Living in Cambodia – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly


Living in Cambodia was never something I planned on doing. 

I think it’s fair to say that, for a large percentage of Cambodia expats, they never planned on moving to Cambodia either. 

It just sort of…happens.

Like thousands before me, I fell in love with the slow pace of daily life in Cambodia and when the time came to leave the Kingdom, I just couldn’t.


But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before I go into too much detail about my story, I want to talk about my reasons for writing this post. 

You see, although living in Cambodia remains one of the best things I’ve ever done, and barely a day goes by when I don’t remember my time there fondly, it was also really really difficult, and I haven’t found a single article that really addresses that.

koh rong cambodia
Life in paradise


Many of the websites offering information about living in Cambodia wax lyrical about the cheap cost of living, the relaxed visa process and the glorious weather without really touching on the negative side of things, from minor niggles you will face to the major issues that Cambodia has in terms of poverty and human rights. 

The purpose of this post then, is to paint a slightly more accurate picture of life in Cambodia. 

Cambodia is an incredible country, with a beautiful landscape, a rich culture and warm people, but living in Cambodia is not for everybody, and if you are planning on moving to Cambodia, it’s definitely better to be prepared for the challenges that you may face. If you are moving from the US you can also count on moving companies to help you with your relocation. 


In this article, you won’t find detailed practical information on how to obtain a visa for Cambodia or where to find the best real estate or teaching jobs. What you will learn is what it’s really like living in a developing country, where the average age is 25 and where more than 70% of the population live on less than $3.20 a day. 

Are you ready? Good, so let’s begin.

koh rong cambodia
A typical day


Living in Cambodia – The Good, The Bad, and The Really Really Ugly


My Story


I was 2 months into what was supposed to be a 3 month backpacking trip around Southeast Asia. I’d spent a month in Indonesia before flying into Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city, where I went on to visit Kampot and Siem Reap.

And then I went to Koh Rong.

Koh Rong was supposed to be a week long beach trip before I left Cambodia and began backpacking through Vietnam. 

That 7 days turned into 10 months.


Along with a girl I’d met in Siem Reap, I found a job in a bar and we both rented a cheap room together on the beach.

Life as I knew it ended and I quickly fell into the island way, discarding my shoes, throwing out my bras  and getting used to being covered in a layer of sweat and sand at all times. 



Most of my time living in Cambodia was spent on the island, but I also rented an apartment on the mainland for 3 months in the dingy seaside town of Sihanoukville (known to expats as Sh*tville). During this time, I took on a more part-time role at the bar and spent a couple of days a week in my swanky apartment (well, swanky compared to my room on the island), working online. 

And I loved it. But I’d be lying if I said that it was easy.

Here are some of the things I loved about living in Cambodia, as well as some of the things I didn’t love (and finally some of the things that I really didn’t love).

koh rong cambodia
Home for the first month was on the pier. This was our morning view.


Living in Cambodia – The Good

Life in Cambodia as an expat is cheap


It is well known that you can live like a King in Cambodia on a minimal budget.

I rented a large studio apartment in Sihanoukville for 200 USD per month, inclusive of water and internet. The apartment was newly furnished (the fridge was still wrapped up for heaven’s sake), with a satellite TV, air-con, balcony and king size bed complete with all linen. This price also included a cleaner who came round once a week to tidy up and change my bed sheets! The only bills I had to pay were my electric bills, which came to about 15 USD per month.

As far as other living costs in Cambodia go, expect to pay less than 4 USD for a meal in a nice restaurant, 1 USD for a beer and 1 USD for street food, with hostel beds going from as little as 2USD with a 4USD average.

koh rong island
Living on the beach for 5 USD a day


Living in Cambodia – The Bad


Racist beauty products


Without delving into how insanely problematic it is that EVERYTHING IN ASIA CONTAINS SKIN WHITENING AGENTS, do you have any idea how infuriating it is not to be able to buy shower gel, moisturiser, or even DEODORANT that doesn’t bleach your skin?

I’m trying to get a tan god damnit, I don’t want to be walking around like Casper the friendly ghost!


Living in Cambodia – The Good

The Weather


If you’re a sun worshipper, you will love the weather in Cambodia. With temperatures ranging from 21 – 35 degrees year round, you will never need to wear a jacket and can enjoy a year round tan.

