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How to Travel Solo in Cambodia

Picture of Marissa
Updated: 12 June 2018
Cambodia’s warm and welcoming people, wealth of back- and flash-packer accommodation and position on the Southeast Asia circuit make the country the perfect destination for solo travellers. While some still regard Cambodia as a Southeast Asian wild west, where all rules are thrown out of the window, when it comes to safety, finding friends, affordable accommodation and a host of activities, the Kingdom of Wonder tops the pack of places to be.

Friendly Faces

Cambodians by nature have warm hearts and a smile is never far away in this country. Locals are also inquisitive and often on hand to help. This makes navigating the country alone pleasurable and extremely easy. If you’re lost, it isn’t uncommon to find yourself surrounded by a crowd of Cambodians keen to help you on your way. If you’re confused or looking for help, then there will be someone within close reach.

This innate hospitality is one of the number one reasons that visitors fall in love with Cambodia, and a quality that makes it ideal for solo travel.

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A friendly face is never far away | © Rawpixel.com/ Shutterstock.com

Backpacker Haven

Cambodia has planted itself firmly on the Southeast Asia backpacker circuit, meaning it is popular with long and short-term travellers, many of whom are globe-trotting alone.

This popularity has created a high demand for guesthouses and boutique hotels, ranging from budget to luxury, with Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and other tourist hotspots over-flowing with options for sociable solo travellers.

Many guesthouses offer dorm and private room options, with a bar and restaurant area for guests to hang out in. They’re great places to sleep and meet people at the same time. They tend to be located in lively neighbourhoods, making it easier to meet other solo travellers.

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Easy Travel

Getting about in Cambodia is easy, with numerous bus companies transporting passengers to all corners of the country.

It’s pretty likely you’ll bump into several potential buddies travelling alone on popular routes, such as Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. So, get chatting if you’re looking for someone to hang out with at your final destination, or simply to swap travel stories with.

Share taxis are also a popular mode of transport, with several Cambodians and foreigners packed into a car. While this can be an uncomfortable way to travel, it’s one possible way to meet up with others, and certainly makes travel more, erm, interesting.

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Safety

Cambodia is a safe country – if you are sensible. Like anywhere else in the world, keep your wits about you. If you get drunk and start a fight or refuse to pay a tuk tuk driver, then you’ll quickly find yourself in trouble.

Bag snatching is rife in tourist hotspots, so don’t walk around with your expensive iPhone on show. Keep valuables in your hotel and keep your bag close. There are also some scams to be aware of, such as fake monks flogging bracelets and charms on Phnom Penh’s riverside, so don’t get sucked in.

Apart from that, solo travellers can explore Cambodia with total peace of mind. Female travellers can rest assured that harassment is low, with foreigners often respected across the country.

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Beware of bag snatching in popular tourist spots | © Pitipat Usanakornku/ Shutterstock.com

A journey of self discovery

If you’ve decided to travel alone because you want some downtime, it’s easy to escape the crowds in Cambodia and do some soul searching.

There are plenty of retreats to escape to. Hariharalaya in Siem Reap a popular option. The six-day retreat includes daily classes, Dharma talks, community activities, yoga and free time to relax in the tropical surroundings. It is also a great way to disconnect, with mobile phones and electronics banned.

Vagabond Temple in Kep holds a series of workshops and programmes, ranging from yoga and meditation, to reiki healing courses and detox cleansing, to healing sessions, all delivered within super tranquil surroundings.

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