Living in Cambodia like a Khmer

Phnom Penh’s royal palace. Taken by Tharum Bun

If you’re looking to get or gain a whole new experience of living in Cambodia like a local or a Khmer, this is an ideal guide for you. This guide was written by your local insider. You’ll get new insights as well practical tips and advice to live the life like Cambodian people here.


First of all, you may ask why would anyone want to experience this local lifestyle. Well, it’s really easy to visit Cambodia as a tourist, or a traveler, or an expat. However, it’s a rare, unique experience to feel and breathe this lovely country and city like Phnom Penh as any local here. By being a local here, it means that you eat, sleep, and enjoy the way of living like the majority of Cambodians. Not only that you learn about culture and traditions, but you do really feel and experience them. So are you ready to start? You won’t regret for a second after all.

Read more about Cambopedia here or just go through the index below.

I was born in Kandal province, Cambodia. I’ve been living in Phnom Penh for over 30 years. I’ve witnessed dramatic changes over the years. Today, Cambodia is becoming an attractive place to visit and to live. Phnom Penh, the largest and most vibrant capital city of Cambodia, is sandwiched by Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Yangon, and Vientiane. Getting into or out of Cambodia by bus is the cheapest option, although there are many direct flights to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Travel across Cambodia is also getting easier. What amazes most travelers and visitors to Cambodia is high-speed Internet and free Wi-Fi everywhere, either on the bus, in a cafe, or in a budget guest house for backpackers. Mobile Internet? You can easily buy a 3G or 4G sim card.

When people ask me how to describe Cambodia in a few words, I’d sum up that
Cambodia has many charming cities and super friendly and gentle people. Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville all have its own unique characteristic. If you’d love to know and learn about Cambodia, visiting one of these cities is not enough.

In this page, you’ll find some of the most useful travel information to help you prepare for your trip to Cambodia, my beautiful home country.
Q: Is Cambodia a safe country to travel?
A: Of course, yes! There are problems due to extreme poverty and inequality, but people are generally super friendly and trustworthy. Most Cambodians are kind and generous, and they’re are hospitable and helpful to tourists, travelers, and backpackers. Kids on the street may call you foreign traveler a “Barang,” which means a French. Or “Ta Barang” to refer to an older Westerner. “Ta” means grandfather, a way of saying with respect to an elder.
Q: When is the best time to visit Cambodia?
A: from November to March. Avoid the rainy season. April is the hottest month of the year, although Cambodians celebrate the Khmer New Year during this time of the year.
Q: The best islands to visit in Cambodia?
A: Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanleum. Also, the best choice and closer from Phnom Penh is Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay).
Q: What is visiting Cambodia like?
A: The temples of Angkor, the breathtaking view of sunset on the top of Phnom Bakheng in Siem Reap, Cheoung Ek and the S-21 prison (if you’re brave enough to delve into the dark past), the floating villages on the Tonle Sap lake, friendly and polite Cambodians, and low cost of living.
Q: How safe is Phnom Penh?
A: Basically, Phnom Penh is a safe city in Southeast Asia. Phnom Penh is not largely known as a city of burglary, theft, robbery, or vandalism. However, beware of having your handbag snatched by a motorcycle driver while you are riding in a Tuk Tuk. Don’t wear valuable jewelry and ride motorbikes. You just need to not go out at night alone at a quiet place. Keep your wallet or purse under close surveillance in crowded markets. It’s always good to avoid dark and lonely areas at night or groups of drunk youths.

Q: Khmer people eat insects and bugs?
While Amok is much better known as something called authentic Khmer food, there are some more dishes you should know. I’m not just talking about Brohok.

Q: Getting to know and listen to Khmer music?
There is no better way than getting into Cambodian culture through Khmer music, which is part of Cambodian daily life.

Phnom Penh?
Phnom Penh is becoming one of the most beautiful cities in Southeast Asia. The infrastructure is getting better every year. It’s not very clean, but people start to realize this importance of a livable city. It’s cheap, and there are nice, friendly people.