From dusk till dawn, Phnom Penh
A bit tipsi after hitting the bars on 104th and 136th St., it was about 1:30 am, I got into a moto to go back to my hotel. After I told the driver the name of my hotel, a popular hotel he should have known, he made motions that he didn't understand or did not know where my hotel was. He also seemed a little perturbed at my manner then got on his cell phone to call someone. Call me paranoid but I got the distinct impression that he was calling a friend to help him jack me somewhere. There was no other apparent reason for him to need to call anyone at that moment. I didn't want to take any chances so I immediately got off the moto and took another. The message, if something doesn't feel right, trust your instinct and bail out. Better to be safe than sorry.
Maybe it was the local guy laying dead on the street with crowds of people gathering around looking at the bullet hole in the guys head during the day as we pass by from our taxi ride from the airport to our hotel that tainted our view of Cambodia.
Or maybe it's the fact that there are very few street lights and the streets just looking ghetto and the fact that gang violence, along with muggings are common here.
I don't think I would recommend anybody going to Cambodia for any reason at all.
Definitely not a place you want to bring your family or have a vacation at.
One thing we did not like in Phnom Penh was how we felt walking around at night. It was fine hanging out at the market just up the dingy street from our guesthouse but venturing further was not a pleasant affair. One night we teamed up with a couple of German girls and walked from the Riverside area back to the budget accommodation area and were besieged by cyclo drivers offering us rides. One friend of mine had been robbed by one a year earlier so I was reluctant to take a ride and it was certainly close enough to walk. The problem is that most streets have no street lights and the drivers whisk right up to you while wearing masks over their mouths. They do it to protect themselves from fumes but it does not present a friendly impression in any way. You can easily find things to do closer to your guesthouse so that’s my suggestion rather than hitting bars full of Westerners.
There is a good reason you are warned not to venture out after dark in Phnom Penh. My buddy and I decided to ignore these warning only to be taken for a ride by a moto taxi. On the way back to the hotel from a night of drinking, my moto driver took a different direction than my friend's. What should have been a 5 minute ride back to my hotel, turned into a 45 minute ride ending in extortion. At first, he started asking me if I wanted to visit the local brothel, or smoke some opium. After politely declining, I insisted that he take me home. I was a little intoxicated, but I was starting to get a sneaking suspicion that this guy was taking me for a ride. Not wanting to overreact, I asked the driver if he remembered how to get to my hotel. He told me it was just up ahead, but I had a feeling he was being less than honest. My mind was racing over what to do. Do I jump off and run? But I don't know where I am! Do I jump the driver and take his bike? What if he's got a weapon? Finally, the ride came to a stop on an dark, empty street. I was all alone, and I had no clue where I was. Luckily, I wasn't threatened with any weapons, but I was told that I wasn't getting home without forking over US $15. I didn't trust the guy, so I offered him half right away and the other half when I arrived home safely. I was really upset by the whole ordeal to say the least, but $15 seemed like a small price to pay to avoid any conflict.
There's no danger during the day, but during the night, avoid taking dark roads (most are). Armed robberies is probably the most prosperous industry of Phnom Penh. Just don't take more than $15 with you, no expensive watches or jewelry. If you do get mugged, just hand-over whatever you have without making a fuss and you should be alright. Not everybody get mugged - maybe 1-2 out of ten by my estimate. You can also hire a car with driver for $20 a day or so if you so wish but that would be more expensive than just risking the $15. Don't get paranoid - it's not as bad as it sounds.
P.Penh is not a great place to walk around at night, in fact its very unsafe. In daytime, the city is very busy, lots of people around, etc. Once night falls, the streets clear in many areas, and walking around is not a good idea. If you have to go someplace, take a taxi/motorbike.