About Rob Schneider

Rob Schneider is a writer based in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, where he has lived since 2006.

Trash and treasure in Sihanoukville

sokha-beach-sihanoukville-cambodia

I started this blog because I had a lot of positive things to say about Sihanoukville. I purposely did not write negative things, but that may have been a little misleading. Like anyplace else, there are positives and negatives about Sihanoukville. I went to my favourite beaches today and took photos of both the positives and negatives. This blog is about trash and treasure in Sihanoukville.

I’m not picking on Sihanoukville alone. When I went to a beach on Bali that didn’t have a trash pickup service, a stream was filled with plastic. You couldn’t even see the water there was so much of it. When the wind blew onshore in Kuta, trash washed up on the beach. They picked it up, but I think they just dumped it at sea again, so it washed in the next time the wind blew onshore.

sokha-beach-sihanoukville-cambodia

Sihanoukville is a place of contrasts. I tend to overlook the trash on the beach and focus on the islands and the trees on the headlands where I swim. It’s there, though, and can be hard to overlook. I went to Sokha Beach first. They groom the beach at the resort end and sometimes clean up the trash on the free end of the beach. It piles up quickly, though and they can’t really keep up with it. When you look out to sea, it’s beautiful, but if you focus on the ground, there is trash everywhere.

sokha-beach-trash

The same is true of Victory Beach. It’s worse there because there is no resort and no one picks up the trash on one side of the pier. There is a little cafe next to the pier on the other side and a more upmarket one next to that. They pick up the trash on that side of the beach, which is good. Like Sokha, when you take a long look out to sea, it’s beautiful. When you look more closely, you see a lot of trash.

victory-beach-sihanoukville-cambodia

Like I said, I can overlook the trash on the beaches, but I have a harder time overlooking the mega-developments that are happening along the coast. When the beach road was narrow, we used to “go looking” almost every evening. There were just a few motorbikes on the road and it was quite pleasant. Now there are trucks everywhere taking dirt and supplies to the big developments. I took this photograph of one of the developments. There used to be a big field there. Just next to it, cows still graze, but the development is an eyesore in my opinion.

victory-beach-trash-flowers

flowers and trash side-by-side at Victory Beach

 

I can overlook the trash, but the developments are getting to me. Sihanoukville used to have a village feel to it. It’s grown in 10 years and while we rarely saw cars even on Ekareach Street, there are almost as many cars as motorbikes on Ekareach Street now. Where there used to be little shops, many have been torn down and taller buildings are being built. There are so many casinos in town now, it’s ridiculous.

development-sihanoukville-cambodia

If it continues developing at this pace, the time may come when we have to move to someplace quieter. I’d like it to be near the coast because I love to swim, but we’ll see. Steung Hau still has cheap land and long, beautiful beaches. Granted, there aren’t any places that serve cappuccinos or western food there, but that’s a small price to pay for a quieter location. Kampot is another option. There are some beautiful beaches near Kampot and many of them are empty. It will be a longer ride to get to them, but that’s okay. It will be worth it to have an empty beach to swim at. Then again, we may adjust to the changes and stay in Sihanoukville. There is both trash and treasure in Sihanoukville. Time will tell if the trash overtakes the treasure.

cows-sihanoukville-cambodia

Cambodia getting tougher on visa extensions

I’ve been living in Cambodia for over 10 years. When I need a visa extension, I’ve just paid the money and automatically gotten a year’s visa. That’s about to change. Cambodia is getting tougher on visa extensions.

According to sources, you can get two types of visas. One requires a work permit. Another requires proof of retirement. It’s still a little confusing and Facebook hasn’t helped. I’ve read too many contradictory reports. One person said they got a retirement visa without having to give proof of retirement, but another person contradicted that. I went to Ana Internet yesterday to find out more.

