I flew into Siem Reap, Cambodia this year on my first ever completely solo trip. I arrived in Siem Reap as a 24-year-old woman from Toronto, Canada with no experience travelling alone.
The previous year I flew to Bangkok, Thailand alone but quickly met up with friends and remained with a group. This trip was different, I would be navigating my way solo. If you’re planning to venture to Siem Reap alone, here’s what you can expect.
1. The people in Siem Reap are extremely friendly.
The first thing that I recognized was how kind and helpful the people were. I was greeted with a smile almost everywhere I went and the staff and community were always welcoming. Kids would wave singing “hi!”, people on scooters would smile as they passed, and the Khmer people I encountered were open to answering questions and helping me find locations.
2. The tuk-tuks and traffic are safe.
I’ve heard that in Vietnam and India the streets are hard to cross and driving (or walking) can be dangerous. In Siem Reap, Cambodia the traffic was not like traditional Western traffic but I’d call it “organized chaos”. Scooters, cars, and tuk-tuks see the road lines as suggestions and yet there is a natural rhythm to the traffic. Don’t second-guess yourself, just flow with it and cross. People will stop, just be aware of your surroundings.
3. You can explore alone during the day.
Day one I was hesitant about wandering around alone. Was I being reckless? No. I grabbed a map, strapped on a money belt to be extra cautious, and walked around for hours. Tuk-tuk drivers will call out to you repeatedly “tuk-tuk?” but I would simply smile, shake my head and continue on. I didn’t feel unsafe at any point, even while lost or in alleyways.
4. You can explore at night but bring a buddy to be safe.
I went out to Pub Street and the Night Market alone in the evening and there were locals and tourists everywhere. I felt safe but people advised me to go out with a buddy. Although I didn’t take this advice, I was only in town for three nights and not drinking heavily or going to bars. If you’re looking to have a wild night, recruit friends from your hostel or hotel to join.
5. The people are honest and fair.
I got a tuk-tuk back to my hotel after a night out and passed the driver $5. He asked for $2. When I inquired why he said that for distances inside the core of Siem Reap I should only offer $2, $5 was too much. I was blown away by his honesty and appreciated the advice. Overall, I found that the people in Siem Reap were very respectful to tourists.
6. There are lots of solo female travellers in Siem Reap!
My worrying was a waste of time. After being nervous to travel around Siem Reap alone, I came to find there were lots of solo female travellers doing the same. I would see incredibly independent backpackers venturing through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand on their own and sort of laugh at my initial hesitation. Don’t be afraid, just be safe.
Yes, Siem Reap is safe! Enjoy the journey.
I miss it already. Siem Reap is a gem of a place with delicious vegan-friendly food, world-renowned temples, adorable budget boutique hotels, and of course, lovely people. Don’t hesitate to comment if you have any questions about my experience in Siem Reap.