Health & Safety Tips
Tip’s & Tricks While visiting Phnom Penh
There’s nothing as frustrating as waiting months for your holidays only to have a big damper put on it by having something go wrong once you are there.
Here are some Travel Safety tips to keep you healthy and safe while you are here in Phnom Penh. Like most Asian countries Cambodia has it’s fair share of things to make you sick or even worse some other dangers that could see you back home cutting your visit short.
The climate here can be extremely hot and dry in the months of January to April, temperatures can reach 40c and higher during these months and care should be taken to prevent something more than a little discomfort.
Sunburns can be quite painful and even on cloudy days before you know it your red as a lobster. Keep protected by using either sun cream protection or wear suitable light but long sleeve clothing along with hats to keep the sun at bay.
Beware of even the smallest cut or scrape as they can become infected here very quickly, wash any cut or abrasion well and apply antibiotic cream to the wound keep it covered when out side so as not to expose it to the dust and dirt in the air at this time of year it is easy to see a small cut turn to something much worse. Cut’s on the foot area are best protected with full covered shoes if possible and in the wet season keep any cuts away from water. The streets here in Phnom Penh can become a knee deep river very quickly after a heavy downpour this water is not the cleanest and can be very contaminated an infection is almost guaranteed if you have a cut.
The dust and dirt in the air can also be contaminated in the hot season and it is best to wear eye protection not only for the glare but to prevent any eye infections. Respiratory illness is also common at this time of year, the simple use of a face mask can help if walking, riding or driving around in traffic on the streets of Phnom Penh. Shops sell them everywhere and they are cheap and effective.
Drink plenty of water during the hot season and keep hydrated as you will lose more bodily fluid though sweating. It is always best to have a bottle or two with you as you may not find clean drinking water in some places you may go. Always drink bottled water and check the seal is not broken. Water from the tap is not recommended to drink.
Whilst out and about in Phnom Penh you will surely come across and use Moto’s (motorcycle taxis), Tuk Tuk’s (three wheeled motorcycle taxis) or Cyclo’s (three wheeled bicycle taxis). All are a great way of exploring the city However there are some good points to remember when using these modes of transport.
Always agree on a fare before setting out on a journey. Moto’s should be no more than $2 and Tuk Tuk’s $5 to cross the city. At night though add a $1 or $2 to the fare.
Don’t expect a driver to know where you want to go most drivers will just say yes even if they don’t know to get the fare. Many drivers can not read so showing them a business card of a place even if it is written in Khmer will not mean anything to them. Most markets, temples and major landmarks they are sure to know so you can use them to help you navigate to your desired location.
Keep small change to pay for your fare more than $10 is difficult for a driver to change. So keep some local Riel and small amounts of US dollars in your wallet to pay your fare.
The general lack of road safety in Cambodia is common all over the country. If you are thinking of driving here yourself keep this in mind. Not stopping at traffic lights, drink driving and general lack of road rules is very common, at night this climbs dramatically as police are not to be seen. Only experienced drivers or riders should use this option.
Cambodia uses US dollars as well as their local currency the Cambodian Riel. It is always good to keep small amounts of both on your person for general purchases. Do not carry large amounts of cash on your person especially at night.
When using banks and ATM’s keep in mind some fees are quite high $5 per transaction is not uncommon. Try to look around as some are fee free and this may be something worth checking out to save a few dollars.
Keep your money in good condition mainly US dollars as any cut, tear, rip, discoloration, missing piece or a note looking faded or worse from ware will not be accepted by most everyone even banks. Local currency is usually OK even with a few rips but can also be refused.
When given change check that the change is in good condition if it has a tear ask to have another, unsuspecting travelers have been caught all to often with this and end up having to wait till they return home to change the damaged note.
When withdrawing money from an ATM also beware of skimming devices, they are not so common but have been seen here.
usually ATM’s will issue notes in Large denominations so to avoid getting a $100 Dollar note enter a smaller amount like $80 to receive 4 x $20 notes. You can sometimes go hungry with a $100 note, I have heard people say as it can be difficult to change.
When exchanging currency from your home country into US$ or Riel Banks can offer a usually poor exchange rate. In Phnom Penh there are a few money changers available that can offer a much better rate than the banks. Lee Hour Money changers are common and offer a good rate.
Like any City, Robberies, muggings and bag snatches can occur especially at night. Always avoid carrying large sums of money on your person. Keep valuable possessions like cameras and jewelry out of site and Hold onto your bags securely, even when riding in a Tuk Tuk or on a Moto Dop.
A few people have lost bags snatched from Tuk Tuk’s or of the shoulder of a victim riding on a Moto also jewelry has been torn from a persons neck as a passing thief on a Moto grabs the necklace and drives of into the traffic.
Some Guest Houses and Hotels have also had problems with theft maybe from staff or even other guests. Be aware and keep valuables safe. Ask reception if they have lockers to keep your valuables, while this is probably the safest.
If out and about at night it is usually best to take a Tuk Tuk or Moto from A to B rather than walking, during the day walking is quite OK but at night especially when alone it is not recommended. Most areas are not well lit and muggings have been known to happen in situations like these.
Accidents & Sickness Tips
If you fall ill or have an accident while here in Cambodia it can ruin your vacation completely Travel insurance is recommended for this very thing. While the availability of good medical advice and practice is improving here in Cambodia, it is often the case that people are recommended to travel to Thailand for treatment when it comes to major accidents This can cost thousands of dollars if you have to be evacuated. It may be worth calling your countries Embassy or Consulate for advice. For minor illness or accidents your hotel may know a reliable local clinic they can recommend for treatment.
Phnom Penh has a variety of street food now including Western and Khmer, to avoid a bout of food poisoning it is always a good rule to eat where the locals eat if you see many people buying from a vendor it is usually a safe place to eat. Water on the other hand is probably best to be consumed from bottles, almost all vendors will have bottled water for sale for approx 50 cents.