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Preface Last Updated: 6/9/2005 3:42 AM

Cambodia, a fledgling democracy under a system of constitutional monarchy, is slowly emerging from decades of violent civil war, foreign occupation and neglect. Cambodia is among the poorest countries in the world. Eighty percent of its population of 13.6 million engages in subsistence farming, with rice as the primary crop. Economic deprivation and poor health characterize life for most citizens. The rate of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases is among the highest in Southeast Asia. The education levels of Cambodia’s population still show the devastating effects of the Khmer Rouge’s genocidal policies from 1975–1979, which devastated the entire population but particularly targeted the educated elite for torture and death. An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died during this period, either murdered by the Khmer Rouge or killed from overwork, starvation, and disease. Notwithstanding these serious social problems, Cambodia is presently enjoying a measure of peace and stability it has not seen in more than a generation. With support and prodding from the U.S. and other donors, the government is making slow and uneven but discernible progress on reforms to institutionalize democracy.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 6/9/2005 3:47 AM

The Kingdom of Cambodia covers an area of 181,040 sq. km. (69,900 sq. mi.), approximately the size of Missouri. It is bordered on the west and northwest by Thailand, on the north by Laos, and on the east and southeast by Vietnam. Cambodia has a short coastline along the Gulf of Thailand where Sihanoukville, the only deepwater port and popular weekend destination, is located.

Cambodia’s topography consists primarily of flat, low-lying plains that are drained by the Tonle Sap Lake and Mekong and Bassac Rivers. The Mekong River flows more than 500 kilometers through Cambodia, which is up to 5 kilometers wide in some places. The rich sediment deposited during the rainy season when the Mekong River swells and floods adds to the fertile growing conditions that exist throughout the Upper Mekong Delta. The Tonle Sap Lake, located in western central Cambodia, connects with the Mekong River at Phnom Penh via a 100-kilometer long natural channel. During the dry season when the water level of the Mekong is low, water flows southeast out of the Tonle Sap Lake into the Mekong River. However, during the rainy season when the level of the Mekong rises, an extraordinary phenomenon takes place. The swollen and swift-moving Mekong River causes the flow of water in the channel linking the Tonle Sap Lake with the Mekong to reverse, forcing water to drain back into the Tonle Sap and, over time, causing the lake to more than double in size. As a result of this unique occurrence, the Tonle Sap is one of the richest sources of freshwater fish in the world.

The central lowlands are characterized by seemingly endless, flat rice paddies, fields of reeds and tall grass, and fields of cultivated crops such as corn, tobacco, sesame, and tapioca. Sprinkled throughout are tall sugar palm trees and occasional wooded areas. Rice is grown on 90% of the cultivated land. However, only two-thirds of the land cultivated before 1970 is cultivated today, largely as a result of the danger of land mines and a lack of equipment and irrigation. In addition, Cambodian paddies produce about half of the yield of Thai or Vietnamese paddies. In recent years, large parts of Cambodia have experienced alternating droughts and floods which have further reduced the reliability of the Cambodian rice harvest.

Historically, heavy forest dominated the landscape in areas away from the lake and rivers. Nearly a decade of extensive logging, both legal and illegal, has greatly diminished the area covered by mature forests. Cambodia’s significant mountainous areas lie in the southwest (the Cardamom Mountains), the south (the Elephant Mountains), and the north (the Dangrek Mountains). Most of the country lies at an elevation of less than 100 meters above sea level. The highest elevation is Phnom Aoral (100 km northwest of Phnom Penh) at 1,813 meters. The mountains have retained more forest than the lowlands, with virgin rain forests in the southwest, evergreen and mangrove forests along the coastal strip and towering broadleaf evergreen forests in the north. Much of the north and northeast is covered by a thick jungle of vines, bamboo, palm trees, and other assorted ground plants. The eastern provinces support large (although old) rubber plantations.

Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia since the mid-15th century and the country’s largest city, has a population estimated at 1.3 million. The capital has seen rapid population growth since 2001 and beginning in 2003 has experienced a major construction boom. The city lies at the confluence (called the four faces) of the Mekong River, the Bassac River, and the channel flowing from the Tonle Sap Lake.

Phnom Penh is a sprawling city, with a mix of wide, tree-lined boulevards and narrow dirt roads, large French-colonial houses, apartment buildings, and small thatched-roof wooden dwellings. Many recent residents have relocated to the capital from rural provinces, hoping for a better life. The infrastructure of Phnom Penh city has improved dramatically in the last few years, but many basic services are still lacking. Despite traffic signals and a proliferation of driving schools, traffic remains chaotic; however, it tends to flow in a slow enough pattern that major car accidents are uncommon. In addition, the growing numbers of motorbikes coupled with many roads that remain in poor condition make driving safely a constant challenge.

Upon leaving Phnom Penh, the scenery immediately becomes rural; no other city rivals Phnom Penh in size and infrastructure. Cambodia’s second largest city, Battambang (population approximately 200,000, is located about 300 kilometers from the capital to the northwest and travel time is about 4-6 hours. About an hour drive to the southwest of Phnom Penh are the port and beaches of Sihanoukville on the Gulf of Thailand. The temple complex at Siem Reap is about a five-hour drive from Phnom Penh. In general, the national road infrastructure has greatly improved over the last few years.

The climate in Cambodia is relatively consistent throughout the country — hot and humid. There are two distinct seasons: a dry season that lasts from November to May, and a rainy season lasting from June to October. The country has an average annual rainfall of between 50 and 75 inches with the southwestern mountains, the area with the highest rainfall, receiving nearly 200 inches per year. The months from December to February are the coolest months of the year, when temperatures can drop to the mid to upper 60ºF (25–27ºC). April is the hottest month, when temperatures regularly exceed 100ºF (40ºC). The average relative humidity is 81%. Although the heat and humidity, particularly during April and May, can be uncomfortable and fatiguing, all U.S. Embassy residences and offices are air-conditioned. During the conclusion of the rainy season, periodic flooding in Phnom Penh can make driving a problem due to the city's old and dysfunctional drainage system. Despite this, standing water usually drains away within a matter of hours.

Population Last Updated: 6/9/2005 3:49 AM

The population of Cambodia is approximately 13.6 million, with an annual growth rate of 1.8% (2004 census update). The country is the most homogeneous of the Southeast Asian nations, with ethnic-Khmers comprising nearly 95% of the population. There are small numbers of ethnic-Chinese and ethnic-Vietnamese, and a small Cham Muslim population (around 5%) which was savagely persecuted by the Khmer Rouge during the 1970s. Cambodia’s ethnic minorities (hill tribes), numbering around 100,000, reside east of the Mekong River in the provinces of Rattankiri, Mondulkiri and Stung Treng. Years of violent and bloody civil war have taken its toll on the Cambodian population and are reflected in the demographics of the country. Among adults over 35, there are substantially fewer men than would be expected, a consequence of the high male mortality during the 1970s. Fully 50% of the population is under the age of 20.

