In Siem Reap, violent crime towards tourists is relatively rare, and by far the biggest threat is petty crime such as bag-snatching or pickpocketing. It’s unfortunately quite common for local thieves to target lone female foreigners on bicycles; they drive by on a motorcycle and attempt to snatch bags, which can result in a nasty fall as well. If renting a bicycle, carry the bare minimum of valuable possessions and conceal them in a money belt worn under clothing. When taking a tuk-tuk or motorcycle taxi, keep hold of belongings and don’t leave bags where they could be snatched. Avoid walking around in unlit streets after dark.
Something to watch out for in the centre of Siem Reap is the ‘milk scam’. Women or children approach foreigners, carrying a comatose baby and waving an empty baby bottle. The women claim not to want money, and lead their target to a particular mini mart to buy expensive cans of infant formula. Later, the women return the formula to the shop and split the profit. It is suspected that the babies are drugged in order to look weak and sick. Heartbreaking though it may be, it’s best to politely decline and keep on walking.
It’s also best not to visit any orphanages in Siem Reap, as these can often be scams too. The “orphans” may in fact have parents, who have sent them to live in the orphanage in poor conditions to attract donations from tourists. Those who wish to give to a good cause in Cambodia are well advised to donate to reputable charities such as Friends International, and avoid handing out money to street children.