Your purse isn’t safe.
The sad reality of Cambodia is that many live in poverty. When you don’t make enough money to put food on the table, many people will do almost anything to provide for their families.
The perception of foreigners doesn’t help. Visitors and foreigners, especially Caucasians, are regarded as Prrahng. This literally translates to “French,” and many Cambodians consider all Caucasian-looking people to be French. They assume such visitors to have money falling from the skies. Foreigners have so much money that they don’t know what to do with it all. This perception makes it easier for people to pickpocket and steal, as they figure they have a lot of disposable cash.
The classic form of transportation is called tuk tuk, which is essentially a motorcycle shaped like a golf cart that carries multiple passengers. If you aren’t careful, tuk tuk scams occur where they may try to abduct you or hold you ransom. While this isn’t common, it is still something that you should be aware of. It sounds scary, but there’s a simple precautionary solution: download PassApp on your phone! This is the Cambodian version of Uber or Lyft, and provides transparency so the company knows where and when the driver delivers you to your destination.
To prevent pickpocketing, avoid wearing large backpacks and carrying valuables. You will see that most locals carry a small handbag around the shoulder, placing it in front of their bodies while walking. If a backpack is absolutely necessary, you can simply place it on the front side of your body. You will look a little ridiculous, yes, but you can safely guarantee you won’t be pickpocketed!
Celine spent 6 weeks in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.