The population of Cambodia is predominantly rural. According to the 1998 census (the first census since 1962), 84% of the population lives in the rural areas. Approximately 80% are employed in agriculture or fishing. Nearly 90% of the population resides in the central lowlands. The average population density in Cambodia is 64 persons per square kilometer.

The official language of Cambodia is Khmer, and it is spoken throughout the country. Unlike Thai and Vietnamese, Khmer is a non-tonal language with many disyllabic words. The Khmer script descends from Sanskrit and the language borrows a number of words from Pali. It is not directly related to either Thai or Vietnamese. During the period of French colonization, educated Cambodians also learned French. Today, however, the foreign language of choice is English. Young people crowd English-language classes and practice their language skills with foreigners at every opportunity.

Buddhism is the state religion in Cambodia, and the vast majority of Cambodian people are Buddhist. Cambodians practice Theravada Buddhism, the original branch of the religion that originated in India. Every male Buddhist is expected to become a monk for at least a short period of his life. Under the Khmer Rouge, religious practice was forbidden. Monks were executed, and many of the country’s 3,000 wats (Buddhist temples) were severely damaged or destroyed. In recent years, despite a critical lack of resources, great emphasis has been placed on restoring and rebuilding the wats. Much of the funding for the restoration and construction of wats has come from Cambodians living overseas who wish to provide something of social and religious value to their home villages.

Cambodian Cham mosques can be found in Phnom Penh and in many villages to the north and east along the banks of the Mekong River.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 6/9/2005 3:52 AM

Historically, the Khmer nation was powerful and influential throughout mainland Southeast Asia. From the 9th to the 14th century, the Khmer Empire successfully ruled much of the area that is today Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. During the 14th and 15th centuries, the power of the Khmer Empire waned, and a succession of kings alternately fought with neighboring Vietnam and Thailand. In 1863, Cambodia signed a treaty of protectorate with France, and over the course of the next century became established as a French colony. Cambodia, under the leadership of King Norodom Sihanouk, declared independence from France in 1953. Shortly thereafter, King Sihanouk abdicated the throne to his elderly father in order to be elected Prime Minister and then Chief of State. Sihanouk severed diplomatic relations with the U.S. for several years beginning in 1965. In 1970, when Sihanouk was temporarily out of the country, General Lon Nol staged a coup d’état, and replaced Sihanouk as chief of state. Sihanouk established a government-in-exile operating out of Beijing, and became a figurehead leader of the group known as the Khmer Rouge. Violent fighting led to the deaths of several hundred thousand Cambodian people between the years of 1970 and 1975.

On April 17, 1975, the Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh and systematically and methodically emptied the city of all residents, as it did all other urban areas. For almost 4 years (1975–79), the Khmer Rouge attempted to implement a totally agrarian-based self-sufficient society, forcing Cambodians to work in the agricultural fields. Under the genocidal leadership of the Khmer Rouge, numerous Cambodians were tortured and executed and almost an entire generation of educated and professionally trained citizens was methodically annihilated. Widespread starvation, disease, and exhaustion contributed to the massive number of deaths that occurred under Khmer Rouge rule. During this period, the country’s basic infrastructure — systems of transportation, communication, education, health, economics, and government — was destroyed.

In December 1978, Vietnam invaded Cambodia, forced the Khmer Rouge westward to the Thai border and installed a new government headed by Heng Samrin. For more than a decade, Vietnam presided over a chaotic situation in Cambodia, plagued by continued guerrilla warfare with resistance groups, famine, international isolation, and instability.

International pressure and a declining economic situation at home forced Vietnam to end its occupation of Cambodia in 1989. The signing of the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements was a watershed event, which ended almost 13 years of Cambodian civil war and established the country as a democracy via a UN-established peacekeeping force, the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). In May 1993, Cambodia held its first free and open elections. A constitutionally based government took office in September 1993, with Prince Norodom Sihanouk again elevated to King and made head of state. Prince Norodom Ranariddh, leader of the royalist FUNCINPEC party (the French acronym for Cambodian National Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful and Cooperative Cambodia) and Hun Sen, chief of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) served as co-Prime Ministers. In July 1997, when fighting broke out between forces of the two coalition partners, Prince Ranariddh and other senior members of his party, including legislators fled to Thailand. In July 1998, national elections resulted in a plurality for the CPP. FUNCINPEC officials returned to Cambodia to form a new coalition government in November 1998. Hun Sen continued to serve as Prime Minister and Prince Ranariddh became President of the National Assembly. A subsequent election in July 2003 led to virtually one year of negotiation among the three parties and formation of a two-party coalition of the CPP and FUNCINPEC in July 2004. Hun Sen remained Prime Minister and Prince Ranariddh was again selected as National Assembly President. King Sihanouk retired in October 2004 and was replaced by his son, King Norodom Sihamoni.

The Kingdom of Cambodia is divided into three municipalities and 21 provinces that in turn are broken down into districts, communes, and villages. Seats in the National Assembly are allocated proportionally by province. The National Assembly, the leading legislative body, is currently comprised of 123 elected members representing three political parties. The CPP with 73 seats and FUNCINPEC with 26 seats are coalition partners. The Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), holding 24 seats, is the opposition party. A Senate comprising 61 members was created in 1999 by an amendment to the Constitution, but it has little power or influence. An election for most of the Senate seats is tentatively scheduled for January 2006.

Today, the Kingdom of Cambodia is struggling to overcome decades of civil war, isolation, and massive destruction by the Khmer Rouge of its population, infrastructure, and national identity and culture. The government is still struggling to reestablish basic levels of transportation, communication, food and water supplies, and government services, especially in the countryside. Poverty is a serious problem, and living standards and social indicators place it among the poorest countries in the world. A severe lack of government resources, widespread corruption and absence of a rule of law have hampered efforts to strengthen Cambodia’s economy and improve living standards. The government budget relies on a heavy influx of assistance from donor countries.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 6/9/2005 3:59 AM

Cambodia is a country with a diverse history of traditional architecture, music, dance and handicrafts, all of which suffered near cultural devastation under the Khmer Rouge regime. Pagodas and temples, museums, libraries, and theaters were routinely ransacked and destroyed. Between 1975 and 1979, the rich history and culture that had accumulated over thousands of years in the form of buildings, sculptures, paintings, and manuscripts was ruthlessly wiped out. In Phnom Penh, only a few buildings of traditional wooden architecture were spared destruction by the Khmer Rouge.

