Following the July legislative elections, there have been a number of demonstrations in Cambodia, predominantly centred in Phnom Penh, and stemming from the dissatisfaction of opposition groups with the outcome of the vote. While tourists are not being targeted by protestors, we would urge visitors to Cambodia to avoid large gatherings of people, all political demonstrations, and any areas near police barricades. Overall the city is secure, with isolated incidents of violence, but we advise all travellers to exercise caution in case the situation should deteriorate.
The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before travelling to Cambodia. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
Travellers should note that the Irish Government does not provide funds for emergency medical repatriation or for repatriation of remains.
Cambodia is a beautiful country which has many attractions for tourists. However, persons planning a trip should take into account the need to ensure that medical matters are addressed before travelling, (such as vaccinations, bringing medication and need for medical insurance cover including medical evacuation) and that appropriate safety measures are taken to make your trip enjoyable and safe. Appropriate care should be taken when travelling around the region. A small number of visitors have suffered the theft of their belongings and or passport. Passports should be kept safely as considerable delay and expense is incurred by those who require a new passport and exit visa.
Safety and Security
In Cambodia, there is a risk of violent incidents and visitors are advised to avoid crowds and in particular political gatherings. The sovereignty of land adjacent to the Preah Vihear temple on the Cambodian/Thai border is the subject of a dispute and tensions continue to run high there. The temple is closed at present and you are advised to avoid the area.
You should be aware of the risk of robbery and other crime (including sexual offences) especially 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. Bag snatchers on motorbikes can also be a problem. When possible you should leave passports and valuables in a hotel safe and only carry a photocopy of the data page of your passport. You are urged to avoid isolated areas after dark, including beaches in the Sihanoukville area, where there have been an increasing number of violent incidents. Travel by car will reduce the risk as will limiting night time travel around Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap to well-lit public areas.
When you are travelling by air, bus or train, remain vigilant against petty theft, particularly in busy rail and bus stations and in crowded airports. Always use licensed taxis or pre-arranged hotel pick-ups when transferring from airports. You should not accept offers of free transfers to hotels as these are likely to be bogus.
You are also advised to be cautious when withdrawing money from ATMs.
It is not advisable to publicly express strong political views or to take part in political demonstrations.
It is strongly recommended that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance (including medical evacuation) before travelling. You should check any exclusions and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. The standard of health care is sufficient for treating minor injuries in the major cities but more complicated treatment may require evacuation to a third country.
Adequate healthcare and communications facilities can be difficult to access in Cambodia.
There have been outbreaks of avian influenza (bird flu) in Cambodia and a small number of human infections (most recently December 2009) and fatalities (most recently December 200&) which are believed to have arisen through close contact with infected poultry.
The risk from avian influenza is believed to be low provided you 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 avian influenza outbreaks could lead at some point to a human flu pandemic, if the virus mutates to a form easily transmissible between persons.
Irish citizens 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 consideration of their access to adequate healthcare and ensuring that ravel documents are kept up to date.
Please see our section on Avian Influenza for further information.
Cases of dengue fever are showing a steady increase. It is common in both rural and urban (including Phnom Penh) areas of Cambodia. You should take care to avoid mosquito bites during the day, especially just after dawn and just before dusk. Further information about dengue fever might be sought on the following website: http://www.who.int/en/ under ‘health topics’.
Malaria and Japanese encephalitis occur in rural areas of Cambodia and are transmitted by mosquitoes. Your doctor will advise as to appropriate prophylactic measures or vaccines, depending on the length of your stay and the areas you intend to visit.
Outdoor adventure sports
Before taking part in any outdoor or water based sports or activities, such as kayaking, rock climbing, hang-gliding etc., please check that your travel insurance will cover you in the event of death or injury to yourself or a third party. You should also be aware that the health and safety requirements in Cambodia are not as stringent as in Ireland, and are often neither observed nor enforced. The risk of a serious or fatal accident in the course of these activities is therefore much higher.
You should be aware of spiked drinks, particularly late at night in bars and you are advised not to leave food or drink unattended or to accept food or drink from strangers. Home made alcohol may be contaminated with bacteria or with toxic chemicals from pesticides and should be avoided.
Illegal drugs are increasingly available in major cities and main tourist resorts. However, you should be aware that drugs are likely to have been tampered with or spiked. Please see entry below on local laws and customs.
