Cambodia
Comments 63

Why Cambodia Made Me Want To Give Up Travelling

And before everyone who has been and had the most wonderful time starts berating me, this is just my honest personal account of the horrors I saw in Cambodia. I’m sure that it has some redeeming qualities but it is quite obvious to me now that it is completely unsafe for a woman to travel there alone.

When I arrived in Phnom Penh from Bali I was devastated to begin with, I came from a beautiful paradise to the ugliest city I’ve ever seen (and I’ve been to Hull), so I wasn’t impressed. However, I’d heard great things from so many people about Cambodia so I was optimistic about my trip.

One thing that struck me was the filth and the poverty, I’m not a naive person, nor a pampered western traveller, I’m happy to slum it, but this was next level. I happily spent a month in India and while incredibly dirty, the people there still took pride in their surroundings as much as they could – and all the mess just made the place seem vibrant. In Phnom Penh it’s just gross, homeless people line the streets, picking through rubbish.

After about 8pm everything closes, there’s not even a McDonalds here. It’s just a ghost town. I felt unsafe walking and driving around during the day but I was explicitly told not to walk the streets alone after dark, ever, by several people. Also every time I got my phone out for directions someone would run up to me, or a waiter in a restaurant would say “quickly, put your phone away, it will get stolen” so i was too scared to even take out my mobile.

After lamenting this place on Facebook several people recommended I go down to Sihnoukville to the beaches, so I got the first bus I could down there. A Giant Ibis which was actually great, wifi, plug sockets and good air con, but very expensive at $12 for a 4 hour ride (to compare, in Thailand the same length journey would set you back £3).

When I arrived in Sihnoukville the aggressive tuk tuk drivers were there ready to rip me off. $20 for a ten minute ride, I knocked him down to $10 but that’s still more than I would pay back home in London. But when you’re tired and extremely hot, you just give in. I only had a $50 bill and the tuk tuk driver had no change (how?! If all your fares are $10 upwards) so I went into 8 shops asking if they could break it. They couldn’t. The tuk tuk driver started shouting at me and waving his arms and saying ‘fuck you’, ‘fuck you’ so i just gave him the $50.

Looking around me I just burst into tears. It was, and excuse my French, the biggest sh*thole I’ve ever seen. It was like City of God but with all the redeeming bits missing. A dirt track with dog sh*t, broken bottles and all manner of litter, which was actually a paradise compared to the ‘beach’… I’ve never seen so much rubbish and debris on a beach. It was deplorable, how can people treat a place like that? It looked like Haad Rin after the Full Moon Party. But at least in Thailand they clean it up. There were fag ends and nappies floating in the grey water and a lot of very old white men in the sea with young Cambodian kids…

There were men having a cock fight down the street, people from the food vendors washing up utensils in sewage puddles and packs of dogs fighting – encouraged by the staff at the hostel I was meant to be staying in.

The hostel Wish You Were Here (yeah f*cking right) I’d booked had a sign outside that read;

“Hostel closed 2pm-5pm for staff party. Sorry not sorry”.

I took this to mean they might have a skeleton staff but no it literally meant ‘we’re all getting f*cked up in the bar so you can wait three hours’. I was hot, tired and just wanted a lie down. But alas I couldn’t so I just read for 2.5 hours as the staff got steadily more drunk and high. They were play fighting and screaming – God knows what they were on but they were wired. As they were all older white men it was very threatening. They kept going into the street and grabbing dogs and trying to make them fight.

At 5pm I asked if I could check in to which one of the men replied “we’re full. But you can stay in my room” and all the staff were laughing along, making lewd comments. I’ve never felt that threatened or unsafe, especially in a hostel. I’d never noticed my solo female traveller status as much as I had then. I just thought ‘I cannot risk staying in this hostel’. (I’ve since contacted Hostelworld who I booked it through to alert them to this hostel, I honestly would feel terrible if even one more female traveller went here and felt as scared as I did, their job should be to make you feel welcome, not to make you feel almost certain you’ll get raped if you stay there).

So I got another $50 tuk tuk to Utopia where a girl I met on the bus there was staying. I was getting progressively more fearful of Sihnoukville as it was getting dark and I kept seeing old western men with very young girls, the whole place is just seedy. At Utopia I was  greeted by a dirty old French man with no top on who was so rude to me I had tears in my eyes, he kept barking orders at me ‘sit’, ‘wait’, ‘come’. He showed me the ‘dorm’ available which had about 20 P.E. mats crammed into one room, meaning I’d be sleeping about 1 inch from God knows who. No air con… I just broke down and begged him to please get me a bus, taxi, whatever out of there. I honestly would have paid $1000 rather than stay there. I paid $20.

I managed to get the 7pm bus to Phnom Penh, I got to the bus on the back of a motorbike with my 20kg backpack and rucksack as well as a small girl on the front. I was just crying thinking I was going to just fall off the back and die, my bag was so heavy and I was scared for the little girl, so I didn’t dare move. At the bus station there were yet more drunk old white men – the kind you actively try to avoid by crossing the street normally (but here they’re on both sides of the street).

When I got into Phnom Penh at midnight I was still scared. I had nowhere to stay and no wifi and after asking what few people I could find on the street about licensed taxis (they don’t have them) I got in the least dodgy looking tuk tuk and asked him to take me to the only address I knew, the first hostel I stayed in. After ten minutes I knew he was going to rip me off, it wasn’t that far. I kept asking where he was taking me and he just kept driving and talking on his radio. I wanted to jump out but at that time of night there’s just homeless men on the streets and I’d have been attacked within a second.