Apparently you do need proof of retirement to get a retirement visa. I’m not retired, so I have to get a work permit. I’m not quite sure how to get it, but we have a policeman friend who is looking into it for us. When I get a work permit, I’ll have to pay taxes in Cambodia. Fortunately, I don’t have to pay taxes in Australia, so I won’t be doubling up.

axe falls on visa extensions

Image from “Axe Falls” article. Click image to read the article

I was told to wait until the first of the year to apply for a work permit. If I did it now, I’d have to get another one in January. Since my visa doesn’t expire until the end of March, I can easily do that. The best article I’ve read on the subject is Axe Falls on Endless Cambodia Visa Extensions. According to the article, you can:

  • Give an employment letter
  • Get a work permit from the Ministry of Labor
  • Show a business license
  • Show an employment contract
  • Give a relevant document explaining why you need to stay in Cambodia

I’m still not sure if just one document will do. I was told I had to get a work permit. To do that, I need to give proof of employment. I work online, so will have to ask my Australian employers for a letter. I was also told they may ask you to pay back taxes, but this may or may not be true.

It’s not just visa extensions Cambodia is cracking down on. According to an article in AEC News, Cambodia to Target Foreigners with Irregular Documents, Cambodia is also cracking down on foreigners with irregular documents. According to the article, 19,000 foreigners have already been deported and more are sure to follow. “Irregular documents” include passports, visas, family books, residential books, ID cards and more.

I’ve enjoyed a free ride in Cambodia for over 10 years. It has cost me less than $1.00 a day to live here. Apparently, that’s about to change. I won’t know how complicated the process is until I go through it. Anyway, I can’t complain. I think it’s time for Cambodia to make it harder to stay here. Too many of us expats have enjoyed a free ride for too long. If we’re living here, we should be responsible for ourselves. With Cambodia getting tougher on visa extensions and irregular documents, perhaps those who sponge off Cambodia will have to look elsewhere for a home. Where is anybody’s guess. Many people have been coming here from Thailand and Vietnam because it is easy to get a visa here and the authorities have turned a blind eye to irregular documents. It looks like that’s about to change.

Big Changes in Sihanoukville

My last post was about the Chinese in Sihanoukville. Maybe I should have titled it, “The Chinese Invasion of Sihanoukville.” It’s a peaceful invasion, but I didn’t realise until today how big of an impact they’re having everywhere in Sihanoukville. I’ve heard rumours, but I don’t listen to rumours I hear on the Hill. I learned that lesson years ago. Today, however, I learned more from the woman who runs Escape Cafe on Serendipity Road. There are big changes in Sihanoukville. Whether that’s good or bad depends on who you are.

casino on Serendipity Road, Sihanoukville Cambodia

Casino on Serendipity Road

I went for coffee late today and was her only customer, so she sat down with me. The conversation centred on the Chinese. She started by telling me she wanted to extend her lease for another five years, but the owner said to wait. She fears the Chinese will offer them more money. I pointed across the street, where the Reef Resort is now called Wandy’s Resort. She said she’s afraid they are going to rent to Chinese. She also said the Chinese don’t like to mingle with Europeans and tend to stick together.

“Right now it’s low season,” she said. “When high season comes, I wonder where Europeans will stay? The Chinese seem to be taking over everywhere.”

I mentioned I’d seen five casinos in the Serendipity Road area. She could think of eight. The casinos cater to Chinese tourists. I told her I rarely see people in many casinos. She told me they also have online gaming, so make money even if they have no customers. Then I told her how I’d gone to the supermarket down the street and discovered it had been torn down. A big building is going up in its place. She said it was a hotel designed for Chinese tourists.

new development in Sihanoukville Cambodia

A supermarket used to be here

That wasn’t the only change I’d seen on the street. A rather modest apartment block next to the casino is being upgraded. What they’ll be putting there remains to be seen, but it is another sign of the big changes happening in Sihanoukville.

serendipity road, sihanoukville cambodia

A modest apartment block going upmarket

Sadly, she is afraid she’ll have to close her business. She’s been there as long as I can remember and has always given very good service. I have no idea what she’ll do after she closes, but I hope she finds a way to earn a living. If she does close, it will be the fourth place I enjoy going to that is going to close. Irina closed in August. Raphael’s is moving to a location off the Hill next month and the manager of a Cambodian restaurant I like says she may have to close. Her rent is going up and her customers are leaving the Hill because their rents are going up. Some have even been kicked out to make way for the Chinese, who seem to be coming here in droves.

