Phnom Penh

An apartment block in Phnom Penh's Riverside neighborhood.

Phnom Penh is the preferred spot for most of Cambodia’s expats.

Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s capital city, home to between 2 and 3 million Cambodians and the great majority of the country’s foreign expatriates. Some regard Phnom Penh as a charmless agglomeration of crumbling colonial buildings and towering architectural monstrosities, but to the expats who call it home it’s a vibrant city steeped in history and full of excitement.
Because it’s a big, busy metropolis, Phnom Penh offers an easy life for expats unwilling to give up the conveniences of home. Dozens of coffee shops have popped up in recent months, there are better grocery stores than you’ll find in many other Southeast Asian cities, and there are even two brand new big-screen, air-conditioned movie theaters showing Hollywood blockbusters.

The infrastructure in Phnom Penh is also quite good. The water is pretty much drinkable (although no one risks it), power cuts are rare compared to places like Sihanoukville, and high-speed internet is available.

Perhaps most enticing are the many job opportunities in Phnom Penh, due to the presence of several hundred NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and even more English schools. Salaries are also higher in Phnom Penh than elsewhere in the country.

In addition, the city is home to dozens of expat-oriented bars and pubs, including many, many girly bars, a couple of nightclubs, and even a rock-n-roll bar. Phnom Penh is the only city in Cambodia with any real nightlife to speak of, so if this is important to you, you’ll either have to move here or do a lot of weekend commuting.

If you’re thinking of moving to the big smoke, check out our Phnom Penh neighborhoods guide.

Last updated: September 30, 2012