A Solo Female Traveller’s Guide to Cambodiaairport_transferbarbathtubbusiness_facilitieschild_activitieschildcareconnecting_roomcribsfree_wifigymhot_tubinternetkitchennon_smokingpetpoolresturantski_in_outski_shuttleski_storagesmoking_areaspastar

A Solo Female Traveller’s Guide to Cambodia

Soak up a slice of paradise in Cambodia
Soak up a slice of paradise in Cambodia | © FotografieLink / Pixabay
Cambodia’s warmth and friendliness makes this a great country for women to navigate alone. From its deserted islands, dense jungle and temples, to vibrant cityscapes, Cambodia is the perfect place for solo female travellers to explore. Here’s your essential guide on where to visit, what to pack and how to travel safely.

What to pack

Cambodia is hot, sticky and humid – pretty much all year round – so ditch the coats and pack lightweight clothes instead. While it’s fine to bum around on the beach in a bikini or skimpy shorts and top, Cambodia is a relatively reserved country so it’s advisable to keep yourself modestly covered when out and about. If visiting temples, shoulders and knees mustn’t be shown, so bear this in mind when packing.

Pack a suitcase and get going © MorningbirdPhoto / Pixabay

Rainy season brings heavy showers, but disposable raincoats are available from the many stalls that dot the streets (you can snap one up for 50 cents). Scarves and shawls are also a great way to keep the shoulders covered, and the sun at bay. They’re also a great way to stay warm when the AC is hammed up on buses. Again, these can easily be bought at the market, so no need to pack them.

Here’s what we recommend for two-week trip to Cambodia:

4-6 light tops

2 pairs of light trousers

2 lightweight dresses/ skirts

2 pairs of shorts

Swimsuits

Hat to shade from the sun

1 pair of flip flops or sandals

1 pair of pumps or running shoes

1 sarong

Sunglasses

1 light cardigan or jumper

Sunscreen

Mosquito spray

Staying safe

While Cambodia is generally a safe country, as with anywhere else in the world it pays to keep your wits about you. Here’s how to stay safe when travelling between destinations, some general safety tips and what to watch out for.

Travelling between destinations

Travelling around Cambodia is cheap and easy, with buses the main mode of transport. However, it pays to note there are many bus companies that operate in Cambodia of varying degrees of reliability, safety and cost.

Tuktuks are a common mode of transport © Aumary Laporte / Flickr

Tickets can easily be bought at many of the small travel agents found in tourist hubs. The recent launch of CamboTicket and Book Me Bus have made buying tickets that much easier. Travel tickets can be bought on both websites, with each bus company given a score on certain factors, such as punctuality and safety. These are worth checking as many bus drivers have been on the road for long periods of time with no break. In Cambodia, the roads are the biggest killer and drivers falling asleep at the wheel and causing fatal crashes are common.

The roads become even more dangerous at night, so night buses should generally be avoided. If you have no choice, then choose a reliable company, such as Giant Ibis, to get you safely from A to B.

General safety tips

Cambodia is a Buddhist country that is reserved. Avoid kissing or heavy petting in public-

Tuk-tuks are a much safer mode of transport than motodops (motorbike taxis).

Always keep your shoulders and knees covered when visiting temples, religious monuments or places of importance, such as the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.

Bag snatching is rife in tourist hubs so leave valuables at home, don’t walk around with your smartphone or camera in sight – that’s more than an annual wage for many locals – and keep your bag close at all times.

Keep your cool in all situations and don’t lose your temper as this will cause a loss of face and may lead to an uncomfortable situation.

Don’t use motodops at night.

Watch out for common scams that target unwitting foreigners.

Areas to avoid

Certain neighbourhoods in Phnom Penh

While the salubrious areas of Phnom Penh aren’t necessarily unsafe, they’re probably places solo females would prefer not to accidentally stumble upon. Many of the more murky streets running off Sisowath Quay (or riverside) house strips of girly bars that can get rowdy in the early hours of the morning.

Stick to common sense

There are no particularly dangerous spots or areas to avoid in Cambodia but keep your wits about you. If common sense tells you not to walk down that dodgy unlit alley at night, then don’t. If the group of people lurking in a street in the dark make you feel unsafe, turn around and take another route.

Avoid dark alleys at night © Arcaion / Pixabay

How to meet others

Meeting people in Cambodia may just be the easiest part of your trip, with the country full of like-minded visitors travelling Cambodia solo. Checking into a reputable guesthouse will only make this easier. Mad Monkey Hostels come well recommended, boasting guesthouses in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kampot and Koh Rong Samloem. It also puts on tours and activities, which make for a great way to meet other people while discovering more of the country. Other top guesthouses that are good places to party or just hang out at include Top Banana, Mini Banana and Lazy Gecko in Phnom Penh, and Lub d and Funky Flashpacker Hostel in Siem Reap.

The best destinations for a solo female traveller in Cambodia

Siem Reap

As Cambodia’s top tourist destination – thanks to Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples – Siem Reap is a must-do on any visitor’s trip. It’s packed full of tourist-friendly bars, restaurants and cafes, with plenty of transport options on hand regardless of the time of day or night. It’s compact size means getting around is easy, with everything within a short walk or tuk-tuk ride, and English is widely spoken throughout the town.

Monks at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap © Artigone Pumsirisawas / Shutterstock

Kampot

This relaxed riverside town is a great spot for solo female travellers seeking to kick back and relax. Kampot town centre is peppered with coffee shops, boutique bars and guesthouses that are frequented by fellow women globetrotting alone. If you fancy getting out of town and staying along Kampot River, then there are several guesthouses that afford great views, put on some excellent parties and are a home-away-from-home for many travelling minds. Naga House is popular and regularly hosts weekend parties with DJs working their magic until the early hours.

Idyllic Kampot River © Alex Kourotchkin / Shutterstock

Battambang

This sleepy city’s laidback vibe has rubbed off on its residents, with locals super-friendly, chilled out and happy to help anyone wearing a slight look of confusion. Battambang is also home to a cool but intimate collection of restaurants, boutiques and bars – fans of Miss Wong in Siem Reap will be happy to know a Miss Wong Battambang has just opened. And standing as Cambodia’s creative capital, it is dotted with independent galleries and studios that are home to the work of some of the country’s top and emerging contemporary artists.

Phnom Sampeu pagoda in Battambang © Sophie Lenoir / Shutterstock