty can expect to serve their full prison term in Cambodia.  Legislation in the UK, The Sex Offenders Act 1997, can be used to prosecute in the UK those who commit sex offences against children abroad and has already been used successfully in cases of British nationals who have committed such offences in Cambodia.

You should never get involved with drugs; penalties for drug offences including those involving Class C drugs are severe.  Prison sentences can be long and served in grim conditions.

You should not take photographs in or near airports or military bases.   You should ask permission before taking pictures of members of the public especially monks and other religious figures.  When entering religious sites it is a courtesy to dress in appropriate clothing, avoiding shorts and torn clothing.  You are expected to remove your shoes when entering temples and private accommodation.
 
For more general information for different types of travellers see Travel Advice Relevant to You

Entry requirements

Visas

You need a visa for Cambodia.  Visas for Cambodia can be obtained on arrival at Pochentong and Siem Reap International airports and some other border points.  The current price is 20 US Dollars for a one-month tourist visa.  A tourist visa can be extended for one extra month.  A business visa costs 25 US Dollars for one month and can be renewed indefinitely.  Two passport photographs are required.  The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched an electronic visa ("e-Visa") facility for tourist visas only.  The e-Visa costs US $20 with a US $5 processing charge.  Applications should be made through the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' website: http://evisa.mfaic.gov.kh, where full terms and conditions of the e-Visa are also listed.

You should ensure that your passport is stamped on arrival, especially if you cross over a land border.  Those that overstay their authorised visa can expect a fine calculated on an incremental daily rate, currently $5 per day.  Additionally, you will be expected to pay for the visa extension that you should have sought.

The London Embassy of the Kingdom of Cambodia can be contacted at the Royal Embassy of Cambodia, 64 Brondesbury Park, Willesden Green, London NW6 7AT (tel: 020-8451 7850); (fax: 020-8451 7594); (email address:  cambodianembassy@btconnect.com; (website:The Royal Cambodian Embassy).

Passport validity

Passports should have minimum three-month validity beyond your intended length of stay.

Departure tax

You should be aware that the US$25 airport departure tax is not included in your ticket, and is payable on departure from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap international airports.  There is also a smaller tax of $13 on domestic flights.

Travelling with children

Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contract the Royal Cambodian Embassy in London.

Entry from Thailand

Visas can be obtained on arrival in Cambodia from Thailand at Poipet (07:30-20:00) and Koh Kong (07:00-20:00).  The border at Poipet is the one used by most tourists heading for Siem Reap and the Angkor temples.  If you arrive at Koh Kong you can now continue your journey by boat to Sihanoukville or overland on road No 48.  Road No 48 is a mountainous, unpaved route that is in poor condition.  It is particularly difficult to use during the rainy season.  You should be aware that there are four informal ferry points to cross and no health facilities or other services along the six to eight hour journey through the forest from Koh Kong to Sre Amble.

In early 2004, new border crossings opened at:  Prom in Pallin town, Dong in Battambang province, and at O Smach and Choim both in Oddor Mean Chey province.  You are able to obtain visas on arrival at each of these locations.  See travel advice for Thailand.

From Vietnam

Visas can now be obtained on arrival in Cambodia from Vietnam at the border points of Bavet in Svay Rieng province, and Kaorm Samnor checkpoint by the Mekong River in Kandal Province.  (See travel advice for Vietnam).

From Laos

Visas can now be obtained on arrival in Cambodia from Laos at the Dom Krolor checkpoint.  There is also a river checkpoint at Vern Kham (9 km from the road checkpoint) but visas cannot be obtained directly from this border crossing.  Please note that a visa to enter Laos from Cambodia must be obtained prior to arrival at the border.

