Newbie Looking for Advice Moving to Cambodia

Hi all,

I'm planning to move to Cambodia soon, next week earliest. This is the first time I'm doing something like relocation, and I'm on my own, so feeling a little nervous (yet excited of course).

I've done some research and feel like it shouldn't be too difficult to settle there. At the same time, I feel that there are some important questions I need to ask, so here they are:

1. I'm planning to get a business visa that lasts for one year. I heard you need to do a visa run for a day before you can extend it for a year. Is that true?

2. How easy is it to use ATM etc there? I was in Philippines once and my ATM debit card (with Cirrus mark) couldn't work on all the machines. Finally managed to get my credit card to work on one bank's ATM, otherwise I'll be flat broke. And that was a holiday, so this time round I really want to make sure I have access to my money in Singapore, otherwise I don't know how to survive. Can't possibly carry all my savings with me to Cambodia right?

3. Can I get by with English? I'm guessing I can, since there're so many expats there, but just need to check. Coz' obviously I know nothing about Khmer.

4. Is it hard to get accommodation? I know in some countries you need to put down a large sum of deposit, so I'm concerned.

5. Any suggestions on where best to settle down? Seems like Phnom Penh is a popular place for foreigners, but I'd like to know the alternatives, just in case. Will likely settle in the town where the airport is, I guess.

(Actually I still have plenty of questions in my mind, but I'm going to stop myself from asking all of them, because somehow I feel that 'just enough info' is best for a spontaneous move like this.)

Thanks in advance for your help, and hope to see you in Cambodia soon:)

You don't have to do a visa run on a business visa but you may need to show proof that you will be here on business on arrival to purchase the visa.
I have had no trouble with ATMs and mine are all Australian. There are many banks so if it doesn't work at one you can always try another.
I speak minimal Khmer and I get by fine, you'll want to learn some basics though.
My experience wiTh deposits has been 2/3 months but I believe they are bigger depending on the size of your accommodation.
Phnom penh is the biggest city so I would advise there, you can always travel to smaller places on the weekend :)


Thanks a lot for your reply, that helps a lot.:)

I am a little worried about the 'proof' that I will be on business in Cambodia though. I am a web designer who intend to stay in Cambodia first, then see if I can find any opportunities - maybe even start a one person firm if I like it there, since the costs are so low - meanwhile taking up assignments online.

Hope they won't ask me much, else my plan will be spoiled.:(

Thanks in any case for your reply, it always helps to have direct advice from an insider. Cheers!

u can apply for tourist , find a job  or start a business or  something of the sort ,cross the border to vietnam or thailand , ask for the business visa( 23 $)then get it extended (280 for one year ) . simple as that.


Thanks a lot for the reply, Aaliyah. (I'm guessing that's your name?)

So you are saying I should get a tourist visa first to enter PP, then find a job/start a business and get the relevant documents, so that I can apply for a business visa with these docs?

You also said to cross the border to vietnam or thailand - meaning I should do like a visa run, then come back to apply for a business visa with the above mentioned docs? When can I get an extension after that? Can I do it immediately?

Also, I was doing a search on business related topics here and found that you are a sole proprietor in Cambodia - after paying $250, 3 passport photos, and a copy of the residential contract. That's all? So I don't actually have to rent an office on top of my housing? And with that, I can apply for a business visa? Then that sounds like a good option to me.

Pardon me for all those questions - like I said, it's my first time and I'd like to gather more facts. In fact, without samwa and you, I'd likely be at a loss at the airport after being rejected by the authorities wrt the business visa.:(

my name is Alina

what i say is that u can tick EI visa,on that form which they give you at the immigration port,when u enter cambodia, then when ure all checked in at the hotel u go straight to Lucky Lucky motors on Monivong boulevard and get your business visa extended. all you need is the passport and 280 $ to get the visa for one year .u don't need other papers or documents

OR if you are not confident that it will work out well enough for you you can just tick the Tourist box on the fill in form at the  immigration port, then after you got your plan all put together u must reenter cambodia, tick the EI box  in the fill in form, then get that  EI extended .

yes it costs 250  at the ministry of commerce , plus 3 passport size pictures, a copy of your visa +passport and copy of your lease contract . i advise you to make sure your rental contract is legal just to avoid  crap which these people here are doing  on a regular basis .
no you dont need another office, u can register your business /office to be the same with the place you live at .
on top of that 250  you will be asked to pay at the tax  department an amount around 750, i recommend u do all this in january . so actually u will need around 1000 to get your documents in order plus 280 for the business visa extension .