The owner of Escape also told me she was at Otres Beach recently and saw a “Chinatown” being developed. I haven’t seen it, but I’ll have a look as soon as I get a chance.

I never imagined seeing changes like this happening in Sihanoukville, but they have been happening fast. In just the past two years, I’ve seen the changes. I thought the city would change more slowly and organically, but the influx of Chinese with big money is speeding things up. The big changes in Sihanoukville are good for land owners, who are being paid well by the Chinese. I’m told Cambodians who work for them are getting paid better, too. It seems like the ones who are missing out are the expats, who can no longer afford to pay high rentals or are being kicked out of their apartments.

Random reflections on life in Sihanoukville while swimming

swimming in sihanoukville cambodia

I love to go swimming. This is my current swimming hole in Sihanoukville. I usually like to watch the clouds in the sky when I swim backstroke and watch the play of light on the sand when I do the crawl. Today, my thoughts wandered a little. I haven’t left Sihanoukville in over a year, but I’m still happy here. I know others are not, though. I overhear conversations, have conversations and see people frowning over a meal or a beer. These are my random reflections on life in Sihanoukville while swimming today.

swimming in sihanoukville cambodia

This is where I swim. I used to go to Sokha Beach, but I ran out of medicine for my knee. I don’t have to walk in soft sand to swim here at Victory Beach. I walk out onto the pier and jump off. When I return, I have a route that is all hard sand until I get to a broken down boat ramp. You can’t see the beach at the end of the headland, but that’s where I swim to. Sometimes I go further, but when the wind is blowing, I stop at the edge of the beach.

When no people are out on the rocks, I sometimes swim between the rocks to a little nook I love. I can watch the leaves of the trees dance in the wind and listen to the water lap against the rocks. It stretches out my swimming time and I just enjoy relaxing in my sometimes private little nook. When people are there, which happens often, I just swim back to the pier, but today I was lucky. Too bad some thoughts started intruding on my tranquillity.

The first thought that came to me was a conversation I overheard the other night. A guy said, “I feel like I’m in prison in Sihanoukville.” That struck me as an odd comment. It’s nothing like prison. You just need to take advantage of what’s here. Swimming is the only real exercise I get since my knee went bad. Even when I don’t feel like going swimming, like today, it always makes me feel better. It’s the exercise, I’m sure. I know a little bit about the guy from other things he’s said. He basically stays on the Hill, stays up late, gets drunk and spends his money on taxi girls. He’s in a self-imposed prison.

Then I thought about a guy who left recently. He used to like to talk to me while I was having dinner. Every night it was the same thing. First he talked about how he was a Marine during the Vietnam War. Then he talked about the 40 years he worked as a concreter. It was the same every night. If not that, he talked about current events. One Australian guy I like talking with called him “Mr. Doom and Gloom.” He was kind of right. The guy never had anything positive to say about anything. He also lived in the past, as I learned when he repeated the same stories every night.

kids swimming in sihanoukville

These kids swimming near the pier have a better attitude. They have much less than we westerners have, but they make the most of what they have. They laugh, play, jump off the pier and generally fully enjoy themselves. I see the same kids frequently. They see me, too, and now they say hello to me and I say hello to them.

So those unwelcome thoughts intruded when I was having a swim today. I used to think I wasted my youth when I became a yoga fanatic. I’m not so sure now. I learned that thoughts are like birds in the sky. You can pick and choose the thoughts that run through your mind. Why focus on the negative when there is so much to be positive about. It’s like the people who complain about the trash on the beach. Yes, it’s there, but so are palm trees, sand and the warm ocean. Get beyond the shoreline and there is very little if any trash. Get beyond the beach and you don’t see trash on the rocks. Why focus on the negative when there is so much positive to focus on?

