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Cambodia Health and Safety – VongVeng

When traveling abroad it is important that you understand the health and safety risks that differ from place to place and take the necessary measures to ensure that you and your travel companions are making the right decisions. Cambodia is no exception and it is essential that you read up on Cambodia health and safety and prepare sufficiently for your trip.

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Cambodia Health and Safety Before You Go

Like most tropical destinations, Cambodia health and safety risks include a number of diseases which can spread through dirty water, badly prepared food, mosquitoes and other mediums. But don’t let that put you off your trip. Most of these disease can easily be avoided either by vaccinations, intelligent decision-making and simple personal hygiene.

1. Vaccinations
Vaccinations are important in Cambodia health and safety for visitors to the country. Make sure that you have up-to-date shots, such as MMR, diphtheria and polio.

There are four major recommended vaccinations to get if you’re traveling to Cambodia:
• Hepatitis A – this can be spread through contaminated water and food that has not been prepared in a clean environment or is not thoroughly cooked. This is a danger throughout all of Cambodia, not just rural areas.
• Hepatitis B – though usually only spread through the use of contaminated needles or sexual contact, we recommend that you get this shot particularly if you will be traveling through the country to more remote areas where a high standard of emergency care is not always available.
• Typhoid – also a common sickness that spreads through contaminated food and water, when it comes to Cambodia health and safety, we recommend this vaccination especially if you plan to sample the street food and market stall eateries.
• Japanese Encephalitis – again, only present in rural areas and jungle covered region such as Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri, this disease doesn’t pose a big threat. However, if you plan on visiting those types of areas or spending more than a month in Cambodia it’s better to be safe than sorry.

2. Malaria
This well-known disease is present in much of Cambodia, however it is not typically a danger in Phnom Penh or the Angkor Archeological Park. If you’re planning to travel to more rural areas including Battambang, Preah Vihear and Kampot, it is wise to take anti-Malaria medication. Malaria in Cambodia is resistant to many drugs, but doxycycline and mefloquine work just fine.

3. Insurance
Travel insurance is always highly recommended. Many insurance companies offer comprehensive travel insurance that covers baggage loss, medical emergencies and emergency evacuation. Travel insurance can be found online or booked at most travel agents. Make sure to check that the plan you choose covers all of the details that are important to you before you book it 
Important: In Cambodia there is limited accessibility to reliable health care so we strongly advise purchasing an insurance plan that covers emergency evacuation, in case you need to be airlifted to a hospital in neighboring Bangkok.

Cambodia Health and Safety In the Country

While all the things we have mentioned above are important when it comes to Cambodia health and safety, there are a number of simple things you can do while you’re in the country to ensure that your trip carries as little risk as possible.

Tips to Staying Healthy

1. Avoid mosquitos
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Mosquitoes are a big issue in Cambodia health and safety and should be avoided. Though it is a good idea to take anti-malaria medicine, it can also be very costly. If your traveling companions don’t include young children, you might choose to forgo medication and take plenty of mosquito repellent with you instead. If you’re going to visit the countryside or the jungle regions of Cambodia, we recommend wearing light clothing that minimizes bare skin along with taking your anti-malarial medication and insect repellent.

2. Drink clean water
It is generally not recommended to drink the tap water in Cambodia, even in cities like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, though you should be just fine using it to brush your teeth and wash your face. Bottled water is sold at many of the little roadside stalls with bright orange cool boxes in front. Most bottles water doesn’t pose risks to Cambodia health and safety, but the most reputable brands include Hi-Tech, Eurotech, Aquafina and Dasani.
When it comes to ice, generally small chunks of ice in your glass come from a large block which may not be clean and safe to consume. Tube-shaped ice is prepared in a safer environment and since it comes in a tubed package, it is not dragged across dirty surfaces and manhandled like the large ice blocks.

3. Be careful what you eat
There’s nothing more Cambodian than sitting down at a street-side stall for a bowl of hot noodle soup or a plate or fried rice with pork and egg. But if you choose to eat street food, be wary of the way it is prepared and whether or not it is properly cooked. The general rule among expats about Cambodia health and safety concerning food is that even if your food has not been prepared in the cleanest setting, it should be alright if cooked thoroughly. Avoid raw or uncooked foods as sellers have a habit of leaving their wares out in the open where flies and other contaminants have easy access.

4. Vehicle Safety
If you’re traveling by yourself or with a friend, you might be tempted to hire a motorbike or scooter (moto). Moto hire is popular particularly in Battambang, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville since these places have less heavy traffic and more easily accessible places than Phnom Penh. No matter where you drive, always wear a helmet; the law requires it.

Though Cambodian city roads often look like mildly-organized chaos, there are a number of traffic laws and unspoken rules. As a visitor it can be difficult to understand the way that Cambodians drive, so do your best to stay on the right side of the road, maintain a moderate speed and always be on guard. If you’re caught speeding or not wearing a helmet, the police will stop you and may require a hefty fine or simply confiscate the bike, in which case you will likely have to compensate the owners.
Also, be sure to keep tight hold of any bags you’re carrying as thieves sometimes attempt to steal bags right off people’s shoulders as they drive past.

Tuk-tuks are perhaps the most enjoyable form of public transportation in Cambodia. You can sit safely inside while still able to enjoy the beautiful views as you trundle along. In Phnom Penh, take a tuk-tuk ride to the riverside and enjoy views of the fast-flowing Mekong river on one side and the enchanting Royal Palace on the other.

Cambodia Health and Safety When You Get Home

There is always the possibility that you may have come down with a sickness in Cambodia that does not affect you until after you return to your home country. Though unlikely if you’ve taken the necessary precautions, there is always the chance that you may have been infected with a parasite, stomach bug or something else. If you suffer from any odd symptoms within the first month after arriving home, consult your doctor and make sure to notify him that you have been in Cambodia. If your doctor doesn’t have this information, it might make it very difficult to diagnose what is going on with your body.

Like any foreign country, Cambodia has its sicknesses and diseases that our bodies might not be used to or fully equipped to handle, but don’t let any of that discourage you. Cambodia is a place of wonder like nowhere else and we’re sure you’ll agree that the possible Cambodia health and safety risks are well worth the amazing experiences in the Kingdom.