Phnom Penh Cambodia is a red light city

Submitted 1 year 6 months ago by AlexP.

Cambodia is a warm and welcoming country, and Cambodians strive to be good people who provide excellent service and leave a positive impression. However, Cambodia is a small country that, if experienced for an extended period of time, can rapidly become monotonous. After a few weeks, there is not much to see or do because it is relatively impoverished, and the rural parts are rather basic. Bangkok appears to have far more opulent structures and residents. Here's a quick rundown of what to expect in Phnom Penh:

The food is all delicious and appealing to the tongue. A wide variety of international delicacies are available, albeit at a premium price. Restaurants in French, German, and Japanese cuisine, for example. You want it, and they have it. Stay away from the street food though, that can make you sick. French influence on Cambodian cuisine include red curry with toasted baguette bread. The toasted baguette pieces are dipped in the curry and eaten. Red curry is also eaten with rice and rice vermicelli noodles.

The feel in Phnom Penh is completely neutral. In contrast to Bangkok, where many Western men are considered as a nuisance, a "Farang," and an alien body who is there to invade and destroy indigenous culture, you are simply one of the crowd in Phnom Penh. They have had the French and everyone else here. In the countryside, they presume that you are simply another Frenchman or whatever.

The accommodations are reasonably priced. A quality hotel room can be had for $16 - $30 a night on or And canteens are inexpensive, so you can eat cheaply if you like. Transportation is also reasonably priced; if you use PassApp (similar to Grab), you can get around most areas for $1 - $3 each trip.

Vietnam is cheaper in terms of price; in Cambodia, everything is imported because they only produce bananas, mangoes, and coconuts in limited quantities; they buy everything from Thailand, Vietnam, China, and Japan; the same $20 lasts longer in Thailand and even longer in Vietnam, where they have nuclear power plants and develop everything themselves.

In Phnom Penh, I would recommend Lux Riverside Hotel to someone on a moderate budget who is staying for a few days to a week. It is right in the middle of activity on the riverside. I tried numerous hotels in the area and this was the best. This hotel works because it's actually clean, has spacious rooms and decent complementary breakfast. If you are staying for two weeks or more, I would recommend brand-new luxury condominiums with a gym, pool, rooftop lounge, and washing machine located a little further away. Bali No. 3 is said to be quite good. You can rent a motorcycle for four dollars per day if you intend to use it for a month. So getting around shouldn't be a problem.

Other tourist destinations besides Phom Penh and Siem Reap include Sihanoukville in the southwest, which has several popular beaches, and Battambang in the northwest, both of which are popular stopover for backpackers, who make up a substantial number of visitors to Cambodia.

The majority of overseas visitors in 2018 were Chinese. Visitors are also drawn to the area surrounding Kampot and Kep, particularly the Bokor Hill Station. In the relatively calm period since the 1993 UNTAC elections, tourism has grown steadily year after year.

Quick note, cities in Cambodia may get shockingly hot during the day - I recall it being difficult to go out in the early afternoon in Battambang.

There are a large number of foreigners that live in Phnom Penh permanently, and there is a vibrant expat community because they permit International restaurants to hire foreign waiters and waitresses. Also, there used to be a lot of career opportunities for teachers in Phnom Penh. Pay ranges from $600 to $3000 based on qualifications. I've known individuals without degrees who found employment here, albeit at lesser salary.

Visas and extensions are simple. If you are above the age of 55, you can obtain a one-year visa for less than $300 per year, which can be renewed without leaving the country. Indefinitely and through a travel agent.

Other visas are available for people under the age of 55. You may get one for a month and then extend it indefinitely using various travel agents. See the preceding link. Once in Cambodia, the cost of living is quite inexpensive, even lower than in the Philippines and Thailand in some cities. I saw flats in Siem Reap that were incredibly cheap, like under $200 per month, but of good quality.

Expats in Cambodia are generally quite helpful. Bassac Lane is a stylish boutique bar area in Phnom Penh where you may meet affluent expats. On weekends, most embassies and NGO staff congregate there. Beer bar in Russian market is popular with middle-class foreigners and locals that mix. Duplex Belgian taverna (excellent for beers with expats and locals). Many Khmer barbecue places are also good.

Outside of Phnom Penh, there isn't much English, and it's usually limited to points of interaction with foreigners and is functional - basically, limited to the role those people play. French is no longer widely spoken; only 5% of the population is fluent in it. So you'll have to run about with Google Translate. There will be difficulty if there is no connectivity. As a result, as in many other places of Asia, some people will shun you because they believe you are illiterate in their language.

