Independent travel: a new trend among young Cambodians

Independent travel: a new trend among young Cambodians

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Photograph: Phnom Penh Post

Having the prefect holiday means making the right plans and deciding who you want to spend time with can be tricky.

“I prefer to travel with my friends rather than my family,” says Van Tou, an independent traveller and also a freelance guide.

“From my observation and experience, I found most of tourists even local and international are young people.”

These days, younger and more adventurous Cambodians are taking off more time to travel and most of the time, they do it with friends their own age, or even on their own. “It is not only me but also my friends and classmates, we like group trips such as school trips since they are for people in the same age bracket,” said Ngoun Sokha Rith, a student at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

“It is very easy to move around which is different from family consisting young and old people, sometimes it is so messy.”

Ngoun also claims that even though trips with friends are expensive, they are completely different from family trips. He still prefers trips with friends especially as he feels safe with many people around: unity makes strength.

Everyday, more and more young people are taking time to travel with their friends. The beaches of Sihanouk and the Angkor Wat temples in Siem Reap are increasingly popular amongst the youth.

But what are the benefits and risks for trips like this?

“The opportunity to travel pushes them more towards independence, flexibility and individual time management”, says Khim Sok Heng, an expert in human resource development.

“Group trips give young people the opportunity to demonstrate leadership and responsibility skills,” he adds.

But such freedom can also be dangerous, especially with the most daring youth.

“It is really high risk for young people to take such independent trips,” says Ouk Leakhena Pisey, 20.

“When I was in high school, I would go out with groups of friends and I almost had sex with my boyfriend since I had no control of anything within that group.

Therefore, in my opinion, I would not recommend young people to choose traveling options like this especially for girls,” she adds.

“Nowadays, it is very hard to keep any control of kids,” says Keo Vichet a teacher and also a mother.

“They like freedom, and they want to decide on their own lives. Thus, as mother, I always give the best possible advice to my kids. And honestly, I could say that I am not the strictest mother most of the time, I will approve of what they choose to do.

“When traveling too independently, sometimes people run out of money”, says Nong Sitheoun, a local police officer.

“They may commit crimes such as pick pocketing, robbery.”

“No pain, no gain,” says Mam Sam, the Deputy Chief of Joint Staff and director of the High command’s cabinet of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

“From my point of view, this trend for group trips may give young people more freedom, happiness and help them build up stronger networks with more friends around. At the same time, they may also forget that they actually waste their time instead of studying or work. Money turns out to be an issue as well. Family money goes to waste rather towards other forms of developments”


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