 

Chinese in Sihanoukville

chinese-in-sihanoukville-hotel

You can’t help but notice the numbers of Chinese in Sihanoukville. You see them everywhere. Despite the myth they travel in large packs, I’ve seen families, backpackers, couples and small groups of Chinese everywhere from the Hill to Otres Beach. There is a lot of controversy about them. Some say they are driving rental rates up and others say they are generally rude and arrogant.

chinese-in-sihanoukville-casino-resort

The largest Chinese development I know of

One thing I’ve noticed is that they do tend to stick together. I’m yet to have a conversation with one. I’ve also read stories about large groups of Chinese being deported for various reasons. Some are deported for starting internet scams. A group was deported for starting a fight near the Golden Lions and I’ve heard other stories as well.

I don’t want to defend or condemn Chinese tourists and expats in Sihanoukville. Like any other group of people, you run across good ones and bad ones. Almost every time I go swimming at Victory Beach, I see them heading out to the end of the pier to go on boat tours. When I have dinner on the Hill, I see small groups of Chinese walking by. One bar that is being refurbished has hung a sign that has no English. The sign is in Chinese, Khmer and another language.

chinese-in-sihanoukville-bar

I decided to find out what the internet had to say about the Chinese. I was surprised by the number of articles I found. I’ll just share three or I’ll be here all day.

What the Media Has to Say About Chinese in Sihanoukville and Cambodia

An article in The Diplomat was fairly interesting. In 1988, Prime Minister Hun Sen said China was at the “root of everything that is evil” in Cambodia. He has changed his tune since then. It probably has something to do with the amount of aid China sends to Cambodia and the number of developments they are putting up here. They are large scale developments, too. Many of them seem to have a casino attached.

Another article in The Economist has the title: Why Cambodia has cosied up to China. The subtitle is: “and why it worries its neighbours.” The final sentence is interesting:

Nobody yet knows what America’s policy on the South China Sea will be under Donald Trump, but increasingly it looks as if Cambodia has picked the winning side.

The third article was in the Washington Post. The title is Snubbed by Trump, Cambodia is embracing Chinese ways. The article notes that China has cancelled $90 million in debt. Meanwhile, the United States has demanded that Cambodia repay a debt from before the Khmer Rouge era. That created a lot of controversy here because Cambodia remembers the U.S. bombing campaign that helped give rise to the Khmer Rouge. As the article says:

Hun Sen has railed against Washington for demanding that Phnom Penh repay its war-era debt. “They brought bombs and dropped them on Cambodia and [now] demand that the Cambodian people should pay,” Hun Sen said in March.

Someone told me there are something like 74 casinos in Sihanoukville now. I don’t know if it’s true, but there are a lot of them. Sometimes I think Sihanoukville should be renamed Casinoville. I had to laugh when I saw one. The “Rich Casino” name was already taken, so this one calls itself the “Super Rich Casino.” They have English signs, but Chinese is often also there.

I’ve heard stories about expats who are looking for another place to live because of the Chinese “invasion.” They tell me stories of rental rises. One man I met had a nice one-bedroom apartment. He and everyone else got kicked out because the Chinese offered higher rents. The Cambodian woman who runs a restaurant I go to frequently told me last night customer numbers are down because “barang are leaving because of Chinese.” I hope she stays in business. Her food is very good and inexpensive. She has a family to support, too.

I’ve also seen some new hotels that don’t bother with signs in English. I guess they are Chinese run or designed for Chinese customers, who are said to be happy to pay more than barang for a hotel room.

chinese-in-sihanoukville-hotel

I like the cultural diversity of Sihanoukville. I like hearing different languages and seeing people from different cultures. In my experience, they’re all the same. Some are good, some bad and some in-between. I hope the rumors about a million Chinese moving to Cambodia are false. Rumors here often are.

I recently read an article in The Guardian, China moves to curb overseas development as firms’ debt level rise. Hopefully, that will help curb the insane number of casino/resorts that are slated to be developed. Some Chinese come to Cambodia and other countries to run internet scams. Quite a few of them have been arrested and deported, so hopefully that fad will pass, too. There was even one weird scam where they convinced people to take nude photos. Then they used the photos to extort the victims. They got arrested, too.