This is probably one of the main reasons people have for moving to Cambodia.

koh rong island
Every day is a beach day in Cambo


Living in Cambodia – The Bad

The Weather


Okay, I know that I just listed this as a good thing, and it really is, but you also have to prepare to live in a constant state of heat exhaustion.

You will be covered in a layer of sweat at all times, you will feel like you’re about to suffocate with the humidity, and you will get caught in a tropical storm wearing nothing but a cotton sundress and flip flops.

kampot cambodia
When it rains, it pours


Living in Cambodia – The Good

The Landscape


There’s no messing around – Cambodia is a beautiful country. 

I’ve seen the most beautiful white sand beaches of my life in Cambodia, and that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. 

Whether you want to ride a scooter up the imposing Bokor Mountain, go trekking through the jungle, wake early to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat, sail slowly down the Mekong Delta or swim with bioluminescent plankton, Cambodia has something for you. 

Cambodia remains one of the most underrated countries I’ve ever visited in terms of beauty, and I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to have travelled as extensively as I have through Cambodia. 

kampot
Lost in the countryside


Living in Cambodia – The Bad

Your Health


You will always be getting sick, being sick, or recovering from being sick. The food will upset your stomach. The water will upset your stomach (yes, even if you only use it to shower and brush your teeth), and you will get infected cuts that turn into life threatening diseases (ask me how I know). 

You will also be covered in mosquito bites 24/7, and if they don’t get infected too then they may well turn into malaria or dengue fever. 

Do not expect a clean bill of health when you return home from living in Cambodia.

While it is true that my living conditions in Cambodia were worse due to the fact that I was on an island, you will find hygiene issues and a low quality of medical care wherever you live in Cambodia.

cambodian hospital
A Cambodian clinic, complete with stray cat


Living in Cambodia – The Good

LGBT Rights


Cambodia is remarkably LGBT friendly, meaning that you will not encounter any problems as an LGBT traveller and there are tonnes of gay bars and clubs in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. 


Living in Cambodia – The Bad

Your Wardrobe


All of your clothes will be ruined. Whether it’s all of those icky yellow stains under the armpits, the melting of colours because the lady who does your laundry refuses to separate reds from white, the holes gnawed into them by the mice who live in your room or the black mould growing on them, you will have to say goodbye to your favourite outfits more often than you would like.

On the plus side, it’s cheap to buy new ones!

siem reap cambodia
Paint parties don’t help


Living in Cambodia – The Good

Finding a Job


It is very easy to find expat jobs in Cambodia.

If you want to volunteer in exchange for bed and board then there are hundreds of hostels and backpacker bars available for you, and it is also very easy to find work as an English teacher, no questions asked and no qualifications needed. 

island boys cambodia
My fellow bar staff on Koh Rong


Living in Cambodia – The Bad

Finding a Job


 …it is very easy to find work as an English teacher, no questions asked and no qualifications needed.

This means that at best, children in Cambodia are being taught by people with no particular interest in teaching, no qualifications and no experience. 

At worst…well, we’ll get into that later.


Living in Cambodia – The Good

The Parties


Cambodians love to party, and Cambodia is actually the country with the highest number of public holidays in the world (28 in case you’re interested), meaning lots of days off!

Cambodians also love to stretch out celebrations, with weddings, funerals and anniversaries lasting up to a week, and Songkran Festival, which is at the beginning of the Khmer New Year, is basically a giant water festival that can last for way longer than the official 3 days!

Not only that, but as an expat living in Cambodia, you will be the guest of honour wherever you go, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself dragged into a wedding while just walking by, or attending a child’s birthday party who you’ve never met!

koh rong cambodia
A child’s birthday party in Cambodia


Living in Cambodia – The Really Really Ugly


Child Sexpats 


Let’s get the fat balding elephant out of the room: many men living in Cambodia are there to abuse children.

I will not sugar-coat this issue because it is a huge one and it is one that is not spoken about enough. Cambodia has a reputation of being the place to go if you want to sexually abuse a child, and many Western men take advantage of this.

While you will find sex tourism in many countries, and it is true that female sex tourists exist as well, the numbers of men who go to Cambodia to abuse children is disproportionate to other places. Cambodia was the first country that Richard Huckle, the ‘world’s worst paedophile,’ ever travelled to. so go figure.



