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

There is one thing that is good for Chinese to invest in Sihanoukville. Now under the construction of their casinos, heavy transports are destroying roads and streets, but when they no longer need these transports, they need nice roads and streets that their customers can travel safely on. They also need clean water and good waste management, they need good electricity access and good internet, all of which they will build in Sihanoukville because it's important to them, and it's all citizens and tourists coming to get an automatic part. They are known to pay good wages, which reduce poverty, corruption is reduced if people have good income and other workers are forced to accompany. Before the Chinese came to invest heavily in Sihanoukville, there were many Russians who devoted themselves to the opposition, that is, crime. Personally, I think the Chinese are the best that have happened to both Sihanoukville and throughout Cambodia.

Totally agree.

Chinese built the Special Economic zone that gives jobs to 10,000 locals. Chinese built Hydropower dams, highways, the new highway from PP to SHV will be built by a Chinese company.

Yes, at the moment there is a lot of construction going on everywhere, needing sand trucks to drive all day and damage the roads. When the rain season starts it will get worse. But once it's finished new roads will be constructed in a more solid way so that they stay good for a long time.

SHV has already the power plants, just a matter of connecting the growing city to a new grid.

A new container terminal will be built by Japan, doubling the already growing container traffic. Most containers are shipped by train, other by trucks. With the new 4-lane highway that will be closed to motorbikes and tuktuks, traffic to and from PP will improve a lot.

All positive things.

SHV will be ok.



And with this, rents will go up a bit but it does not have to be bad, the owners are more likely to rust their apartments and those who only come to Sihanoukville to live cheap on drugs will eventually get fewer. When I stayed there last time I rented a furnished room for $ 60 / month, it was a good room with TV, free internet and security, but that time is enough past when the rents are so low. But it's good that there will be some change. Southeast Asia has never been the rich holiday destination, these travel to Florida, Bermuda or Hawaii. To Southeast Asia, those who have worked hard in their homelands will be able to pretend to be rich one month a year. These often become very disturbing and believe to own the world. But when the money is over, they have to return to their homelands to work hard for 11 months to get rich in one month again. But with the refurbishment of Sihanoukville, chances are that the rich choose Sihanoukville as their new holiday paradise, and more cash flows into the treasury and throughout Cambodia, it will eventually get better. I myself belong to the poor pensioners, but I accept changes and adjust my expenses so that I can still live in paradise. I do not require luxury, but rather a little convenience and clean, and I would not mind paying a little more to get rid of drug trafficking in Sihanoukville.

If people from west have thinking to invest in a company in Sihanoukville it is a good time now. Because when the Chinese is finish it will come a lot of people, not all will stay on the casino all time, they are also people who want see the city, and maybe sleep outside the casino hotels, and eat on a restaurant as variation. Still is it relatively cheap to start a business, or buy an already established, but it will change soon. Now it is probably the last chance to start a business in Sihanoukville into a human price. In addition, many expat who owns the companies fear that knocked out of the Chinese so they sell to wreck prices in order not to lose later. But it's very stupid, they should instead invest and build up the company, often the hotel, resorts and restaurants. They will soon flourish and they who selling of horror today will be the big losers.

Wow, invested now you got to be joking 5years ago yes. The Khmers have had a taste of Chinese money everything is over priced now you can't  blame them.
Sorry you missed the boat

As for Mr joe Khmer it seems to me he is the only one in SIHANUKVILLE with this view that everything is apple pie.
I must say he dose put a good case forward and I do  respect  his  opinion  but myself living in SIHANUKVILLE 20years off and on.

I can honestly say the place is finished with a very saden heart   The roof top Fishermans den bar at the Canada  bank junction behind the petrol station. Yes they were the days not concrete casinos and bull bulldozing any thing that is made out of bamboo. 
JOE will say it's progress and you can't live in the pass which I partly agree with but ripping down everything that's not concrete isn't my idea of progress it's old school thinking. We have to think green and for the future of our children are casinos the future were the profits never benfits the country personal I think it's a death sentence for sihaunkville and Cambodia.

I feel so so sad for the  ordinary hard working Khmers they have been  royally let down by  politicians !!!! Not sure if that's the correct term.!!!! If I used the correct term I would be throw off this site. And of course  foreign  Governments.
Getting back to the Chinese everything they do is in house they do not employ Khmers other than cleaning and cooking it's NO GOOD for the future of the country I love.

Working class Khmers need good teachers, schools, doctors, nurse, hospital  that's how you move a country forward not a concrete jungle of concrete casinos how on earth can this  benefit  the people . Who  honestly  Thinks  that the profit these casinos  generate   Filter  down to the  ordinary  Khmer.!!!!! Not me for one
Joe would say it's bringing money into the country ok great so we're are the schools, hospitals, collages,
being built with this money. NONE!!!!!! just more Bentley,  Porsche,  jaguar,    dealerships  In phomn  pehn nice cars but not at the expense of   education and health care.

Just the very few at the top are haveing there pockets lined with this blood money at the cost of the  entire  country and its future.
Haven't the Khmer people been thought  enough without having there land taken from them for a 100years then what happens in a 100 years time when the Chinese have complete taken over and the Khmer are
second class citizens in there own country.



Just reread my post #11 about new employment for locals, extension of container terminal [the second one just in use this week, Japan will build another one as deep sea harbor], the extension of rail shipping, a new motorway built by China.

Sihanoukville right now looks terrible, damaged roads because of sand trucks, hundreds a day, yes you are right. Don't you think the hundred of thousands Chinese that stay there every year want to have good roads? Of course, so the roads will be nice, the infrastructure will be improved, I'm quite sure that a hospital will be build.

