Reading habits in Cambodia

Hello everyone,

Books can be your greatest companions whether you have already settled in Cambodia or are now planning your move. Are you an avid or occasional reader? We would like to know more about your reading habits.

What type of reading do you enjoy? Do you read novels, comics, magazines, newspapers, etc.?

Where do you purchase or borrow books in Cambodia (bookstores, online, library subscription, etc.)? Do you prefer digital reading?

Do you have an average budget devoted to reading in Cambodia? Do you buy books or pay a library membership fee?  Do you spend more or less than in your country of origin?

In what languages can you find the books that you usually read?

What books or magazines would generally be found on your bedside table?

Thanks for participating,


I find that reading in Asia in general is nearly impossible.

I have been here nine years and the constant cacophony of construction, music played to loudly and children wailing makes reading or concentration in general difficult at best. Cambodians do not appreciate quiet and have no legal means of controlling annoying noise. So the racked is never ending. Between 2am when most bars are closing, and about 7am when construction starts up again there is some peace. Unless there is a three day wedding on your block. Then the noise is unendurable. I usually change hotels for a few days... So I have not read in ALL of Asia in nine years.

I bought a Science Fiction paperback in Siem Reap recently and promised myself to get to a place where I could read. So far that has not happened. And I have a degree in English Literature and Philosophy! I love to read.

I am currently in Vietnam on holiday. I could have been reading on the beach like I would do in most American towns but the noise is unbearable. Still I hope for a chance to read again, but I only read on the laptop and listen with ear buds. Sad.

Thanks for asking the question, Bhavna. I look forward to reading the replies.

I'm an avid reader of many genres but all my books now are on my kindle. I tend to read different books almost in repeatable fashion. I enjoy ancient history, hard science fiction, fantasy, non fiction and historic novels. Since I am an ex archeologist, I've loved reading books about prehistory and history. But all the books now reside on the kindle. I travel all over southeast asia and am now in Vientiane for another few days. I will get back to Phnom Penh for a few weeks and then go to Saigon and Can Tho to see friends there. Reading is my escape and my focus. The kindle makes it so easy to carry the books. I would say I read about an hour a day if not more and mostly in the evening in my hotel or airbnb room. I often take the kindle to a coffee shop. There are very nice coffee shops here in Vientiane and I will order some iced coffee and read for awhile. I would not really want to buy real books any longer. Its just so much easier with the kindle paperwhite.

Hello Bhavna.

I'm not much of a reader, but here my reading habits.

I read on line newspapers, 2 Cambodian and 1 Thai.

I receive quite a number of requested newsletters by email, covering several subjects, like health/natural remedies, environment, cancer treatments and so on.

The only paper books I have are not for reading, they are for determining species that I photographed in nature, be it birds, insects, reptiles, mammals.

That's it, I read a lot on the net, if I want to know more about something I just google it and read.

Have a nice day Bhavna.


I also read very little travelling now. With the family in PP, it's on-line; and as a political "Junkie" I do find there's so much stuff, including TED lectures, and my subs to the FT; Guardian, New York Times. (Oh and the dreaded Social network...!) However, when at "Home" in the UK - about 45/55% of my life with other family there, I'm finding the benefits of a failing memory, is I can read again loved books from BI (before internet!) Currently "When we were Orphans" (Kazuo Ishiguro) next maybe? Slocum's "Sailing alone around the world" (I used to do a lot of small boat sailing) A very different world!
It is nice to handle physical books. William.

We have a Kindle account, most of our books are ordered online, a very easy and weightless solution when traveling.
We read mostly novels, occasionally the newspaper although they are naturally one-sided and don't really reflect what is going on in the country.
But we've been to the bookstore in Siem Reap to buy a couple of books about Cambodia's past history.
We don't have a budget for e-books, they are quite cheap to buy online anyway.
What we sometimes do is go to Footprint Cafe on 26 St to borrow some of their books, they have a big choice of books that can be exchanged, so that is really interesting.

All the best

We actually enjoyed Vientiane very much too.

The constant noise pollution is the reason we will not stay in Cambodia too long.
A shame really because we love Siem Reap and we love the Cambodian people. But their endless noise is indeed too tiring for Westerners used to limits to noise pollution.

Myriam, regarding noise, I do feel you have been unlucky. Our usual Guest House close to The Capitol (Orussey) PP, does have some occasionally, but mostly low level. Hammer drills at 0700 and any local funerals/weddings excepted! For any celebrations with my Khmer friends, decent earplugs are mandatory... :-)

I have no idea that many of you did not find peace and quiet to enjoy some reading... my case has been a positive one. While in Koh Kong I was able to relax and to unwind a bit and believe it or not was able to read 4 books in the 2 months I was there: Life of Pi. Good Omens (now a movie) I do recommend this one for its sarcasm, Raising Boy/ Raising Girls, and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, this not counting all of the research reading I have to do. Noted PP it's going through a transformation (building and construction) and it's bloody impossible to find a quiet place to do some reading unless you find a nice and quiet coffee shop.