I'll be travelling solo to Cambodia beginning of September. I'm a little anxious about the safety. This will be my very first backpacking to Asia country. Anyone out there will be travelling at the same time and could probably give some advice on this? Much appreciated......
If you're nervous go to Thailand first to get your feet wet, then move on to Cambodia.
Which part of Thailand will be great? Thanks for advising.
Thailand has been hosting budget backpacker travellers for decades. Its well established tourism infrastructure makes it a lot less intimidating for a first time traveller.
Buy a guide book and have fun.
"Which part of Thailand will be great? Thanks for advising."
All of Thailand is pretty good if you have never been there before. Some things appeal to younger tourists and some things appeal to older tourists. Even some women may want things different than a male tourist. Tourists with all sorts of budgets visit Thailand, from wealthy 5 STAR tourists to backpacker tourists looking for cheapest place to sleep at.
For many tourists Bangkok, beach area, visit to Northern Thailand, often Chiang Mai area for newbies, then back to Bangkok for a night or two before you fly home. This means round trip plane ticket to Bangkok and return. (Usually cheaper than 2 one way flights too!)
Thailand has some pretty good transportation. Rail and bus service along with discount airlines can move you from top to bottom and side to side. What transportation you use depends on your budget and how long you have available. Likewise, if you pay for a visa or not depends on the passport you enter Thailand with. For many tourists from Western countries you can enter for free with a Visa Exemption good for 30 days. This means sufficient income to support yourself, round trip ticket or plane ticket out of Thailand to another country and passport good for at least 6 months from last day in Thailand.
Besides a good travel guide look over some of the many posts on Thailand and plan your move. Good transportation from Bangkok airports to hotels. Good city transportation in Bangkok too and not that expensive. For some people Bangkok is cheaper than some beach locations, especially Phuket area. Research visa requirements for your country passport.
I don't think you should worry too much about Cambodia.
Most South East Asian countries have been exposed to foreign tourists for a long time so a lot of the facilities are already set up. You'll also find most people do speak ok enough English to help you around.
Thailand is definitely an easier first step to take than Cambodia. But Phnom Penh and Siem Riep are very tourist friendly too. There are enough accommodations, transportation, and atm machines that makes things much easier. Most of the younger Cambodians speak good enough English to communicate too. Nothing to worry about, just don't drink the tap water there.
I traveled alone in Cambodia for 9 days and was fine. I had heard stories and prepared for the worst. Just be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone on dark streets. When you take a taxi or tuk-tuk, make sure you negotiate the price before you even get in.
If you're really worried, spend a few extra dollars for a better hotel/hostel. It's also pretty easy to meet other travelers to help you along. I managed to meet a fellow traveler on my tour who joined me for a 40-mile bike ride through dirt roads.
of course, Cambodia now is very stable and safety country. Especially the top tourism zone like Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Sihanouk Ville, Kompot, Battambang province...
I would like to share my blog about top place to visit in Siem Reap: -snip-
And if you travel from Thailand, here is some trip guide: -snip-
Have a nice trip
[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]
Please don't worry about traveling alone to Cambodia. Overall the country is Buddhist and the Khmer people have a well deserved reputation for an easy friendliness.
There are only a couple of places/situations to avoid and aside from that you should be quite fine. Siem Reap is a very safe town and was recently ranked the 4th best city for tourists in the world (!) by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine. I am not sure that I would personally rank it above places like Rome but there you go... It is certainly pretty fun and relaxed with good eating. Alone or not you are sure to meet people around the cafes and bars.
If you are out and about in Phnom Penh late at night you should keep your wits about you though any trouble is usually motivated by petty theft rather than threats to the person. Do not use your cellphone on the roadside as it may get snatched and watch your belongings if you are using a tuk tuk.
September usually marks the unstable weather patterns connected with the beginning of the change from the wet SW monsoon to the drier North monsoon. You will certainly see some rain but who knows what friendships you might make while you are sheltering. The pattern during most of the rainy season is for dry mornings and a build up to some showers later in the afternoon but this can become a little erratic in September and October. Kepp an eye on weather systems coming in over Vietnam. The tail of one of these can at times cause rain for a few days in Cambodia.
It is a quiet month for tourism and you should try to negotiate your accommodation rates. Restaurants are plentiful and varied. You can find an excellent Khmer massage for around $8 per hour... perfect at the end of a day's sightseeing.