changes in SHV, Chinese take over

Dear forum member, especially Joe Khmer,

On other forums there is a lot of rumors about the Chinese take over of Sihanoukville.
I find this forum a lot more serious than the other ones (regretful also a lot less posts and answers :( ), so I'd like your opinion on this.
Lots of expats seem to move to Kampot move to Kampot because of this.
My girlfriend and I have SHV as favorite, so a penny for your thoughts.

Hello James.

First: rumours are not more than that, rumours.
Example: MANY expats move to Kampot. Really?
If it is about 20 it's much. Kampot is a boring place where I never in my life would want to live. It has no beach, no shopping like SHV, no bars (if that's a point) and most of all, in 2020 they will have an oil refinery close by, with pipelines to a new Kep harbour.
It's clean, yes, it's quiet, yes, it's boring, yes!

Chinese take-over of SHV.
There has always been Chinese investment in SHV, I name only the SSEZ special economic zone, founded by Chinese. It harbours now more than 100 companies and gives jobs to more than 10,000 locals, it has its own language center and it's booming. Not only Chinese companies, also French, US, Malay.

The boom in Chinese investment is in the casino sector. As neighbouring countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Lao and a bit further China have no gambling possibilities, Cambodia has jumped on the gambling bandwagon and earns a whole lot of tax money from it. Can you blame them? I don't.

So this year and following years will see more casinos being built, and as they take their own staff with them (language factor) there will be a lot more Chinese workers live in SHV.
There have been given 42 permits for casinos, right now the number is at 25 I believe.
As those casinos and hotels take very good care of their staff, they rent a whole apartment building and all their staff is living in the same building, mostly close to their work address. Very good I would say.

There is a stretch of beach that was not good PR for SHV, garbage, rubbish, raw sewage going into the sea, every beach bar different.
A Chinese group has got the lease for 25 years for that stretch of beach. They torn down the old beach bars and will build a new designed beach front, probably equal units of the same construction.
The former bar owners are permitted to rent a place again, but it might be more expensive. That would take care of the ridiculous pricing of a pint of draft beer for 50 cents, they will be forced to charge normal prices, like a pint for $1, which is still very cheap. So the beach will be new and fresh, those that prefer the old style can still go to Otres 1 and 2, Sokha beach, Independence beach, Victory beach, so you see there is still a lot the same, Chinese don't take over, they invest and that can only be good for SHV.

If you look at the demographic of tourists you see that Westerners are a minority. Not only in SHV, I read a report from the manager of Sofitel in PP, stating that 75% of guests are Asian, and only 11% Westerners. That is also about the percentage of Western tourists in SHV. The overwhelming number of tourists remains Khmers, domestic tourists, about 75%. Followed by Chinese, with an increase of 50%. Westerners numbers don't grow, Asian numbers do, also Thais, Japanese and Malaysians come in larger numbers. So if restaurant owners catered to Westerners they lose now, as Chinese don't eat pizza (in general). Hotels, supermarkets are taken over by Chinese and some new building will arise. The builders are Khmer, even not enough local people so they attract workers from the provinces. The Chinese engineers have translators on site, to avoid language barriers. Well organized I say.

Question: do more Chinese cause problems? Not more than Westerners. Do I see Chinese people everywhere? Not at all. Why? Most of them come to gamble, there are now two direct flights from SHV to China and one to Malaysia, one to Vietnam, so gamblers come on a direct flight, stay in their hotel with annex casino and in the day they go to the beach, the beach that is closest (the new beach).

Concluding James, there is no reason for panic, it's not that bad, it's not bad at all. SHV is a booming city and foreign investment has always been here, Japan builds the second container harbour. Life here is not disturbed by Chinese investment. And think that the Khmers who sold their business or apartment buildings, earned a whole lot of money, as the Chinese are not cheap charlies.

James, come over and enjoy. I offer you to show you the different places where you can live the good life, I know them all, I enjoy the good life myself, I didn't go to the beach that is renewed now, there are better places (beach resorts) where I can sit under palm trees at a clean beach, sipping a watermelon juice or a nice glass of red wine. Life here is good James, come and share it.


Dear Joe, Thx again!

I like this forum a lot, mostly because of your and also Twinguy's great replies! It is a petty that this forum is less frequented than Khmer440 and CEO while this forum is much more usefull and serious.
Unfortunately it will take some time till I'll be settled in Cambodia, and for business I have to settle first in SR. But I would love to sit down  with a beer or cocktail and enjoy life when I will be in SHV!

James, thanks for your reply and compliments.

The quality of will attract new people, as people like you will recommend it.
Quality forums take more time, but at the end they are better off.