I don’t think it’s time to panic yet about the Chinese in Sihanoukville. Anyway, there’s nothing I can do about it. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Sihanoukville is Growing Fast Everywhere You Look

big development at otres beach sihanoukville

They cut down a tree in front of my office last week. I loved the tree and had been watching it grow for over 10 years. I was surprised by what I saw after they cut it down. I saw two high rises in the distance and three cranes. They look much closer than they look in this photo. It just reminded me that Sihanoukville is growing fast.

sihanoukville growing fast

I know where these developments are. I often pass them when I ride my motorbike along the beach road. I just didn’t realise how close they were to my home.

Sihanoukville is Growing Fast

It wasn’t raining today, so I went for a motorbike ride out to Otres village. Sorry, I forgot to take photos, but it has changed a lot in the six months since I was last there. For one thing, the dirt road has been paved with cement. For another thing, bungalows are springing up everywhere. It used to be quiet out there, but with all the new developments, it’s beginning to look like another city. I even saw one hotel being built in the village.

That didn’t surprise me as much as the giant development I saw going up on the second road back from the beach. I’d heard a rumour that Jack Ma, the owner of Alibaba, had bought a huge chunk of Otres in that general area. I don’t know if the development is his, but whoever owns it, whatever is going there is going to be massive. I took one photo, but it’s just one small area of the total development. I almost played chicken with a huge bulldozer, but decided to pull over and let it pass. Too bad. I wanted to take a picture of it. This is the one photo I took.

big development at otres beach sihanoukville

Like I said, that’s just a tiny corner of the development.

On the way out to Otres, I passed through Ochheuteal beach. Hotels are going up there, too. Some are smallish by today’s standards, but they would have been big developments not too many years ago. I remember when I never saw cranes or heavy equipment here. Now I see them everywhere.

Rumour has it the Chinese are responsible for much of the development here. It’s quite possible because more Chinese tourists are coming to Sihanoukville. They don’t travel in packs, either. I’ve seen everything from Chinese backpackers to families and larger groups here. I see them everywhere, even on the Hill. For the most part, they are quiet and polite, but like every large group, there are some bad ones.

Sorry about the lack of photos. I wasn’t thinking of writing a blog, but it’s been awhile since my last update, so I thought I’d write a quick one. Next time I’ll make sure to take more photographs. For now you’re just going to have to trust me: Sihanoukville is growing fast.

Published Another Book: The Girl with Tiger’s Eyes

Serendipity Road is about 97,000 words long. Originally, it was going to be a biography, but it turned into a biography/memoir. The Girl with Tiger’s Eyes is closer to what I originally wanted to write. It’s only 18,000 words and didn’t take me long to write. I formatted it and made the cover myself, so I’m giving it away for FREE on Smashwords. You can pick up a copy HERE.

I loved writing Serendipity Road and even enjoyed the editing process. My friend Penny Sisto recommended writing another book and she suggested the title. If you’ve read Serendipity Road, you’ll know what a prominent part Penny has played in my life. She’s the most amazing person I’ve ever met and is a fountain of wisdom, kindness and generosity. I sent her a copy of my new book. This is what she had to say about it:

Dear Rob, Well done! It is a smooth and a delightful read.
Tt is concise..It reads like a joyful poem, light, musical, lyrical, fascinating ..
I meant to read a passage or two and in a flash had finished it..SPLENDID!
I was a little stunned by her response. I wrote the first 6000 words of The Girl with Tiger’s Eyes in one sitting and added more as I found time. Unlike my other book, which took a couple of years to complete, I finished this one in under a month.
If you’re interested, you can grab a free copy of my new book. If you like it, you will find much more in Serendipity Road. It’s only $3.99 and I’ve received positive feedback about that book, too. Most recently, someone said they downloaded it: “It was late, but I couldn’t put it down,” they said. “I think you’ve got a winner on your hands.” Here is the link again: The Girl with Tiger’s Eyes

Why I’m giving away Serendipity Road

If you notice the sidebar, it now says Serendipity Road is free. Why am I giving away my book?

My new cover

Writing Serendipity Road was a joy. I didn’t think about what I was going to write. It just popped out. I didn’t self-edit, either. I told embarrassing stories and I told stories I didn’t think everyone would believe. The first version was kind of a mess. The chapters were in no particular order and there were a lot of spelling mistakes and some grammatical errors. Seven edits later, I caught most of the mistakes and put the book in an order that made sense to me. That’s not to say I don’t jump from 1969 to 2006 or 2014 between chapters, but that’s the nature of the book. It travels through the “honeycomb of time” rather than taking a direct route.

