Health and safety are a top priority when travelling abroad, especially to underdeveloped destinations.
As you’re preparing to see ancient stone temples, beautiful landscapes and an abundance of wildlife, it is important to understand what types of vaccinations you should get before travelling to Cambodia.
This guide will let you know what shots for Cambodia are recommended or required, as well as extra steps you can take to protect yourself.
Remember that you may also need a visa to visit the country. You can check your Cambodia visa requirements here.
Recommended Vaccinations for Cambodia
The immunisations needed for Cambodia vary from person to person, depending on a number of factors, including:
- How long you will stay in the country.
- What regions you will visit.
- What activities you plan to do.
- Your general health before you go.
- Underlying medical conditions you already have.
This makes it absolutely essential for you to have a conversation with your doctor so they can accurately assess your needs. Visit your doctor or travel healthcare provider at least 6-8 weeks ahead of your trip to ensure you will have time to schedule and receive all the medical care you need.
Depending on your unique situation, a medical professional may advise that you receive some or all of the following vaccinations.
Recommended Shots for Most Travellers to Cambodia
Tetanus is spread by getting a cut, burn or other open wound contaminated with soil, dust, feces or manure containing tetanus spores. (You may have heard that rust plays a role, but actually it doesn’t matter what causes your wound.) If you’ve already been vaccinated, you may need a booster shot before you travel.
Typhoid is transmitted by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Most travellers should get immunised, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives; plan to travel outside of big cities, and/or if you are an adventurous eater.
- Hepatitis A
People can get this disease through contaminated food or water, or through contact with an infected person. The level of risk is higher in areas with poor sanitation. Certain medical conditions, sexual activities and drug use can put you at a higher risk.
Suggested Vaccinations for Some Travellers to Cambodia
- Hepatitis B
This disease is spread through infected blood and blood products as well as other bodily fluids. There is an increased risk for people who travel frequently, travel for long periods of time, receive medical treatment abroad, have unprotected sex with multiple partners, or get a tattoo or piercing while abroad.
Children are also at a higher risk because they tend to have more exposed cuts and scratches.
In addition, there are underlying medical conditions, sexual activities and types of drug use that can elevate the risk of contracting this disease.
- Japanese encephalitis
This viral brain infection is spread through mosquito bites. Travellers are generally at a low risk, but your doctor may recommend you get vaccinated if you plan to spend lots of time outside or in rural areas, especially near rice fields, marshlands or pig farming. Most cases are reported between May and October, so the time of year when you travel may also impact your doctor’s advice.
Cholera is spread through contaminated food and water. The NHS states that most travellers are at a low risk as long as you take common-sense precautions and maintain good hygiene practices. Risk increases during floods and in areas with poor sanitation. Aid workers are at the highest risk.
Rabies is usually contracted after contact with the saliva of an infected animal. Children are considered a higher risk because they are less likely to keep away from animals or inform an adult about getting licked, scratched or bit. You may want to get immunised, depending on your travel plans and length of stay.
Tuberculosis is usually transmitted by breathing the same air as an infectious person (usually after prolonged or frequent close contact). Healthcare workers or other at-risk workers may get a vaccine.
All travellers must take precautions to prevent malaria by avoiding mosquito bites (see more info below). There are also prescription antimalarial medicines you can take, but they are not recommended for all travellers. Risk is lowest in Phnom Penh, Angkor Wat, Siem Reap and near Tonle Sap. It is highest in the northeast regions of the country.
All Travellers Should Be up to Date on All Routine Vaccinations/Immunisations
These generally include:
- Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR).
- Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (in the US) or diphtheria-tetanus-polio (in the UK).
- Varicela (chickenpox).
- Influenza (flu shot).
Certain populations may also get vaccinated for shingles, pneumonia or meningitis.
Travel Vaccinations Required for Cambodia
For most people, there are no vaccinations or shots required for Cambodia, legally speaking. This means that you do not need to show proof of vaccination when you enter the country.
However, there is one exception. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for everyone over the age of 1 year old who is arriving in Cambodia from a country with a risk of yellow fever transmission. If you have transited for more than 12 hours through the airport of an at-risk country, this requirement also applies to you.
Check the latest version of the list of countries at risk of yellow fever transmission on the World Health Organisation website. Most are located in Central America, South America or Sub-Saharan Africa.
Regardless of the official requirements, it is in your best interest to take all the appropriate safety precautions, including getting certain vaccinations before you travel to Cambodia. It is important that you speak with your doctor about which shots they advise you to get based on your individual circumstances.
Safe Travel in Cambodia: Health and Safety Precautions
In addition to getting the right vaccinations, there are certain actions you can take to care for your health when travelling to Cambodia.
1. Prevent bites from mosquitos and other insects.
- Wear long sleeves and long trousers.
- Use light-coloured clothing.
- Avoid strongly scented perfumes, colognes, shampoos, soaps, etc.
- Wear insect repellent.
- Avoid standing or stagnant water, which are common mosquito breeding grounds.
- Stay on paths and avoid long grass when walking outdoors.
- Sleep in air-conditioned or screened rooms or under a mosquito net if your sleeping area is exposed to the outdoors.
The above measures can help prevent malaria, dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases. You should also check your body for ticks after outdoor activity and remove any you find properly.
2. Stay safe outside.
- Use sunscreen and bug spray.
- Stay alert to changes in the weather and adapt your plans as necessary.
- Stay in the shade as much as possible during the hottest part of the day (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
- Eat and drink regularly. Take water and salty snacks with you to stay hydrated and replace the sodium lost through sweating.
- Dress in layers.
3. Take precautions with food and water.
- Do not drink tap water. Bottled water is widely available. Make sure the bottle is sealed.
- Avoid drinks with ice.
- Eat only vegetables and fruits that have been peeled or cooked.
- Do not eat raw or undercooked meat, seafood and eggs.
- Do not eat food that has been left out for hours.
- Do not eat cooked food that has been left at room temperature.
4. Avoid swimming in freshwater.
- Schistosomiasis is found in Cambodia. This parasitic infection can be spread in freshwaters such as rivers, ponds or lakes.
5. Stay away from animals.
- If you are scratched or bitten by a dog, monkey, bat, snake or other animal, wash the area with soap and clean water immediately and seek medical treatment.
6. Practice good hygiene.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating. Use hand sanitiser if soap and water aren’t readily available.
7. Keep in mind that health services and medical care in Cambodia are limited.
- Take prescription and over-the-counter medicine with you so you won’t need to look for them in the country. Take a signed and dated doctor’s note with your prescriptions.
- Local pharmacies in the country may sell expired or counterfeit medicines.
- If you are going for a long trip, it’s a good idea to have a dental checkup and other routine medical checks done before you go.
- Take out travel insurance for Cambodia so you can rest easy and enjoy your trip.
Talk To Your Doctor
Now, before you launch into a complete analysis of what treatments you think you need, hit the pause button and take a deep breath. You do not need to make these important decisions on your own.
Instead, all you have to do is schedule an appointment with a medical professional so they can assess your risks and give you personalised advice on the shots needed for Cambodia depending on your situation.
The information you have read here is intended to help you become aware of what the doctor will need to know to advise you accurately, and topics you may want to ask about. You need to be able to share not only your medical and immunisation history, but also what areas of the country you will visit, how long you will stay and what activities you are planning to do.
Thinking of camping, hiking, biking or caving? What about visiting the countryside or working or volunteering with animals? Are you likely to get a spontaneous tattoo to commemorate your travels? These are the types of things your doctor needs to know to give you the best health advice for a safe trip to Cambodia.