Dealing with homesickness in Cambodia

Hello everyone,

Being an expat in Cambodia can turn out to be a wonderful human, social or professional adventure... with potential moments of nostalgia and homesickness along the way.

What are your personal tips to prevent homesickness?

How do you deal with such feelings?

Are there shops or stores offering products from your home country in Cambodia? Or maybe venues with music and ambiance from your homeland?

Thanks for sharing your experience,


Priscilla, it is the fact that you open up a new thread that makes me reply.

I have no feelings of homesickness, so I cannot tell from my own experience.
I am about 10 years away from my home country, the fact that I have no family left, no kids, makes it maybe easier to live a new life far away. I have not been back to my country and I do not plan so.

Maybe some thoughts to assist. Be well prepared before you leave your home country. I mean don't take your backpack and go on a 3 months holiday, then decide to stay in a certain country. That way you are not prepared to change your life and it will backfire on you. You did not tell your family and friends that you're not on a holiday, but on a way to a new life.

If you plan to move and do that with considering pros and cons, tell everyone you will leave, decide what you want to take with you, get phone numbers and addresses of important people, have a good insurance, enough money, cards, then you are prepared and won't have any home sickness feelings in the first months. Read about your new country, the culture, habits, way to behave.

To get things like you can get them at home, there are several (and sufficient) shops (including on-line shops) that sell imported products, be it Italian, French, German, English, Russian products.
On top in every area (even here in Sihanoukville) are expats that are still performing their skills, like butchers, bakers and so on. Speaking for myself, I can buy the bread I prefer, any kind of meat and sausages, Norwegian salmon, French and Italian wine, just to name a few.

Then there are the restaurants, Greek, Mediterranean, Russian, Korean, Mexican, Japanese Sushi, to breathe the atmosphere of something you might have been missing. On top get used to the Khmer food, it's good food and soon you will go for a Amok or fried Kampot pepper, lovely dishes to name just two.

So all in one get prepared before you leave, adapt to the country you came in to live, stay connected with home and explore the foreign products that you can buy. Good luck to everyone.

I would say...go home.

Homesick? What is that?

Oh I think homesick is normal for most people , just remember your in Southeast Asia , and the rest of your friends and family would like to be, I get that way from time to time , but try to remember I'm in Cambodia and it's a beautiful country with beautiful people , and it will pass , so enjoy it. , and I consider this a normal reaction , have fun and , you will get over it , Tha ts just my opinion ,

Grew up in Africa and spent the last 30 years as an expatriate. Home is where I hang my hat:-)

Hannostamm, I hope to get where your at with my thought process , I believe this is the way to think , I've been divorced just over a year and trying to work on just what you said , " where I hang my hat is home " I envy you and that's really the best way to think !!!  I was stuck in a house with my wife for 16 years same town , same house , I never want to own property again , freedom I turn 60 next month , so I'm going to try to live and have fun everyday , you are right where I want to be !

Twinsguy, if I may give you one advice: don't look back. Today is the first day of the rest of your life and if you look forward you will smile. You have, if I understood well, two lovely daughters that will stay in touch with you, you have now the freedom to move if you like, to stay if you like, to rent the house you like. You can do what you want, go out or stay home, eat out or cook yourself. You are FREE!

Consider the coming part of your life as the third part, I did the same at 58. First part is youth, childhood until kind of adult life. Second part is working life, having a job career and do thee best you can, married life with all ups and downs.
Third part is the best part. You can relax, no job stress anymore, you have a lot of knowledge and done all stupid things you can do. You now can enjoy life with no "musts", no stress, no traffic jams.
On the partner field you can explore (and Cambodia is great to explore as the women are fabulous), you don't have to do anything than to take care of yourself. Welcome to the third part of your life, welcome to the club of life-treasurers, you will enjoy life more than ever. But don't look back, it's not the way you're going.

Good luck!

Like a lot of expats who have kindly posted here, a lot of it is probably down to having something to miss in another place.

If you have good family, lots of friends etc back at home, you might miss that and be drawn back. If on the other hand, your family sucks, you don't have so many friends or much going on back home of interest, it's likely you won't miss it much. Or at all.

Depending on how many / much family or friends you have - it always made more sense for them to visit you in paradise, than it did for you to go back to the same old same old.

If you are a newbie expat, the cultural differences can really blow your mind. You may have lived in the same country all your life, and accepted that things are just 'done that way'. Then you discover, they really aren't. Some of the things we do back home, are just plain stupid and pointless.

This impacts your perceptions about the world - about yourself, since a lot of those habits / customs are part of who you are. I've seen people bail out at this point - some people are just not really cut out for major change / living overseas. Keeping in mind, some people are not even comfortable moving to the next town. So if you do find yourself falling to bits - then maybe going home, and rethinking might be good. Don't get all depressed, start hitting the cheap booze hard, and doing something stupid. Go home, reassess, and who knows you might be up for giving it another try later on.

