Negativism, where is Cambodia going?

Dear members,

I read all 3 mayor forums for expats in Cambodia and on the other 2 forums I feel so much negativism :(  about developments in Cambodia, so I would like to read your opinion.

Many (or at least some expats) seem to feel that the atmosphere towards western expats is changing. Of course there is the discussion about the Chinese takeover of SHV. That part answered Joe in this threat … =2#3953497

But some expats write that all over Cambodia changes are making the life of expats more difficult, like happened in Thailand, where it became more difficult to stay long term.

I have not been in Cambodia for a year now and hope to come this year, but have contact on a daily basis with a girl and I don't feel this negativism and hope that I am right.

Of course the country is developing and part of that is more regulations and registration and better tax implementation.

One of the mayor reasons (apart from the weather, food and nice people/girls) I want to move to Cambodia is the over regulating in our countries here in north west Europe. It became a society for politicians, bankers, insurance companies, lawyers and other white collar criminals getting rich and forcing the normal people to live between the very tight guideline and being watched, monitored and registrated as much as possible. I was an entrepreneur and I have been strangled by all these paperwork.
I agree there need to be rules, but for me Europe is not a place I want to live in anymore.

I know SE Asia will develop too, and likely pretty fast. And probably in 50 years the whole world might be as regulated as Europe is now (bad development!). But in the next decades I believe Cambodia can be a nice place to semi retire and do a little business and work a little remote for some European countries. With a lot of freedom.

I believe the Cambodian government is not happy with paperless/moneyless foreighners, drugusers, alcoholics, phedophiles and sextourists and will try to do something against that, for us, serious people?

So after this long story: Are the developments normal or is there a negative tendency towards expats and will it rapidly become hostile and more difficult towards us? I mean in s.e. visa regulations and in contact with local Khmer people.

Hi James.

You are correct that there should not be any negative feeling to live in Cambodia.

Those that feel more stringent regulation are the ones that used to work under the radar. It was so easy, you got a business extension and nobody asked questions or documents. So loads of illegal workers felt fine, they had no work permit, they did not pay taxes, they were free, another word for illegal. Now the government has tightened some rules and enforcement of rules. Now you need an employers letter to get a business extension of stay. Isn't that normal? You need to apply for a work permit. Isn't that normal? You have to pay taxes. Isn't that normal? Yes it's all normal.

Extensions of stay have been expanded with one for retirees with a simple rule: over 55 no need for documentation, under 55 proof of retirement and incoming money. That's it. Loud and clear.
For those seeking a job there is the EG extension for 6 months, no documents but if no job after 6 months you have to leave. There is an extension for students, there is a separate visa for official NGO workers.

And most of all: you don't even have to see an Immigration officer, you can do everything though agents, provided the agent has some knowledge.
Compare this to Thailand and you see how relaxed it is here. In Thailand you have to present yourself to DOI every 90 days, every year you have to get there with a pack of documents including a letter from your embassy, your bank, a plan how to drive from IO to your house. Horrible, enjoy the Cambodian hospitality, but stick to the rules. As long as you stick to the rules there is no problem whatsoever.

If you work when you are on a tourist visa, you are breaking the law, if you work without a work permit you are breaking the law, if you have no extension, no passport, you are breaking the law.
Can you blame the government for enforcing the law? Of course not.

Are there measures introduced to hinder or discriminate foreigners? Not at all. That police likes to stop foreigners [but always for a traffic violation like no helmet] is because foreigners can pay the $2 - $5 fine, whereas Cambodian people do not carry such money. It's not correct but it's not a government rule, it's personal action of police officers. You see the same in other countries, for sure in Thailand.

I feel positive in Cambodia, the country is growing, economy rising, tourism rising, ability to speak English is rising faster than Thailand, life is good in Cambodia.

Dear Joe, I agree with most of you, but not about blind applying the law.

Here in Europe, it just are the laws that are the problem. All these laws cause the immense overregulation. Laws are being made by politicians influanced by lobbygroups and consultants that benifit from this overregulation. The more laws, the more consulatnts, lawyers, bankers and advisors are needed!

I hope and trust that the development of the law will not go to fast in Cambodia. In Thailand the laws got more problematic with the development of the country.

You didn't mention the attitute of the local Khmer people. Is there any change towards the western expats?


With laws it's very simple: if there is a law you have to obey that law.