Today, the country is struggling to restore, rebuild, and resurrect its cultural institutions. Historically, Cambodia is perhaps best known for its unique and impressive architecture that climaxed during the Angkorian period (the 9th to the 14th century). At that time Khmer art and architecture were widely influential throughout Southeast Asia. The most magnificent example of Khmer architecture can be seen at the world famous temples of Angkor, including Angkor Wat, the Bayon and Angkor Thom. Although ransacked by various parties, these spectacular temples remain one of the architectural splendors of the world. With international assistance, a variety of conservation efforts are underway to protect and preserve these national monuments.

The National Museum of Khmer Art and Archaeology, located in Phnom Penh, has some of the finest examples of Khmer art and sculpture. Pagodas around the country are in various states of refurbishment and repair: the Royal Palace and its surrounding compound — including the Silver Pagoda, with its floor covered with 5,000 silver tiles — has undergone an impressive renovation and has sections that are open to the public for tours.

Cambodia’s classical dance, with its graceful and controlled movements and colorful silk costumes, is performed to the accompaniment of traditional string and percussion instruments and vocalists. Under the Khmer Rouge, 90% of Cambodia’s classical dancers were killed, but the government has reestablished a national dancing troupe. Theater in Cambodia received a severe setback when the Bassac Theater, Cambodia’ national theater, caught fire in 1994 and was destroyed. The structure was rebuilt and today houses the National Cultural Center. A complete renovation of Chaktomuk Conference Hall was also completed in 2001. This facility is used to stage ceremonies, workshops and art performances. Post’s Public Affairs Section sponsored artist-in-residence programs at this venue in 2001 and 2002.

Like most institutions in Cambodia, the educational system suffered greatly under the Khmer Rouge. After 1975, the educational system ceased to exist. In addition, the country was left with a severe lack of trained teachers, many of whom were executed during the Khmer Rouge regime. School buildings, books, supplies and printing facilities were all destroyed. However, a major effort in the 1980s to reestablish a national school system resulted in the opening of nearly 4,700 primary schools and 440 secondary schools throughout the country. Today, there are close to 5,500 primary schools with nearly 2.5 million primary school students and more than 500 secondary schools with just under 400,000 secondary school students, as well as a university and technical school population in Phnom Penh. However, quality of education remains low. Primary school graduates risk lapsing into illiteracy and secondary school graduates lack the required level of knowledge, particularly in the fields of mathematics, science and foreign languages, to gain college admission.

One of the major problems facing the educational system in Cambodia is a continued shortage of competent and qualified teachers. For example, approximately 10% of all primary school teachers themselves have only a primary school education, while 80% have just a lower secondary education. While the situation has improved from 1994, when one-third of primary school teachers had only a primary school education, much remains to be done. In addition, teaching salaries are so low, $25 per month that new teachers are discouraged from entering the field (It is estimated that average teacher salaries cover less than the cost of a typical household’s monthly rice consumption.) Educational resources of all types are lacking; only a little over 8% of the projected 1999 national budget was allocated for education. Adult literacy in Cambodia has hovered around 35% for the past 5 years.

The Ministry of Education continues to raise standards and work toward reform of the educational system. As a result, a growing number of private universities have opened to meet the demand posed by increasing numbers of students at this level. There are 25 institutions of higher education in Cambodia today. Many universities have established new departments to meet current market needs, such as tourism, mass media/communication, information technology, international relations, and natural resource preservation/environmental studies. Through open competition, both public and private institutions are working to improve school curriculum by taking advantage of opportunities for university affiliation programs both within the region, particularly with Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, and with universities in the U.S.

Students at the secondary education level are required to study a second language, English or French, from grade 7. Today, the majority of students prefer to learn English. The Ministry of Education faces a constant struggle to recruit competent English teachers to place in secondary school in order to meet this demand.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 6/9/2005 4:15 AM

Cambodia remains a very poor country (per capita income is under $300 annually) although it is reasonably well endowed with natural resources. There is great disparity in incomes between city dwellers in Phnom Penh and the 85% of the population that remains in the countryside. While 40% of Cambodia’s population is officially poor, most of that poverty is concentrated in the countryside. There is a growing urban/rural divide with the city dwellers doing relatively well and those in the countryside seeing living standards mostly stagnate and even fall. It is easy to be fooled by the bustle of Phnom Penh and assume that Cambodia is developing rapidly. It is also important to remember that only about 15% of Cambodia’s population lives in urban areas.

Cambodia’s social indicators rank among the lowest in Asia. In the wake of the formation of the first Royal Cambodian Government (RGC) in 1993, assistance from the international community and foreign direct investment led to a surge in economic activity, with real GDP growth peaking at 7.6% in 1995. However, the twin effects of the July 5–6, 1997 factional fighting in Phnom Penh and the Southeast Asian financial crisis led to a pronounced economic slowdown in 1997–98. In somewhat of a rebound, Cambodian real GDP growth from 2001-2004 averaged around 5%, but the downward trend in foreign direct investment and low domestic investment has continued. Most international and domestic businesses cite the risk associated with an incomplete and inconsistently applied legal framework as the main barrier to investment and business growth.

Agriculture, primarily subsistence rice farming, accounts for approximately 43% of GDP and up to 85% of employment. Most areas of Cambodia produce one rice crop a year, with planting taking place in June after the onset of the rainy season and harvesting occurring in December. Cambodia’s rice industry is centered in Battambang province in northwest Cambodia, and rice wholesalers operating in Battambang city set nationwide rice prices. Livestock accounts for a further 13% of GDP and consists primarily of small-scale family farms. Fishing, particularly around the Tonle Sap Lake, is also an important activity; although over fishing is an increasing concern (fish is the major source of protein in the Cambodian diet).

Cambodia’s manufacturing sector is small (20% of GDP), but it has grown rapidly from nearly nothing a decade ago. The garment sector has expanded rapidly since Cambodia received Normal Trading Status from the U.S. in 1996 and a series of yearly duty-free quotas under the unique Bilateral Textile Agreement. The Agreement granted Cambodia specific levels of export quotas for respecting core international labor standards as well as Cambodia’s own labor laws. The Agreement led to a proliferation of unions and a growing consciousness in Cambodia about the importance of workers' rights. The “Made in Cambodia” label promises not just quality but respect for workers as well.