If you are having a few pangs here and there, I would stick with it. The grass is always greener, wherever you are. Like, I might miss the occasional cold day, or some of the activities that aren't available in Camb. yet. Then I will remember all the rat race, all the bills. The a-hole police hassling you for no reason. Cameras everywhere, licenses for this licenses for that, can't do this, can't do that. Miserable uptight grumpy or aggressive people, 8 dollar cigs, 8 dollar beer. Not being comfortable to smile at a laughing child for fear of being called a pervert. The sarcasm, the jobsworths, the complete lack of service. Endless mindless cookery / property shows on TV. Waiting weeks for the internet / phone / etc guy to come and fix something. Lack of basic manners. Gangs of rude obnoxious children and teens. The drudgery. Grey streets, grey skies, grey everything.

No smiling, happy, respectful people. No seas of beautiful women everywhere you look. Despite questionmarks about police and potential healthcare - I feel safer here than I have anywhere else in the world. The irony.

I remember all these things, get cold chills thinking about going back to all that crap. Then I take a leisurely stroll along riverside in the sunset, and think about all those poor devils back home struggling desperately to pay their credit card bills.

Change is always hard. But nothing worthwhile ever came easy. Stick with it as best you can - besides, even if one place is not working out for you, there's lots of other places in the world.

As usual joe your right , it's exactly right on the money , I'm just deciding finally free , and your exactly same age this really happened to me , and I'm going to look forward , as always appreciate, your advice , used your train , route advice spent just a overnight , pp-shik was fun 1950s car stayed  in really nice place on the beach , fist time in skkv I plan on coming back , spending week at least , train was cool!  Yea not meeting too many beautiful woman , also not big drinker , so not into bar scene , thought your city looked nice!

Ben , you said it best right there, that's it !

Good attitude Twinsguy, you won't suffer from homesickness.

Next time you plan to come to SHV pm me, then I can give you good advice on where to stay, where to eat, where to go out.

You didn't see too many beauties? Must have been that I was out during the weekend and then they stroll around the places I am (brag, brag).

Bar scene is not only for drinkers, I don't drink at all but go there regularly but not too often.

Anyway, I agree that SHV is a nice town, the beaches are great, the atmosphere is relaxed, as it should be at a seaside resort.

See you soon here!

Thanks Joe I will , yea one thing is the ladies here are beautiful , you must have had them all with you Saturday , I missed them , yes jo I too don't drink , I might sit at a bar on riverside and have a Pepsi , so yea next time I would like to meet up , you certainly give sound reasonable advice , see you next trip !

   As for me i really dont get homesickness because i've been away many times with my family for job... Sometimes during weekends nothing else to do just relaxing at home i start missing my family.


Hi Priscilla,   To overcome the problem of homesickness in Cambodia. We were in the Capital City of Pnom Penh.  What we did mainly while we were in Cambodia was to arrange and go on long as well as short journey trips. Once we arranged a 3 day trip to Siam Reep, and went to see the historic places in Angkor Wat etc. Quite a nice and enjoyable trip.  Then we arranged another trip to the beautiful sea side capital of Sihanoukville. Then another one to see some hot-water springs, at Te Teuk in Kampong District, about 50 km away from Pnom Penh.
Apart from this, there are quite a number of some night clubs and pubs owned mainly by foreigners, in and around the city. So, enjoy. Why worry about homesickness?

Nicely put!

Thanks for your post.  I have a son and his family that will be moving to  Sihanoukville in February.  He will go with another family and for a time they will live together.  The goal is to start a business (most likely a restaurant) and hopefully, in time, hire women who had been exploited in the sex trade business. difficult is it to start a restaurant in Sihanoukville?  From what I read there are many restaurants in your city.  It seems to me that a successful restaurant anywhere is a difficult way to go.

KyleWinter, you do not start a restaurant just like that, if you don't want to be disappointed. For any business that you want to start you need a business plan and a marketing plan.

You talk about Sihanoukville. Realize that it is very important to do your homework re what kind of restaurant, what people you want to cater for, where do you plan your restaurant, how much competition is there, and so on, and so on.

To give you useful info: Sihanoukville receives many tourists, but 80% of them are domestic, Khmer people that come to the sea during holidays, and they have a lot of holidays. The rest 20% is mainly Asian tourists, like Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, in order of numbers. Then there is a small portion of Western tourists and it seems it is not really growing.
There are a lot of restaurants catering to Western people, and they suffer as not enough people to cater to. Many give up and sell their restaurant.

So do your homework and decide what it is that you think you can earn money with.
Forget about the female staff coming from the sex trade, there is no problem with adult women in the sex industry, they all volunteer to do that work.

Just some thoughts, hope it makes you think.

exactly,  you can't look in the same river twice,  what you miss doesn't exist anymore

Joe, thanks for your very insightful reply. Well said. I am moving to Cambodia in April

KyleWinter :

Joe, thanks for your very insightful reply. Well said. I am moving to Cambodia in April

You're most welcome :)

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