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Kent Kobayashi

Travelled to 11 countries / regions

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I traveled to Cambodia in January of 2019

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Asia > Cambodia > Useful Info
Submitted on May 16, 2019 Useful Info

Tips to avoid being scammed traveling in Cambodia

  • I consider myself a cautious traveler. I've never been scammed before in all my travels and a lot of it comes down to research and preparation (also luck!)
  • Overall Cambodia felt very safe to me. So despite what I'm about to list below, don't feel like this country is out to get you. It's actually the opposite I was not in a state of constant vigilance
  • So here's a compilation of tips to avoid all the common scams in Cambodia:
  1. Check tuk tuk and taxi prices: this is probably the most frequent thing I did in Cambodia, because tuk tuk and taxis are the two most common modes of transportation in the country for tourists. If you're taking a taxi, make sure the meter is running before you get on. If you're riding a tuk tuk, agree on a price before hopping on. As a rule of thumb, the vast majority of taxi and tuk tuk trips within Cambodian cities should cost no more than $2-$4 USD. If anyone quotes you close to $10 or more, you're almost certainly being fleeced
  2. Ignore beggars: I actually was approached by multiple beggars on my trip (a child the first time and a young "mother" the second time), but I knew from my research that they were all likely to be fakes. Rule of thumb is to ignore anyone - kids, young women, monks - or whoever approach you randomly in the city begging for money. Whatever story they might tell you (like buying milk powder for their baby), are likely to be fictions and they literally make a career out of fleecing tourists
  3. Beware of police: counterintuitive right? But in Cambodia, you really gotta watch out for the street police (in blue uniforms) because they will try to fleece tourists if they any chance to do so. The most common way for them to scam tourists is when they see you riding a bike or driving a car. They will say you broke some laws and quote you a fine which ranges from $2USD to $15USD. This is less a fine and more of a bribe. Bottom line is, if you're stopped by a police, there's no point arguing, just pay them the money and leave. It's just a cost of traveling in Cambodia. If you're not going to be operating a motorized vehicle, then you're most likely not going to get harassed. If you really want to rent a bike or car, #1 make sure you have the correct license (most tourists rent bikes in Cambodia without having motorcycle license, which is technically illegal but most rental shops will turn a blind eye to it), and #2 make sure you carry enough bribe cash in USD
  4. Watch out for bag snatchers: it's rare in Cambodia but it does happen once in a while. You're walking around or on a tuk tuk, and some local rides by you on a motorcycle and snatches your bag and then disappears. Once it's taken, it's gone, and you have a close to 0% chance of getting it back. So hold your belongings tight and don't keep all your valuables in the same bag
  5. Don't trust girls you meet at bars: as a rule of thumb, if you're a foreigner (especially if you're white), you will be the target for a lot of local girls who want to scam you out of some money. You need to keep in mind that Cambodia is a very poor country, most girls even in Phnom Penh simply don't have the disposable income to "go out and have fun" at bars. 80% of the girls hanging out at bars are either prostitutes or scam artists. I met two Canadians in Phnom Penh who almost got scammed this way, getting a little too involved with two girls who turned out to be prostitutes but they backed out at the last second. Don't drink anything they offer you (might be drugged), and definitely don't bring anyone back to your hotel (you may actually get robbed)
  6. Keep your menu after ordering from restaurants: I've heard stories of some travelers getting presented with bills much bigger than what they were expecting. As a good practice, keep the menu after you order, so that if there is ever a dispute, you can point at the prices printed on the menu.
  7. Rent bikes from reputable shops: most rental shops will keep your passport as a deposit for rental, and this is very normal for not just Cambodia but all over Southeast Asia. The scam part is that some sketchy rental shops will actually steal your bike from you after renting it to you, so that you have to pay them an exorbitant fine in order to get your passport back. So if you want to rent a bike, make sure to rent only from reputable ones. Use Tripadvisor and Google to research what other travelers have used before