The Bilateral Textile Agreement came to a conclusion with the end of the worldwide system of quotas at the end of 2004. By the beginning of 2005, the garment sector employed over 250,000 people in over 200 factories. Ninety percent of garment workers are women. Exports of garments to the U.S. in 2004 were valued at $1.4 billion. The value of total exports from the garment sector topped $2.1 billion. The Cambodian government has publicly pledged, despite the direct trade-labor link that the Bilateral Textile Agreement demanded, to maintain its commitment to international labor standards. The favorable reputation for Cambodian textile exports created by this commitment is currently Cambodia’s only real competitive advantage. The Cambodian government must take additional steps to help a significant portion of its garment sector survive. Cambodia will need to reduce producer costs not only by lowering the cost of input factors such as energy but also by dampening a growing culture of corruption that threatens to make future production in Cambodia economically untenable.

Alarming levels of deforestation and illegal logging since 1994 have left Cambodia with less than 50% of its land area forested. Under strong pressure from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other foreign donors, the Cambodian Government froze logging in all concessions in 2000. Efforts to improve monitoring and sustainability of the forestry concessions have largely failed. Illegal logging continues on a scale that is hard to quantify. If Cambodia had been able to restructure its forestry industry along more sustainable lines, the sector could have made a significant contribution to development both through employment and royalty payments to the national budget.

The tourism industry continues to develop rapidly with Cambodia welcoming over a million visitors for the first time in 2004. Tourism development has centered on the Angkor Wat temple complex in northwestern Cambodia, but the northeast provinces of Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri are potential ecotourism sites. A series of casinos located at Poipet, just across the border from Thailand, draw several thousand, mostly Thai, visitors per day.

Although economic growth figures look good on paper, that growth has been concentrated in Phnom Penh, and to a lesser degree in the other main cities. Wide disparities between life in the cities and the countryside remain and, if anything, are likely to grow. For now, economic development and growth will depend heavily on international aid and assistance in the short term. For viable, long-term growth, Cambodia must do a better job at creating a legal and commercial environment that will attract direct foreign investment and domestic investment in fixed assets that will create jobs. Without that job creation, the domestic bubble facing Cambodia over the next decade – hundreds of thousands of new job seekers annually coming from the half of the population under 20 – could overwhelm Cambodia’s hard-won political and social stability.

Transportation Last Updated: 6/9/2005 4:31 AM

Automobiles Last Updated: 6/9/2005 4:37 AM

Virtually, all personnel at post have personally owned vehicles (POVs). Most have been shipped from the U.S. or a previous post; the time between the Washington area pick-up to release by Cambodian customs is about 2 months. New and used vehicles can be purchased locally. Cars can also be rented. Monthly rental costs for a 4-door sedan with air-conditioning (a necessity in Cambodia) range from $400 to $600 dollars. Costs for renting a 4-wheel-drive vehicle are higher, $75 a day and up. Private cars and drivers can also be hired on short notice for a daily rate of approximately $25 in town and $30–$35 for travel in the countryside outside of Phnom Penh.

Both new and secondhand automobiles are available locally for purchase. Available brands include Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mercedes, and Jeep. Air-conditioning is a necessity. Motorcycles and smaller “motos” are also available for rent or purchase. There are no helmet laws in Cambodia. However, protective gear is not difficult to find. Americans who anticipate wanting to operate a motorcycle should bring a helmet to post. Given poor local road conditions and general poor driving across the local populace, motorcycle accidents are all too common and personnel are advised against using this means of transportation.

A Cambodian drivers’ license is required for driving in Cambodia. The State/ICASS Customs and Shipping office can assist you in obtaining a driver's license. Third-party-liability insurance is required under U.S. Government regulation for all U.S. employees who own and operate a motor vehicle. Several local companies provide this coverage and rates are reasonable. Additional liability insurance may be obtained through U.S. companies such as Clements. Automobile fuel is sold by the liter and is available in regular and premium grade. Unleaded gasoline is widely available throughout the country at Caltex, Shell, Tella and Sokimex gas stations. Fuel costs about $0.80 per liter. Automobile maintenance and repair services are available at reasonable rates. Because the level of auto-mechanic training and experience is basic and not highly technical, mechanically simple cars are preferable and easier to repair. Many roads in Phnom Penh are dirt, and many asphalt roads have huge potholes. Most are subject to flooding during the rainy season.

In Phnom Penh and throughout Cambodia, vehicles drive on the right-hand side of the road as they do in the U.S. Right-hand drive cars are now illegal; however, many are still on the roads. Traffic conditions in Phnom Penh are chaotic and dangerous, primarily because traffic regulations are rarely enforced. Few Khmer drivers have had any type of formal driving instruction, and most do not have a license. Large cargo trucks, cars, and a plethora of motos, bicycles, cyclos, a few ox-pulled carts, and pedestrians share the streets. The absence of stop signs or functioning traffic lights at many intersections and beggars in the middle of the streets add to the confusion and danger of driving in Phnom Penh. Additionally, some informal but significant “rules of the road” may prove initially confusing to American drivers. For example, in Cambodia, the meaning of another car flashing its headlights is “you are in my driving path and I am not yielding my right of way to you.

Traffic conditions at night can be challenging, particularly outside of the city. Travelers are strongly advised against driving on roads outside of Phnom Penh after dark. The roads are dark and many cars, motos, cyclos and bicycles travel at night without any lights. During the rainy season when roads frequently become flooded, drivers should beware of potentially slippery conditions and hidden potholes.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 6/9/2005 4:38 AM

There is no public transportation to get around Phnom Penh, such as city buses or metro.

Car Taxis: A few private taxi companies and several major hotels can provide taxi services. However, unlike most other major cities, you will find no taxis traveling through the city looking for fares. Taxis must be ordered via telephone. Cars provided by the major hotels are relatively expensive (about $5 for short trips across town) and the private taxi companies run about $3-$5 per a trip in town. Taxis are always available at the airport and cost $7 to come into the city center. These taxis, though, only run from the airport to the city (and not the city to the airport!) and are not allowed to pick up incidental travelers. Most Americans drive to and from work and to social activities or take the Embassy shuttle which runs after-hours and on weekends and holidays.

"Moto taxis” or “motos” — small motorcycles that accept passengers to sit behind the driver — are the primary means of transportation used by the local populace, but not recommended for both safety and security reasons. Post regularly hears reports of passengers being dragged off the backs of motos by would-be thieves, sometimes in collusion with the moto driver. Personnel are advised to exercise extreme caution on any mode of transportation at night-and particularly when seated behind an unknown driver.

Cyclos — large tricycles with a passenger seat in front and a peddler or driver behind — are another widely used form of transportation and also not recommended for security and safety reasons. Both moto and cyclo transportation are inexpensive (usually costing around 2,000 riels — about $0.50; prices are negotiable) and are readily available.

