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Living in Phnom Penh

A comprehensive guide about living well in Phnom Penh

Living in Phnom Penh can be quite the adventure, but expats should make sure to be well prepared. A private healthcare insurance, for instance, is recommended due to the comparatively poor standards of local healthcare. In this article, we introduce you to healthcare, safety and transport in Phnom Penh.

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Life in Phnom Penh

Healthcare in Phnom Penh

Local training and healthcare is not up to the standards of more developed countries, but there are several clinics in Phnom Penh which do meet international standards for basic medical care and stabilization. It is worth researching these and making sure you know where they are before you get there. If you have a serious medical emergency, foreigners will often be taken from the hospitals in Cambodia to neighboring Thailand where the healthcare is more reliable.

Pharmacies will sell painkillers, antihistamines and insect repellent, but these are unlikely to be the brands you are used to, so take any medication you use regularly with you, and if you do purchase anything, remember to check the use-by date as medications will often stay on the shelves even once they are out of date. Make sure you have insurance that will cover medical emergencies for your time in Phnom Penh, and below is a list of the vaccinations that are recommended before you move to there: 

  • Diphtheria and tetanus 
  • Hepatitis A 
  • Hepatitis B 
  • Polio 
  • Tuberculosis 
  • Typhoid

Safety and Security

Phnom Penh has developed rapidly over the last decade, but safety and security is still an issue throughout the city. Tourists and foreigners are always going to be an easy target, and bag snatching is not an uncommon occurrence. Be careful around beggars in Phnom Penh. If you are eating outside at a restaurant, beggars will often approach you; to avoid this, stay inside.

Young children begging for money claiming they need it to go to school is a common site in Phnom Penh, but this is often a larger business, and an adult will be keeping an eye on them, pocketing the money the children receive. These organized beggars rely on tourists’ pity and relative wealth, but you should avoid giving money to children, especially late at night as this encourages the practice and can encourage them to be out at times when they are most vulnerable.

Transportation in Phnom Penh

Transportation around Phnom Penh is relatively secure, but make sure that the tuc tuc or taxi driver knows where they are going before you get in, and also agree a fare in advance.

 If you are walking in Phnom Penh, especially near the tourist hot spots, you will often be targeted by taxi drivers and tuc tuc drivers who will shout at you to get in their vehicle, and this can be quite aggressive. This is not threatening, but can make you feel uncomfortable so avoid these hot spots and use the quieter streets for getting around these areas.

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Updated on: August 03, 2015
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