After a while he slowed down as another tuk tuk driver pulled up and stared talking to him in Khmer. The driver said ‘you get out here. Pay me now. Pay me now’. I tried to give him 10000 Riel which I think is about $2.50 and he got really angry, talking to his friend and laughing in a really aggressive way. He said ‘you have more money. Don’t lie to us, we know you do’. At this point my big backpack is still in his tuk tuk and I have a backpack on with my laptop and basically whole life in it and my passport (which actually wasn’t in there, more on that later). So after crying and arguing with them I just gave them all the cash in my wallet and said ‘please leave me alone’. I don’t even know how much money I gave them.

So now alone, tired, not having eaten since 8am, with no money and no wifi I walked the streets alone looking for *anywhere*. Everything is closed in Phnon Penh at night. I finally came across a restaurant and begged them to let me sit there and use their wifi to contact my mum (I know, but I knew no one in Cambodia and I just needed to hear a familiar voice and get some advice. My mum would rather I contact her than suffer alone). Their wifi didn’t work and they tried to get me into another tuk tuk. Big mistake, I think I had a panic attack… I haven’t ever cried like I did then. As far as I was concerned I was never getting in another tuk tuk in this country.

An American man must have heard my cries and he asked if I needed help. He introduced himself and said he taught English there and knew somewhere I could stay. He seemed trustworthy but also looked terrifying – like a big Hell’s Angel. But I just relented and followed him – I’d resigned myself to dying.

He led me round the corner into the busiest street I’d seen in Phnom Penh – it was poppin’ which made me feel much safer. He then led me to the grubbiest, seediest hotel and said this was the place. Sadly (sense the sarcasm) it was full but they let me sit in the lobby and use their wifi. After five minutes and lots of old drunk white men coming in with anorexically thin Cambodian girls in stripper heels, I realised I was sat in a f*cking brothel. This street was lively because it was the red light district… it seems 90% of tourists to Cambodia are here for girls or children.

After speaking to my mum she booked me into a western 4* hotel and I got a taxi there. Finally I felt somewhat safe. When I checked in though and they asked for my passport, I realised I didn’t have it. You can imagine how I felt – my legs buckled. I’d rented a scooter and given it as a deposit and when I returned my keys they forgot to give it back to me (and I forgot to ask). Thankfully I had a copy of my passport so I could check in. I just drew a bath and sat in it for an hour. I couldn’t even sleep, I was thinking about the scary tuk tuk driver, the b*stards at the hostel in Sihnoukville, my lost passport, all the gross sex tourists here.

Anyway, I got my passport back and I’m in the process of booking a flight straight out of this country.

Before you judge me and call me a drama queen, which admittedly I can be, but I’m also a strong girl, who happily travels alone usually and I know how to stick up for myself – just remember, I’m still a 5’4” woman travelling alone in an incredibly dangerous country. I would never ever want my daughter, sister or friend to come here alone.

I was so pissed off at the people who had recommended Cambodia and especially Sihnoukville to me; but then I realised they were all either men or had travelled in a group. 

When travelling my priority is that I’m safe and I was not safe in Cambodia. Also I want to have fun of course, but I had the worst time. I saw the pit of humanity, I of course knew there was corruption, poverty and the chid sex trade in some places in the world… I just never thought I’d see it quite so up close and personal. Especially as Cambodia is quite firmly on the backpacker trail. Although having now read a few blogs I think it’s gotten so much worse over the last few years. At my hotel I told the receptionist about the tuk tuk drivers who drove me into the middle of nowhere and robbed me and asked if I should inform the police and he just laughed and said “they won’t help you”. As a solo traveller I do not want to be in a lawless country where crime is rife and there’s no safety net or recompense.

Anyone reading this who has been to Cambodia and loved it, I’m jealous of you, I wish I had even one hour of chill or a sliver of a good time but I didn’t. Sorry. Please don’t slag me off or laugh at my experience because I guarantee if this happened to you when you were all alone at the other side of the world from all your friends and family you’d feel the same.

I’m sad to say that this experience has really knocked my confidence when it comes to travelling, I’ll certainly be researching anywhere I go a lot more that I have previously. It’s a shame because I found India, Thailand and Bali to be the most wonderful countries and I felt very safe at all times… perhaps I got complacent by the time I got to Cambodia but people I know well never mentioned how much criminal activity goes on here.

I’m going to try and chill out on a beach for a week or so but I just want to go home to be honest – it’s hard to describe in words just how scared I was in Cambodia. I honestly thought something really bad was going to happen and I knew if it did no one would help. So yeah, I’m massively put off travelling alone for the time being. Which is a shame because I’m a brave, ballsy girl but this experience has made me think twice. One thing is for sure, I will NEVER go back to Cambodia.

Please if you’re a girl planning to travel there alone, don’t.

Fellow travel blogger and solo female traveller Absolutely Lucy also had a similar experience in Cambodia. Read HERE.

FOLLOW MY ADVENTURES ON INSTAGRAM FOR YOUR DAILY DOSE OF TRAVEL! There’s no photos of Cambodia because I was too scared to take out my phone and it was also hideous.