Given the dangers of night travel and limited public transportation options, post offers a “fee-for-service” shuttle van available to official U.S. personnel and family members during weekday evenings from 5 PM to midnight and from 8 AM to midnight on weekends and holidays. Cost of a one-way shuttle trip is currently $1 and shuttle tickets are available through the Embassy cashier.

Post has made every effort to locate houses within close proximity to the U.S. Embassy. The farthest house in the Mission is approximately 2 miles away, and many employees live close enough to walk to work (weather permitting).

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 6/9/2005 4:41 AM

Transportation facilities available within Cambodia are limited. There are five national highways linking Phnom Penh to other provinces. The conditions of these roads, the only main roads in the country, vary considerably and in some cases they are not passable even with a four-wheel-drive vehicle and may result in suspension damage. Two highways, one from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) and one from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, the beach resort, are in good condition now. The former trip takes five hours by private vehicle while traveling to Sihanoukville takes 4 hours. As a number of well-financed road construction projects have been initiated recently, regional road conditions are expected to improve somewhat within the next few years.

Cambodia has two usable airports with daily flights to Siem Reap (Angkor Wat), and several flights a week to Ratanakiri. There are six daily flights from Phnom Penh to Bangkok (a 1-hour flight), where connections to other international carriers can be made. Daily or weekly flights to other international destinations, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Vientiane, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Guangzhou, and Shanghai are also available directly from Phnom Penh.

Cambodia has two rail lines, both originating in Phnom Penh, and a total of 612 km of government owned single, one-meter-gauge track. The Cambodian Government has announced plans to refurbish these two lines that have fallen into disrepair. Railroads are not used by expatriates for either official or personal travel.

Likewise, Cambodia has 282 kilometers of navigable inland waterways for boats drawing up to 1.8 meters of water. Phnom Penh’s waterfront offers a dozen or so boats for rent for day cruises and a few larger boats for travel to other destinations along the Mekong and Tonle Sap. Some visitors choose to take the “fast boat” to Siem Reap, a trip of approximately 5 hours costing around $50 roundtrip, and there are boats to other locations, such as Kratie where tourists can see the rare freshwater dolphins. At least one luxury hotel chain with hotels in southern Vietnam offers boat transportation for groups of four or more visitors from Phnom Penh to its locations for a fee comparable to the airfare.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 6/9/2005 4:43 AM

Telephones and Telecommunications In Phnom Penh and throughout Cambodia, local telephone services consist of land line telephones and individual cellular (mobile) telephones carried by a large percentage of the population. Many Cambodian homes do not have installed telephone lines. Every U.S. Embassy residence has a telephone land line installed and every U.S. direct-hire employee is issued a handheld cellular telephone, by the GSO, for official use. Cellular telephones now reach all major cities in Cambodia, and coverage to the countryside has increased dramatically. Only pockets of the most remote areas are outside the coverage areas. Public payphones do not exist in Cambodia but enterprising individuals in Phnom Penh have set up booths with cellular phones that can be used for local, national and international calls.

The Embassy has several International Voice Gateway (IVG) lines, which can be used by employees for both official and personal calls on a priority basis. The IVG lines can be used to call toll-free to the Washington D.C. Metro calling area, which also covers parts of Virginia and Maryland, all other connected U.S. Embassies and Consulates, along with toll-free “800” and “888” numbers. IVG lines cannot be used to call long-distance from the Washington D.C. area and employees are recommended to bring long-distance or pre-paid telephone cards to post with them, such as AT&T, MCI, SPRINT, etc.

USAID also provides several Voice Over International Protocol (VOIP) lines for its staff use. The Mission anticipates having VOIP capability for use of all personnel with the move to the New Embassy Compound.

Internet Last Updated: 6/9/2005 4:44 AM

Phnom Penh has three Internet Service Providers for home Internet and e-mail connectivity. The dial-up providers are cheaper, with fees of approximately $50–$60 a month but service can be poor or unavailable, particularly during heavy rainstorms and peak usage times. Recently, ISP’s began offering broad band service, providing much more reliable and high quality connections but the installation costs are approximately $200 dollars and the monthly rate can vary from $55 to $200 dollars a month, depending on speed of service and data usage. There are also numerous Internet Cafés in Phnom Penh, offering Internet service and International calling via VOIP. Both services are inexpensive and adequate.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 6/9/2005 4:47 AM

Mail and Pouch Although Phnom Penh is a “pouch” post, post does have an APO address and has limited APO/pouch service. Mail is sent via APO as far as Bangkok where Embassy Bangkok mailroom personnel repackage it as diplomatic pouch for delivery to Phnom Penh. Although the APO is the most desirable method for sending and receiving international mail, the added workload on Embassy Bangkok means that large package shipments must be sent via the Dulles, VA pouch address instead. APO service through Bangkok takes about 7–14 days transit time. The U.S. official air pouch takes 14–21 days transit time. Post receives incoming APO/diplomatic pouches from Bangkok three times a week, and an incoming pouch from Washington once a week. Outgoing APO mail departs post twice a week via unclassified pouches. Post does not have the facilities to provide special services such as selling stamps or registering or insuring mail (these services can be obtained in Bangkok). International Air Mail, while reasonably reliable, takes 21–28 days transit time for letter mail to the U.S.

The APO mailing address for the post is:

Individual’s Name

Unit 8166, Box P

APO AP 96546

The international mailing address for the post is:

Individual’s Name

American Embassy Phnom Penh

B.P. 35

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The diplomatic pouch address for personal mail:

Individual’s Name

4540 Phnom Penh Place

Dulles, VA 20189–4540

The diplomatic pouch address for official correspondence:

Individual’s Name

4540 Phnom Penh Place

Washington D.C. 20521–4540

Radio and TV Last Updated: 6/9/2005 4:49 AM

Phnom Penh receives short-wave radio broadcasts in English from the BBC, VOA, and Radio Australia. Radio France International, a French station, can be received on FM radio.

Local television programs (news programs, sit-coms, dramas, and movies) are broadcast on two channels in Khmer, the official language of Cambodia. The French channel CFI is retransmitted over Phnom Penh by the French Cultural center. A small regular television antenna is sufficient to receive it.

Cable television (including Star TV, HBO, Cinemax, the Cartoon Channel, ESPN, BBC News, the Discovery Channel, the National Geographic Channel, MTV and CNN) can be installed in your home for a $50 installation charge and a $10 monthly usage fee. Some Embassy residences have satellite TV dishes that receive a wide variety of Asian programs as well as English movies and CNN broadcasting. The Mission ICASS Council recently authorized and purchased AFN (Armed Forces Network) decoders for the residences of direct-hire U.S. employees.

