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Moving to Phnom Penh, Cambodia | Expat Exchange
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Moving to Phnom Penh, Cambodia

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Sep 06, 2023

Summary: Moving to Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Expats, retirees and digital nomads talk about everything you need to know before moving to Phnom Penh.

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What do I need to know before moving to Phnom Penh?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Phnom Penh, they said:

"Before moving to Phnom Penh, expats should know that the official language is Khmer, but English is widely spoken in urban areas. The currency used is the Cambodian Riel, but US dollars are also accepted in most places. The cost of living is relatively low compared to Western countries, but it's rising, especially in the capital. Phnom Penh has a tropical climate with two seasons: the rainy season from May to October and the dry season from November to April. The city is known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and bustling street markets. However, it's also infamous for its traffic congestion, so expats should be prepared for long commutes. Healthcare facilities in Phnom Penh are improving but still lag behind Western standards. Expats are advised to have comprehensive health insurance that covers medical evacuation. The city is generally safe, but petty crime like bag snatching and pickpocketing can be a problem, so it's important to stay vigilant. Expats should also be aware of the cultural norms and customs. Cambodians are generally polite and respectful, and they expect the same from others. It's important to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites. Public displays of affection are frowned upon, and it's considered rude to touch someone's head or point your feet at them. The visa process for Cambodia is relatively straightforward. Most nationalities can obtain a visa on arrival, but it's advisable to arrange it in advance. Expats planning to work in Cambodia will need a work permit, which can be obtained through their employer. Finally, while Cambodia has a tragic history marked by the Khmer Rouge regime, it's important for expats to approach this topic with sensitivity. Many Cambodians have been directly affected by this period and it remains a painful subject," commented one expat who made the move to Phnom Penh.

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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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