Cambodia’s healthcare system is steadily improving, and Phnom Penh now has facilities that can attend to most day-to-day ailments. Specialist care or injuries from more serious accidents will often require evacuation to a regional centre such as Bangkok or Singapore.
It still amazes us how many people choose to travel to Cambodia with no form of health or travel insurance. While the facilities have certainly improved dramatically in the last few years, they still lag behind both Thailand and Vietnam. And, perhaps more importantly, medical treatment can be very expensive here, especially if you have/develop a serious illness or condition, or experience an accident. A prolonged hospital stay and treatment can run up bills of thousands of dollar, which can rise to tens of thousands if evacuated to Thailand, and even hundreds of thousands if you need a medivac to your home country.
While your friends and family may panic about you coming to Cambodia and urge you to get multiple vaccines and inoculations, it is worth doing some careful reading on what to get and also whether the areas you are visiting are low or high risk for different diseases. Some vaccinations, such as rabies, can also be obtained cheaper once you are here than in your home country. Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh is a good place to source rabies vaccinations. Vaccinations worth considering if you will be spending a longer period in Cambodia include Hepatitis (A and B), Diphtheria, Tuberculosis, and Typhoid.
Dengue fever has seen a big rise in cases the last year or two. This is really a bigger danger than Malaria, which is prevalent in Cambodia but more in the provinces or forests/jungles. Mosquitoes are, in our opinion, the greatest enemy here. Find a mosquito repellent that works for you, use a mosquito net if your house/room/apartment sees a lot of mosquitoes, and try and cover up, especially in the evening.
It may be a sensitive subject, but other conditions that can be very common among both tourists and expats are STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). We are not here to make moral judgements but please, be safe and always use a condom.
In rainy season, fevers can be common, as can bacterial and fungal infections. If you have an infected wound, attend a doctor or clinic as OTC antibiotics is not the ideal treatment. If you get heat rash, you can get good creams or prickly heat powder in most pharmacies. Showering regularly and changing from sweaty clothes can also reduce the risk.
We in no way want to be killjoys, but alcohol is VERY cheap here, and every bar seems to offer half price beer or 2 for 1 cocktail happy hours. With the temperatures here it can be very easy to drink to excess in the mistaken assumption that alcohol hydrates. It does quite the opposite! If you are out drinking, try and alternate alcoholic drinks with water, and try to keep your total weekly units down. Guidelines say to drink around 14 to 21 units of alcohol a week. What’s a unit? Strength (ABV) x volume (ml) ÷ 1,000 = number of units.
Hospitals & Clinics
Phnom Penh has several clinics employing foreign or foreign-trained doctors and nurses. Some of the more popular amongst expats include, in no particular order, Khema Clinic, Raffles Medical Clinic, Naga Clinic, Clinic Sokhapheap Thmei, and the Tropical & Travellers Medical Clinic. Consultation fees vary from around $20 up to $90 depending on the clinic and doctor.
The main hospital in the city is Calmette, a public-private hybrid with 250 beds, an ICU and on-call ambulance service. Standards have improved in recent years and the hospital provides a wide range of routine treatments. Nearby, the Pasteur Institute is a popular choice for vaccinations, many of which are recommended for those staying longer than a few weeks in the Kingdom.
Private hospitals include Royal Phnom Penh Hospital, part of Bangkok Hospital Group, a private tertiary care hospital comprising the capital’s only Emergency & Trauma Center, a 14-room ICU, 22 private patient rooms and a rooftop helipad for medical evacuations. Central Hospital offers a range of general medical, diagnostic and imaging services, and has a 24-hour Accident & Emergency service. There are also representative offices of other overseas hospitals here, such as the Franco-Viet (FV) Hospital in Saigon, and Bumrungrad in Bangkok.
X-ray, ultrasound, CT and MRI scanning services are available in the city and your doctor should be able to advise the most suitable service for your particular requirements. Prices are low compared to the West, with X-rays starting from $10 and MRI scans for around $100.
With dental tourism a growing trend in the Kingdom, you can now expect international standard treatment at Phnom Penh’s better clinics. Competition is strong, which helps to keep prices low, so expect to pay around $15-25 for a full mouth clean, $20 upwards for fillings and $30 upwards for extractions. European Dental Clinic and Roomchang Dental Hospital are both popular high quality choices, though many expats have their own preferred clinic so it’s worth asking around.
All manner of medicines can be obtained over the counter without a doctor’s prescription. However, many may be counterfeit, or impaired due to poor storage, so we strongly recommend you to visit a trusted pharmacy which employs a properly trained pharmacist.
Since 2004, Ucare Pharmacy has developed a trusted relationship with the leading international brands. Most of the medicines and cosmetics are directly imported from France and USA.
Pharmacie de la Gare on Monivong in Phnom Penh is a long established and trusted pharmacy which can often obtain harder to find medications. Each of these companies offer a wide range of genuine imported medicines, with trained staff who can also dispense advice.
If you have been working or travelling non-stop, take some time out to relax in one of Phnom Penh’s many spas. Prices vary widely from around $10 for a basic hour-long massage at one of the many places near the riverside, to well over $50 for more complex treatments in luxurious surroundings. Bodia Spa is a popular choice with expats, as is The Spa at Nagaworld, if you fancy being pampered for an entire morning or afternoon.
At time of writing (December, 2018) all information was correct, but may have changed since. If there’s something you read here which you feel is incorrect or requires updating, please let us know.