In fact, there are scores of men who have served time for child abuse in the UK, who go on to open ‘orphanages’ in Cambodia, where they rent out the children by the hour to other morally bankrupt sickos.

In the book ‘Off the Rails in Phnom Penh’ the author describes a brothel known as ‘Kiddy Corner’ by the expats, and you don’t have to spend too much time in Sihanoukville to see men in their sixties walking down the beach holding hands with girls and boys young enough to be their grandchildren. 


Witnessing this kind of thing is the worst aspect of daily life in Cambodia and nothing can quite prepare you for the first time you see it. 

UPDATE 14/12/2021 – Since writing this article, a lot of male expats in Cambodia have seemed to take personal offence at this section of the article, and my work has been shared across expat forums, full of men denying that child abuse in Cambodia is an issue at all, and that if it is, expats are not the perpetrators. To that I say – methinks thou dost protest too much, love.


Domestic Violence


I know that I am going to get a lot of hate for this one as well, but I can only speak my truth and about what I witnessed while living in Cambodia. 

Domestic violence in Cambodia is rampant, and while that may not affect you directly as a tourist or expat, it is difficult not to notice it happening all around you. 

When I worked in the beach bar, one of our kitchen staff would frequently come into work with black eyes courtesy of her lovely husband. Some hostel guests once walked in on a different Cambodian man raping his wife in our hostel.  


67% of Cambodian women believe that they should keep quiet about domestic violence in order to keep the family together and 1 in 5 Cambodian men have admitted to raping a woman at somepoint in their lives. 

Gang rape is seen as a ‘male bonding activity’ and 5% of Cambodian men admit to having taken part in a gang rape, known as bauk.  

As a woman, it is difficult living in a country where the value of female life is so low and feeling helpless to do anything about it. 

violence against women in cambodia infographic


Death


The combination of Cambodia’s bloody history, poverty, human rights issues, attitude to violence and lack of adequate healthcare means that unfortunately, life is cheap in the Kingdom.

Moto crashes are commonplace, drunken fights where the weakest ends up dead is standard, and thousands of children every year are dying from preventable diseases and poor sanitation.

Of course, as far as these last few points go, if you live in a fancy penthouse in the city and surround yourself with other rich expats, you may be able to pretend that these things are not going on all around you.

However, whether you turn the other cheek or not, these things are happening every single day in Cambodia, and I would hazard a guess that for most decent people, it is impossible to look away and feign ignorance.

michael jones paedophile


Living in Cambodia – Final Thoughts


Moving to Cambodia and spending a year living in Cambodia is one of the best things I’ve ever done.

The Kingdom of Cambodia is an incredible place, rich in culture and beauty, and living there for such a long time gave me a deeper understanding of who Cambodian people are and what their life is like.

In many ways, I had an incredible quality of life in Cambodia – who could complain about living on a beach, working in a backpacker hostel and spending their days going on boat trips and sunbathing?

Fond memories


However, in many ways, I had a poor quality of life. I contracted a life threatening illness whilst in Cambodia, and even taking that out of the equation, my health was never good. Barely a week went by where I wasn’t vomiting, suffering from diarrhoea, in agony from a UTI, nursing a fever or tending to infected wounds all over my body.

The internet was often non-existent, the overall hygiene levels were horrendous, and I was surrounded by human and animal cruelty everywhere I looked, even if it was taking place against a backdrop of white sands and crystal clear waters.

Should you move to Cambodia? I can’t answer that.

You would undoubtedly have a better quality of life in Thailand or Vietnam, but for some of us, the allure of the Kingdom is simply too strong, and no matter its flaws, we choose Cambodia.


More Cambodia Guides


Guide to Koh Rong

Visiting The Killing Fields and S21 Prison

Pollution in Cambodia

Tips for Travelling in Southeast Asia


Until next time,

XOXO


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58 thoughts on “Living in Cambodia – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”

  1. I travelled in Cambodia for a month, also got a UTI, went to the doctor and paid $20 for him to tell me to drink coconut water haha. I didn’t know that about the child abuse! Horrific!