While you settle in SR you could fly over to SHV (direct flight) and stay a weekend or a few days, just to sniff not only the sea wind but also the atmosphere in SHV. I will be glad to meet you and show you around, that would give you a better overall view than any tourist guide :) My fee is just one glass of red wine, sipped under palm trees on a clean beach with no hustlers. ;)

Take care James.


I agree with James I'm looking to invest in Cambodia and this forum is a great source of info I saw the posts about this topic on Facebook and was a little disheartened but once reading your post Joe a bit more assured. I am hoping to arrive mid to end of February and was looking potentially into resort development on one of the islands and I know how important it is too meet expats and locals so would be keen to meet up with u and I'll gladly pay your very reasonable wage. Hope I can get in touch closer to the time.
Many thanks

Cooldadeyo :

I agree with James I'm looking to invest in Cambodia and this forum is a great source of info I saw the posts about this topic on Facebook and was a little disheartened but once reading your post Joe a bit more assured. I am hoping to arrive mid to end of February and was looking potentially into resort development on one of the islands and I know how important it is too meet expats and locals so would be keen to meet up with u and I'll gladly pay your very reasonable wage. Hope I can get in touch closer to the time.
Many thanks

You're welcome, just let me know when you are there and I will share my knowledge of the local situation.

Knowledge is only valuable if you share it, I believe. :)




Ever heard of generalization? That's what you do.

Chinese companies have indeed rented whole apartment blocks, I wrote that already. It's good for them to have all their staff in one place. The Khmer owner of that block received and receives good money, enough to evict the old tenants on short term. I have helped a few friends finding a new place to live after they got a 2 or 3 week notice to leave. That is all true.

Also true is that because of more demand prices have risen, nothing new as that always happens.
After all is settled down prices will be lower again, history repeats itself.

Those that were evicted had a month rental term, no registered contract and thus no way to fight the eviction. I can tell you that where I live every tenant has a registered contract and cannot be evicted just like that. To your question, I live just outside town center, in a garden surrounded housing estate, I have a two-year contract, registered at the Municipality Office. My landlord also lives there and on my question he assured that nobody could buy the estate as he wants to stay there with his family (wife and 4 kids). On top our registered contracts protect us against sudden eviction.

There are a lot of apartment buildings built right now, since a year, and that will provide more living space for future inhabitants of Sihanoukville.

Chinese did or do not take over the city, they come to live and work here, they invest enormous amounts of money and will improve certain shortcomings, as sewage, garbage and road conditions.
The Chinese are the largest international group of tourists coming to Sihanoukville, logically things change to cater to them. The tiny group of Western tourists still have enough to go for if they want western food and so, but many caterers will have to choose: change to cater a new target group or close the business. That is the rule of economy, if the demographic of tourists changes, businesses have to change with them or face trouble. Nothing new here.

So again there is a growth in Chinese investors, working staff, specifically in the Casino area where the older and new casinos and hotels are concentrated, the rest of the city stays the same and apart from the stretch of beach near the casino area (that will be build up right now) there is a lot of beach left, unchanged, with the for me important resorts where one can enjoy life. Nothing changed there.

Not many expats have moved away, maybe 2 dozen all together, plenty of them staying and although some of them keep trashing the Chinese influence on a part of the city, they stay and will be happy ever after. :)

Be positive, flexible and tolerant, three ways to maintain (or improve) your inner balance and peace.




Of course we don't have to agree on everything, but I'm glad we agree on at least part of it.

Depending on the context of the registered contract it is impossible for a landlord to evict a tenant on short term, there is a mention of how long the notice has to be provided, in my case 3 months. All registered contracts can be taken to a lawyer or court and one can fight anything that is in breach of the contract.

Most people have a simple contract, for just a month or a few months, not registered, so those contracts are useless to fight against eviction. If you pay per month and rent per month, the notice period is 2 weeks, so indeed the landlord can tell you to move out in 2 weeks, and that is the reality of the people that experienced that. None of the expats I know that live in a let's say upscale housing has been evicted, probably because they had registered contracts that protected them, if the landlord would sell or rent to Chinese anyway.

Fact is that right now rental prices are doubled because the Khmer owners smell money and think they can just get double of what they got before. That is a temporary thing, a first reaction, as soon as the rental market is settled, they will not rent their apartments for these ridiculous prices and will have to go down to a normal level.

The local people have no damage of this all, they live in their own houses that won't be interested for Chinese companies. For them and for most expats everything stays the same.

Lots of Chinese casinos, hotels, staff, but concentrated on just a part of Sihanoukville, the part along Ocheuteal Beach and close to the Golden Lions. All the rest of the city stays as it is, so no worry at all.



Thanks Joe I'll be in touch

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