Starting a new life in Cambodia as an expat can be a fantastic journey with all kinds of fun to be had. In the initial arrival period you will likely spend most of your time getting used to the culture, acclimatising to the weather and finding a nice place to call home.
Once you have the basic amenities and creature comforts of your new life set up then you’ll face the fun challenge of deciding just what to do now that you’re here. When it comes to socialising, making friends, exploring and staying healthy the following activities are highly recommended…
1. Join a Club, Chamber, Group or Association
Whether you are retired, employed or run your own business, you’ll find yourself welcomed by any of the numerous official Chambers supported by foreign embassies including AusCham (Australia), BritCham (Britain), AmCham (America), EuroCham (the EU) and many more. They’re not expensive to join and great for networking with regular events that feature food, drinks and guest speakers sharing their expertise about different areas of Cambodia.
If you’d prefer a multi-national option, check out events held by InterNations who are an expat focused organisation. There are also plenty of groups, clubs and associations dedicated to specific interests, ranging from IT to Photography, that have considerable followings by both expats and locals.
2. Pick a Sport
If sports is more your thing, then Cambodia has an excellent range of activities you can partake in. There is an official Aussie Rules team, the Cambodian Eagles, as well as a Rugby team open to expats, while football fans can join the crowds of local spectators at Phnom Penh’s multiple football stadiums for matches of the steadily improving Cambodian League or even the Cambodian National Team as they take on international rivals.
Amateur leagues have also been set up for volleyball, futsal, dodgeball, basketball and baseball that are open to all nationalities.
For more elite sporting activities there are a selection of options available at various country clubs and sports clubs such as horse riding, tennis coaching and competitive swimming. Golf is by far the most loved sport of local businessmen, government officials and wealthier expats and tourists with Phnom Penh and Siem Reap boasting 10 golf courses including one designed by Jack Nicklaus and another by Nick Faldo.
3. Visit Angkor Wat
The dream of every Cambodian is to visit Angkor Wat at least once in their lives so there’s no excuse why an expat in Cambodia shouldn’t visit this amazing group of temples. As the largest temple complex monument in the world it is a spectacular site to see and some people literally spend years exploring the many different temples such is the sheer size of the area.
A three-day ticket giving you access to 72 temples costs a mere $83 for foreign nationals, a pretty reasonable deal. The top temples to visit are Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Prohm, Ta Som and Preah Khan. There is genuinely nothing else on the planet that comes close to rivalling the temples of Angkor. It is an experience that is not to be missed!
4. Head to the Beach
There is no point becoming an expat in Cambodia if you are going to spend all the time stuck in the city so make sure you take a break every now and then and head to the country’s southern coast.
The beaches at Sihanoukville, Kep and Koh Kong offer a great variety of options, whether you prefer a family outing, a more relaxed chill-out session or just want to sip a cocktail, get a foot massage and eat some tasty barbecued squid.
5. Enjoy all of Cambodia’s 28 Public Holidays
Cambodia has 28 official public holidays a year—more than any other country in the world—and whether you are retired or working you should embrace the national preference to hold a celebration for almost any reason.
The biggest holidays are Khmer New Year in mid-April, Pchum Ben in September and the Water Festival in November. These are great opportunities for expats to take part and experience Khmer cultural ceremonies and the accompanying parties held by your Cambodian friends and neighbours.
6. Take Good Care of Yourself
Expat life in Cambodia can lead to some people over-indulging in the nearly unlimited and extremely affordable fine dining as well as fantastically priced international wines, spirits and beers—not to mention the supermarket shelves filled with imported chocolate and ice cream.
Fortunately, there are plenty of inexpensive options to keep yourself fit and healthy, including fully outfitted gyms, swimming pools, yoga courses, massage therapists, saunas and steam rooms.
Some gyms offer all these options under one roof with monthly membership fees of under $100 for full access while those without swimming pools can cost less than $50 a month.
7. Learn to Meditate
If city life starts to become a little stressful then take a trip to the Wat Langka Temple on Sihanouk Boulevard to learn how to meditate your anxieties away. One hour sessions of Vipassana meditation are provided for free to people of all nationalities at Wat Langka starting at 6pm every Monday, Thursday and Saturday night with a further 8am session taking place on Sundays.
It’s a superb way to clear your head, relax your body and focus your mind while taking part in the local Buddhist way of life.
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