    1. Oh my god, I have so many UTI doctor stories haha. One didn’t know how to read the test results, and then I had an experience like you where I paid tbem to be told not to eat spicy food, hhaa. The worsttt.

  2. You stupid f**king idiot. What a pile of hysterical sh**e. Pathetic. Fortunately, Cambodia is now rid of backpacking t**ts like you.

    1. Well, well…seems like you are one of those child rapers. What an attitude! As a matter of fact….SHE IS telling the truth!!!!! So, there, you ÷%^^£¡¡/2+$;¿)=368*%+&÷3_¿(=^**€/!!!!!

    2. Soberman DEFINITELY is a child rapist.

      You know that is why he’s writing all this kaka – the article was very well-written and informative.
      Too informative for Soberman-the-perv, eh?

  3. Hey, great article (as usual). I love that you’re both really intelligent and incredibly articulate. you often say exactly what I’m thinking, but don’t know how to phrase.

    One (possibly stupid) question: why is it inherently problematic for asians to want whiter skin? sure, if it stems from some subconscious “white people are better” mentality, then I 100% agree with you. But maybe it’s just an aesthetic preference? You said one or two sentences later that you’re trying to get a tan. By that logic, wouldn’t wanting darker skin be equally as problematic? I get that you don’t want whiter skin as a white person. But maybe most Asians do?
    Whaddaya think?

    1. Thank you!

      I think it does stem from the whole ‘white people are better thing.’ It’s also a class issue – if you’re pale, you don’t have to work outdoors in the sun so you must be rich. Ergo, pale skin = status.

      I don’t mind either way if they want to look paler for aesthetic reasons – as you said, it’s the same as me wanting a tan – but I do think that in many Asian countries, you get treated a lot worse if you have darker skin (for example girls with paler skin would be considered more desirable wives etc.)

      1. You may or may not already know this, but the Khmer Rouge slaughtered millions not only in pursuit of the totalitarian economic delusions of communism, but also for racial/nationalistic purity — those whose skin wasn’t dark enough to be considered truly ethnically Khmer were that much more likely to be dispatched in the killing fields. My wife, who was born and raised there during the genocidal reign of the Khmer Rouge, tells of how her mother would rub shoe polish into her skin as a survival tactic because she was part Chinese and had lighter skin than more fully Kmher people. Ironically, nowadays, living for many years here in the U.S. as an American citizen, my wife constantly uses products which promise to lighten her skin. Her journey and life story have been interesting, to say the least.

      1. Hahah – the people on that forum see that shite on a regular basis from wannabees like you. When I looked I dont see much sympathy for your generalisations.

      2. Been living here for 4 years now. No infections, no sickness, never scammed. You sound like a typical backpack or in Kampot walking around the rat piss streets barefoot with dreadlocks.

        Oh and before you lose your trust fund baby shit. I’m a doctor here making much less than I could in the US.

        Your assumptions about ex-pats are painted with a pretty wide brush there.

        I’m kind of glad the country is walk down to keep your sort out of here. You do nothing for the economy, you stay in a five dollar hostel. You tip like shit because you don’t have money. I speak Khmer and know what they think about the “backpackers”. You didn’t mention no backpacker signs on some of the establishments did you?

        1. Never lived in Kampot or had dreadlocks, never had a trust fund, didn’t stay in a 5 dollar hostel (I had an actual apartment love!) and I do have money.

          As for never getting sick – good for you! You probably haven’t lived on the island for 4 years – mainland life is very different! I did get sick and ended up contracting a disease that almost killed me as a direct result of living in Cambodia. I’m glad that you didn’t, but I did, and I’ll continue to tell my story.

          None of your assumptions about me are correct but that doesn’t bother me because you don’t know me and I don’t know you! I know that I don’t meet your stereotype of a backpacker, so it’s water off a duck’s back to me, just like this article should be to you if you do not meet the dirty old man stereotype 🙂

          It is true that Cambodia has a HUGE problem with sexpats, sex trafficking and commercial child sexual exploitation. You can get offended and try and shut down the people who point that out, or you can acknowledge the facts. Acknowledging the facts does a lot more good than suppressing them my friend.

          I think that your nasty comment says a lot more about you than it does me, but I thank you for spending the time on my page and making me money! Have a great day.