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63 Comments

  1. aleksssss says

    I’m writing this from Phnom Penh, been in Cambodia for 2 weeks now, which is 2 weeks too long. Doesn’t make me want to give up on travelling, just leaving this sh*t country asap. It is nothing, NOTHING like what people say. I don’t even understand why people are so dishonest when they talk about this country. It’s not beautiful, it’s polluted, it’s noisy, it’s filthy. I was aware of that, after all it is a third world country. What I didn’t know is how dangerous it is. Got my phone stolen on the riverside in Phnom Penh (which actually is beautiful). I’m not making a great deal about it, it just sucks, but I’m well travelled and lived 8 years on a Caribbean island that isn’t well known for its safety, and I never felt as unsafe as in Cambodia.

    What I didn’t know neither is the cost of life. Everything is overpriced. I actually saw a menu in a cheap restaurant with a 7,90$ cheeseburger. 7,90$??? Where are we, Manhattan???

    What I didn’t know also, and that is the biggest downer, is that Cambodians are absolutely not welcoming people. They look down at you, they’re agressive, they’re fake, lazy, jealous, racists… They just make you feel uncomfortable. I’ve travelled and actually lived in several countries from Australia to Canada, and it really is the first time that I will discourage anyone to visit a country. Scambodia is the term. Never, ever again.

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  2. Joseph says

    Really sorry for your experience. The whole story sounds like a horror trip. I am male 180 pounds and 6’3 and never did I run into similar trouble here. But I can imagine that for a girl the game is on a whole different level.
    But then on the other hand I still meet a lot of single female travellers here. How do they do it? Do they share tuk tuks all the time? Tbh I have never seen a single girl in a tuktuk here. Makes me think.

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  3. Suzanne says

    I just left Cambodia-i was with my husband. I hated it. Seriously…. everyone i ever met that has been there said they loved it. I was waiting for that loving feeling to come over me. It didn’t… for all the same reasons you eloquently described.

    I’m sitting in the airport and googled “cambodia sucks”…. this was the first thing i saw. There are plenty more articles/blogs i have yet to read…. but this is all very reassuring.

    Ive traveled to over 50 countries so this isnt my first rodeo. Cambodia sucks. I concur. Thanks for sharing your scary experience.

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  4. M4A1 says

    Damn… Sounds like you had a bad time in Cambodia! Breathe… You’re not the only one. When I first moved here, I was hanging a lot with backpackers. It was very common to see females coming back from a day of exploring crying their eyes out. I’ll never forget that one French girl that fell for the blackjack scam. Poor girl lost $5k and had to end a trip around Asia because of her Cambodian adventure.
    Cambodia was the victim of colonialism, blanket bombing, and a genocide. That’s a lot for a country that doesn’t have much to begin with. Therefore, you gotta cut Cambodian people some slack and understand why they’d be ready to sell their granny for a Toyota Camry. In fact, when Cambodian people see your over-sized backpack and your spotless Classic Vans, the only thing that goes through their minds is “Let’s milk that cow dry” (not calling you a cow though). Your feelings, well-being, or safety do not matter to tuk tuk drivers, bar girls, or sexpats.
    As for the old white men lurking on kids and underrage prostitutes, that’s 100% our fault. These Cambodian people are just trying to put food on the table. It’s saddening, but it is what it is. If there’s a demand, there will be a supply.
    Yes, the country is disgusting and it always smells horrible, wherever you are. But at the same time, the US was in the same condition before the creation of the EPA (and it still is in some portions of the country). Cambodia is 100 years late on everything. Its education system is a joke. Give its people some time. What you perceive as common sense is quantum physics to them.
    I moved from California to Cambodia because I needed a change of scenery. Met a lot of people at music festivals telling me mind-blowing stories about Cambodia (after almost a year here, I came to the conclusions that these people were for sure on a drug-cation). Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed after my first month here. My best friend and I crossed the country from north to south, and east to west. Did not see anything as amazing as the Grand Canyon or Halong Bay.
    Being a black male made it even worse. Getting spat on by the locals, waiters/ waitresses refusing to serve me, the list goes on… But hey, at least it’s not so different from the US!!!
    All in all, Cambodia is a shit hole. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. It’s a good place for under-qualified English teachers, I’ll admit that. It’s also nice when you live here and make good money (28 public holidays compared to 10 in the US), simply because it allows me to discover Asia for half of what I would’ve paid starting from LA (baller on a budget over here). I’ve met some good people here though (locals). Most expats tend to be pompous pricks, stay clear. It’s like everywhere else in the world: 1 good person for 10,000 assholes. You just got very unlucky.
    Keep travelling, the entire world is not like Cambodia.

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  5. Don't go to PP, or Cambodia says

    I can personally attest to Phnom Penh being a dangerous city. A couple of years back got my ipad mini stolen by a motorcycle thief while riding behind a tuk tuk. Cambodia, Phnom Penh in general has gotten much more dangerous than in 2002 when I first visited. Local population has gotten money hungry, and unfriendly. Just avoid the place, period.

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  6. Kasper j says

    I felts ashamed of my own country. I am Cambodian but I’m still afraid and scared of this country. That is why I have never recommended Cambodia for my internet friends to visit. I always tell them to visit Thailand, Vietnam or Loas…. instead because this country is horrible. There are robbery, sexual assault or sexual harassment everywhere especially at night. Not only the society is bad but also there are litter and trash were thrown everywhere. I still remember a Chinese reaction when she saw a trash was flying. She was shocked because she has never seen it in her entire life.
    After reading your blogs, I glad that you survived and go to your country.

