Is Cambodia LGBTQ+ Friendly? What To Know Before You Go

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Our LGBTQ+ travel expert Ed Salvato gives us the lowdown on how LGBTQ+ travelers can stay safe while enjoying beautiful Cambodia.


The beach in Long Beach, Sok San Village, Koh Rong Island, Krong Preah Sihanouk, Sihanoukville Photo © Getty Images/ValentinWolf

Compared to many other Asian countries, Cambodia is surprisingly queer-friendly for visitors. There are no major pride events, and legal recognition of same-sex unions or even anti-discrimination laws are still far off. Still, LGBTQ+ travelers will feel welcome and safe everywhere they travel. There is a relatively large queer scene in the capital, Phnom Penh.

The country is known for its abysmal human rights record and gender inequality. Though there are no anti-LGBTQ+ laws, local authorities and police have reportedly used various laws to infringe on the local community's rights. However, while homosexuality is not celebrated culturally, LGBTQ+ locals enjoy a degree of visibility and acceptance in society (especially in larger cities) not seen in many other more conservative countries.

There is a small pride celebration that has taken place annually in Phnom Penh since 2003. The Cambodian government also announced it will introduce a new queer-friendly course in schools called "Life Skills" to teach students about LGBTQ+ issues, sexuality and gender.

LGBTQ+-friendly areas

You will see fellow LGBTQ+ travelers and locals in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, especially in higher-end accommodation, and locals are used to seeing same-sex couples and groups. In remote areas, locals will not react with any hostility to LGBTQ+ travelers, though they may watch you with curiosity. If you request a single bed, your wishes will be respected without question. Tour guides will most certainly have seen many other queer visitors, and the tour operators mentioned below hire LGBTQ+-qualified guides when possible, vetting all their guides to ensure they are comfortable with queer guests.

The only caveats about traveling in southeast Asia as a LGBTQ+ traveler is to respect the local norms and customs. Open displays of affection (whether same-sex or opposite-sex) are very uncommon. 

If you want to be meet other LGBTQ+ travelers, consider joining a tour. Check with your government travel advisory prior to travel for LGBTQ+ safety information.

Trip Planning

  • Utopia is a good source for LGBTQ+ information in southeast Asia especially for bar, sauna, and sexually focused information. 
  • Travel Gay Asia offers information on bars, clubs, saunas, beaches, and hotels. You can book hotels here which are fulfilled by a gay-owned and gay-managed travel agency, 
  • NomadicBoys is the blog published by Stefan and Sebastian, a gay male couple writing about their global adventures, including those in southeast Asia.

Legal Services

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) publishes an annual survey of sexual orientation laws.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) conducts top-notch reporting and advocacy including for LGBTQ+ people around the world.

LGBTQ+ Tour Operators

While the following highly recommended tour companies cater primarily to gay men, most welcome lesbian travelers.

LGBTQ+-Friendly Mainstream Tour Operators

The following mainstream river cruise companies extend a warm welcome to LGBTQ+ guests.

  • Pandaw offers luxury small ship river cruises in Asia. The manager is openly gay and the staff is LGBTQ+-friendly.
  • Aqua Expeditions offers luxury cruises on the Mekong River and is known for excellent food, service and a focus on sustainability.

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