Cambodia's population is predominantly homogeneous. Chams (1.2%), Vietnamese (0.1%), and Chinese (0.1%) are among its minority populations. Racism is not a major issue, but the cultural divide is enormous, unless you choose to become a Khmer-speaking Buddhist. And some people do. Even so, it is a culture of nonattachment and neutrality.

The Khmers are Cambodia's largest ethnic group, accounting for over 90% of the total population and being indigenous to the lowland Mekong subregion in which they live. The Khmers have historically resided in a contiguous diagonal arc along the lower Mekong River, from where modern-day Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia meet in the northwest to the Mekong River's mouth in southeastern Vietnam.

The Vietnamese are Cambodia's second-largest ethnic minority, with an estimated 16,000 living in regions around the Mekong Delta in the country's southeast. Despite the fact that the Vietnamese language is a Mon-Khmer language, there are minimal cultural linkages between the two peoples because the early Khmers were influenced by the Indian cultural sphere, whilst the Vietnamese are influenced by the Chinese cultural sphere. Ethnic hostilities between Khmer and Vietnamese can be traced back to the Post-Angkor Period (from the 16th to the 19th century), when a fledgling Vietnam and Thailand attempted to vassalise a weakened post-Angkor Cambodia and effectively govern all of Indochina.

Chinese Cambodians make up about 0.1% of the population. The majority of Chinese are descended from 19th and 20th century immigrants who came to seek trade and commerce opportunities during the French protectorate. The majority live in cities and work mostly in trade.

Montagnards or Khmer Loeu, a word that means "Highland Khmer," are the indigenous ethnic communities of the mountains. They are descended from neolithic migrations of Mon-Khmer speakers through southern China and Austronesian speakers from southeastern Asia's insular islands. Because they were secluded in the highlands, the numerous Khmer Loeu communities were not Indianized like their Khmer counterparts, and as a result, they are culturally distinct from modern Khmers and frequently from one another, retaining many pre-Indian-contact habits and beliefs.

The Cham are descended from the Austronesian people of Champa, a former kingdom on the central and southern coasts of modern-day Vietnam and a former adversary of the Khmer Empire. The Cham in Cambodia number less than a million people and frequently live in distinct communities in the country's southeast. In Cambodia, almost all Cham are Muslims.

The red light area of Phnom Penh

In Phnom Penh, the most attractive ladies all work in bars. I saw many white foreign guys with Cambodian girls or women and was curious where they obtained them. Some foreign guys date here and say. "I have not had any problem", but they will usually date from a small stratum of English speaking Westernized Khmers and a small number of single moms. Dating is not much part of the culture in Cambodia; "you want to meet me, that means you want to marry me". Foreigners who date here are expected to marry soon, pay for the wedding, which can range from $3K to $30K, and are not allowed to marry unless they earn at least $2500 per month and can document it.

But you don't have to marry because the laws against foreigners marrying local women are strict, but that doesn't mean you can't be a couple. There are gay couples too.

Yesterday and today, in the bars that line the street in front of my hotel, I completed another round of evaluations. The bars are full of young women. Some of these girls are looking for clients to take them home to earn extra money, while others just want you to buy them beverages so they can earn a commission. A lot of bar girls have good attitudes and are playful and nice. Some of these girls have surprisingly attractive physiques.

However, it becomes tedious after a while, as it does with many other things. The bar girls may be rather obnoxious. You're hustled by 4-6 girls at once and feel horrible about dismissing them.

The major problem is that 98 percent of these women do not speak English or any other language, which is the case at all establishments. If you are young and attractive, you won't gain much by coming here. In other SEA countries, you can find regular girls fairly easy. I could picture this place being awesome if you were unattractive guy or a guy who doesn't get along with women.

If I had to live in Cambodia right now, I would select Sihanoukville for the beaches and work online. Then I go to neighboring nations to party and retain my sanity. I was scammed of $100 at an ATM. I wasn't paying attention, and the ATM was programmed to handle US currency by default. I thought I was choosing $130 in Cambodian currency, but I got $130 in US dollars. Evidently, the production of counterfeit $100 bills is widespread in this country.

These are my impressions after spending fours weeks here. When you are new of course, everything looks refreshing at first. Long term is another matter. Quick summary of Cambodia

Cheap cost of living
Hassle free visa for infinite stay
Very good internet in Phnom Penh
Decent food
Close proximity to other SEA capitals
Relatively safe

Dating scene sucks
Limited nightlife
Little in the way of attractions (Angkor is spectacular, but Sihanoukville is a cesspool of backpackers, pedophiles, meth-addicted hookers, trannies, and filthy beaches)
Provincial feel--not very cosmopolitan (you will get sick of living there after a year, trust me)
Some really creepy expats
Many products are of shabby quality