Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city of Cambodia. It is located in the south-central part of the country, at the confluence of the Mekong, Bassac, and Tonle Sap rivers. The city has a population of over 2 million people and is a major cultural, economic, and political center in Cambodia.
Phnom Penh has a long and rich history, dating back to the 15th century. It was founded in the late 14th century by King Ponhea Yat and became the capital of the Khmer Empire in the early 15th century. The city has undergone many changes throughout its history, including periods of colonization, war, and political upheaval.
Today, Phnom Penh is known for its historical and cultural sites, including the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, and Wat Phnom temple. It is also home to a number of museums, art galleries, and cultural centers. The city has a vibrant nightlife scene and is known for its street food and markets. Phnom Penh is an important hub for trade and commerce in Cambodia and is home to a number of international businesses and organizations.
I’ve lived in Phnom Penh since the 1980s and have witnessed a tremendous transformation of the city. In the late 1980s, schooling was not about affordability; there was just no choice. Just a few years after the Khmer Rouge regime, being able to go to a public school about five minutes’ walk from home was a luxury. Back then, unofficial playgrounds were everywhere, and as a kid, I could spend most of my time outdoors with other kids in my neighborhood.
Fast forward to today: public schools are publicly known for providing lower, if not poor, quality than private ones. There are many choices when going through the long list of private schools, but it’s about affordability. These days, kids are very protected for safety and security reasons, and increasingly, kids spend time in their homes playing games on their iPads. In this post, I’m going to list down some of the things you should know.
5 reasons why Phnom Penh is a great city to live in
Phnom Penh is a great city to live in for many reasons, including its affordable cost of living, growing job market, delicious food, rich cultural heritage, and friendly locals. Whether you are looking for adventure or simply a place to call home, Phnom Penh is definitely worth considering.
Affordable cost of living
Compared to other major cities in Southeast Asia, such as Bangkok and Singapore, the cost of living in Phnom Penh is significantly lower. Housing, transportation, and food are all relatively cheap. With a budget of $1,500 per month, you can live a comfortable life in Phnom Penh, including rent, food, and entertainment expenses.
Growing job market
Phnom Penh has experienced significant economic growth in recent years, which has resulted in the creation of many new job opportunities. The city is home to a thriving startup scene, and there are many multinational companies operating in Phnom Penh, including Coca-Cola, Huawei, and Procter & Gamble. The cost of living may be low, but the potential for earning is high.
Cambodian cuisine is a delicious blend of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai influences. With plenty of fresh herbs, spices, and vegetables, Cambodian food is both healthy and delicious. Some of the must-try dishes in Phnom Penh include fish amok, a traditional Khmer curry, and lok lak, a stir-fried beef dish served with rice and vegetables.
Rich cultural heritage
Phnom Penh is steeped in history and culture, with many landmarks and historical sites to explore. The city is home to the Royal Palace, which is a stunning example of Khmer architecture. The National Museum of Cambodia houses an impressive collection of Khmer art, including sculptures, ceramics, and textiles. Phnom Penh is also home to many temples and pagodas, including the famous Wat Phnom.
One of the best things about Phnom Penh is its friendly and welcoming locals. Cambodians are known for their hospitality, and it is easy to make friends in the city. English is widely spoken, so communication is rarely a problem. Expats often comment on how easy it is to feel at home in Phnom Penh.
How to find affordable housing in Phnom Penh
Finding affordable housing in Phnom Penh may seem daunting, but with these tips and a bit of patience, you can find a great place to call home. If you’re planning to move to Phnom Penh, finding affordable housing can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you’re not familiar with the local housing market. Here are some tips to help you find a great place to live in Phnom Penh without breaking the bank.
Start your search online
One of the easiest ways to start your search for affordable housing in Phnom Penh is by using online resources such as Craigslist, Facebook groups, or expat forums. These platforms are great for finding apartments or shared houses that are available for rent.
Look for local real estate agents
While online searches are convenient, it’s always better to have a local real estate agent to help you find a place that meets your specific needs. Real estate agents can help you navigate the local housing market, find hidden gems that are not advertised online, and negotiate on your behalf.
Check out different neighborhoods
Phnom Penh is a city with many different neighborhoods, each with its own character and vibe. Before you settle on a specific area, take some time to explore different neighborhoods to find the one that best fits your lifestyle and budget.
Consider shared accommodation
If you’re on a tight budget, consider shared accommodation. This could mean renting a room in a shared apartment or house, or even co-living spaces that are becoming more popular in Phnom Penh. Sharing accommodation not only saves you money on rent but can also help you make new friends and build a social network.
Negotiate your rent
In Cambodia, it’s common practice to negotiate the rent with the landlord or agent. Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price, especially if you’re signing a long-term lease. You might be surprised at how much you can save by negotiating.
Be mindful of additional expenses
When looking for affordable housing in Phnom Penh, it’s important to consider additional expenses such as utilities, internet, and security deposits. Make sure to clarify with your landlord or agent what is included in your rent and what additional expenses you will be responsible for.
5 tips and advice for expats to live like a local in Phnom Penh
Learn the language
Cambodia has its own unique language called Khmer, which is spoken by the majority of the population. Learning some basic phrases and words can go a long way in helping you connect with locals and making your daily life easier.