Nah its oki good to ask, how else would you know all these things?..

about the rent , you will need generally 2 months deposit plus one month  for the upcoming month . theres an empty apartment here in the building where i live N they made the legal contract with me ,( i tell u from experience , make sure u get that only.. )that apartment costs 200$ plus electricity and water per meter  ...its a new building and i'm pretty sure its still available,at least a week ago it was ... if u want i can ask them for you

let me know if u need more help


Hi Alina,

Thank you, you've been most helpful.:)

In that case I will take my chance. At the very worst I'll take the visitor visa if they refuse me the business (El) visa.

Wow with the tax and stuff setting up a sole business suddenly got so expensive...hopefully I will get the business visa and stay here for a while first, before making my decision. Don't wanna incur so much costs before I even start earning.

As for the rent, excellent! Please do help me ask about the rent. $200 seems fine. Is the place quiet? I'm assuming u do like it there, right?

Do update me again then Alina, gracias. :)


well, its okay. it serves the purpose N i'm ok with it .. its not quiet , that i can say , its right at the side of a super big street N its noisy all the time because of all the  cars and trucks and motos ... some people are bothered . i'm ok with it .i like it because its super spacious and they made a legal lease agreement with me , i nearly lost my money with the other contract , 750 $ N it wasn't a pretty feeling .
yeah sure i will ask weather its still available or not

I see. That's what I was considering too - having a legalized contract beats having to search the whole town & end up having an illegal contract. (Not that I can tell the difference.)

Guess I've hafta see for myself how noisy it is then. Awaiting your update then, Alina, thanks.:)

the difference is when  u wanna CHANGE YOUR OFFICE ,  YOU MUST HAVE A LEGAL BASE  JUST IN CASE U HAVE PROBLEMS WITH THE OWNERS OF THE APARTMENT .. if they  refuse to return the  deposit money or other things u know who to turn to  to make it be in your favor ,it is legal when it has a third party as witness to  the contract and has the approval from the city hall, the  sanghkat of the district ..

I see. How long will that take, roughly? Do I have to find a third witness myself, or will the landlord find one for us? I will arrive at PP tomorrow, and will move in a hotel first. If I get a rough idea of how long it takes for me to confirm accommodation, I can make further arrangements with the hotel.

Btw how's the room upstairs? Is it still available?

the room is downstairs .. at the 1st floor , its an apartment with 2 rooms, 2 bathrooms , kitchen and living room .. not a single room
here's the telephone number of the  house : 010 720222 , its on street 271, house number 349, its quite a big villa, if that one is not available they have other apartments too, u gotto ask them

and here's the number of the real estate Agent  who found this apartment for me : Sprun Sophea,01225 4492,0116181 10, maybe he has others  even better to show you .
and he can be the 3rd person as witness too

if u don't have a cambodian number , take a tuk tuk  to Monivong, VIETNAM sUPERMARKET   and  there u can  find Metfone , they can give u a sim card with your passport .. just in case  .

Thank you so much Alisa.:)

Once I get settled down I really should buy you a meal or a drink to thank you for all the help. Till then, best regards.

you're welcome .
No need for that .

All the best

Hi all,

For the record, I'm here at Phnom Penh already, and pretty much settled down.

Getting a business visa was a breeze, they didn't ask anything at the airport.

As for ATMs, I've tried quite a few of them to no success, until finally SBC worked for me. I'd think ANZ will work, but it didn't.

And I survived in Cambodia until now without speaking a single word of Khmer, so language is not a barrier here. Just be polite and smile and say Hi and Thank You and everything will be cool. 

Accommodation is generally easy to find, there're plenty of houses out there waiting to be rented to foreigners. I found a good one with the help of the agent recommended by Alisa (thanks again, Alisa). Business registration is easy too, although they've marked up the admin fee to 300.

And I guess that's all. :) Thank you samwa and Alisa for your replies, and if you need any help or advice on anything, feel free to PM me. Cheers.

:) glad to hear everything is ok. if u want khmer classes i recommend KSL(Khmer School of Language ), its right at the russian market , street 460 ( i think ) the LAST  house on the left , i'm studying with SODA, ( thats her name ) shes nice and calm ,but they have many other teacher too and they have manuals, pretty good ones actually and the fee is  100$ per month for  1 hour per day M-Friday plus registration 40 $ .

Sure will think about it, thanks.:)

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