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Retire in Phnom Penh Guide

If Phnom Penh is on your retirement radar, our detailed Retire in Phnom Penh Guide is your go-to resource. Delve into the crucial aspects of life here, including living costs, climate, housing options, healthcare services, and residency procedures. We also explore the city's social dynamics, volunteering scenes, transportation, and how walkable its neighborhoods are.

Retiring in Phnom Penh is an increasingly popular choice for international retirees seeking a unique blend of rich cultural heritage, warm climate, and affordable cost of living. The city offers a vibrant lifestyle with a plethora of recreational activities, diverse culinary scene, and friendly locals. However, like any other place, it also presents its own set of challenges such as language barrier and adapting to a different healthcare system.

Cost of Living

One of the main attractions of Phnom Penh for retirees is its low cost of living. A comfortable lifestyle can be maintained here for a fraction of what it would cost in many Western countries. Rent for a modern one-bedroom apartment in the city center can be as low as $500 per month, while eating out at local restaurants can cost just a few dollars per meal. However, it’s important to factor in additional costs such as healthcare, transportation, and leisure activities.


Phnom Penh has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons: the rainy season from May to October and the dry season from November to April. The city experiences high temperatures throughout the year, with an average daily temperature of around 27°C (80°F). While the heat can be intense, many retirees find the warm climate appealing, especially those escaping colder climates.


Phnom Penh is home to some of the best medical facilities in Cambodia. The Royal Phnom Penh Hospital and the Calmette Hospital are among the top choices for expats due to their high standards of care and English-speaking staff. However, it’s recommended that retirees have comprehensive health insurance as medical costs can be high for more complex treatments.

Public Healthcare System

While Cambodia has a public healthcare system, it is generally not used by international retirees due to its lower standard compared to private healthcare. Most retirees opt for private health insurance plans that provide coverage for treatment in private hospitals.

Residency Options for Retirees

Cambodia offers a relatively straightforward process for obtaining a long-term visa, known as the Retirement Visa or ER Visa. This visa does not require the holder to work or invest in the country, making it an attractive option for retirees.

Parks and Recreational Activities

Phnom Penh offers a variety of recreational activities for retirees. The city is home to several beautiful parks, such as the Royal Palace Park and the Independence Monument Park, which are perfect for leisurely walks. For those interested in history and culture, the National Museum and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum are must-visits.


The city boasts a diverse culinary scene, with a mix of traditional Khmer cuisine and international fare. Popular local eateries include Romdeng, a restaurant that serves traditional Cambodian food, and Friends the Restaurant, which offers a modern twist on local dishes.

Learning the Language

While English is widely spoken in Phnom Penh, learning Khmer, the local language, can enhance the retirement experience. The Royal University of Phnom Penh and the Khmer Language School are popular choices for language classes.

Local Culture

The locals in Phnom Penh are known for their friendliness and hospitality. The city has a relaxed pace of life, with locals often seen enjoying a leisurely coffee or meal at one of the city’s many cafes and restaurants. The local markets, such as the Central Market and the Russian Market, are bustling hubs of activity where retirees can immerse themselves in local culture.

Meeting People and Volunteering

Meeting new people in Phnom Penh can be as simple as striking up a conversation at a local cafe or joining a club. There are also numerous volunteering opportunities available, such as teaching English at local schools or helping out at orphanages like the Cambodia Children’s Fund.

Housing Options

Most retirees in Phnom Penh opt for modern apartments or condos in the city center, which offer easy access to amenities and attractions. Popular neighborhoods include BKK1, known for its trendy cafes and restaurants, and Daun Penh, which is home to many of the city’s historical sites.


Phnom Penh is a walkable city with a reliable network of public transportation, including buses and tuk-tuks. Most retirees find that they can get by without a car, which can be a significant cost saving.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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