Health

Public health facilities in Cambodia are very poor.  Private clinics in Phnom Penh are often better equipped but are of variable quality and can be expensive. The standards maintained by Cambodian emergency services are poor in comparison to the UK and evacuation is recommended for medical emergencies.  Hospitals are not recommended for anything but immediate stabilisation prior to an air medical evacuation or for minor medical concerns. Local pharmacies provide a limited supply of medications, but because the quality of locally obtained medications can vary greatly you should bring adequate supplies for the duration of your stay.  
There are no proper mental health care facilities in Cambodia and professional treatment including medication, if available at all, is difficult and expensive to obtain.  Such treatment is likely to require an air ambulance transfer to the nearest place which offers appropriate mental health facilities.

You should also be aware that the administrative processes for dealing with deaths in Cambodia are very different to the UK.  For more information you should visit the Consular Pages of British Embassy at: http://www.britishembassy.gov.uk

Malaria and dengue fever are common to Cambodia.   You should also be aware that food hygiene is often poor and mains water unfit to drink.

In the 2006 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 130,000 adults aged 15 or over in Cambodia were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at around 1.6% of the adult population. This compares to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%.  You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. For more general information on how to do this see HIV and AIDS.

You should seek medical advice before travelling to Cambodia and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.  For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Heath Network and Centre NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
 
For more general health information see Travel Health.

Avian Influenza

There have been outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in poultry in Cambodia.  This has led to a small number of human fatalities believed to have arisen through close contact with infected poultry.  Since the end of 2003, a number of human deaths have also occurred in Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria, Laos, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.

The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low.  However, as a precaution, you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of the possibility that the Avian Influenza outbreaks could lead at some point to a human flu pandemic, if the virus mutates to a form, which is easily transmissible between people.

British nationals living longer term in an Avian-Influenza affected region should take personal responsibility for their own safety in the event of a future pandemic, including considering their access to adequate healthcare and ensuring travel documents are up to date.
 
You should read this advice in conjunction with Avian and Pandemic Influenza, which gives more detailed advice and information.

General

Insurance

We strongly recommend that comprehensive travel and medical insurance is obtained before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake, including cover for medical evacuation by air ambulance particularly. See Travel Insurance.
 
Ideally your policy should be linked to assistance organisations such as International SOS.
 
Issuing replacement passports
 
The British Embassy in Phnom Penh is only able to issue passports with a limited validity.  Applications for full validity passports are forwarded by commercial courier to the British Embassy in Bangkok for processing.  You should allow at least 10 working days for this service however, this excludes the courier time, so applicants should allow up to 15 working days for this service.  The courier cost of approximately US $43 will be added to the passport fee.  If you are replacing a lost or stolen passport rather than replacing one that has become full you must also apply for a new exit visa from the Cambodian authorities.  This can take up to 3 working days.
 
You should keep a photocopy of your passport separate from the original and carry this with you at all times.  Your passport, when not in your possession, should be stored in a secure location. 
 
Consular Registration
 
Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.  More information about registering with LOCATE can be found here.
 
Consular responsibilities
 
The British Embassy in Phnom Penh also has consular responsibility for Commonwealth citizens whose countries are not represented in Cambodia and citizens of the Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland, Greece, Malta, Cyprus and the Czech Republic.  We strongly advise nationals of all these countries to register at the British Embassy in Phnom Penh.
 
Review of the Temporary suspension of adoptions of Cambodian children by UK residents
 
The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) conducted a review of the temporary suspension of adoptions of Cambodian children by UK residentsin 2007/08, the findings of which were published on 2 April 2008.  The review has resulted in the continuing of suspension of adoptions of Cambodian children by UK residents.  Further information can be obtained from the DCSF's website.

Travel advice for this country

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contacts

British Embassy, Phnom Penh

Address:

British Embassy
27-29 Street 75
Phnom Penh

Telephone:

(00) (855 23) 427124
(00) (855 23) 428153

Fax:

(00) (855 23) 427125

Email: mailto:consular.phnompenh@fco.gov.uk

Office hours:

Office hours:
Monday - Friday: 08:30-12:00 and 13:30-17:00.

Consular hours:
Monday - Friday: 09:00-11:30 and 13:30-15:00.

Website: http://www.britishembassy.gov.uk/cambodia