  4. What a load of BS – having lived in Cambodia for 8 years I have never been sick, eaten by mosquitos daily and all the other crap you write. You are just another backpacker hanging out with the same coterie on KR island listening to the same bollocks stereotypes you lot trade in. Absolute tripe snowflake.

      1. I am on the coast not Phnom Penh – still call BS on most of the tripe you dished up. Perhaps you need to educate yourself about your pseudonym ‘https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Jezebel’. When are you starting a gofundme to save Khmer from the evil barangs?

        1. Please do tell me what was tripe. Domestic violence and rape ARE really big problems in Cambodia. Foreign men abusing children IS a big problem in Cambodia. Living on the islands WILL expose you to unsanitary conditions and thus your health may suffer. You are welcome to check my sources or do independent research, or you can trust that I am not lying about things that I personally witnessed.
          For example, the woman I referenced being raped? I knew her. The woman I referenced coming into work with black eyes frequently? I knew her. I’ve seen a man drag his wife down the beach by her hair. My Khmer colleague got arrested for attempted murder and his gangster brother got him out of serving any time by paying a bribe. The list goes on.

          I know very well what Jezebel means. If you are curious about why I chose the name then you will find a detailed explanation of it in the ‘About’ section.

  5. The insults you’re getting are from a bunch of grumpy old men that have no choice but to reside in a country like Cambodia. The vast majority of them are alcoholics and openly discuss paying for sex. Don’t take anything personally. If they had a penny in their pockets, they’d be living the life you’re living in a much more developed country.

    That being said, I disagree with some of the things you’ve said in your post. We all experience cambodia differently. Take care and keep posting articles. They’re interesting to say the least.

      1. People who write nasty comments lack maturity probably because they lack experience they’re most certainly self-centered narcissistic and desperately insecure. I know next to nothing about Cambodia but I found your article interesting and informative and the more articles I read will paint a cleaner picture in my mind of what I might expect should I decide to visit. Thank you for sharing your experiences and your views. Namaste

  6. total trash blog.. your ignorant views of Cambodia are best taken else where

    “to see men in their sixties walking down the beach holding hands with girls and boys young enough to be their grandchildren. ”

    is about where I completely lost interest

    my dad is a expat remarried with a child and all his expat friends are remarried with kids ..either from a previous marriage or new kids with their new wives .. I suppose had you seen them on the beach enjoying family time you would have jumped to the idea they are sexual predators??

    your idea that there are rampant pedophiles coming over from the uk and the west is insane,

    perhaps the areas of Cambodia you decided to visit and company you kept close is better examined and a closer reflection of your character and intentions in the KOW

      1. does having a Khmer half family for 20+ years count ?

        I suppose your “10 months”? of hostel hopping and backpacking has given you some greater understanding of how things work

        some of us have family here or are actually invested in seeing this area of the world develop …. rather than passing though for some internet likes and clout

        1. Passing through for some internet likes and clout? I’ve been away from home and working fully remotely for 6 years; I think I’m doing it for more than ‘internet clout.’

          With respect, you don’t know anything about my life or what I do for a living (despite it being very publicly accessible).

          The FACTS are that yes, many Western men go to Cambodia to abuse children. The same happens in the Philippines. This is not a matter of opinion. It is a matter of objective truth.

          Nicholas Patrick Griffon, convicted child abuser in the UK started the ‘Child Orphan Fund’ in Siem Reap and rented out children to other abusers. Richard Huckle, ‘Britain’s worst paedophile’ began in Cambodia. Gary Glitter fled to Cambodia. Sebastian Reuyl was a Dutch paedophile who abused children for a decade in Cambodia AND RAN AN ORPHANAGE. Another Dutch paedophile, Pieter Ceulen, was on the run from a 19 year sentence and found in Cambodia seeking work as an English teacher – he had also been accused of sexually abusing children in Cambodia and the Philippines. Steve Loryman, former British headmaster was jailed after sexually abusing Khmer children as young as 5. Micky Rife, American teacher convicted of sexually abusing Khmer girls as young as 5.

          A long report by ECPAT states that ‘Cambodia remains a key destination for the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism, as well as for the trafficking of children for sexual purposes.’ (see below).

          One in three ‘prostitutes’ in Cambodia is under 18, meaning that a third of all ‘sex workers’ in Cambodia are victims of child sex trafficking.

