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Destinations in Cambodia

Despite the traces of war which are still visible, Cambodia has a lot to offer, and moving there is becoming an increasingly popular choice among expats. Our guide gives an overview of Cambodia, including visas, expat destinations, and transportation.

Where to Live in Cambodia

Whether you prefer the hectic city life or the serenity of the countryside, Cambodia has it all. Even if the place that you will be settling in is already decided by your (future) employer, you should not miss out on the beauty of this country — make sure to explore your host country as much as possible!

The City of Expats: Phnom Penh

Home to just over two million people, Phnom Penh is the country’s capital and one of the most popular destinations for expats. Whether you find the city loud and overwhelming, or value it for its history and the excitement it provides, Phnom Penh undeniably offers expats the highest level of luxury and convenience.

It is not just the coffee shops, movie theaters, and grocery stores all over the city that make it an expat favorite. The infrastructure is also very good, high speed internet and electricity are available everywhere, and power cuts rarely happen. The job market is attractive to many foreigners: with plenty of English schools wanting teachers, and NGOs looking for volunteers, the city offers a variety of employment opportunities to expats from all over the world.

Currently spread over around 680 square kilometers, the authorities and infrastructure of Phnom Penh are struggling to keep up with an ever-growing population, with traffic, sewage and garbage disposal all causing problems. However, Phnom Penh is now undergoing urban expansion — by spreading into the neighboring provinces — in order to help accommodate the population, which is expected to reach 2.5 million by 2035.

Beauty and Tranquility: Siem Reap

The name Siem Reap translates to “Siam defeated”, a meaning which dates back to a victory over Siam (modern-day Thailand) in the 16th century. If Phnom Penh is the place to go to when looking for a buzzing metropolis, then Siem Reap is the destination for anyone who appreciates the beauty of Cambodia’s countryside. Here you will find endless rice paddies and ancient temples surrounding the town.

Although Siem Reap is much smaller than Cambodia’s capital, it is home to a tight-knit, expat community, including lots of artists and photographers. Tourists migrate to this town as well, loving it mostly for its proximity to the Angkor temples, which means that the area has a good infrastructure, modern hotels, and some of the best restaurants in the entire country.

Life by the Beach: Sihanoukville

Known for its beautiful beaches and islands, Sihanoukville is Cambodia’s most popular seaside resort. It is also Cambodia’s youngest city. Established in the 1950s, it has seen rapid development and nowadays it is dominated by hotels, casinos, and construction sites. Very popular with young backpackers, the area has quite a reputation for being a party-town. In the “low season” though, when the area welcomes fewer tourists, Sihanoukville is much calmer and expats have the chance to properly enjoy the idyllic beaches. Unfortunately, many essentials such as good medical care and various everyday items are almost impossible to find in the area, forcing expats living there to take a trip to Phnom Penh.

A Laidback Lifestyle: Battambang

Battambang, located on the Sangkae River in the northwest of the country, is Cambodia’s second largest city. Yet, despite its size, it has a laid-back atmosphere and feels more like a small town, complete with charming colonial buildings and ancient Angkorian temples. The town is not one of Cambodia’s tourist hotspots, which means it has a calmer vibe than the bigger tourist hubs. The expat community here is small, made up of mainly French expats. One downside is the city’s infrastructure, which is far from the standard of that of Phnom Penh, with very limited shopping opportunities and amenities.

Beauty and Charm: Kep and Kampot

Located in the south, these neighboring towns are slowly being discovered by expats. Kep, once Cambodia’s number one seaside destination, is a small town popular with Khmer locals, and is only slowly being rediscovered by tourists and expats alike. Much of Kep was destroyed in the days of the Khmer Rouge, and many of the ruins can still be seen. Despite this, tourists still find the town attractive: located in Kep National Park, home to idyllic beaches, and renowned for its seafood, the town has plenty to offer. As there are limited job opportunities there, most expats living in the area are involved in the tourism industry in one way or another.

Kampot, is a sleepy riverside town popular with tourists, with many guesthouses and boutique hotels. The town has a growing expat community — drawn to the area by the cheap housing and the French colonial charm — bringing with them cultural developments and new cuisines.

The infrastructure in both towns is not up to the same standards as many larger Cambodian towns, but with growing expat populations, developments are slowly happening.


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