Moving to Cambodia? Want some tips?
So you’re moving to Cambodia for the first time. Lucky you! We’ve loved living in Cambodia and we know how exciting the move can be. We also understand how stressful it can be at the same time. That’s why we’ve put together a quick guide for you that will *hopefully* make the transition at least a little easier for you.
Book early and try to find the best deal. We use Skyscanner and bought our one-way tickets for less than $500.00!
You may have heard that some airlines will not allow you on a flight with a one-way ticket. Make sure you contact the airline to get a concrete answer on this before you go. If you can’t find a definite answer, like us, there are ways of getting around this.
We always recommend booking on-going travel just in case you have any troubles. We booked a bus ticket to Thailand, scheduled to leave 28 days after we arrived in Cambodia. Since our visa was only valid for 30 days and we didn’t have jobs secured yet, this cleared any troubles that could have occured with the airline and we had an escape plan in case we had troubles finding a job. I believe this only costed us $20 and it was worth every penny. Although we didn’t end up taking that trip to Thailand, just having these tickets took the weight off of our shoulders and hardly made a dent in our wallets.
If you’re planning to work in Cambodia, you should get an Ordinary (E-Type) visa upon arrival. Do not confuse this with the E-visa (the tourist visa you can get prior to arrival online). The Ordinary visa will cost you $30.00 USD and you must have the exact cash to purchase it upon arrival.
With this visa, you will be legally entitled to search for jobs in the country for 30 days. Once you are granted a job, your employer will give you a Work Permit and assist you with switching over your visa. No – you will not need to do a visa run – you will be able to stay in the country while they switch this over for you.
3. Real estate
We recommend staying in a hostel/hotel/AirBnB for about a week so you can get to know the areas before renting an apartment.
Real estate agents are easy to come by, free of charge, and will be able to assist you in finding an apartment to rent. We joined the Facebook group Phnom Penh Housing and made a post stating what we were looking for. Within minutes, our inbox was flooded with messages from local real estate agents who were eager to assist us. We found our apartment in one day and moved in 3 days later.
You can also use Khmer24 to look at apartment listings and contact agents.
If you are moving to Cambodia to teach English, find our article How to move to Cambodia and teach English.
We also have multiple Youtube videos on the topic like the one below:
5. Getting around
No clue where you’re going? No problem. From the airport, you’ll be able to get a tuk tuk to your destination. Read – this is going to be the most expensive tuk tuk you’ll ever have to pay for. Once you’re in town and out of the airport-zone, you should download two apps on your phone: Grab and Passapp.
- Grab: This is pretty much like the Uber for Southeast Asia. Type in your destination and what kind of vehicle you’d like to you’ll receive a set price on what you’ll have to pay.
- Passapp: Same deal, except for that Passapp is exclusive to Cambodia. At the time of writing this, Passapp is more popular than Grab but can be more expensive as it runs on a meter.
Both applications are GPS tracked and you can pay at the end of your trip.
6. Where to go
Confused about where to stay? Find our article Phnom Penh Guide: Where to stay about the different areas you can stay in within Phnom Penh.
7. Making friends
There are so many meetups, trivia nights, art shows, film screenings, and other events that expats plan to make Cambodia feel more like home. We recommend joining Facebook groups so that you don’t miss out. We were a part of a group called Expats and locals living in Phnom Penh. If you are moving to Siem Reap or other areas, search as per your location and join a few.
Drugs are easy to come by in Cambodia, so be cautious and picky about the type of people you surround yourself with so you don’t end up in the wrong scene. Just have your wits about you. Most expats are friendly and looking to make friends just the same as you are.
8. Learning Khmer
You do not need to know Khmer to live in Cambodia, but it will certainly make your life easier. A lot of Cambodian people speak English, especially in the city. That said, we learned simple phrases, directional words (for Grab rides) and how to count / bargain in Khmer. We really recommend trying to learn the language during your stay in the Kingdom. You’ll find yourself to have an easier time, being more immersed, and making some friends that you otherwise wouldn’t have.