          UNICEF states that some 37 % of the victims trafficked for sexual exploitation in Cambodia are children.

          64% OF CAMBODIAN CHILDREN KNOW A CHILD WHO HAS BEEN RAPED (see UNICEF) report below.

          15.7% OF BOYS AND 13.5% OF GIRLS HAVE BEEN SEXUALLY TOUCHED ON THE GENITALS PRIOR TO 9 YEARS OF AGE (UNICEF).

          21.4% of girls and 23.5% of boys say they have witnessed the rape of a child by an adult (UNICEF).

          The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) stated in a report it was concerned about “orphanage tourism, which seems to be a growing phenomenon where children in institutions and orphanages are being exposed to sexual exploitation by foreigners” in Cambodia.

          Please see:
          https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/long-reads/article/2040307/paedophile-hunters-streets-phnom-penh
          https://www.insideover.com/society/cambodias-shameful-paedophile-ring.html
          https://www.dandc.eu/en/article/cambodia-seen-heaven-paedophiles-and-sex-tourists
          https://www.unicef.org/Sexual-abuse-2.pdf
          https://www.ecpat.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/ECPAT-Country-Overview-Cambodia.pdf

          But please, tell me more about how I must be wrong because I travel with a backpack.

          1. Your statistics above can all be true, and you can still be guilty of painting with a broad brush. I lived in Thailand for two years. It’s another place with sexual abuse and poverty. There were old men who married young Thai women there. It was nasty. The tragedy is induced by poverty. Sex work is okay. Poverty is not. Capitalism produces poverty. Age of consent in Thailand and Cambodia is 15. While we may consider them children at that age they can give consent. You might do well to listen to some of the folks who have lived there. I’m sorry about your life-threatening illness that you don’t identify. I would not stay in a place that has such an awful plague of mosquitoes, etc. I lived on Phuket and the island was relatively mild all year. Humidity and pests were relatively mild as well.

          2. I’m sorry to hear of your blatant scepticism regarding my illness. Would you like to see my medical records? The bug that I contracted was diphtheria. I had an open cut on my foot due to a mosquito bite that I’d scratched open, and a bug in my shower water got into it and gave me a seriously bad infection. I developed a high fever on the plane back home and a doctor had to be FLOWN into Qatar airport (where my connecting flight was) to treat me as soon as we landed. On arrival back in the UK, I had to go to the emergency room right away and the doctor told me that if my flight had been a couple of days later, I wouldn’t have made it.

            But please, do feel free to cast doubt!

            I am confused about your advice to ‘listen to some of the folks that have lived there.’ I lived there, and I wrote about my experiences. Should I not listen to my own recollection?

            You’re absolutely correct, sex work is okay, but sex work born out of poverty is NOT okay. Sex work for survival is exploitation, and paying for sex with a 9 year old girl who has been sold to traffickers by her parents so that they can feed their other children is NOT and should NEVER be compared to ‘sex work.’ Talking about adult go-go dancers in Phuket and comparing them to child slaves in Cambodia is a whole different ball game.

            Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting, we can agree to disagree 🙂

  7. Awesome information about the country honestly.. These guys have nothing better to do than to bi**h really. But yes! It’s totally true about the natures of things happening to children in places, Brazil, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and so on, It’s super super common for that and YES I agree it’s freaking disgusting… I understand you see a small Asian child with a 60 year old white man and you do come to think ”Um….wtf?” I mean you never know it may be the childs grandparent or whatever the means for sure but its still an uneasy situation to whiteness. But hey I’m not here to trash on you in the slightest.

    So I’m from the UK, And I’m curious of a few questions (ignoring the top part)
    How is the English levels of the locals in the country? Of course having TEFL Would be a good means for a job for sure… Also is how safe is it to live there as a foreigner (westerner)?
    Are there cool things to do such as like conventions, concerts and so on?
    How easy is it for a white person to fit in and make friends?
    How is the internet there? (being a big gamer myself I want to stay in contact with my friends and play games with them of course)
    For pay? Is it decent enough to where I could afford something like a computer, internet etc?

    Is there western style foods?
    Can I Learn to drive or ride a moped there?

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment!