Get involved in local activities
Participating in local events, such as festivals and markets, is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture and meet new people. You can also check out local restaurants, shops, and bars to get a taste of the local lifestyle.
Respect the culture and customs
Cambodia has a rich cultural heritage and tradition, and it is important to show respect for local customs and beliefs. This includes taking off your shoes when entering someone’s home, avoiding public displays of affection, and dressing modestly in religious sites.
Connect with the expat community
While it is important to immerse yourself in the local culture, it can also be helpful to connect with other expats for support and friendship. There are many expat groups and organizations in Phnom Penh that you can join to meet people from similar backgrounds.
Give back to the community
Volunteering or supporting local charities is a great way to get involved in the community and make a positive impact. You can also consider donating to organizations that support education, health care, and other critical needs in Cambodia.
Phnom Penh’s best place to live
Which district in Phnom Penh is the best place to live? Tuol Kork means the ground hill. Tuol Kork, which literally means ground hill in Khmer, is becoming more and more an ideal choice to live a relaxing life in Phnom Penh. The district is largely known for villas and quiet life.
In the 1990s, Toul Kork (or Tumnub Toul Kork) was also infamously known as one of Phnom Penh red light districts. However, brothel houses and prostitutes are no longer the case here as private schools, clinics, and restaurants are taking over the area. Read: Phnom Penh nightlife
This blog post will discuss why Toul Kork is the best place for those who want to move to Cambodia and settle in Phnom Penh, the largest capital city.
From Phnom Penh with Love
Glen Felgate has lived in Phnom Penh for years. In this novel, the former foreign correspondent told about a journey into the heart and darkness of Cambodia, a country he felt in love with.
What is it like to live in Phnom Penh as a foreigner?
Some good things:
Phnom Penhers are great people. They’re generally helpful. Khmer people are friendly and hospitable.
Speak Khmer language (even a bit), you can quickly become their friends. You will have more advantages if you can speak the language.
Getting more convenient with growing digital technology solutions: mobile banking (ABA) and getting around with Grab or Passapp (if you don’t want to get a motorcycle or a car).
Cheap cost of living (maybe not cheaper than Saigon, but cheap).
Young locals mostly speak English language fluently.
Relatively safe (safer than your city)
To have fun and memorable experience living in Phnom Penh, it will depend on you.
Some bad things:
Pollution and constant construction noise
Police traffic trap and Tuk-Tuk (it happens when you hit the street)
Some Khmer people see foriegners as walking ATMs.
One of the first things for many people when moving to live or stay long term in Cambodia is health care services. While Phnom Penh is way behind Bangkok, the city has more offerings now than the past decade. In Phnom Penh, there are several international standard hospitals your should know. Here’s a good list of hospitals and clinics in Phnom Penh.
CamKo: Phnom Penh satellite city
The new apartment buildings, Borey, and even the Aeon mega mall, the second one, are good addition to the Toul Kork neighborhood. At the CamKo area, people enjoy jogging, cycling, and breathing their early evening time. This area is a good place for your outdoor exercise.
Royal University of Phnom Penh, the Institute of Foreign Language, and Institute of Technology of Cambodia are some good places to walk the dog and sit down to breath good of Phnom Penh air.
There are about 100 universities (both public and private) in Cambodia. And which one is the top best?
What to be cautious about when in Phnom Penh
Traffic and transportation
Phnom Penh has heavy traffic and a lack of traffic regulations, which can make it dangerous to walk or bike around the city. It’s recommended to use a reliable transportation service or to hire a driver with a car or a tuk-tuk.
Scams and theft
Be aware of common scams such as fake gem shops and overpriced goods, and take precautions to protect your valuables.
Health and sanitation
Some parts of the city lack proper sanitation and may pose a risk for certain health concerns such as dengue fever and diarrhea. Be mindful of the food you eat, and drink only bottled water.
Cambodia has a complex history, and visitors should be respectful of the country’s culture and avoid actions that may be deemed disrespectful.
While generally stable, the political situation in Cambodia can change quickly, visitors should stay informed about current events, and avoid any political gatherings or demonstrations.
It is always recommended to check with your country’s official travel advisory website or the embassy in Cambodia for the most recent information and guidelines.
It’s easy to visit Cambodia as a tourist, traveler, or expat, but it’s a rare and unique experience to live like a local. To live like a local in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, you need to eat, sleep, and enjoy the way of life like the majority of Cambodians. Not only will you learn about the culture and traditions, but you’ll also feel and experience them. Cambodia is a safe destination for travel and living. Although there are issues due to poverty and inequality, people are generally friendly, hospitable, and trustworthy.
Cambodians may refer to foreign travelers as “Barang” (French) or “Ta Barang” (grandfather) as a sign of respect for older Westerners. Getting into and out of Cambodia by bus is the cheapest option, but there are also direct flights to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Cambodia has high-speed internet and free Wi-Fi available everywhere, making it easy to stay connected. You can also buy a 3G or 4G sim card for mobile internet.
Cambodia is about the same size as Oklahoma in the US and its people are known for being friendly and gentle. Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville all have their own unique characteristics and it is recommended to visit more than one city to fully experience Cambodia.
Many people from around the world fall in love with Cambodia and its charm. If you haven’t visited Cambodia before, consider making your first trip soon to avoid regret.
Note: The publisher this site may earn affiliate commissions from Amazon for qualifying purchases.