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  7. Arvind says

    Can verify. We got ripped off twice in a day and me and my friends couldn’t wait to get out of the country.
    We took this riverboat in Siem Reap where they say they’ll charge X amount to take you to see some stuff but then they’ll drop you off at 1 point and then say you’ll need to take another boat to go further. By then you’re stranded and can’t do much. Similarly, Tuk Tuk drivers who’re supposed to take you both ways will abandon you when a customer offers you more. What’s worse is they’ll lie to you that they need money to buy water or something and take you half of the fare so their costs are covered from you.
    I also realized that pricing can be racist because they charge white people extra (I’m Indian and paid $15 while some western tourists i was chatting to were charged $25). The Cambodian guy who overheard it said prices varied by time, but that was BS.

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  8. Ronald McDonald says

    Sheree Milli is a fucking retard and is desperate for anyone to read her shitty blog.

    Go find your McDonalds so you feel safe you fat overweight piece of shit.

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  9. Sulaihah Ahmad says

    I am so sorry for all the negative comments calling you whiny. I’ve never been to Cambodia but I was thinking of going there. I’m Singaporean and Singapore being so safe, I’m afraid I’d make an easy target because I’m not used to watching out for snatch thieves or say, distraction tactics. Your experience could easily have been mine. I also assume there would be free wifi at mcdonalds. Hopefully your future travels would be more pleasant.

    Also, which part of India were you at? My friend who is Tamil said she visited her relatives in South India, it seems to be quite safe. I’ve read sites where South India is recommended for beginners to India. Would like to know what you think, if you have been to/are planning to visit South India.

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    • Hi, thanks for your sweet comment. I’m sure there are some lovely parts of Cambodia. I did have a bad experience, but don’t let it put you off. Though India is MUCH nicer – I’ve been to North and South and felt perfectly safe and welcome. 🙂

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      • Simon says

        Please for everyone’s curiosity could you state exactly where in India you have stayed? Names of cities etc?

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      • OnThis Rock says

        Hello Sherree.

        Thank you for your blog!!! You are a great writer! I appreciate this blog entry. I’ve been traveling as a single woman through Asia on and off since 2014. I’ve heard many people also saying they would not return to Cambodia I am in Cambodia (Siem Reap) NOW, for the first time and will be leaving early. I came from Thailand to see if I would like Siem Reap and had a job interview. After what I experienced, I will be turning down the job offer and leaving. After all my experiences in Asia, Cambodia has been the most disturbing. I’ve lived in poverty, done volunteer work, but it’s shocking in another way, like what you described.

        I observed SOCIOPATHY on an extreme level. Most of the adults are completely unable to view foreigners as human. I had a guy without legs who drove a Tuk Tuk follow me to the ATM, about three times and stalk me. I ignored him, but he sat outside the ATM waiting for me, no apologies, no remorse, no second thoughts. Beggars sitting outside stalking me at my favorite restaurant. The same people walking around in circles scamming people and not recognizing that it does not work because the people recognize they are scammers. They still try everyday to scam the same people. They don’t understand that the foreigners know them.

        I stayed in the same apartment and the Tuk Tuk drivers everyday at the end of the road, would harass me the same time everyday. No remorse, and did not even recognize I was the same person everyday. They labelled me “Lady” for three weeks straight, and treated me like it was the first time they ever saw me. I went to the same restaurant three days in a row, and on the fourth day, the women tried to cheat me on the same meal I had for four days. It’s like they didn’t even recognize I was the same person. I am trying to write about this experience, but find it very difficult to describe. I really felt a connection to the small children here, who were so eager to talk to me, but realized I cannot teach in such a place that would treat single women or foreigners with such evil like you described. They do not feel any guilt or remorse for doing what they did to you, and this is not a place for anyone who gives back to the community or wants to travel. I’m glad you got out alive, and look forward to reading more or your blog. I would love to chat more and hear how you finally got out and your experience at the airport. Thanks Again!!!!!

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        • Simon says

          @onthisrock – you’ve just described literally every place in south east Asia! How does this differ to where you have already been? (Where have you been?)
          Also if your only experience of Cambodia is 5 days in Siem Reap then I can’t really fathom how you can comment. Siem Reap is a total shthole.

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      • Johnny says

        Hi Sheree, I am a 43-year-old Businessman, weighing over 200 pounds with mean look, so the small guys in Cambodia look at me with some respect, however, I never felt so unsafe and disgusted in any other country in the entire planet. My daughter wanted to travel here with her boyfriend and some friends this year, over my dead body she will come to this dangerous shit hole. Your article is actually quite nice about this hell-hole. I hope many more tourist can read your article

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  10. Gemini Aura says

    I wrote a sympathetic response to your experience in Cambodia. Now having returned from a 3 week trip from Cambodia I have to retract most of what I’ve written. I consider myself an experienced traveler, having visited 50+ countries and living in 6 mostly in the developing world. Your experiences are your own, but to disparage a whole country is unfair particularly when your travel expectations sound better suited for a tour group or all-inclusive at a resort. The world is not Disneyland. If anything you’ve demonstrated how inexperienced you are traveling through developing countries on your own. For example, I know I need to carry small bills. In Cambodia for example, I took 200 $1 bills and 50 $5 bills. Why? For practical reasons. Most people, outside of frequented tourist spots and big business would not be able to make change for $20 and $50 bill. Even the Smart mobile phone company at a posh mall had difficulty making the change. And, how obnoxious it would be to flash a $50 or $100 bill in front of someone whose monthly income is less than $100. As for your Indian/Cambodian comparison. To say you didn’t see as much poverty and trash demonstrated you traveled with your eyes closed or you traveled with a pair romanticized spectacles.