      To answer your questions –

      The English levels depend on where you go. Cambodians that come into regular contact with tourists can speak English, but of course in the rural areas and smaller cities, less so.

      Cambodia is incredibly safe for a westerner, especially as you are a male (sexual assault and domestic violence are rife so it’s a little different for women). Your biggest safety thread would be traffic accidents or sickness due to bad hygiene conditions/inadequate medical care.

      There are always cool things to do 🙂 Cambodians love to party.

      It’s easy for a white person to fit in and make friends with other expats, there is a large expat community in Cambodia. As far as having Khmer friends, I’m not sure. I had some Khmer friends that I worked with, but I was on a small island – I’m not sure how easy it would be in the cities.

      The internet is terrible (maybe better in Phnom Penh), but on Koh Rong it was terrible as it is an island. I also lived in the city of Sihanoukville and it was terrible there as well. I’m not sure that it would be good enough for gaming, but things may have changed since I was there.

      You will be reasonably well paid if you teach English as a foreign language, and definitely able to afford a nice place to live.

      There are lots of Western style foods.

      You can learn how to ride a moped, just be careful.

      Hope that helped!

  8. I’m a bit late to comment probably but just came across your article. I’m a 58 year old male who has been to Cambodia 6 times with my family and agree with most of what you said. We have never been sick so that differs a bit from your experience. We have travelled back so many times because I love the Country and in particular the people. My daughters have seen you dont need the latest iPhone to be happy. Cambodian’s are the poorest but happiest people I have ever seen.
    I thought I should make a comment in support because I cant believe the aggressive, insecure comments you have received from men my age. Its a fact you cant hide from and the first time i saw a fat 60 year old man so openly walking down a Sihanoukville street with a child I felt like shooting him but had to be content with calling him a disgusting maggot.
    One other area of disagreement. Koh Rong Samloem is much better than Koh Rong!

    1. It’s never too late to comment! Thank you so much for your words, we all have different experiences and it doesn’t mean that one person’s experience is the only experience, you are totally right! I also have a deep love for Cambodia and Cambodian people.

      Thank you for the support, and for acknowledging that YES, Cambodia is a wonderful country, but it does have its flaws (child abuse being a major one) and we simply cannot stay silent on it. I am also so glad that you called that man a disgusting maggot!

      1. Hello dear Jez, thanks for sharing all that, please I need your help I’m Italian from Venice living in Costa Rica Central America but after my ex Chinese girlfriend broke up with me I wanted to come in Asia again.

  9. Love reading your content, having backpacked through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and South Korea with my Vietnamese/American Girlfriend, I can agree with you on a majority of things. One thing that was prevalent in most of the countries I visited (Besides South Korea) is all the poor Stray dogs 🙁 . Anywho, keep up the awesome journalism and blogging!

    1. Yes, I always felt for the stray dogs! We had a great programme on my island that looked after all the strays with food, medical care etc. which was super cool, but unfortunately most dogs in SE Asia aren’t so lucky 🙁

      Thank you so much for your comment!

  10. Hi Dani,
    I have travelled many times to Cambodia since 2010 and the most recent was in 2019. I decided, after my last visit there in 2019 and after experiencing another recent traumatic unsuccessful search for my husband in Cambodia; I would never go back to Cambodia for whatever reason.
    Initially, I thought Cambodia would be a good place for Mark and myself to restart a new life together after I was denied entry to UK to be with him. But, alas, it was not to be – it ended with our separation, a painful and traumatic experience which caused me to return to Cambodia many times to seek him since I missed him very much and still do.
    Anyway, this just part of the story which I never expect it to happen in such a place that I used to be quite fond of since my first encounter with Cambodia in 1996.
    At that time, I did not know that Cambodia would later caused me to endure so much emotional pain….I may want to blog about it if I can start a website of my own. Any advice would be appreciated.

      1. Thank you for your encouragement.
        I am not sure if it would turn out into a story that readers would enjoy reading.
        However, I think there is certainly a story to tell to the world. It seems like if I had known Cambodia is a cursed country, that also unfortunately happened to have had the most unpleasant effect on myself and Mark, as individuals as well as on us as a couple with many problems, I would never had suggested Cambodia as a destination for my
        reunion with Mark. Perhaps, I could start a blog of my own.

