Most of the roads used by tourists are in an acceptable condition. On the other side of the main roads, however, it looks different. The risk of accidents and assaults is relatively high compared to neighboring countries in Southeast Asia. Night drives should be avoided as far as possible, also because there is then practically no police presence. In rural areas in particular, it is advisable to ask local people about the safety of the surrounding area when you arrive. Cars can be rented with and without a chauffeur, officially driving is only permitted with a local or international driver’s license.
There are regular and good bus connections between the larger towns. There are now numerous companies that serve the individual routes. Driving with these buses is very cheap (e.g. tickets from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville are available for less than 10 US dollars, to Battambang or Siem Reap it is a bit more expensive) and relatively comfortable, although not always according to European safety standards. You have a seat reservation and don’t have to expect overcrowded buses. All major cities can be reached from Phnom Penh within a day, bus routes to and from Bangkok only take eleven hours.
Within the country, there are boat connections from Phnom Penh to Kratie, Siem Reap and Chau Doc (Vietnam), depending on the season and river level. Compared to the buses, however, the speedboats are not always considered safe. Battambang and Poipet in the west and Kampot and Sihanoukville in the south can also be reached again by train from Phnom Penh. There are also three international airports in Cambodia: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. However, the latter is rarely used.
Entry and residence regulations
According to Oxfordastronomy.com, Cambodia has very liberal immigration laws. Nevertheless, tourists and business travelers with German and other citizenship without exception require a visa. The length of stay with a tourist visa is 30 days and can only be extended once for a further four weeks. A tourist visa (T) costs 30 US dollars, business travelers pay 35 US dollars for their visa (E), which can be extended as required. For holders of diplomatic and service passports, there are sometimes special regulations. If the visa is exceeded, a penalty fee of US $ 5 per day since the visa expires will be levied upon departure – further legal consequences may arise if the visa is exceeded for longer.
The visa can be obtained from a Cambodian diplomatic mission before the start of the journey, but this is a bit more expensive. With a passport photo, however, visas can easily be acquired at all border crossings and at the two international airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap within a few minutes. In addition, there is now – but only for tourists – the possibility of applying for a visa online. When leaving Cambodia, however, the passport must be valid for at least six months.
In addition, Cambodia can also be reached from nineteen international border crossings. In principle (but without guarantee), visas can also be purchased there, although closing times must sometimes be observed. According to its own information, Cambodia has a total of eight international border crossings with Thailand – Cham Yeam (Koh Kong), Poipet and Choam Sanguam (Banteay Meanchey), Osmach (Oddar Meanchey), Sihanoukville, Prum (Pailin), Doung (Battambang) and Preah Vihear -, nine with Vietnam – Bavet (Svay Rieng), Kha Orm Sam Nor (Kandal), Koh Rohka and Banteay Chakrey (Prey Veng), Tropeang Sre (Kratie), Prek Chak (Kampot), Phnom Den (Takeo), Oyadav (Rattankiri) and Tropieng Phlong (Tboung Khmum) as well as two with Laos – Dong Krolar and Tropieng Kreal. Unfortunately, unofficial fees are still common when issuing visas.
Security for foreigners
In Cambodia, travelers are at an increased risk of robbery or theft. Hotels should only be left by car after dark, not on foot. Unlit streets in particular should be avoided. For reasons of road safety, we strongly advise against riding a bike or motorcycle without a helmet. Individual trips by land should, if possible, be planned in such a way that the destination can be reached safely before dark. With a few exceptions, buses, trains and boats do not meet the usual safety standards. In the event of an accident, even initial medical care cannot often be guaranteed. In some parts of the country, especially near the border, there is still a risk of mines.
The domestic political crisis and the suppression of political opposition have also had a negative impact on security in public spaces. Especially in times of political tension, as most recently in November 2019, when opposition leader Sam Rainsy announced his return to Cambodia, foreigners are strongly advised to avoid large crowds. In principle, the border regions are also prone to conflict, as the processes are usually not mutually agreed and repeatedly cause local tensions, most recently (2019) on the border with Laos.
The Foreign Office, the British Foreign Office and the US State Department regularly publish updated safety information. In an urgent emergency, there are two contact options: On the one hand via the emergency telephone of the German Embassy, reachable on +855 10 99 00 02, on the other hand via the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has set up a hotline for the local police authorities for foreign citizenship on +855 31 201 2345 (also accessible via WhatsApp).