I was inspired by magic realism. The problem with most books written in that style is they are fiction. Magic realism has been a real part of my life, so I didn’t hold back from writing a true story in that style. As I wrote in a blog, When Magic Realism is Real:

Magical realism is not speculative and does not conduct thought experiments. Instead, it tells its stories from the perspective of people who live in our world and experience a different reality from the one we call objective. If there is a ghost in a story of magical realism, the ghost is not a fantasy element but a manifestation of the reality of people who believe in and have “real” experiences of ghosts.

That’s a quote from Bruce Holland Rogers from an article titled, What is Magic Realism, Really?

I’ve had an experience with a ghost. I didn’t see the ghost, but Sopheak did. I may not have believed her if the information the ghost wanted her to pass on to me hadn’t been so accurate. He hit the nail on the head, but Sopheak had no way of knowing what he told her. He then complained that I didn’t offer him cigarettes when I was smoking outside near the mango tree he lived in. From that day forward, I had to light one for him. Sometimes I even had imaginary conversations with him, as if we were sitting next to each other in a bar.

There is another story in the book about our housekeeper, Sokha, who became possessed by her mother, her baby sister and her older sister. Psychologists would call it “multiple personality disorder,” but psychologists are not nearly as successful at treating the disorder as the people who finally got our housekeeper’s older sister to leave her. Her mother and baby sister just showed up for a few minutes and then went away. Her older sister had been raped and murdered by a policeman and a monk. She was angry and wanted to take over her body or kill her. She even threatened me with a knife.

It took a few tries, but finally her older sister left for good. Sokha hasn’t had a problem since then. I looked it up and psychiatrists have a very poor record when it comes to treating multiple personality disorder. The monks did it in three tries.

Why am I Giving Away Serendipity Road?

I’m giving away Serendipity Road because I never expected it to sell well, but I’d like people to read it. Not everyone will like it, but that’s okay. The one person I wanted to like it loved it. I won’t be giving it away for long. I’ll put a price tag on it in about a week, but if you’re interested, give it a try. If you don’t have a reading device, download calibre. It’s a free program that allows you to read epub books on your computer. I downloaded it and it works brilliantly.

That’s all for now. Hopefully I’ll get a new phone soon and be able to take some photos of Sihanoukville. I did something really dumb with my old phone. I wanted to take pictures of the places I go when I swim, so I wrapped my phone in three plastic bags. They leaked and destroyed my phone. I’d had the phone for seven years and I’m annoyed with myself for thinking those plastic bags would protect it.

Serendipity Road Published

As you can see from the sidebar widget, I’ve published Serendipity Road. There was a minor glitch with the first upload, but the guy who formatted the book for me fixed it and it’s now available on epub. I’ve asked Smashwords how to make it available in more formats, but I’ll have to wait for a reply. To buy the book, click the sidebar widget or click here. If you don’t have an ereader, download Calibre. It’s a FREE program and works brilliantly.

My new cover

I’m a little nervous about publishing for two reasons. I put a lot of effort into writing the book. I did seven edits and have no idea how many hours I spent writing and editing. I published on Smashwords and don’t expect enough sales to pay for my time, but I wanted to publish Serendipity Road anyway. I’m also a little nervous because I don’t hold anything back. I did as many stupid things when I came to Southeast Asia as others do and didn’t edit to make myself look good. That’s why it has “adult content” in it.

One thing I can say is that I learned from the stupid things I did when I first arrived here. I realised I didn’t want to be a sex tourist, a sightseer or a dope smoker. I was looking for a new life: not a diversion from life. I found that new life and am happy here, even though things have changed radically over the past ten years.

