Traveling solo is one of the most amazing, freeing, and profound experience you can have in life. It is scary and full of pitfalls but if you overcome the struggles, you become a stronger, more decisive person. From that point onwards, you will view the world in a different light. Many travelers have gone back home with a renewed sense of meaning and excitement in their lives. But being a woman traveling the world presents its own set of problems to solve. Developing countries, especially in Asia, are still of a mindset that women are inferior and shouldn’t be doing things outside of what their traditional gender role dictates. Cambodia is a good example of this. Their custom dictates that women should be modest, shy, soft-spoken, and belong to the household. Cambodians also put an extremely high value to a woman’s virginity compared to men. This kind of mindset could cross the cultural divide between local residents and visitors and impact the experience that tourists have visiting the country, particularly solo female travelers.
- Dangerous Streets at Night
Around the country of Cambodia and especially in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, everything closes at 8 every night. This turns the city, essentially, into a ghost town. Except for a few areas, all streets are deserted past this time. Walking alone at night could be dangerous especially if you’re a woman unfamiliar with the surroundings. There are many strangers lurking around waiting for an opportunity to make a quick buck no matter the consequences. Taking out your phone to check for directions will only worsen the situation. It’s common for people to get mugged in the streets to steal cash or gadgets, and foreigners are not immune to this.
- Unwanted Attention even from Fellow Tourists
A girl traveling on her own could also attract unwanted attention from other tourists whose ego and forwardness is greatly inflated by the new environment and a few cans of the local beer. A lot of these men think all solo female travelers are lonely and in need of a companion so simply saying no might not do the trick. The key thing to remember is to be very direct and clear about your intention and getting yourself out of the situation when it starts to escalate. You can approach a server or a bartender if it gets out of hand, or approach the police or a security officer.
- Easier to get Scammed
Women travelers are also prone to get ripped off and scammed in Cambodia, from tuk-tuk fares to bogus tours and activities. As a solo female traveler, it pays to be extra careful and aware of your surroundings. Take everything that people tell you with a grain of salt. Ask questions, clarify, and verify. Doing prior research greatly helps, and before you go jumping into a taxi or tuk-tuk; make sure you agree on the price.
- Harassment is a Real Headache
Traveling solo as a woman in Cambodia can also put you at risk of harassment by aggressive drivers and men on the streets. There is safety in numbers that’s why people traveling with a companion or in a group are less likely to experience harassment. Tuk-tuk drivers have been known to hound woman more than men, especially if they notice that the woman is alone. Men on the streets usually prey on women walking alone, catcalling and cackling as she walks by.
- Cultural and Traditional Limitations
Even in temples, women are dealt with shorthand. Cambodia is a Buddhist country, meaning the nation has beautiful pagodas, or temples, for worship and pray. But because of the country’s traditional views on women, they are forbidden from being near a monk. Sitting beside one or even touching one is considered taboo. This takes away the experience of immersing yourself with the culture and could dampen your experience of the country. This is not exclusive to Cambodia, though. Many traditionally Buddhist countries follow this rule.
- Easier Victim in Dangerous Situations
Being a woman and traveling alone can also put you in dangerous situations around the country. Whether you are in a big city like Siem Reap (which is a famous fishing destination, click for more tips on fishing) or in small towns and villages, you will be an easy prey to unwanted attention. Men with ulterior motives will sometimes follow a foreign girl clearly alone and walking the streets. These situations could escalate quickly into something more sinister. It’s important to remember to stick with the crowd, stay somewhere there are a lot of people and avoid walking down deserted streets, especially at night.
- Extra Planning for Personal Security
Traveling around Cambodia, an extra level of planning is needed. It’s important to plan ahead for safety because, like anywhere else in the world, unexpected things could happen and since Cambodia is a developing country, you can’t expect that they follow the same rules you are used to. Having a contingency plan will give you peace of mind and allow you to enjoy the country even more.