Cambodian TV uses the PAL system. U.S.-made televisions and VCRs do not receive Cambodian broadcast signals. You must have a locally purchased TV/VCR, or a multi-system TV/VCR. Nevertheless, some families bring their U.S.-made TVs and VCRs in order to watch video movie tapes. Televisions, VCRs and DVD players can be purchased locally at rates comparable to those in the U.S. (U.S. brands are generally not available.) Prices are less expensive at local markets but quality cannot be guaranteed. Most electronic equipment is imported from Singapore or Bangkok. Videotapes and VCD/DVDs of American movies can be purchased inexpensively in the local markets, although quality is frequently poor. A video rental store stocks movies in both English and French.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 6/9/2005 4:53 AM

Reasonably current newspapers and magazines are available locally, including international editions of Time magazine, Newsweek, and The Economist. Cambodia has one daily English-language newspaper, The Cambodia Daily, which reports on local items of interest and publishes a weekly list of local events and classified ads of interest to ex-patriots. The bi-weekly Phnom Penh Post offers similar reporting and information. Post receives two Bangkok daily newspapers and the International Herald Tribune, as well as The Cambodia Daily, The Phnom Penh Post, the weekly English-language Business News, and The Mirror, a weekly English-language newsletter offering a survey of articles that have appeared in the local Khmer press. Periodicals available in the Public Affairs Section’s Information Resource Center include more than 42 current magazines and journals such as Business Week, Pacific Affairs, American Economic Review, Brookings Review, Far Eastern Economic Review, and the Washington Quarterly. A limited selection of new English-language books is available in local shops, such as the International Book Center, Monument Bookshop and Bayon Bookshop. Books can also be found at some local supermarkets and some restaurants and tourist hotels maintain used book swap corners. For a broader selection, there are several well-stocked English-language bookstores in Bangkok and on-line outlets that ship to APO addresses. Post maintains a small, informal lending library, and the Public Affairs Section has several shelves of reference books that are available to personnel for research and consultation.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 6/9/2005 5:05 AM

Medical services in Cambodia are poor. The Embassy’s medical care has improved with the opening in 1998 of the AEA/SOS International Clinic, located across the street from the Embassy compound, which functions as the Embassy’s health unit. The clinic is staffed with one full-time American physician, an American head nurse, an American dentist and two English-speaking Cambodian physicians. For other than routine medical treatments, Embassy personnel generally fly to Bangkok or Singapore. Bangkok serves as post’s primary medevac point. Given the absence of good in-country obstetrical-gynecological services, the Embassy recommends that these services be obtained in Bangkok or other third country with high quality health care. There are neither speech therapists nor reputable mental health services available in-country.

The Regional Medical Officer (RMO) from Bangkok and backup RMO from Singapore make regular visits to post and are available for consultations with U.S. staff members and family members.

RMO does not recommend the use of other clinics or local hospitals in-country, as they are poorly equipped and inadequately staffed. Locally available sterilization techniques are for the most part inadequate.

Note for prospective State bidders: over the past few years, post has experienced several broken assignments of personnel late in the cycle due to the inability of employees or their family members to gain medical clearances. If you or a family member have other than a Class 1 medical clearance or your child requires special learning assistance, post strongly recommends consulting MED before bidding Phnom Penh to ensure that you and your family will be cleared for this assignment.

Community Health Last Updated: 6/9/2005 5:07 AM

As in many developing countries, the health care system for Cambodians consists of many disparate elements: private providers (trained and untrained) operating clinics, traditional healers, pharmacies, drug shops and government hospitals and health centers. There are a small number of licensed pharmacies and many more unlicensed pharmacies throughout the country, but in nearly every community and village, even the most sophisticated antibiotics are readily available without a prescription. The majority of Cambodians first consult private providers, often traditional healers, and/or purchase medications without prescriptions when they are ill. Unfortunately, since there are few regulations regarding who may call themselves health care providers, the quality of care provided by many private health care personnel is questionable. Moreover, surveys have shown that when patients consult pharmacists or drug sellers, they are almost never given a physical examination before drugs are sold. In 1996, the government began a national health sector reform effort, aimed at distributing health centers and referral hospitals in strategic regions. To date, the implementation of that process is about 80% complete. Although the Cambodian government has intentions to provide full health coverage for all Cambodians, some rural areas of the country still lack sufficient health care facilities, trained professionals and medications.

As a very low-income country, Cambodia is faced with many of the health problems typically associated with developing countries. Major public health problems include HIV/AIDS, malaria, dengue fever, sexually transmitted diseases, respiratory infections, diarrhea, tuberculosis, and malnutrition. Cambodia has the highest HIV sero-prevalence in Southeast Asia. The reported national HIV sero-prevalence rate is 2.6%. Although malaria risk is minimal in Phnom Penh, the northwestern section of the country is the source of the worst multiple drug resistant malaria in the world. Dengue fever, another mosquito-borne illness is increasing, particularly in urban areas. Most of these diseases affect primarily the Cambodian population, although expatriates exploring Cambodia’s burgeoning sex industry are at extremely high risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV disease.

Despite these tremendous problems, the health system in Cambodia has been improving over the past several years. Newly available data show that fertility is decreasing and the use of modern contraception is increasing. The Ministry of Health is constrained by extremely scarce resources, yet has adopted a range of beneficial policies. Since the government budget for the health sector was $32 million in 2001, international assistance continues to account for the bulk of the funds allocated toward health in the country.

Typical of a developing country, sewage and garbage disposal facilities are generally inadequate but improving. Garbage is collected from post housing weekly with only occasional interruptions. Open-air markets suffer acutely from inadequate garbage and sewage facilities.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 6/9/2005 5:24 AM

Sickness can be a problem at the post, but with proper attention to methods of prevention and general sanitation, and by keeping immunizations current, many common diseases can be avoided. In general, malaria prophylaxis should be taken regularly when living or traveling up-country, but are not required within the confines of Phnom Penh where the risk of malaria is minimal.

Post concurs with CDC recommendations for the following vaccines (as appropriate for age) for long-term staff:·

Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
Hepatitis B if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, or may be exposed through medical treatment.
Japanese encephalitis.
Typhoid vaccination is particularly important because of the presence of S. typhi strains resistant to multiple antibiotics in this region.
As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles, and a one-time dose of polio for adults. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11–12 years who did not complete the series as infants.
See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.

Japanese encephalitis currently cannot be administered in the U.S., but the employees and family members may be vaccinated at post. Additionally, the rabies pre-exposure series should be considered for high-risk activities such as jogging and all pets should be inoculated against rabies. Finally, it is always advisable to check with a knowledgeable travel medicine specialist to discuss specifics. Post also recommends checking the CDC website.

