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Expat Exchange - Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Cambodia (Plus, Itineraries) 2024
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Siem Reap, Cambodia


Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Cambodia (Plus, Itineraries)

By Joshua Wood, LPC

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Summary: If you're considering moving to Cambodia and don't have a favorite city or town picked out, going on a look-see or exploratory trip to visit a number of popular expat destinations is really informative. Here are some recommendations for where to visit when exploring Cambodia.

Embarking on a Look-See trip to Cambodia is an essential step for anyone considering relocating to this culturally rich and diverse country. Such a trip allows potential expats, retirees, and digital nomads to explore various cities and towns firsthand, assess the local lifestyle, amenities, and expatriate communities, and ultimately make an informed decision about where to settle. By experiencing the atmosphere, cost of living, and infrastructure of different locations, individuals can align their preferences with the realities of life in Cambodia, ensuring a smoother transition for a potential move.

Recommended Itineraries

For a comprehensive Look-See trip in Cambodia, it's advisable to tailor your itinerary based on the length of your stay. A 10-day trip could focus on the key areas of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville, allowing for a glimpse into city life, historical sites, and coastal living. For a more extensive 20-day exploration, consider adding Battambang, Kampot, and Kep to your journey, as well as the emerging expat havens in the northwestern regions such as Pursat and Pailin. This will provide a broader perspective on both urban and rural living, as well as the opportunity to visit some lesser-known gems that are popular among expatriates.

Phnom Penh

As the capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh is a bustling metropolis that offers a blend of traditional Khmer culture and modern conveniences. With a population of over 2 million, it's the economic, political, and cultural heart of the country. Expats and digital nomads are drawn to its vibrant dining scene, diverse neighborhoods, and relatively low cost of living. The city is also known for its historical landmarks and burgeoning arts scene, making it an attractive option for those seeking an urban lifestyle with plenty of activities.

Travel Tip: While in Phnom Penh, make sure to visit the Russian Market, a popular spot for expats to shop for souvenirs, clothes, and local crafts. For a taste of authentic Cambodian cuisine, try the renowned Romdeng restaurant, which serves traditional dishes in a beautiful colonial setting.

Siem Reap

Siem Reap is famous for being the gateway to the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, but it's also a charming city in its own right. With a smaller population than Phnom Penh, it offers a more relaxed pace of life, which is appealing to many expatriates and retirees. The city has a significant expat community, good healthcare facilities, and a range of dining and entertainment options. The cost of living is generally lower than in the capital, and the proximity to the temples provides endless opportunities for exploration.

Travel Tip: Don't miss the chance to explore the Angkor Night Market for an evening of shopping and street food. For a unique dining experience, visit Cuisine Wat Damnak, a restaurant that offers a contemporary take on traditional Khmer dishes.

Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville is a coastal city known for its beaches and burgeoning tourism industry. It has become a hub for expats looking for a seaside lifestyle, with a growing number of restaurants, bars, and resorts. The cost of living can vary, with options for both budget-conscious individuals and those seeking luxury. The city is undergoing rapid development, which has brought both opportunities and challenges for the local expat community.

Travel Tip: Spend a day at Otres Beach, a quieter and cleaner alternative to the more crowded beaches. For fresh seafood, check out the Crab Shack on Ochheuteal Beach, offering delicious crab dishes with a view of the sea.

Battambang

Battambang is Cambodia's second-largest city, yet it retains a small-town feel with its colonial architecture and laid-back atmosphere. It's known for its surrounding countryside, which features traditional villages and scenic rice paddies. Expats enjoy the low cost of living, the friendly local community, and the city's cultural scene, which includes art galleries and a growing number of cafes and restaurants. Battambang is also home to a number of NGOs, attracting expats interested in volunteer and community work.

Travel Tip: Visit the Battambang Bat Caves at sunset to witness thousands of bats flying out for their nightly feed. For a memorable meal, try Jaan Bai, a social enterprise restaurant that offers a fusion of Khmer and international cuisine.

Kampot and Kep

Kampot and Kep, often visited together, are known for their laid-back riverside and seaside settings, respectively. Kampot is famous for its pepper plantations and colonial charm, while Kep is renowned for its fresh seafood and the nearby Rabbit Island. Both towns offer a slower pace of life and are popular among expats who prefer a more rural setting. The cost of living is low, and the natural surroundings provide a tranquil environment for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of larger cities.

Travel Tip: In Kampot, take a leisurely boat trip along the river to enjoy the serene landscape. When in Kep, visit the Kep Crab Market to savor the local delicacy, Kep crab, known for its freshness and flavor.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


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