A number of energy drinks, which are banned in European countries due to the high levels of stimulants they contain, are available in Cambodia. Many but not all carry health warnings. Excessive (more than two per day) consumption of these drinks, on their own or with alcohol can pose a serious danger to health, particularly to people with pre-existing cardiac or other health conditions
Unexploded mines and ordnances are a continuing hazard in former battlefields, particularly in northern Cambodia. You should not stray off main routes in rural areas and you should check with your tour operator before travelling to affected regions.
Pedestrians should take particular care when crossing roads in major cities. Driving can be erratic and sometimes dangerous. Taxis are a common mode of transport but you should be vigilant as the standard of driving may be poor.
It should be noted that a Cambodian driver’s licence is required to drive in Cambodia (this provision includes motorbikes). Driving without a licence may invalidate your travel insurance in the event of an accident.
Accidents involving motorbikes or scooters, often causing serious injury, long term brain damage or death, are a common occurrence in Cambodia. If you decide to rent or purchase a motorbike or scooter please take the same precautions as you would at home. These include wearing a helmet, observing speed limits and obeying the rules of the road. Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Failure to follow this advice is likely to invalidate your insurance coverage if you are involved in an accident. Please note that the use of crash helmets is compulsory for motorbike users and passengers in Cambodia.
Local Laws and Customs
You should avoid any involvement with drugs. Drug trafficking and possession carry heavy penalties. Other crimes such as sex offences or fraud can result in long prison terms. The Cambodian legal system is not very well developed and the standard of prisons is very poor.
Photography of, or near, military installations is generally prohibited.
The Cambodian Government has lifted its suspension on marriages between Cambodians and foreign nationals in Cambodia. Irish citizens wishing to marry in Cambodia are advised to contact the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin or the Irish Embassy in Hanoi for details of new regulations on marriage between Cambodians and foreign nationals.
Natural Disasters and Climate
The water levels and rivers and lakes will be high during the rainy season. There was flooding in a number of Provinces in September/October 2011. You should check with your travel agent and your hotel staff to know which areas to avoid during rains.
Additional Country Info
Entry Requirements - Visas
Visas for Cambodia can be obtained on arrival (payment of US
dollars only). Two passport photographs are required. A business
visa costs US $25 for one month and can be renewed indefinitely. A
tourist visa costs US $20 for one month and can be extended for
only one extra month. The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
operates an electronic visa ("e-Visa") facility for tourist visas
only. The e-Visa costs US $20. The e-Visa can only be used at the
main entry crossings with the immigration IT system. Applications
should be made through the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign
Affairs' website, where full terms and conditions are also
listed, with information on which border entry points accept the
Tourist visas issued by a Royal Cambodian Embassy abroad may appear to have a longer validity than one month. Their validity refers to time to enter Cambodia. The visa is valid for 30 days from the actual date of entry into Cambodia. Make sure your passport is stamped on arrival, whether entering through an airport or land crossing. Overstaying either business or tourist visas without the proper authority is a serious matter and you can be held in detention until a fine is paid ($5 per day for the first 30 days, followed by $6 thereafter). Travellers have been imprisoned and deported at their own expense for overstaying.
If you have any queries about visas or entry requirements, check with the The Royal Cambodian Embassy.
The local currency is the Cambodian Riel; US Dollars are however widely accepted and used for most transactions (the Thai Baht can be used in border areas with Thailand). Credit cards are accepted in some hotels and by some businesses in larger cities, but outside the main centres you may find that cash is the only acceptable currency. Travellers’ cheques can be cashed in many banks and bureaux de change. ATM distribution is still poor and limited to the major cities and tourist areas (some ATMs may not accept international cards).
ASSISTANCE FOR IRISH CITIZENS IN CAMBODIA
The Embassy of Ireland in Hanoi (Vietnam) is responsible for Irish diplomatic and consular relations with Cambodia. Should you require advice or assistance, or in the event of an emergency, please contact the Irish Embassy in Hanoi on +84 4 3974 3291.
The British Embassy in Phnom Penh can also assist Irish citizens in Cambodia in consular matters.
29 Street 75
Sangkat Srah Chak
Khan Daun Penh
Telephone: +855 (0) 23 427124
Fax: + 855 (0) 23 427125
Office hours: (Local time):
Monday-Thursday: 08:15 – 12:00 / 13:00 –16:45; Friday: 08:15 – 13:15