Some readers may not believe some of the stories I tell in Serendipity Road, but I assure you they’re all true stories. I wanted to do something I don’t see in many memoirs: I wanted to tell the truth and not leave out stories of the miraculous and mundane. That’s the reason for the subtitle: “between heaven and hell.”

my old cover

A friend made a beautiful cover for me, but it showed me at my present age. I ended up having a retro cover made for me because the book takes the reader back to the late sixties and early seventies. Those were the years that shaped my life and took me on a new trajectory. I let fate be my guide in life and fate took me from a yoga retreat in the Sierra Mountains, to India (where I almost died on my first trip), to Australia, Bali and ultimately Cambodia.

If you want to find out more about my book, here are some good starting points:

I suppose I could do a better job hyping my book, but I don’t want to do that. What you will find is an inside look at my life and Sopheak’s life. You’ll learn things about Cambodia I don’t mention on my blog. Okay, here’s one bit of hype from Penny Sisto, who plays a prominent part in the book:

I am not sure how you arrived..but..you have changed an interesting and amateurly written tale into a short book of brilliance..riveting..read it in one gulp

The book will be available for a $2 discount for two weeks. If you like it, please give it a favourable review. Thanks!

Renting in Sihanoukville

renting in sihanoukville

Many people come to visit Sihanoukville and decide they want to stay longer. Some stay a month, some stay a few months and some stay for years. Whether it’s for a month or a year, renting in Sihanoukville is far cheaper than paying for a hotel or guesthouse. There are tricks to it, though.

renting in sihanoukville

New apartments are springing up everywhere in Sihanoukville

First of all, how much do you want to pay for a Sihanoukville rental? If you look around, you can find decent studio apartments for around $70 to $85 a month (US$). If you want a one-bedroom apartment, they start at around $150, but I’ve heard of people finding them for less. If you have a family, you might want a more secure location with parking. That can cost up to $450 a month if it includes a wall, gate, guard and CCTV cameras.

You can find rentals on the Sihanoukville Real Estate Facebook page, but don’t take them at face value. As anywhere, the landlord will publish the most flattering photos of their property. You want to see the property first and decide if it’s in a location you will be comfortable living in. Some properties might be in a noisy area or on a bad road that might be almost impassable during the rainy season. Others may be too isolated for your taste. Have a look at several before you decide on one.

Renting in Sihanoukville: Tips and Tricks

I don’t rent, but I recently got an assignment about renting in Sihanoukville. I interviewed several people and learned a lot. They gave me some tips and tricks to share with readers:

  • Don’t rent long term before you’ve stayed here and know you like it. Some guesthouses will rent by the month. A month will give you time to have a look around and find an area you want to live in.
  • Rentals are negotiable. If you love a place, you can get it cheaper than the asking price. One man I interviewed saw an apartment he liked for $150 a month and talked them down to $120 a month.
  • Most landlords prefer longer leases and will accept less money for a year’s lease than a three month lease. A mansion I know of rented for $3000 a month for three months. Someone offered $1700 a month for a year’s lease and the landlord accepted it.
  • Take a good look at the access road. If you come during the dry season, remember you’ll also have to negotiate the road in the rainy season. If the road is badly rutted or there’s a depression in it, it might be barely passable in the rainy season or flooded in heavy rains.
  • Ask about electricity and water. You may have to pay for electricity and/or water.

It’s worth repeating that rents are negotiable. So many apartment blocks are springing up here, some landlords are struggling to find tenants. They will accept a lower offer just to get tenants in their apartments. If you want a house, those rents can be negotiable, too, but it depends on the area. Some homes are in popular areas and the landlords know they can get what they ask for.

renting in sihanoukville

Even mansions are available in Sihanoukville

Cheaper homes tend to be Khmer style homes. They can be brick and often have walls, but they may not have fresh coats of paint and you may have to pay electricity and water. Most of them won’t have air conditioning and you may have to buy a TV, a fridge and other things you need. Some are furnished, some are partially furnished and others may be unfurnished. In most cases, you will be responsible for paying for repairs.They can be cheap, though. I saw one for only $150 per month.

You can find rentals in Sihanoukville, but shop around first. There are plenty to choose from. You can even find bungalows and a few houses in Otres Village. Most of the better and cheaper rentals are a little outside the main centers. I interviewed one man who rented a small room on the Hill for $150. He eventually found a one-bedroom apartment within walking distance of the Hill for the same price.