The time has come for another visa run out of Vietnam. This had me thinking… What if there was a country in south east Asia that offered a one year, multi entry visa, no questions asked, for $280.
A place where the cost of living is low, the people are friendly and the mongering is decent. Hey! There is such a place! And it’s right next door!
Expat Living in Cambodia
Let’s face it, Cambodia has its problems, but I still see huge potential in the Kingdom of Wonder. I often contemplate spending a longer time in Cambodia to see if it grows on me.
Which leads me to the question, where is the best place to live in Cambodia?
Let’s focus on the big three here.
I’ve never been a big fan of Phnom Penh. To me, the city has no redeeming qualities. It’s just a sprawling maze of traffic and pollution. It’s more expensive than the other cities in Cambodia and there’s no nature close by.
There’s a lot of whores there if you need the variety. And sure it’s fun getting wasted in the girly bars for a weekend, but I can’t imagine living there.
Snooky is an interesting option. Nice beaches, beautiful islands close by, laid back pace of life. Beer bars and casinos to keep you occupied at night. Dirt cheap cost of living. Traffic is light so it’s easy to get around at all hours.
I predict a bright future for Sihanoukville. It will be a hot spot in the future, but it’s just not there yet. It will probably take 10 years or so. At the moment, the town is too sleepy for me to stay long term.
Plus getting there is a pain in the ass. Once they open up that airport to more flights I expect Snooky to take off. For now, it’s a decent place to chill out for a week but I can’t imagine living there.
Not many people talk about living in Siem Reap. I was there for three days to visit the temples so I didn’t even scratch the surface of this location. For those of you who have spent some time there I want to hear your opinion. Please join the forum discussion by clicking the link at the end of this post.
On paper, Siem Reap has a lot going for it.
International airport offering direct flights to eleven different cities in Asia. The list includes multiple cities in China, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, etc. That’s certainly more appealing than the 5 hour bus ride you have to take in and out of Sihanoukville. When I left Siem Reap I flew Air Asia direct to Bangkok. The flight was cheap and I was there in a hour.
Another thing that’s good about Siem Reap is the loads of tourists. Some may see this as negative but not me. I think it’s great and here’s why.
Let’s face it. Cambodia isn’t the most exciting place for dating. For mongering it’s ok. But the conservative culture makes dating the good girls a bit of a challenge compared to neighboring countries. I wouldn’t even waste my time courting a good Khmer girl unless I was seriously looking for a relationship.
However, with millions of tourists pouring into Siem Reap from China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Korea, you are bound to find some cute girls looking to hook up on their holiday. Variety is the spice of life my friends! 😀
I personally know many Vietnamese and Thai girls who have traveled to Angkor Wat with their friends. Now imagine this… They fly in for three days of touring the temples and taking selfies. At night they’re all getting wasted on pub street. I’m sure a handsome guy with a little game could clean up over there. Instead of them staying in their tiny shared hotel room, you invite them over to your bachelor pad. Done deal. 😀
And I imagine the tourists are easily avoided since they just tour the temples then hang around pub street at night. I doubt many foreigners venture too far from these two areas.
Nightlife. Siem Reap is a small town, but pub street does come alive at night. There’s bars, clubs, live music and restaurants serving every kind of food you can imagine. It’s not a bad place to hang out for a few drinks. And it’s dirt cheap. It’s hard to burn a lot of money in that town.
Mongering. While Siem Reap does fall short in this category, a monger can certainly have some fun in temple town. There are plenty of happy ending massage parlors and freelancers roaming about. I also heard there are brothels for the locals tucked away on the back streets, but I have yet to explore them myself.
English speakers. The town revolves around the tourism industry so everyone I met there spoke good English. In fact, I think I encountered the most English speakers of any Asian city I’ve been to. This makes daily life much easier for an expat.
Nature. Sadly, there’s no beaches up there. But there’s a lake and outside of the city you will see some beautiful unspoiled countryside. If you like to explore on your motorbike it’s not a bad place to be.
I enjoy city life, but I like being able to hop on my bike and escape to somewhere quiet when I need to. Plus I wouldn’t mind spending my evenings fishing on the lake with a cooler full of ice cold beers. 🙂
Low cost of living. Siem Reap is a small town with light traffic and low cost of living. You can rent a house for cheap or just live in guest houses if you’re staying short term. There’s not much to spend your money on there so it’s a good place to lay low, work online and stack some cash. Then you can fly over to Pattaya to go on a bender several times a year.
Business opportunities. Cambodia is on the rise and Angkor Wat is currently the main attraction. Millions of tourists are pouring in every year to visit the temples. There’s money to be made there for the enterprising individual with a taste for adventure.
Cons. Well it’s Cambodia so it’s hot, dusty and the infrastructure is lacking. I also find Cambodia to have a more depressing atmosphere than neighboring Thailand, Vietnam, and even Laos. But maybe my feelings would change after a longer stay.
So what do you think? What is the best city to live in Cambodia? Originally my vote was for Sihanoukville. But now that I’ve given it some deeper thought, maybe Siem Reap offers a more stimulating social life and better business opportunities. Along with a lower crime rate and less drugged out zombies than Snooky, it might be the winner. I’m thinking about visiting again soon to have a look around.
Would you live in Cambodia? If so, what city would you choose? Please comment in the forum.