Sunday, April 27, 2014

Racism in Cambodia.

Follow my Instagram @maggie_hon for snippets of my life in Cambodia and some of my travel adventures.

Black people are discriminated against generally in all of Asia. I have heard horror stories from China, Hong Kong, Thailand etc. Black Africans experience the worst kind of racism in these countries. I have personally experienced racism in so many aspects of my life here in Cambodia and I will talk about it here for two reasons. 1) To spread awareness and 2) It is the issue I get asked most about in emails.

1. Visa on arrival at the Phnom Penh International Airport.
Cambodia is one of the easiest countries to enter. Majority of passport holders do not need to have a visa before hand, Kenya (and many other African countrues) included. One just needs to apply for a business or tourist visa on arrival at the airport when they land. A tourist visa costs $30 and a business visa slightly more. BUT if you are an African passport holder, the immigration at the Phnom Penh International Airport will not give you a visa (based solely on the fact that you are a black African) unless they are bribed. The current bribe is $1500. Yes I said $1500. Black Africans who come into the country without this amount of money for the immigration are usually denied entry and sent back.

If you are a black African who has secured work before coming into Cambodia, they will hold you at the airport and call your employers to verify etc. I know a few VSO volunteers who were almost denied entry because the Immigration officers couldnt contact their offices. I know a friend of a close friend who was coming from Thailand but was denied entry at the Cambodian airport since they could not call the University he was coming to work for here. It was after 10pm on a weekend night.

Basically even black Africans who want to come for a short visit cannot. For example I cannot have my family or friends from Kenya visit me here because they'll need to cough up $1500 to get a one month tourist visa.

This is such a contrast from the way white people from different countries are treated. They are not questioned, they are not asked anything and if the immigration asks for a bribe from them, it is usually $10-20 and their entry into the country does not depend on it.

It is also worth noting that the immigration at the Phnom Penh airport have knowingly allowed white convicted pedophiles (and other criminals) to go in and out of the country as they wish.

2. Racism from Airlines.
Cambodia is a visa on arrival country for majority of the countries, and this means that most people getting on their connecting flights to Cambodia usually do not have a Cambodian visa... (as they will apply for it and get it on arrival at the Cambodian airport right? ) Well, despite having this knowledge, most airlines still cause huge problems to black Africans who do not have  a Cambodian visa. Examples of such airlines are Bangkok and Thai Airways.

These airlines deny black Africans a boarding pass with their reason being they do not have Cambodian visas on their passports. White people are never asked anything.

In some cases, some black Africans have been denied a boarding pass into a flight coming into Cambodia, despite the fact that they HAD a Cambodian visa!!!

Ill give an example of my very close friend who was working and living in Phnom Penh Cambodia. She went for a weekend trip to Bangkok and on her way back, Bangkok airways denied her entry/boarding pass. They asked her to show proof of a return ticket back to Malawi from Cambodia, before letting her in. Of course she did not have this and thus they wouldnt let her board. She had to book another flight with another airline. She had a one year multiple entry Cambodian visa and was here in Cambodia working for the UN.

Cases like this happen way toooooo often.

3. Visa extension
If you go through all the above hurdles and get into Cambodia, visa extension for a black African is a nightmare. For a white person, all you need to do to extend your business visa, is submit your passport with 2 passport photos and you get a one year visa extension for $280.

For a black African, you need to submit your passport, a letter from your place of work verifying that you work there, your house contract, a letter from your sangkat police station written in Khmer verifying that your house contract is valid and you can only extend your visa for 6 months and that costs $230. This is not a joke, I and all black Africans I know living here have go through this every 6 months.

Ofcourse unless you're working ofr an international NGO or company.

4. Businesses/Establishments denying us entry
Some businesses in the past have had a "No black people allowed" policy. Yes. These places will usually have the ban for a couple of weeks and then lift it, have it for a couple of weeks, then lift it.

They include Pontoon Nightclub on st 51 area. I and my friends have personally been turned away from Pontoon at least once in the past. Also last weekend 15th May 2015, my two female white American friends went to Pontoon with two black African guys, and the guys were denied entry. Teh security guys at the entrance said that the weekend before a fight broke out between some black guys and so they were not letting black guys in. This reason is BULLSHIT because I have seen white people fight in Pontoon, but I have NEVER seen then have a "No white men"allowed policy.

Riverhouse Lounge on river side has had this policy too. So did St. Tropez club on st 51 area.

When Lakeside used to be the hot backpacker areaa with lots of guesthouses and hostels, most of them had a no black people allowed policy.

5. Employment
Most schools here in Cambodia do not employ black teachers. Their reason being that most Cambodian parents do not want their kids taught by black people. They believe that a white person is better, even though said white person is a drug addict, a traveller who just want to earn some cash quick and doesnt care about the kids/his job, has no experience or qualification etc.