To stay healthy, do:·

Wash hands often with soap and water. ·
Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. ·
Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
If you visit an area where there is risk for malaria, take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed.
Protect yourself from insects by remaining in well-screened areas, using repellants (applied sparingly at 4-hour intervals), and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants from dusk through dawn.
To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.
Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
To avoid getting sick:

Don’t eat food purchased from street vendors.
Don’t drink beverages with ice.
Don’t eat dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized.
Don’t share needles with anyone.
Don’t handle animals (especially monkeys, dogs, and cats), to avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plague).
Don’t swim in fresh water. Salt water is usually safer.
Many common medications (both prescription and non-prescription strength) are available from the two doctors commonly used by Embassy personnel as well as from several reputable local pharmacies. The quality of medications available on the local market cannot be guaranteed, but there are a few licensed and reputable pharmacies in Phnom Penh. Personnel should bring with them any medications they anticipate needing, particularly medications used on a long-term basis such as oral contraceptives, estrogen replacement therapy, insulin, high blood pressure pills, and thyroid tablets. Pepto Bismol or other anti-diarrheals are useful for treating “travelers’ diarrhea”, a common ailment. Some vaccinations can be updated at the post as needed or through the RMO in Bangkok. Contact lens solution can be difficult to find.

Tap water in Cambodia is not potable and for drinking purposes most people at post use readily available and reasonably priced bottled water. All of the Embassy houses are supplied with water distillers that automatically boil and distill tap water for drinking. Tap water can be used if it is boiled first for 10 minutes and then filtered. Iodine is also effective in purifying water. Tap water can be used for washing and bathing. Fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant all year round, but they should be thoroughly cleaned and soaked in an iodine or chlorine solution and then rinsed with purified water before consumption. All meat and seafood must be well cooked before eating. Locally produced milk should be avoided, but UHT whole milk, dried milk, canned condensed milk, and imported fresh milk from Thailand is available.

The climate in Cambodia is hot and humid year round, and care must be taken to avoid prolonged sun exposure, sunstroke, heatstroke, and dehydration. Regular use of sunscreen is recommended, as well as UV protective sunglasses, and a hat or sun visor. Dehydration can be a problem, particularly among children, but consuming proper amounts of water throughout the day can easily prevent it.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 6/9/2005 5:25 AM

The U.S. Mission in Phnom Penh has established 19 full-time, part-time and When Actually Employed family member positions within the Mission, mainly in the administrative and clerical sections. In addition, post contracts out the Embassy’s biweekly newsletter, “The Phnom Pen” to interested spouses. (Newsletter issues are posted on the Embassy’s Intranet site under the “CLO” heading.)Employment opportunities are limited on the local economy, although Phnom Penh supports a large and diverse community of over 1,000 foreign and indigenous non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Jobs are often available for teachers in the international schools and for English-language instructors.

American Embassy - Phnom Penh

Post City Last Updated: 6/9/2005 5:26 AM

Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital and largest city consists of four urban districts and three suburban districts. Phnom Penh is a sprawling city of about 1.3 million residents, with a mix of a few wide, tree-lined boulevards and narrow dirt secondary roads. The city is laid out in a rough grid system, with odd numbered streets running basically north/south and even numbered streets running east/west. However, streets are not always numbered sequentially and homeowners arbitrarily number their own homes so that house numbers follow only a rough sequence at best. The streets have been renamed and renumbered several times in recent years and to avoid confusion people frequently use both the old and the new street names and numbers when giving directions or listing addresses.

The city of Phnom Penh has shown a marked improvement in the last couple of years in the city landscaping and overall cleanliness. Sisowath Boulevard, which runs alongside the Tonle Sap River and past the Royal Palace, hosts many eateries, bars and shops. Many a pleasant evening or afternoon can be spent sitting on the second floor terraces of restaurants offering Asian and western cuisine overlooking the Tonle Sap followed by a stroll down the broad promenade.

Security Last Updated: 6/9/2005 5:29 AM

Cambodia is a nation that has been scarred by violence and political instability over the past several decades. Recent developments indicate potential for a brighter, more secure future for the country and its people, as the coalition government has been successful in bringing peace and stability to nearly all regions. However, Cambodia remains a dangerous place due mainly to widespread crime, corruption, weak border controls and underdeveloped law enforcement and judicial systems. Individual security awareness should remain constantly high at this post and thoughtful consideration given to all activities.

The Regional Security Office is composed of an RSO, ARSO, FS Office Management Specialist, three Foreign Service National Investigators, and a 310-person Local Guard Force. A Marine Security Guard detachment is scheduled for activation in fall 2005 directly prior to the completion of the New Embassy Complex. The Local Guard Force operates a 24-hour Mobile patrol vehicle, which conducts guard post inspections and responds to traffic accidents and incidents involving American personnel. The Embassy Switchboard/Radio Operator is on duty 24-hours daily, and processes emergency calls along with routine traffic.

The threat of terrorism is everywhere in the world, and Cambodia is no different. Incidents of terrorism in Cambodia in recent times appear to have involved internal political factions, and have included grenades, semi-automatic handguns and rockets as weapons. Cambodia is rife with assorted weaponry, derived from years of military and criminally related activities within its borders. Although the government has recently begun to crack down on illegal weapons possession, the number of people who still retain weapons, and the subsequent potential for violence, remains high. Weak border control and corruption among underpaid law enforcement personnel and other government officials provide an attractive environment for transnational terrorist groups to establish a presence in Cambodia.

Crime is widespread in Cambodia, and long-term trends have shown increases in the crime rate. Crimes against foreigners continue to rise along with those against the general population. Common criminal acts include armed robberies and snatch & grab robberies (where passengers on motorcycles are pulled from the bike, dragged down the street and robbed, leaving the victim with serious injuries). Sexual assaults occur regularly among the local population and Westerners are not exempt from being victimized. Violent crimes are common overall, including homicides, armed robberies, and kidnappings for ransom of wealthy local businessmen. Police generally lack investigative capabilities, and corruption is common. Personnel should avoid walking alone at night, stay in well-lit public areas, and avoid taking open-air taxis (motorcycle or local cyclo). Thefts are common, and close watch should be kept on wallets and purses in crowded shopping areas and at tourist sites. It remains good practice to keep a low profile, and avoid displaying flashy jewelry or money in public.

Embassy residential security is generally excellent, with 24-hour coverage by unarmed, uniformed Embassy guards. Guards are well trained in security-related responses. All residences must have security surveys conducted by the Regional Security Office prior to leasing, and required security upgrades are completed prior to occupancy. Embassy houses are mostly single family dwellings, and clustered in relatively close proximity to the Embassy.

