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Phnom Penh — Lose Yourself in a Great Adventure

Greetings from Cambodia! The capital and most populous city in the country is the perfect place for an expat adventure. InterNations member Nargiza will gladly share a few tips on how to stay sporty, become a little tipsy, and not to go hungry in the city of Phnom Penh.

I have been living in the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, for over a year. I moved from Russia because I wanted to have a new kind of challenge in my life. Although living in Siberia when winters come to -35°C is not really that easy either, exchanging a European way of life for an Asian lifestyle is a dare indeed. Now I work as marketing manager at a Cambodian company for Singapore (which is quite interesting already) and it helps me to learn more about the local culture.

But expat life and communities attract me a lot because they have a certain charm, just like the city itself. If you come to Phnom Penh for business or travelling you can easily get help from both expats and local people. It is very normal here to get some information even from people you don’t know, and if they cannot help you, they will give advice where to find out more. 

Besides your ordinary working and networking life, you should be aware of entertainment activities in Phnom Penh. Some people say there is nothing to do here, but this is not true: you just need to find out more about this city.

Happiness on Two Wheels

For sure, the first place goes to cycling activities. I was really surprised when I found out about all of the cycling clubs and interesting places for mountain biking around the city. Every Saturday and Sunday around 6:00, you can meet different clubs preparing for their morning ride.

Everyone wears a special team jersey, most of the cyclists have the greatest bicycles which can cost as much as a brand new motorbike. There are lots of tracks for advanced cyclists as well as for beginners, so it’s definitely an activity to be involved in. Once I moved to Phnom Penh I joined one of these cycling clubs and now I’m ready for my next adventure almost every Sunday at 6:00.

Culinary Highlights

Do you know how to indulge yourself and not fritter away your budget? Visit Phnom Penh for a culinary journey. You will find plenty of nice spots from simple Italian cafés to fine dining at French restaurants. The best thing to try is a fusion of French and Asian cuisine curated by enthusiastic French chefs.

Moreover, while you are in Phnom Penh you can check out real Japanese food in one secret location. If no one shares the address and name of the place with you, you will never find Kaizokusakaba (and yes, I revealed the secret). You will be treated like a good friend of the owner and treated to the special selection of Japanese tapas. And it is a good place to disappear to for one evening.

The Best Cocktails in Town

Let’s move on to the after-dinner activities which are all about cocktail bars. It might not really be a healthy activity, but it is definitely a part of Phnom Penh life you should not miss out on. If you are ready to devote your evening to a one-bar-one-cocktail activity, you should definitely visit Bassac Lane which combines around eight small bars with different concepts, a nice vibe, and of course the greatest signature cocktails.

Join a Club!

Expat life in Phnom Penh is really interesting, people try to entertain themselves and join different clubs and workshops like a Sunday baking club, literature club, art talk club, self-portrait master class and many more. I would also recommend trying the hiking club which is organized by two Cambodian men and offers a great opportunity to visit interesting cultural places nearby Phnom Penh. It’s not like a sightseeing tour you will book through a tour agency, but a simple activity where you feel like you are with a group of friends finding some hidden places and learning more about Cambodian culture and local daily life. 

The dictionary says that an expatriate (informal: expat) is someone who does not live in their own country, now most commonly used as a term for those working in companies outside of their home country. But in fact it is something more: you are not just living outside your country, you are changing your mind set, the boundaries in your head just vanish and the phrase “I can’t” appears less and less in your daily speech. However, there is of course one sad detail, homesickness. I see myself wrapped into hundreds of clothes walking down snowy streets in my dreams but once I wake up I am smiling, because I have my country inside me, and the sun and a bright future outside my window.


Image credit: Andrii Saklakov


Elias Jaber

"Sharing expat experiences about Phnom Penh was exactly what I was looking for when I stumbled upon InterNations. "

Rikke Johansen

"I love to traveling to foreign cities. InterNations has got local inside tips in store for any new place I want to explore on my own. "

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