Photo: Within the grounds of the Royal Palace.

Cambodia forum

Phnom Penh safety /pickpockets/bag snatchers

Posted by sashanyc28 on 22/12/2009 at 08:56

I will be in Phnom Penh (for the first time) for a few nights in early January 2010..

Of course I have read all over the place to be careful.. Take only taxis at night, beware of pickpockets, bag snatchers on motorbikes, etc..

and Of course I will only take taxis at night, use a money belt, not carry any valuables, and try to avoid carrying a day pack or bag around the city with me..

From my travel experiences I have always found the media and most of the warnings all to be a bit exaggerated, but of course I still have common sense and take the usual precautions.. Usually by the second day in a new city, I have a better sense of my surroundings and my comfort levels go up..

With that said.. as a first time visitor to Phnom Penh..

*Can anyone share any negative experiences?

*Are there any particular streets/areas to avoid?

*Can anyone give a security report of their recent trip?

To be more specific..
I am obsessed with taking photos and the camera is always with me whenever I travel! For this southeast Asia trip I will be using two small point and shoot digital cameras; the really good/expensive model which I plan on using during the day while sightseeing and one cheaper model I may take out at night time (which at worst case scenerio if I was robbed, it wouldn't be such a big deal) but I would be completely devastated if something happened to the better camera!

Both cameras are small enough to fit slightly concealed in my pocket btw.. or could even be concealed on the inside of my jeans in waist/money belt type pouch..though that could get really uncomfortable fast in the Cambodian heat!!

So what I am really trying to ask here is..

* Will I be safe walking around the city by day with my good camera?

* Should I carry my camera in my pocket? or should I keep it in my bag and take that with me during the day? or maybe invest in one of those pacsafe travel bags or security shoulder straps?

and finally.. Should I even bother taking the second (not so good) camera out at night? It's always nice to photograph temples lit up at night, or the food you ordered in a nice restaurant or new friends that you met at a bar/disco, etc..

Don't want to sound too paranoid here..

Just need some honest advice if anyone can relate... Thanks!!

PS.. I have also posted this same post in the VIETNAM forum as well as I will be in Saigon for a few days as well.. Thanks!

#1 sashanyc28 has been a member since 20/12/2009. Posts: 6

Posted by somtam2000 on 22/12/2009 at 14:54 admin

* Will I be safe walking around the city by day with my good camera?

As safe as you would be in any major city.

* Should I carry my camera in my pocket? or should I keep it in my bag and take that with me during the day? or maybe invest in one of those pacsafe travel bags or security shoulder straps?

We lived in Phnom Penh for a couple of years and aside from getting robbed on our first (or second) night there. I carried my camera with me most of the time and had no problems. However i'd warn you not to leave it unattended (on a table for instance) as you do need to keep up your guard.

Overall Phnom Penh is quite a safe city -- you just need to use your common sense. In the evenings I'd recommends getting motos or tuk tuks around rather than walking -- just to be safe.

#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,425
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Posted by lolozo on 29/12/2009 at 00:14

Phnom Penh is a fantastic place! People are genuinely warm and friendly.
After listening to horror stories of what to do/ not to do if I were ever held at gun point in a dark street, I was a little concerned.
Went there last September. Had no problems whatsoever. Of course it pays to be alert at all times, but there`s no need to be paranoid. By all means keep your camera with you, there are plenty of wonderful photos to take. Just try to avoid drawing too much attention to yourself if you can. You`ll undoubtedly be surrounded by beggars, amputees, women w/ babies, "one dollar" orphans or a combination of the above- especially around tourist attractions like the Grand Palace, Cheoung Ek, Wat Phnom- but beggar fatigue is more a mild irritation than a danger. Try to remember that the poor people are only trying to survive. And yes, at night some streets are poorly lit, especially between Monivong and Norodom boulevards, so it pays to be extra vigilant. I was able to walk short distances even at night with no problems at all.

#3 lolozo has been a member since 28/12/2009. Posts: 3


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