In 2018, we sold everything we owned and moved to Cambodia. Since moving to Cambodia, we had many friends and family come visit us, and we got a really good sense of what is available in Cambodia. So – what to pack for Cambodia?
Whether you’re moving there or just traveling there, we’re about to just go through the essentials and talk about what’s accessible/not accessible in Cambodia. We’ll be talking about clothes, shoes, phone chargers, SIM cards, cash and a couple of other things to keep in mind when you pack for Cambodia.
Again, whether you’re moving there or just going there for a trip, the packing list is almost exactly the same so let’s get to it.
Cambodia is hot / bring light & airy clothing
This should be obvious, but you never know. When packing for Cambodia, you must take into account that Cambodia is very hot, especially at certain times of the year. No, you don’t need a sweater “just in case” when you pack for Cambodia. Bring light & airy clothing that will allow your skin to breathe.
This gets a little more complicated later on as what we think is appropriate during hot weather (especially for women) is not always appropriate in Cambodia. We’ll get into that later.
If you will be there between May-November, pack for monsoon season
It won’t rain all day every day, but depending on where you’re staying, the streets may completely flood at certain points in the day. Bring shoes you don’t mind getting ruined. You will see many locals wearing flip flops on their bikes through this weather – this is, of course, because they are easy to dry out and it’s not a big deal if they get wet.
Bring sandals / slides / flip flops
Traditionally, you don’t wear your shoes inside in Cambodia. In fact, it is considered very rude if you do. If you are planning to live and teach English there, you will learn that you will need to take your shoes off inside of the classroom. If you become friends with locals, you will need to take them off in their homes. Some restaurants even require that you take your shoes off. When entering temples, you will certainly need to.
That’s why we recommend bringing shoes that are easy to take off and put back on. Again, you’ll find most locals wearing flip flops.
If you are a woman, bring clothes that will cover your shoulders and knees
It is not a necessity to cover both of your shoulders and knees at all times. The rule of thumb that I followed while living there was to cover at least one at all times. Most local Khmer women have both their knees and shoulders covered at all times. Again, this isn’t a necessity unless you are teaching English or visiting temples.
Yes, when you are visiting temples, the Killing Fields, Tuol Sleng, or teaching English, you will need to cover your knees and shoulders. You don’t necessarily have to bring these clothes as they are easily available here.
That said, if you want to be respectful (and hopefully you do), be mindful of what the locals wear and try to follow suit.
Everything about chargers
The chargers in Cambodia are the same as American phone chargers: the two flat, parallel plates.
If you are coming from a country that uses these, you are in luck. If you are not, you can either bring an adapter or buy a new charger here for a mere $1-$2.
Sun screen – with no bleach
It’s not impossible to find in Cambodia, but it’s harder to come by. The sun is hot, and if you don’t want to be searching around whilst getting a burn, bring sunscreen from back home when you pack for Cambodia.
Let’s talk about SIM cards
We get this question a lot. Should you get a SIM card before you get to Cambodia? What should you do with your phone plan? Should you bring a SIM card when you pack for Cambodia? The answer is simple: you can get a SIM card at the airport for $20 or less, and it’s $8 for a 40gb top up that lasts 30 days.
Especially if you’re flying into Phnom Penh, the SIM card providers are the same at the airport as they are in the rest of the city. We used the provider Smart, and found them really reliable. The other main companies are Cell Card and MetPhone, which are both are the airport as well.
Most things are accessible
Most things that we mentioned here are available in Cambodia, so if you can’t bring them from back home, you’ll be OK. When we moved to Cambodia to teach English, we realised later that we brought way too much out of fear that our day-to-day items wouldn’t be available. We couldn’t have been more wrong. Most things are available in Cambodia.
Things that aren’t available
Clothing for larger folk. We have mentioned in past write-ups and vlogs that you can just ditch your whole wardrobe and buy a new wardrobe in Cambodia. What we didn’t take into account is that we are pretty thin people. Nick is 6ft, 180 lbs, I am 5’4 and 115 lbs. If you are much larger than us, you may have a harder time finding clothes that fit properly, as we are even on the larger side when it comes to Cambodian clothing.
Again, it’s not impossible, but something to keep in mind.
A wide variety of condoms. It’s an odd thing to mention, but there isn’t much diversity in the condoms. If this is something you will need, and you need something specific, bring them from back home.
Specific/expensive makeup. Especially if you’re moving here, bring it from back home. The brands they offer are different and of a different quality than you’d find in Western countries.
Specific brands in general. This might be obvious, but the brands differ between countries. If you need something of a specific brand, bring it from where you’re from.
Yes, they do have tampons in Cambodia.
If you’re easy, you can pretty much find anything here. We’re not too specific about brands, what we wear, or what we use at home. If you’re not too specific, you’ll be fine too.