CAMBODIA

Cambodia Flag
Country Description: Cambodia is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch. The country has significant economic needs and potential, and foreign investment is actively sought. A weakened but still active Khmer Rouge insurgency continues in several northern provinces, despite recent defections of several Khmer Rouge units. Tourist facilities, while limited, are slowly improving.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: Information about entry requirements as well as other information may be sought from the Royal Embassy of Cambodia, 4500 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20022, tel. (202) 726-7742, fax (202) 726-8381. Overseas inquiries may be made at the nearest embassy or consulate of Cambodia.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Limited military conflict, which frequently intensifies during the dry season (November through May), is possible in a number of areas, especially along the northern border with Thailand.

Although the Khmer Rouge insurgency appears to be waning, many rural parts of the country remain without effective policing and government control. At the same time, Khmer Rouge Radio commentaries have threatened physical harm to American and other foreign nationals. These threats have been recently renewed.

A grenade attack at a March 30 political demonstration in Phnom Penh killed at least seventeen people and wounded over 150. American citizens are strongly advised to avoid political demonstrations, rallies, and other large public gatherings.

A number of minor military clashes have occurred in the town and province of Battambang between forces loyal to different parties in the coalition government. Although these clashes have been isolated incidents, a number of civilians and bystanders have been killed and injured in them. The U.S. Embassy advises its personnel who travel to Battambang to exercise extreme caution in going out after dark.

The town of Siem Reap and the vicinity of the Angkor Wat Temple complex remain open to tourists, but the U.S. Embassy advises its personnel and official visitors to restrict their tourist activities to the main temple buildings and other temples near major roads. It is dangerous to travel to rural areas of Siem Reap Province beyond the main Angkor Wat Temple complex. The risk of banditry, unauthorized roadblocks, and military activity continues in various parts of the province. Since January 1995, the Cambodian government has prohibited travel to the Banteay Srei Temple, approximately thirty kilometers (or about nineteen miles) northeast of the town of Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. The area surrounding Banteay Srei Temple continues to be unsettled and dangerous. In January 1995, one American was killed and another wounded in the vicinity of the temple. In March 1996, a British subject working in the province was kidnapped by unknown persons.

The U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh may be able to provide Americans traveling outside the capital with more detailed information on areas of danger, and in particular encourages persons wishing to travel outside of Phnom Penh to check with the U.S. Embassy's Consular Section first.

In-Country Travel: The safety of road travel outside of urban areas varies greatly from region to region. The U.S. Embassy advises its personnel to exercise caution while traveling on main highways outside of Phnom Penh and other urban areas. The U.S. Embassy discourages its personnel from traveling to rural areas except in groups or vehicle convoys. Potential risks can be reduced if such travel is undertaken during daylight hours (preferably 9:00 am to 3:00 pm).

A specific danger, even on some heavily traveled roads, is the setting up of unauthorized roadblocks, where motorists are compelled to pay sums of money to armed personnel. A number of shootings have occurred at these roadblocks. Train travel is dangerous because of the high risk of banditry. The U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh has advised Embassy personnel not to travel by train. Travel by water can be unsafe, as well. Boats are often overcrowded and lack adequate safety equipment. Owners accept no liability for accidents. The U.S. Embassy discourages its personnel from travel by boat to Siem Reap. There have been several incidents on that route, including a recent sinking.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Crime and banditry are persistent problems in many areas; the U.S. Embassy encourages its personnel to review their personal security practices as they go about their daily routines. Although major crime has not been a problem for most U.S. travelers, there has been an increase in armed robberies of foreigners in Phnom Penh, especially upon persons who take motorbike taxis at night. The U.S. Embassy advises its personnel to avoid traveling alone and in remote areas of the city, especially after dark. Some organizations in Phnom Penh encourage their staffs to observe a self-imposed curfew. The U.S. Embassy advises its personnel to carry photocopies of their U.S. passport, driver's license or other important documents, rather than the actual documents, as these documents may be confiscated.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh. Useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad." It is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. 20402 or at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and do not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use and trafficking in illegal drugs are strict and convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and fines.

Medical Facilities: The Cambodian medical system was virtually wiped out during the Khmer Rouge period and is now being slowly rebuilt. Medical facilities are not widely available and do not meet U.S. standards of hygiene and care. Doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States, and may not be accepted by health providers in Cambodia. Supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including provision for medical evacuation, may prove useful. The international travelers hotline of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be reached at (404) 332-4559 or via the CDC home page on the Internet: http://www.cdc.gov for additional health information.

Financial Transactions: Personal checks and credit cards are not widely accepted within Cambodia, although a number of banks in Phnom Penh will accept VISA credit cards for cash advances. Traveler's checks are accepted by banks and major hotels. The U.S. dollar and Cambodian Riel are both widely used.

Dual Nationality: Holding of dual nationality is not prohibited under Cambodia's new nationality law, enacted in 1996. Specific questions on dual nationality may be directed to a Cambodian embassy or consulate, to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, or to the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Cambodia from the Embassy. The U.S. Embassy is located at No. 163, Street (Pasteur Street), Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The telephone number is (855) 23-426436 or 23-426438. The consular entrance to the U.S. Embassy is located at 16, ST 228 (between Street 51 and Street 63).

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