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    • Thanks for reading. but, again, just my opinion. And written immediately after being mugged and seeing someone sexually assault a child. I’ve never claimed to be an expert traveller- far from it. But this is just a true account of my experience. I’m sure other people love Cambodia. I don’t like it, so I won’t go back – and I would never recommend it to my friends. But, again, just one person’s opinion. Glad you had a good time. 🙂 x

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  11. Simon says

    You have definitely made me laugh with your dramatisation – despite this i do feel sorry for your experience. However you sounded so so so unprepared!!! And you claim to have spent a month in India??? Where abouts exactly?? India is absolutely head and shoulders worse than Cambodia?
    Could you clarify where in PP you were? As I was there yesterday and it’s super busy and full of tourists til the early hours with bars etc?
    Ps – you sound like a man hating feminist with numerous references

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    • Johnny says

      I am in Sihanoukville Cambodia Right now, the place is a Complete dump, a shithole, sewage all over the place, garbage, the list goes on an on, along with Phnom Phen are both CRAP… the only place that is half decent is Siem Riep…where the temples are.. other than that..Run for your fucking life.

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  12. Belario says

    Sorry for my many messages but just wanted to tell you some facts, have lived there for 8 years. The reason why they do not care that they are cutting the forrests away is because as soon as they can financially benefit they do not care. Money is something completely different for them they use it also heavily in their Tempels. You can not visit a tempel without money, even if you are dead poor you still need to give something at least. If you do not then you loose face and others will give you bad faces. I am very sure maybe even hundreds of people will tell the most beautiful written stories how wrong I am. but it is not. you can go to cambodia and try to deal with people who do not earn any benefit from you. Only then you will see the true devils come out ! They will never ever accept their loss as well!

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  13. Belario says

    most people who travel here will not ´see´ what is really going on in this country. everything is hidden these days. All kinds of people saying: ´it is because they are poor or because they had a bad history.´ All false and trying to hide the facts. There is something going on deep inside their brain, I spoke to a swiss doctor and he also said they have certain issues. but you can never say or speak about it they will even put you in jail in that country and they will call you a racist if you say it in other countries. Ofcourse if they would start to correct eachother and schools would teach them manners it would be a much better place. but they simply can not because it is inside them to not correct and explain things. They also like to litter they are throwing plastic everywhere, on the highways, on the streets, but also in the Mangrove forrests and national parks, even in their own ricefields they are burning plastic and throw the plastic waste back in the fields. All those chemicals in the food you eat there!

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  14. Belario says

    You can not expose cambodia there are thousends of people fighting this online everyday. All negative comments get erased or heavily fight by thousends of facebookers.
    These people are mindsick, They should be exposed in the world but they do such an amazing job hiding it! There are so many secrets how these people think and act in real life. Also they really enjoy to see mysery from others so then they can feel better! They are buring plastic everywhere on the ricefields and this rice goes to the E.U. without tax in E.U. paid ! exported only by very rich tycoons! normal farmers can never ever get in between that. khmer people are the worst of the worst their attitude is horrible and they also feel higher than god.

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  15. your article makes me pretty upset. How you can judge so strong a country where you visited just the capital (capitals and big cites are known normally to have higher rates of criminality) and Shianoukville, that is a party place, and this places are known to attract not the best humans of this planet,party places are mostly disrespectful places for countries even if they can make an income with it.

    I feel offended to be a woman by reading your stuff. It makes me believe that because we are woman we need to be victims and winy like you, ohhh!! Is because strong women fight against fear that we arrive to be where we are, if we would be how you describe it, forget about your hard earned money you get to spend around the world, you would be still behind a pot making food for your family. Don’t spread your messeges of terror and regression please!

    With 18 I went the first time to Cambodia, at the border they cheat me and they where not really nice to me, I ended up paying a bus for a dozen of locals and it was not funny at all, I was scare. So what you can do in this moment? Crying? If you need cry the first day.. and what you do for the next day? Cry more? No! You use your BRAIN! And you open your mind 360 degrees.
    Since then Cambodia became my second home, and is a country that teach me to smile and to be sharp, and not a little winy pudding that expect that the world is as safe as the womb of mama.

    How you can say this “I think Cambodia is gross » in a country that lived one of the worst genocide ever and that is still under dictatorship? Why you don’t see it as a country that has many struggles and potential to get better? There is s many horrible things still happening in Cambodia, is a country that never recovered from war, that is poor, that lost a loot..but it doesn’t mean is condemned to stay how it is no?