Even agreeing on the fact that the casinos use Chinese workers because of language, they also need workers for other than customer-related jobs. Cooking, cleaning, bookkeeping, serving, transport. They use local workers for that. A female friend of mine works in such a casino, serving drinks. Working time 14.00 til midnight [10 hours]. She gets a basic salary of 350 usd plus about the same in tips. She never earned 700 usd before and is the happiest girl that I know. Chinese employers pay well.

It is a development stage. Sihanoukville started as a fisher harbor, then developed into a backpacker haven, which can never be sustainable. Tourists with larger budgets came, the middle class Khmers from PP came at every festivity or holiday, calling for the first wave of hotels and casinos built. Khmers cannot gamble officially, but well... China has a rapidly growing middle class and they travel, in case of Sihanoukville they also gamble. When I first came to Sihanoukville 3.5 years ago there were already Chinese charter planes, coming in for 4 days, full of Chinese gamblers. They were transported to a casino plus hotel and stayed there all the time. That is 3.5 years ago and everyone with a bit of ability to look into the future could imagine that it would expand, that more and more casinos and hotels would be build, that new restaurants would open to cater to Chinese customers, the largest group of international tourists. It was all supposed to happen.

Early last year some westerners were wondering why there were so many apartment buildings built in Sihanoukville, because "who will live there?" Well, you know now. Even people from the provinces work and live in Sihanoukville now, as there is much more demand for workers than there are local workers. That is the situation garytogary, and it's a sign of progress, of development. Sihanoukville will be a large town with also western hotel resorts as there are some planned already. It will not be a Chinese town, it will be a large international town with a significant Chinese part.



Yes right, but if you move to Sihanoukville today so you can not invest for 5 years ago. So if you move today so this is the last chance to get a company cheap. When the china people is finish it will bo impossible to get a cheap start of a company. I live today all time, not in the past, if I don't can invest today because it was cheaper for 100 years ago so I can never invest in anything, so it is very stupid to say that they who not invest for 5 years ago be losers today if they invest now.

I invest in Sihanoukville for 15 years ago and for 5 years ago I should say the same, but I am to smart for that, I don't want people be afraid to invest in anything because it was better before.

Only cowardly people who are not prepared to pride on what others consider impossible are losers.

It's a shame that you are against Cambodia's change, but this with the Chinese investment in Sihanoukvill can only lead to something good for the country, since it's going to be sick for you personally is a completely different thing, but you can move on, something most Khmer can not.

The stupid many small business owners always do is sell when it starts going badly, you give up too soon. But when things go badly you should take the opportunity to invest, (I know there are huge differences between a small company in Sihanoukville and below listed companies, but all of them have once been small.) The one who makes it is a winner and those who have done so previously created companies such as IKEA, Volvo, SAAB, SKF, Bofors etc. The list can be made long in companies with fearless owners who invest when there are bad times. The losers bet when there are good times and sell when there are bad times, it makes them lose twice up.

I buy a restaurant in Sihanoukville for 15 years ago, but I sold it because I move from Cambodia.

I M IN KAMPOT AND already ...out of it boring boring
I m coming to sianoukville tomorrow
I m with a project but need partner because travelling alot
My fone elisa ***

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The Chinese government is being exceptionally clever with their belt and road scheme. The basics go like this:

China identifies a country with needs

China offers massive infrastructure and other investment, that including getting chinese nationals to buy loads of property and run businesses in those countries

The country takes up the offer, finds itself in massive debt, then China has a lever to pull when it comes to political influence in the belt and road countries. If the country taking up the Chinese offer goes too far, the lever turns into short and curly hairs just waiting for a tug - and they don't have to wait long.

It's great for China as it spreads its political influence, produces regional allies (Whether they like it or not), and does nothing to hurt China's overpopulation issues.

I can't say I'm that keen on what the Chinese government is doing, but it's better than the bomb, kill, and invade policies other countries have been known to use.
As political discussion is usually bad news on this forum, I'll refrain from offering too much opinion, trying to stick to facts where possible.

Posters will have opinions regarding what China as a nation is doing, but I would encourage discussion on the upshot rather than the policy.
What is the upshot for your host country?

Hi folks,

Most would be aware of the “ virus” epidemic that’s going around and affecting tourism numbers in the region.    Since China has stopped most outbound Tour groups , how has that hit the town of Sihanoukville.?

For example, Nha Trang in Vietnam did attract 200,000 Chinese a month , but as of 24/1/20 those tour groups have stopped.    Already it’s VERY noticeable , massive staff layoffs in hotels , restaurants etc.   

Also the over development of high rise apartments , which mostly were empty BEFORE the Chinese stopped coming will now be ghost towers.

Who knows how long this  Virus will take to contain.

Regarding Sihanoukville,,recently some casino projects have halted , and some active casinos shutdown for various reasons,,but that was Before the vIrus outbreak.     How are things now ?   

I’ve read that 95% of local businesses are now either owned or operated by Chinese investors.   Will they be sticking around with skeleton staff until things clear up & what is the general feeling among long term expats regarding the situation.

I know it’s only early days,  but how long the economic “hit” could last is anyone’s guess.    When these places rely heavily on tourism , and those tourists are mostly Chinese ,  the cash flow dries up quickly.

From a local expats point of view , what do you see as a positive in this situation.  Obviously you’d think an oversupply of accommodation would result in more affordable rates , but will the service quality drop since most places are Chinese operated. 

Hope to hear some opinions.

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