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Travelling as a single woman in Cambodia

Thursday, January 5th 2012. | Travel

Travelling as a single woman in on Cambodia holidays can be a rich a rewarding experience, and Cambodia is certainly one of the world’s destinations where this is possible. I myself have lived alone in Phnom Penh when I was much younger and I have to say that I found living in London a much more threatening and difficult place to be!

That is not to say that Cambodia is not without its dangers: for both men and woman and as with anywhere else in the world one must always exercise general caution and common sense in terms of personal safety, by not flashing large wads of cash or sparkly jewellery around and not wandering in unfamiliar areas alone at night. Also note that Cambodian women as a general rule don’t wander around by themselves at night. I found that as a foreigner if I was out late then this was not frowned upon by my Khmer neighbours or by Cambodians on the street, but I did note that this is fairly unusual among local women.

Cambodia HolidaysIn general my experience as a single woman was positive, and generally the fact that I was by myself just prompted gentle questioning from Cambodians about where my husband was and why I was living away from him or the odd wolf whistle from teenagers hanging out on the street.

I believe that travelling as a single woman, while perhaps can be riskier than travelling as a single man, can actually make you seem less of a “threat” and thus make you more approachable for local people. I found that overwhelmingly local Cambodian people really took me under their wing once they realised I was by myself. I often found it pretty impossible to go anywhere or do anything without having people semi-adopt me and make sure that I found my way, or got on the right bus, or found the right section of the market for what I was looking for. I also generally found that this was not in because they were looking for tips or to sell me something, but out of genuine concern for my safety!

I remember heading to the Royal Palace one weekend by myself, as I had been living there for some weeks and still hadn’t seen Cambodia’s biggest tourist attraction, and was quickly adopted by a group of monks and their sisters and family members at the entrance. They gave me a detailed tour of the palace in broken English and explained what all of the Buddha statues meant to them personally as “their teacher”. It was one of my most memorable afternoons on my recent Holidays in Cambodia, and one that I don’t think I would have had if I had not been by myself.

Cambodia is a country that is accessible for single women and the warm and friendly attitude of most Cambodian people certainly make it a welcoming place to visit!

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