    “One thing that struck me was the filth and the poverty, I’m not a naive person, nor a pampered western traveler(YES sadly you are), I’m happy to slum it, but this was next level. I happily spent a month in India and while incredibly dirty, the people there still took pride in their surroundings as much as they could – and all the mess just made the place seem vibrant. In Phnom Penh it’s just gross, homeless people line the streets, picking through rubbish.”
    And what I honestly feel DISGUSTING is that you can say that you can perceive this places as vibrant,what there is as vibrant in poverty and dirt?! And how you can be disgusted by homeless picking through rubbish if they have no food?! (Give them food so they don’t need to pick in rubbish!!!!!) Children and parents get smashed by trucks in big rubbish discharges out of Phnom penh, you think they choose this life?! you think they are happy?!
    You know girl, your dirty soul and heart is rewarded by what you live in cambodia. What comes around goes around!
    The world is a beautiful raw place, and us human we should give our best everywhere we go. In Cambodia you could help, but you..you prefer to live in your bubble; judging left and right and travel for your own confort,and to shit the planet. Because you need to spend your hard earned money… HAHAHAHA if you would work so hard you would not be so weak! Girl.. this are egotrips you describe.

    I really wish your mind will open one day and that you stop to be a victim and live like a strong woman! You are food for bad minded people in cambodia and elsewhere, to easy to catch!

    And by the way, I imagine you never leave your house in London no? because there is many thiefs also. Tell to woman to don’t leave their house. To DANGEROUS! Let’s go back to the pots and the brooms -.-‘

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  16. Chris Pender says

    Please never leave London again. Travelling is not for everyone. I agree that Cambodia is raw can be a bit rough but you seem to be the east adapted person I have ever heard of. You come across like a spoiled brat that has to go to a poor country. My favourite line is “about 8pm everything closes, there’s not even a McDonalds here”….I’m still not sure if this is a parody of a rich bitch abroad or are these actually real life experiences. I mean, you paid $50 for a 10 minute taxi ride in Shinoukville. Hillarious stuff. Good job.

    Like

    • I’m an ex Vice writer – get a sense of humour LOL. I’m just saying I didn’t like Cambodia. I will continue to have nice ‘rich bitch’ holidays in other countries. No need to get angry. XX

      Liked by 1 person

    • Belario says

      All these people are trying so hard to hide the things what is going on in this country! Sheree your feeling is absolutely right! These people have zero respect and we but also other khmers can and could never ever correct another khmer. They just want to live like animals with no rules. So many rules there and laws but they are only used when they can screw someone! They are cowards also and let everything happen. In most countries people would already long time ago burn down those villas from those clowns controlling them and hang them on the highest trees.
      oh of course they do not have trees anymore. because they could sell them. It is rotten from top to bottom in that country. and the bottom would be very happy to join the system with commissions and looking away if they get the chance. It is inside them and in their culture. It is also not currupt they will not work for your Bribe ! All these comments about maybe 6% of the population who is not like that..

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Lao Wai says

    I agree with a friend of mine’s assessment: “Some people should simply be banned from having a passport and traveling. Ever.” If you don’t like traveling to places that aren’t up to wealthy, spoiled, western “standards” (try walking down the street in Detroit with your iPhone X and see what happens), then stay in the west. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but I suspect Cambodians are thrilled you won’t be back. I, also, was once a young, privileged, self-entitled westerner in Asia, but taking the time to learn the local language fluently, avoiding “gringo ghettos” and other places overrun with westerners was an excellent antidote and reality check.

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    • Listen, I just wanted a nice holiday. I have never claimed to be an expert traveller- but I don’t think not wanting to see paedos is weird. I think Cambodia is gross – but that’s just my personal opinion. Thanks for your comment. x

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Gemini Aura says

    I am a solo traveler. I can appreciate the anxiety and loneliness that come with solo travel from time-to-time. Your experience is your experience and it will make you a better and more informed traveler about the locations you visit and your expectations about those destinations.

    Do you consider yourself a tourist or traveler? The two are not synonymous. I believe, a tourist prefers organized trips, with minimal inconveniences, seeing beautiful things while skimming the surface of the local culture. A traveler tends to be more adventurous, more spontaneous, viewing obstacles as a challenge and a way of deepening his/own experience and diving deeper into the culture. There is nothing wrong being a “tourist”. When I do travel with a friend, I ask questions to get a sense what kind of traveler my friend is or thinks he is. Honestly, I would have relished being in your situation because it is a challenge and may lead to unexpected experiences. However, my travel companion may not. So I adjust.

    Thank you for your post. I have read dozens of the blogs about Cambodia. You are one of 2 I’ve come across that describes the downside of traveling through Cambodia. Most blog only show/describe the positive/happy/amusing side. That’s unfortunate because the opposite is also part of the experience and sharing those experiences could better inform others who are thinking of going. The other blogger is No Joke Howard. His vlogs could be seen as crude and crass, but he provides an honest and frank insight into Cambodia.

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  19. Katie says

    To all the girls considering travelling Cambodia solo, please don’t let this post put you off!
    I planned a solo trip to Otres Beach (about 20 min from Sihanoukville), Phnom Penh, and Siem Reap this past December (2017). Unfortunately I read this post the night before I left and was terrified I had made the wrong decision. Turns out Cambodia was the best decision I could’ve made! Otres beach was gorgeous ( and I’ve been around Bali), Siem Reap was nice and easy, and Phnom Penh was my favorite! I stayed at Onederz hostel on the river and it was absolutely wonderful. I loved wandering the streets, everything was so new and different, and the night market was very local and fun. Yes, there’s poverty and of course you have to be careful, but I never felt in danger and I would go back in a heartbeat! If you travel around the country, I recommend Giant Ibis. They’re very well organized and professional.