Some schools wtll tell you upfron that they do not hire black teachers, others will use the code which is "we are looking for native English speakers". Which is bullshit. I have been denied a job for this reason but later found out the job was given to a Polish backpacker who spoke worse English than I did, came to work sometimes tipsy/hangover and lasted only two months on the job.

6. Renting Houses
It is very very difficult to find a landlord that wants to rent his/her house to black people here in Cambodia. I wanted to move houses in April and looked at the classifieds on Bongthom. com and every agent I called would be super excitted to talk to me, then they'd ask where I was from. Id say Kenya- and ofcourse most of them do not know where Kenya is and so they would proceed to ask me if I had black skin. Id say yes and some of them would tell me flat out that they were sorry they have been instructed by the landlords not to rent the houses to black people. The other ones would tell me to wait, they had to ask the landlords if they were willing to rent out to a black person and if they were, then the agent would call me back to let me know.

This is my personal experience from a few weeks ago.

I must say though that I was lucky enough to find the kind of place I was looking for and with the most amazing and kindhearted landlords ever :)

7. Tourist visas to neighboring countries
Although I love travelling and experiencing different cultures/food/countries etc my travel experiences are very limited. This is because some embassies here are extremely racist towards black Africans. They deny us tourist visas based solely on the fact that we have African passports.

Take the Vietnam Embassy for example. I went in to apply or a visa and I got to the counter and asked for the necessary form I needed to fill. Instead of giving me this form, the people behind the counter asked to see my passport. I gave it to them. They looked at it, saw it was Kenyan, they gave it back to me and told me that "Sorry we cannot give you visa."

I asked them why. They said because they cannot. I insisted on the reason why they cannot and they said that they do not have the authority to issue my country a visa. I asked if an Embassy doesnt have that authority, then who does? They shrugged apologetically. I asked them if it was because Iwas black and African, they said sorry that they couldnt help me. I left.

A similar thing has happened at the Thai Embassy. They said that I needed to apply for a visa 3 months before my travel date as thats how longit would take to process my visa since they had to send my passport all the way to Bangkok to the Ministry to process the visas for black Africans.

I must mention though, I went to the Indonesian Embassy and was completely surprised to be treated like a human being. They talked to me nicely, asked me what kind of visa I wanted, told me all the requirements I needed to submit (some of the requirements were ridiculous) and after I fulfilled all the requirement, I was issued the visa :)

I am in no way saying that there's no black African people getting these visas, I know there are, my friend in is Bangkok as I am writting this, all am saying is that it is difficult for us.

So is Cambodia a racist country? Absolutely. But there is alot of positive things here in Cambodia as well, thats why I love it so much and have stayed this long, I talk about that more in all my other posts, but I feel like people need to know about the above as well.


  1. If you are still residing in PP, I must ask why? The people have no manners, they are filthy. I have experienced more negativity in Cambodia than I have ever witnessed in Thailand. The women are extremely ignorant! Why would you want to reside in a country that has no respect for you? I've been digging into their history and it appears they have forgotten who they are. Many of their statues convey African FEATURES! It is clear in ancient times there was massive connection, still I am curious to know how long you have resided in PP and why you decided to stay?

    1. Hi there, and thank you for reading my blog. I have been living in Cambodia for 6 years now. I do understand your concerns about negativity experienced here (especially if you're a black person). I would like to answer your question. I decide to stay because despite all of these, I have way more positive experiences in Cambodia than the negative ones. I do love Cambodia for many many different reasons, and that is why I continue to stay :)

  2. Maggie, thank you for your post. I would like to be specific to the questions asked by my anonymous. What simple things make your life there fulfilling.If you can count them one by one it would be great. Thanks

  3. go away niggers! why do you want to stay in cambodia even you are being discriminated...i think it's because cambodia is still better than your filthy country!


    2. This is the attitude Maggie is talking about i guess.These people have been deceived sooo bad.I just pity them on top of intellectually disabled,they're also filthy.I lived with these yellow,bow legged people for three years and loathed every thing.

    3. This is the attitude Maggie is talking about i guess.These people have been deceived sooo bad.I just pity them on top of intellectually disabled,they're also filthy.I lived with these yellow,bow legged people for three years and loathed every thing.

  4. Please is it a good idea for me to set out a new adventure to Cambodia? I have just completed my first degree and plans to find teaching job in Cambodia.

  5. Where i can find club and restaurant for african or nigeria im not nigeria but my ex husband nigeria and next weeks i would to visit cambodia .anyone can give me the addres thanks for cooperate # GOD blessing u all .

  6. Where i can find club and restaurant for african or nigeria im not nigeria but my ex husband nigeria and next weeks i would to visit cambodia .anyone can give me the addres thanks for cooperate # GOD blessing u all .