Cheeky monkeys: a warning to anyone travelling through Cambodia

Are Cambodians trying to rip you off or are they just really, really bad at mathematics?

Since arriving in the country a week ago not a day has gone by when I haven’t received a bill at a Cambodian restaurant or bar that has been grossly inaccurate.

And every time the waiter or waitress says to me: “Oh, I see what the problem is now. You ordered a sandwich and a small bottle of water, not a lobster and a large bottle of Dom Pérignon.”

Beachcairs along Serenditpity Beach in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.Call me naive (please don’t) but it was only on the fifth attempt to rip me off that I cottoned on to what’s happening here. Up until that point I honestly thought it was just a crazy coincidence.

What do they take us for? Are we travellers really that stupid? I certainly hope not.

Just as I hope that this shameless attempt at overcharging unwitting tourists comes only from a place of desperation and not of meanness or greed.

I hate to generalise but Cambodians are lovely, lovely people. If the Vietnamese were nice and the Laotians were friendly, then the Cambodians are super nice and friendly.

And it’s not like anyone in Cambodia has ever tried to rip me off when giving me my change. God knows they could just about get away with it, too, what with every Cambodian business accepting American dollars and Cambodian riel while paying out change in both.

Me at Seredipity Beach, Sihanoukville, CambodiaSo that’s the travel tip of the day: check the bill carefully before you pay it and do not be afraid to question it.

Of course I may be wrong about this – it could very well be due to a lack of quality education that Cambodian restaurateurs are struggling to add up – but I’m most probably correct.

Be careful out there everybody. It’s better for all of us backpackers if no travellers fall prey to this blatant con. Maybe then they’ll give up.

Monkey climbs the power lines in Penom Penh, CambodiaAnd on a much more positive note, I saw three cheeky monkeys playing on the power lines in Penom Penh.

It’s certainly not something you see every day, although judging by the reaction of the people on the street blow – or lack thereof – this is indeed something that Cambodians do see every day.


About Simon Petersen 505 Articles
Travel blogger, journalist, sports and movie fiend. Chronicling the life and times of a Kiwi at home and abroad.


  1. It does happen a lot in Cambodia, especially in the more touristy restaurants and bars. However, the reverse is also true; several times I’ve had to point out to the waitress when I’ve been undercharged.

    • Thanks Dave. You’re probably right there. Just recently I had a tuk-tuk driver give me 50c when I was short on cash and looking to buy a bottle of water. Naturally I paid him back but he never considered it a loan.

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  1. Cheeky monkeys: A warning to anyone travelling through Cambodia … | Tour Cambodia
  2. Super handy Cambodia travel tips and advice | Man vs World

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