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    • Natalie says

      Katie- thank you for sharing this! I am currently planning a trip around SE Asia and this post has put me off form adding Cambodia to the list. I was looking into Siem Reap and Phnom Penh as a solo female traveler in my 20s. I consider myself to be well traveled for my age including numerous nations that are impoverished, but previously solo. Besides general advice for safety with petty theft and being aware, did you feel like you had to be particularly careful or felt unsafe?

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  20. Pingback: Why I won't return to Cambodia...my worst travel experience yet in a country with an overwhelmingly dark, sinister side. - gettingthedreamlife.com

  21. stuart says

    mmm…how’s life going for you now?…cannot say I enjoy reading that but it was interesting…I spend most of my time in thailand…have been to camdodia several times over the years going way back to 2000 when it was really was like the wild west…anything goes place….over the years I’ve seen phnom pehn devolve into the terrible dangerous shitpit that it is today…and I refuse to subject musrlf to that experience any more…I’m better than that…people with enough self respect morality or dignity just wont step into places such as these if they know enough..if they go once then they dont go back…all of life is a journey…danger increases due to lack of familiarity…but can also be in the wrong place at the wrong time in your town..your own street…even within your own home (the worst injury I ever sustained many years ago was in a bathroom!!! haha)…not pulling your leg on this one but a strong buddhist amulet would have helped enormously….I wear all the time..even while sleeping…the angels associated with the high power piece which has been blessed by a holy monk will help the wearer in many ways…even with timing…not just with where to step…too deep to get into here…I have so many protection mantras for safety and provention of weapons..knife..gun misfire that the confidence shows thru and I pass thru potential dangers….the person thinking evil thoughts will feel bad and either change their mind and walk away or be prevented from touching you at all…I’ve had a thai man come up to me wanting to fight…I have stood there saying nothing…he has been egged on to hit..then shaking..walking away..then coming back again…and again having to walk away…no words from me…basically if you are wearing a good amulet you cannot be harmed…but you yourself should be a good person….we get issues arrising due to karma…lessons to be learned…but places in the world are becoming so dangerous that sporadic unplanned crap breaks out and whoever is there can suffer…hey I’ll let you know…the greatest jouney you can take is within you…by meditation..mantras…breathing method..using visualization..concentration…you can come to the point where all is meaningless and you ate nobody..therefore can be anybody and fit in with any situation…the fear you experienced is part of the demons game…the darkness that rules most of humanity..fear..anger..hatred..violence…..the buddha was accosted by it…he continued his practice and it left him…people have said you project strength to avoid being attacked but for a woman surrounded by males a bit difficult unless the cultivation is there…anyhow….look into buddhist amulets….I have an original luang phor daeng….his amulets have caused guns to misfire…people unharmed in road accidents…many incidents…the energy is very hot….I actually produce quite a bit more than this from reciting all my protection mantras for an hour every day…dont know if you’d want to go so far as have a buddhist tattoo done…I met a cambodian woman travelling around south of thailand which is way more dangerous than north…doing it solo..she looked more lome brazilian and permanent home was italy…a backpacker so open to some trouble…very attractive…could feel a degree of heat coming off her…warding off energy..asked her what she had…she lifted up her shirt to reveal a tattoo done by ajarn noo ganpai in bangkok..dont know the cost …I have no tattoos…the mantras and just one high power amulet are enough…they increase your internal energy..your shakti…life force..whatever you term it….power can be increased so much that anyone with you will agree with you and you can influence them just by your thought…now if your energy is high…when lower energy person comes in your space with negative thought or harming thought about you…you will sense it…your thought about them causes shock wave in them…they feel nervous..uneasy….even under attack and will move away due to physical distress caused by spiritual means…if they are clever and also have mantras or some black magic…they will try not to show what they feel and just go along with you in cooperation….they sense the danger if they cross the line with you so they keep it level and the exchange takes place without a hitch…its a science really….I’m confident I could walk into a gang neighbourgood and not be attacked…the high protective power gives you a presence that is relaxed..a mystery….in the mind of potential attacker..how can one be so cool and calm wihout having something big..some weapon?….if they come close with negative thoughts the energy will attack them..racing heart..shortness of breah…sharp pains in heart…feeling weak..dizzy..serious sudden health issues….a lot of criminals have intense energy…they can intimidate others…if they encounter something they silently acknowlege as a greater force..they back off and there is some respect and dialogue…criminals feel each other out in ways others cant understand…anyhow…peace…continue the journey with knowledge

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  22. I am in Cambodia right now and although I have only been her a week and a half, I don’t see myself staying long. I too came from Bali, and WHOA what a (horrible) difference! I made the mistake of heading directly to Sihanoukville (as referred to me by a friend) from Phnom Penh. I took a $50 taxi ride there as I was told a bus would take 7 hours. I know now that is not the case, but lesson learned. Sihanoukville was a COMPLETE shit hole, you’re absolutely correct. My last night there, I was ready to book the next flight out as soon as I got back to Phnom Penh. IMO Phnom Penh is slightly better, as I do end up feeling a bit safer with loads of people around. But I am constantly being told to hide my phone and make sure my bag is carried on the front, things I’ve never worried about in other third world countries like Honduras.
    I would definitely NOT recommend travelling Cambodia solo, particularly if you are female.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you agree! Lot’s of people do not believe me. Anyway, at least you can say you’ve been there. Hope the rest of your travels are better. I’ll check out your blog. THANK YOU so much for reading. xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, I’m out of Cambodia now and back in Bali 🙂 Siem Reap was my last stop before heading to Thailand, and it was a night and day difference from Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, though I’m sure Angkor Wat had something to do with it. Still as a whole there is a LOT of crime in Cambodia right now and definitely not the safest place for a solo female traveller.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Reading this broke my heart a bit. I traveled to Cambodia as a solo female backpacker in 2011. It was safe then and I was out and about both during the day and night. It is so sad to know that this is no longer the case. Sihanoukville always seemed a bit shady to me, so I never went. I traveled to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. While reading this, I said to myself over and over.. this can’t get much worse. Yet, it did. I hope that this doesn’t throw you off of having a great time in other Asian cities.