  11. Fact number 1. Cambodia has strict laws against child sexual abuse. Anyone caught committing such acts with an underage person will end up in a Cambodian prison for years. Not a nice place to be. The rule is, never break the laws of a country. BE GOOD !

    Fact number 2. The legal age of consent in Cambodia is 15 years of age. Younger than many other countries. So that if you see a much much older man holding hands with a teenage girl or boy, if that girl or boy is 15 or older and consenting, and they like each other, then it’s legal. Whether or not it looks right or wrong to us.

  12. Really amazing article! Thank you so much for putting into words what I have been seeing in Cambodia. The amount of comments from angry men is really scary.

    Keep up the great work writing about important topics!

    I have a question about Cambodia. How do you travel there ethically and make sure your money is going to good places? I’m traveling here now and I’m plagued at the thought that my money might be going towards businesses that exploit people/children. For example, I wanted to get a massage last week and walked into a spa. I saw very young girls and immediately had a fight or flight reaction of the place and left. I went to a different spa and got a massage but I couldn’t help thinking that you never really know what you’re supporting. I don’t even know how to donate to charities here because I’m paranoid that everything is sketchy underneath the surface. Is it better to avoid traveling here altogether?

    1. Thanks so much! I agree about the comments from men – to be honest, I find that they confirm my findings.

      Great questions, and unfortunately not ones that I feel I can fully answer. Regarding massages and exploitation, do you mean of the sexual kind? If so, I found that in Asia, you can USUALLY tell when you’re in a ‘dodgy’ kind of place. For example, I went for a foot massage once in Phuket and after I sat down noticed that all the women working there had had a LOT of plastic surgery and were wearing extremely revealing outfits. It wasn’t long before I noticed all the old men coming and going from rooms upstairs, and I twigged what was going on. For the most part though, if the staff are wearing regular uniforms and the place doesn’t give you a shady vibe, I’d say you’re okay.

      If you’re talking about labour exploitation, it’s tough. Cambodia is a different beast when it comes to children working, and the bar I worked in had a 12 year old girl who was the main cook. She would literally come home from school and go straight to the kitchen to work. The only massage place on the island was staffed by young (15, 16?) boys who told me they get one day off every month, and work for over 12 hours per day.

      I don’t think that we shouldn’t travel to Cambodia, because although it has its problems, it has SO much to offer, and boosting the economy is never a bad thing.

      Cambodia just needs more of the ‘right’ type of traveller (like you) and less of the wrong type (the men who travel there to exploit).

  13. Hey, I’m currently working travelling round Asia and trying to decide whether or not to visit Cambodia. Your article was helpful in this, even though I’m still undecided! but can I kindly ask you to remove the ‘fat balding’ bit from the post and just keep that bit as discussing the elephant in the room?

    Full disclosure, I am a fat bald bloke and I really don’t enjoy being sterotyped as a sex tourist, worst still, as a paedophile. I know these sterotypes exist and I can’t do much about that but I can ask people like you, who have a widely read blog, not to perpetuate them.

    I’m fully in favour of you discussing this issue as it is very clearly an awful state of affairs in Cambodia but there’s no need to perpetuate a hurtful stereotype in doing so, particularly when you have a picture of an actual paedophile holding hands with a child 🤢 who doesn’t fit that stereotype at all. Gay people are often unfairly stereotyped as pedophiles too but presumably you wouldn’t write ‘let’s discuss the big gay elephant in the room’ because that would be an awful thing to say. I hope you can see the point I’m making and will remove that line. Thanks for the helpful content.

    1. I said “niggles,” not “nigglets.”

      Please make sure you have read something properly before accusing somebody of being racist. In case you don’t know the term “niggle,” here’s the dictionary definition: to cause slight but persistent annoyance, discomfort, or anxiety.

  14. I’ve been living on and off in Cambodia since 2011, I find it one of the easiest places in the world to live. There is no awful state of affairs in Cambodia, the place is on the way up. Most of the problems you mentioned have been solved or are in the process of being solved. If you want to live in all the wrong places it’s up to you, but Phnom Penh is one of the finest cities in the world. I hope people don’t put too much faith in your anglocentric rubbish.

  15. Pingback: Living in Cambodia – Living Total World

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