The Internet is arguably the best tool for the dissemination of information, exchange of ideas, and freedom of expression in the modern day.
Internet restrictions and censorship, therefore, represent a denial of basic human rights, which Cambodians unfortunately are no stranger to.
Amidst the tightening of government surveillance and the decline in internet freedom in Cambodia, the need for VPN services has naturally increased.
The aim of this article is to highlight 5 of the best VPNs for Cambodia to restore some of the freedom that the government doesn’t want you to have.
The Danger to Privacy and Online Freedom of Cambodians
The state of online freedom has been declining in Cambodia since the last year.
The most significant rise in censorship and detentions for online expression was prior to the general elections of 2018, when the prevailing political rule silenced critical voices by arresting bloggers and journalists.
Additionally, a new cybercrime law was passed by Cambodian government last year which enhanced the powers of the National Anti-Cybercrime Committee (NACC) to further curb free speech on the web.
This increased authoritarianism of the government didn’t stop there.
The government set up “working groups” to regulate and control online news in the country, in another show of high-handedness on the free flow of information.
NGOs in Cambodia have severely criticized this move, seeing this as an attempt to promote self-censorship among critics of the government and bestowing excessive control over the kind of news deemed “acceptable” to circulate throughout media channels.
The situation is clearly stacked against the common man of Cambodia who is forced to constantly check himself when posting comments online, for fear of upsetting the government and getting arrested in the worst case scenario.
The use of VPNs to keep yourself protected on the web has thus become a necessity because of its ability to mask the identity of users and encrypting their communications on the internet.
Suppressed voices always find a way to make themselves heard loud and clear, and the way in this scenario, is VPN.
Recommended VPN Services
All the VPNs that you will see below are the top picks as high security and privacy solutions:
|VPN Providers||Price ($)||Special Deals||More Info|
Best Affordable VPN
$2.95 Per Month
Exclusive Discount 1 year Plan
Best Budget Service
$1.99 Per Month
2 Years Deal
Best for Geo-Unblocking
$2.99 Per Month
3 Years Plan
Best for Streaming
$8.32 Per Month
No Exclusive Offer
Best for Private Browsing
$2.75 Per Month
3 Years Deal
PureVPN is one of the most feature-rich VPN software that works just as well for protecting your online privacy as it does for removing censorship on the web.
The Hong Kong jurisdiction of the company makes it perfect for Cambodians to enhance privacy and the 2,000+ servers distributed in over 140 countries allows you to hop over any restriction with ease.
- 2,000+ servers in 140+ countries
- 5 simultaneous connections
- 31-day refund policy
- No data logging
- The Windows VPN client is buggy
CyberGhost, as the name suggests, can turn you invisible on the web, giving you the freedom to participate in social discussions and express your views without fearing backlash from the possible spying/surveillance of the Cambodian government.
The 45-day money-back guarantee and support for 7 simultaneous connections is more than most other providers offer. Furthermore, it has dedicated servers for Netflix, which you can use to access the region of your choice and get the complete range of TV shows/movies.
- Server network exceeds 3,000 servers
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- Up to 7 simultaneous connections
- Based in the privacy-friendly Romania
- Occasional speed fluctuations
Surfshark is the new kid on the block in the world of VPNs that has already impressed users and reviewers alike with its strong all-around performance.
The VPN has a smaller network of servers than its competitors with only 500 servers.
Nonetheless, it is still capable of providing excellent privacy to users in countries where the government has no respect for it, which is unfortunately the case with Cambodia.
The features that I particularly like about this VPN is its unlimited simultaneous connections, kill switch, and ad-blocker.
- Fast servers
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Built in ad-blocker
- 30-day refund periods
- Small server network
NordVPN dominates the VPN industry courtesy of the huge server network that this VPN has to offer. The 5,000+ servers enable fast browsing and geo-restriction browsing from anywhere in the world.
Since NordVPN is in the jurisdiction of Panama, the company is able to stay true to its commitment to user privacy, courtesy of the friendly laws that govern the digital media in the country.
Therefore, whether you’re a citizen in Cambodia or traveling to the country for leisure, you can benefit from the zero logging policy of this service to stay safe from government monitoring of your online activities and the possible infringement of your right to free speech.
- Vast network of 5,000+ servers
- Subject to privacy-friendly laws of Panama
- Obfuscated servers
- 6 simultaneous logins
- Connecting to severs sometimes takes too long
ExpressVPN is the most well-recognized VPN in the industry with millions of subscribers all over the world. It is used for all sorts of purposes from streaming Netflix to bypassing censorship.
The British Virgin Islands jurisdiction of ExpressVPN is ideal for the purposes of keeping your web activities private.
As such, this VPN will facilitate staying under the radar from authorities persistently keeping an eye on Cambodian nationals to suppress those that are critical of the ruling elite. ExpressVPN is, in this way, fighting the good fight for journalists and bloggers being tyrannized from authoritarian high-handedness of the Cambodian government.
- Excellent speeds
- Fast streaming
- No logging of user data
- Instantly connects to any server location
- Supports only 3 simultaneous connections
What’s the deal with free VPNs?
The industry has no shortage of free proxies and VPN services, but is it a good idea to use one?
Unfortunately, it isn’t.
Free VPNs usually have only a few servers to offer and can’t support the high bandwidth necessary to serve a large number of customers.
What’s more, there’s no logical way a VPN can keep its server network maintained without having the funds for it.
The truth is, many of the supposedly “free” services actually make money by keeping logs of your personal data and selling it to third-parties for advertisement or whatever reason.
Citizens in Cambodia already need to be quite wary of how they express themselves on the web, with all the censorship and restrictions on free speech the government has imposed on its people.
You don’t need to put yourself in more trouble by using shady, free of cost VPNs make money off your data.
Therefore, I would advise you to give wide berth to free VPNs and spend a few bucks on well-reputed premium VPN that keeps you secure online.
Staying Safe on the Web
Using a VPN is only one of the steps that you should take towards the protection of your privacy, especially in times of political sensitivity when the government is actively suppressing dissenting voices, as is the case with Cambodia.
I would suggest using Tor browser for performing all sensitive browsing and online usage that you fear might expose you to agencies in the country.
A combination of Tor + VPN gives a significant boost to your online anonymity and privacy.
Many journalists and blogger use this method to anonymize their identity online and continue their activism with a heightened peace of mind.
Here’s how you can set up this configuration:
- Subscribe to one of the VPNs from above
- Download and install the VPN on your system
- Download and install Tor browser on your system
- Now connect to a VPN server
- Launch Tor and browse safely
Note: Always connect VPN first before launching Tor. This creates the high-security tunnel that ensures maximum safety.
Watching Netflix in Cambodia
Netflix fans in Cambodia often face the problem of making do with the limited number of titles available in the streaming service’s native version.
But there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try and access the significantly larger library of shows/movies that are exclusively available in the US.
You just need to turn on a VPN that works with Netflix, connect to a US server and you’re good to go. Here are the step-by-step instructions for Cambodian Netflix fans:
- Install a VPN with fast US servers able to unblock Netflix (ExpressVPN, Surfshark etc.)
- Turn on the VPN and connect to a US server
- Now visit Netflix and watch all shows you couldn’t watch with your native library
The situation in Cambodia is quite depressing when it comes to online freedom and censorship. Thankfully, VPN services can restore some of our lost freedom and boost privacy to a level where you can voice your thoughts on the web without worrying about getting put in jail for it.
Do you know of anyone who has gotten into trouble for expressing their opinions on the web in Cambodia? Comment below and let me know if you feel more secure with the use of VPNs.