    In the Backpacking community, there are so many posts commenting on how safe travel is, and how everyone should just get out there and ‘Do It’. Stories like these never get as many views and shares. Thank you for being brave enough to put this out there. I’ve had a horror or two myself as a female on the road. It sucks. Keep your chin up and stay safe!

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  24. Patty Roth says

    I’m Cambodian and I WOULD NOT recommend anyone especially foreigners to travel alone in Phnom Penh nor Sihanoukville (I called It a pedos’ paradise). If you want to travel alone and it’s your first time,,,then Siem Reap should be your destination. And do a little research before coming, some areas are still dangerous to go alone at night. anyways I’m planning to go solo to Siem Reap this weekend!!

    About Tuktuk drivers, I don’t ride them anymore in the city. A lot of them say the price after judging how rich you are, well you’re foreigner, no wonder u got ripped off. Taxi costs 2500riel which is around $0.65 per kilometer in Phnom Penh.

    Sorry to hear you have had a bad experience staying in Cambodia 🙏

    Like

    • Hi, thanks for your comment. Since going to PP and Sihnoukville sooo many people have told me how dangerous it is. However before then I had several people reccomend these places to me! Glad I know now. And I can give the advice to only go to Siem Riep. x

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  25. Very interesting to read.
    I want to go to Cambodia one day but I’ll defiantly do my research more before I go.

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  26. I’m so shocked that ANYONE recommended Sihanoukville to you! It’s fucking horrible. I got mugged there and was so shocked by the blatent paedo’s wandering the streets that I immediately left. Awful vibes. Feel the same about Phnom Penh too. Just not safe at night on your own. However, I had a great time in Siem Reap and really liked it, so that was its saving grace! Glad you’re getting out soon 🙂

    p.s. I loved Luang Prabang in Laos. It was like a chilled out haven after crazy Cambodia!

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    • I’m shocked as well, it’s left me questioning people’s sanity. It’s just the worst place ever, regardless of the crime and paedos, it’s still the dirtiest place I’ve seen in my life. Yuk. Ah well at least I’m out now! I’m going to Borneo. 😊 X

      Liked by 2 people

  27. Wow! I am so sorry this happened to you. I actually just wrote a blog yesterday saying if I could go anywhere in the world, I would go to Cambodia. I knew it had its issues, but had no idea it was like this! Be safe on the rest of your journey and thanks for sharing your story.

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  28. Wow, what a story! We’re in Vietnam soon for a few weeks before stopping off in Siem Reap, Cambodia for a few days just to see Angkor Wat. We did consider stopping in Phnom Penh too but decided against it due to lack of time-thank god by the sounds of it! I’m glad to hear that you made it out the other side in one piece; it definitely sounds like a twisted city. My cousin really enjoyed travelling Cambodia and being a lone-female she never felt uneasy at all on her stays so hopefully that was just bad luck our your part. The cleanliness and lack of hygiene is just unacceptable though- ill definitely be considering this when choosing places to eat!

    However, that being said… you knew how heavy your backpack was when you got on the scooter, you arrived in an alien city at midnight with no accommodation and you were easy pickings for the Tuk Tuk drivers- this would have happened anywhere. For somebody so eliquant in your language and clearly well traveled these are all massive oversights!! I’m shocked…. but also hooked! I’m not trolling- I’m just compelled. Great blogging! Cant wait to read more! 🙂

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    • It was a series of unfortunate events. I had to get on the bike with my bag so I wouldn’t miss the bus out of Sihnouksville. And yes I had no accommodation planned but I just felt so unsafe that I panicked and made myself more unsafe. In my defence in most capital cities there’s a 24hour McDonald’s or something where you know you’re safe and you can use the wifi. But yes I am a cautionary tale! Don’t make the mistakes I did. Thanks for reading. 🙂

      Like

  29. 😖 so sad to hear that!
    I’ve never been there, but I’d love to! Now, I’m sure I won’t do it alone.
    Hope you feel a little bit better now!

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  30. It’s a shame you had such a bad experience in Cambodia. I have traveled solo through Cambodia many times and have never felt unsafe, but I will admit that Sihanoukville is super seedy- my least favorite place there. If you ever go back try the islands, or Kampot. Anyways, sorry to hear about your bad trip!

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    • I was obviously just unlucky but I still don’t like the culture in phnom penh and sihnoukville – just too seedy for me. I don’t think I’ll ever come back – there are so many amazing places where I can spend my hard earned cash – and hopefully not be robbed of it. A few people have said to go to other places in Cambodia but I’m just too fearful now. Even if it wasn’t scary, the places I’ve seen are so grotty that I think I’d still leave anyway, I know it’s an underdeveloped country but they could still take pride in it. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

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  31. Never knew that Cambodia is so unsafe! You’re lucky to have survived out of all this shit! Have a safe return!

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