If you want to prevent too many laws you can do so by choosing the right lawmakers and government.
In a democracy the people choose their government and lawmakers. If that goes wrong the people can only blame themselves for electing the wrong politicians.

I'm not afraid of over-regulation in Cambodia, the country is still building up and only for 25 years it has been a free country.
Modern technology causes also the need for new laws. Example drones, can you fly a drone over someone's private land? No. But a law had to be made to regulate that. We will have flying cars and driver-less cars and you can bet on it that a few new laws have to be made. These technologies will stay away from Cambodia much longer so will also the laws to regulate them.

I must say I did not leave my home country because of too many laws, but because of the "Put him in a home" culture, and me having no family would have been a victim of that culture. My neighbour who lived in a small house with a garden where he grew vegetables, a chicken stall, was always busy working outside on the land, until he fell and broke his leg. He was cleaned up in hospital and after he could leave they put him in a home. I visited him once and he cried, saying Take me out of here, I die. True words, as he died three weeks later. A warning for me that I did not want to end up like that.

Arriving at the people of Cambodia. No, there is no opposition against foreigners. But we must be aware that there are foreigners that ruin our name, by dealing drugs, human trafficking, child abuse, and more. So let's hope that criminal foreigners stay where they are and not come to Cambodia, we can do without them.

Dear Joe.

This could be a extremely nice discussion. But this this probably not the place.
I am not against establishment and no socialist. On the contrary. I am a liberal and pro democracy. But here in Europe it just had grown to far. It is extremely hard to have small business!
But i am glad, as always, with your answers.

James, the real topic here is the question if there is a reason for negativism to live in Cambodia.

And we agree nicely that that is not the case. No reason to be negative in Cambodia.



I enjoy the discussion. Thanks James and Joe


What about a new topic « positivism » ?

I cannot understand a « negativism » one in Cambodia ! ;-)


I have been here three years in Phnom Penh, not once have I experienced negative reactions from even the police, as a matter of fact because you are a foreigner, the khmer have more of a interest in knowing you, and talking to you, in Phnom Penh I have never been hassled by the police, the store owners, the customs even at the airport,  I don’t like to make generalizations about any country, because there is always the exception, but spend a month in Thailand, then come to Cambodia, you will see a huge difference in how you are treated, and as jo says there are not to many laws , hell , just obey them, pretty simple,  Vietnam and Thailand, the beautiful,you really can’t compare to Cambodia, but either can you compare the people and the attitude that they have for you, but angor wat , is amazing, kho rong is wonderful, kep and kampot are also fantastic, so cambodia also has great spots , I’ve been around , I’m old , but Cambodian people to me are the kindest in all of Southeast Asia, JUST MY OPINION

HI James!
I completely understand your concerns about the overregulation in the Western countries  ( so called), as I am living in Australia now, an overregulated economy as well! I think that those  regulations will eventually kill those economies one day, but this is still a  bit far from us, and we wanna make our lives comfortable, right?
So, about the Cambodia ... I've been there recently, and what I figured out - there is some kind of euphoria about all those property developments and building in Sihanoukville ! Everyone thinks that Chinese will come and buy their lend for hundreds of thousand of US dollars! This is a property bubble, like every other in the past, and we just need to wait until that bubble burst! This is about the investment.
But we can still enjoy the lifestyle, good food and beer and nice weather, girls,marijuana smoking, but I would just wait and see investment wise.
The Hawk

I hope this bubble bursts because rent prices and availability are bad in SHV. I will move to SR first to set up a project, but mainly because of the lower temperatures and the beaches I would like to live in SHV, at least during the hot season.
I did find very nice small, rather new houses  with pool in SR for 300-500$. I could not find anything alike in SHV at this time on the internet.

I read an interesting treat about the chinese bubble on CEO. Some guy, who obvious did quite some research, stated that the Chinese government had a plan to crash the real estate market in SHV and so destroy a lot of bla ck money of Chinese criminal organisations. The plan to do so by opening a new gambling centre and casinos at Hainan Island so the investments in the casino's in SHV become worthless.


As a retiree I have been in Cambodia a couple of years.   My Australian wife of some 47 years is here with me.  We have been visiting Cambodia since the mid 90's and know a lot of people here so we came with our eyes wide open.
We have no reason to be negative as yet and we are not experiencing it at all.  We comply with the laws in every way and that makes us able to relax.   If I had a gripe its about not being able to drive after 70.  But that can be waived by making a submission with evidence of good health and drivers licences from other countries

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