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5 Reasons Why This Southeast Asian Country Is A Paradise For Solo Travelers

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When it comes to Southeast Asia, there is no shortage of stunning places to visit.

Each country and city offers different and exciting things to do, beautiful places to see, and insanely delicious foods to try.

However, one country seems to fall under the radar in comparison to its more famous neighbors, Vietnam and Thailand. We are talking of course, about the fascinating country of Cambodia

Woman looking at temple in Cambodia

With the nickname “The Kingdom of Wonder,” it’s clear that this is a country that holds some mystery, with wonders to explore and ancient temples to wander. 

Speaking of wandering and wondering, two of the biggest trends to shake up the travel world today are the rise of digital nomads and the increase in solo travel. Luckily, Cambodia checks both those boxes, offering a safe, cheap, and friendly place for solo travelers. 

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Here Are 5 Reasons Why Cambodia Is A Paradise For Solo Travelers:

1. Safe And Friendly

Although Cambodia is less touristy than other Southeast Asian countries, it still gets its fair share of guests. Most of the country's nearly three million annual visitors come from China and other Asian countries. You will run into many Western tourists as well, but a fraction of the amount that you would encounter elsewhere in the region. 

Cambodia is overall very safe, and aside from tourist trap scams and normal petty crimes in areas such as Phnom Penh, you shouldn’t run into any issues if you take normal precautions. 

Don't fall for scams where people try to befriend you just to get you to an expensive bar, and as hard as it might be, do not fall for the adorable children who try to put bracelets on your arm or sell you souvenirs. No matter how sweet they are, the reality is that the more you buy from them only reinforces this practice, thus keeping them out of school.

Simple smiles and conversations go a long way in this country, and there are friendly locals to meet all over, many of whom are happy to show you their way of life and share a beer or tea with you. 

Although poverty is rampant in Cambodia, the country follows a strict Buddhist religion, which prohibits crime and violence. While this does not guarantee your safety, it can help you to rest a bit easier knowing that you should be safe here, so long as you stick to the well-known routes and make smart and informed decisions. 

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monks in cambodia at akgkor wat

2. It's Very Affordable

As one of the cheapest countries in Southeast Asia, Cambodia is very affordable for travelers. You can find accommodation to meet every budget, from dirt-cheap dorm beds to high-end hotels. You can even splurge on a beach hut and still stay well within a low budget. 

Western food can be a bit pricy here, so sticking to local food is the best bet if you are watching costs. Getting around via tuk-tuk and bus is also very affordable, and the fact that everything is quoted in US dollars makes mental conversions a breeze. 

Insider Tip: No matter how strict your budget, opting for the 50-cent draft beers in Siem Reap is not advised. Dirty keg lines and glasses can leave you out of commission for a few days, so stick to bottles even if they cost you a bit more!

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3. It's Packed With Culture

When you think of Cambodia, the most famous site that comes to mind is probably the jaw-dropping Angkor Wat. As one of the most popular tourist attractions in Asia and one of the most famous landmarks in the world, Angkor Wat is an absolute must-see. Planning is crucial, as this ancient Khmer city hosts millions of tourists every year, and the crowds sometimes seem never-ending. 

The biggest tip is to arrive very very early, and beat the tour busses. If you can find a tuk-tuk driver in Siem Reap that you connect with, get their contact info and rely on them for getting around. And remember to plan for more than one day to explore this massive complex. 

There is plenty of culture outside of Angkor Wat as well, with the country's horrific past telling its story in many places you look. When visiting Phnom Penh, after you explore the glitzy new buildings, The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, and rooftop bars, remember to save another day for the somber experience of the Killing Fields and the absolutely unmissable Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum also referred to as S-21 Prison. 

All of these cultural experiences are fine to visit on your own, and joining a tour is another option if you would prefer to be with others. Oftentimes making friends with your driver or guide is another way to find connections and can even lead to a meal and a chance to connect with their local family. 

Young man with backpack coming to ancient monuments under the giant roots of the tree near Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) in Cambodia

4. Infrastructure

Cambodia does not have the same modern infrastructure in much of the country that other Southeast Asian destinations do, but that being said, it is improving each year. 

Transportation is easy to navigate, and the roads are in good condition. There are even a few rail options as well if you are looking to see a bit more of the countryside. 

While Khmer is the official language, English is wildly spoken and understood in most of the places that a tourist would go. 

The U.S. dollar is the main currency used in Cambodia, although the previously rare Cambodian Riel is starting to become more popular nowadays. 

A Busy Road And Ancient Temples In Phnom Penh, Capital City Of Cambodia, Southeast Asia

Note: while infrastructure is improving, in some areas, it seems to be doing more harm than good. For example, what was once the beach paradise backpacking hub of Sihanoukville has now become a giant tourist trap, with littered beaches and a complete washout of the original charm. 

If you are looking for beaches nowadays people skip Sihanoukville and head to Koh Rong Sanloem, Koh Rong, or Sok San Beach. As a solo traveler, you will have no issues on the beach in the daytime, not to mention you should have no problem finding parties after dark to meet other travelers. 

View of the beach on Sok San Village on the Koh Rong island, Cambodia

5. Digital Nomads Welcome

For the digital nomad, Cambodia offers a very low cost of living, high quality of life, a great expat scene, and countless activities from beaches to temples; you name it. 

The hubs such as Siem Reap and Phnom Penh have many co-working spaces, high-speed wifi, and loads of affordable accommodation. 

Cambodia’s digital nomad visa is considered to be the easiest and cheapest in Asia, allowing you to stay a year with multiple entries and exits. After arriving in Cambodia, you first get the 30-day visa and then can extend it later for around $275. 

Aerial View Of Central Phnom Penh, Capital City Of Cambodia, Southeast Asia

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