Traffic safety is a big problem in Phnom Penh. There are growing numbers of cars, motorcycles and pedestrians on the streets, and minimal traffic control. Accidents are increasingly common. Personnel should always carry appropriate license and vehicle registration documents. Personnel should also remain at accident scenes, until Mobile I and the police authorities arrive, unless they determine the situation is potentially too dangerous to do so.

Reliable communications are extremely important in Phnom Penh, especially in the event of an emergency. Mobile cell phones and 2-way radios are issued to all Embassy U.S. direct-hire employees. Weekly radio checks are conducted by the Information Program Center. All employees and eligible family members, including children, and domestic staff should be familiar with using the radio and cell phone.

A tour in Cambodia can be a very enjoyable experience. However, it is always wise to prepare for worst case scenarios. Contingency planning in advance can save many problems and headaches later. Evacuations from post can occur and have occurred in the past, so it is recommended to plan ahead for unexpected relocation, provide family and friends emergency notification numbers, and keep all important personal papers up to date and available.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 6/9/2005 5:31 AM

The Embassy reopened its doors in 1993 after closing the Mission on April 12, 1975 in the face of the city’s imminent takeover by the Khmer Rouge. The U.S. Mission, comprised of State, USAID, CDC and DOD personnel, operates from a compound consisting of over a dozen converted villas within a residential city block. The Mission’s warehouse is leased off-site. The Ambassador’s residence is located about a half a mile from the Chancery.

All agencies are scheduled to move to a New Embassy Compound (NEC), currently under construction, by spring 2006. (State, DOD and CDC personnel will move to the completed chancery in December 2005 and USAID to an annex on the site in spring 2006.)

The New Embassy is located centrally near the Wat Phnom monument, the historical center of the city. Marine Security Guard Quarters will be collocated on the compound. The Mission warehouse and GSO workshops will continue to be leased off-site.

The Mission, including all agencies, employs over 500 persons -- U.S. citizens, third-country nationals, and host national employees. Of these, over 300 employees are members of the local guard force. The Embassy currently provides 24-hour guard coverage to the official facilities and the Mission residences. The guards are in constant two-way radio contact with a roving mobile patrol.

An Embassy officer will meet and assist new arrivals. Incoming employees should inform the Management Section of their schedules as early as possible to ensure coordination of arrangements. The Embassy operates a 24-hour switchboard for incoming telephone calls. The number is country code 855, city code 23, 216–436. The operator can connect callers with anyone in the Embassy.

Arriving employees are recommended to spend a day or two in Bangkok for consultations en route to post. (Airline schedules require an overnight stop in Bangkok in any event.) Embassy Bangkok provides Embassy Phnom Penh with many valuable regional services such as human resources support, medical (RMO) support, APO mail, information management and security engineering services, consular support and so forth. During consultations, employees may wish to join the American Community Support Association (ACSA). Membership fees vary depending on family size. Among other benefits, the ACSA membership allows access to Bangkok's commissary. Embassy Phnom Penh ACSA members may place food orders about every 1–2 months. The orders are flown in by military aircraft and can supplement consumables orders.

Incoming employees may wish to visit and register at the Regional Medical Office (RMO). Bangkok’s RMO provides medical services, referrals and vaccinations for State Department employees and their eligible family members.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 6/9/2005 5:32 AM

The Embassy invests considerable time and money renovating and upgrading houses to meet U.S. standards well in advance of assignments; and post is generally able to move employees directly into their assigned residence upon arrival. When this is not possible, personnel are housed in one of several nice hotels located in close proximity to the U.S. Embassy, generally the Hotel Le Royal, the Himawari, the Cambodiana Hotel, or the Sunway Hotel. If available, vacant USG housing may be used to house personnel.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 6/9/2005 5:34 AM

The Ambassador’s residence is the only U.S. Government-owned building in Cambodia. All other housing is currently under short-term lease. The Ambassador’s residence is located at No. 96 Norodom Boulevard, within a short walking distance of the current Embassy compound and a ten minute drive from the New Embassy Compound. It is a two-story villa surrounded by a sizable garden and an annex building housing a kitchen, staff quarters and recreational room.

Over one-half of the U.S. Embassy housing is located within a mile of the Embassy. The remaining housing is located within 2 miles of the Embassy or within a 5-20 minute drive from the office depending on location and traffic. Housing-to-office commutes will increase to 10-35 minutes for all personnel after the move to the New Embassy Compound.

Mission employee satisfaction with housing is high. Those few houses available on the market that meet minimum Western standards are usually overly generous in gross size, although they have a lot of unusable living space such as sweeping staircases and wide hallways. There are no apartments in the Embassy pool. Most houses have a master bedroom, a minimum of two spare bedrooms, a dining room, a living room and a sizable kitchen. Many have an annex building or indoor maid’s quarters. (Most Mission families hire daytime household help, not live-in.) Typical modern Cambodian construction often provides a bathroom with each bedroom. One oddity of note in Phnom Penh houses: most houses lack an outdoor grass yard. Buildings are usually built to the size of the lot with concrete/paved driveways allowing space for two parked vehicles. A few houses have small gardens or yards but many personnel “create” ground floor gardens by purchasing inexpensive potted plants, ferns and palms. Most houses have balconies or terraces on the upper floors.

All U.S. Embassy houses are surrounded by fences and provided with 24-hour guard service. The guards operate from a guard booth on the property grounds and have separate outside restroom facilities. The guards maintain 24-hour contact with the Embassy radio network. Most maintenance and repair of Embassy-leased housing is provided by the Embassy Maintenance Staff.

Furnishings Last Updated: 6/9/2005 5:35 AM

The Embassy provides each house with the following minimum pieces of furniture: sofa, loveseat, two armchairs, dining room table with eight chairs, sideboard, china cabinet, queen size bedroom set, twin bedroom set (more if employee is coming with children); office desk and chair, bookcases, kitchen cabinets/shelves, floor lamps, end tables, and carpets. The quantity and quality of household furniture is either new or in excellent condition. All windows are provided with drapes and sheers.

The Embassy furnishes the following 220v appliances: washer and dryer, gas stove, refrigerator, full-size freezer, water distiller, vacuum cleaner, four 220v/110v transformers and a microwave. All U.S. Embassy houses have air-conditioning units in every room used for living space. Other appliances and equipment personnel have found desirable to have at post include toaster, coffee pot, multisystem television, bread and rice cookers, VCR, personal computer and cassette/compact disc/DVD player. Given the limited numbers of transformers in houses, incoming personnel should consider bringing 220v appliances or appliances that can be switched between 110v and 220v. Most 220v household appliances are also available locally, at prices comparable to or higher than prices in the U.S. (depending on whether the appliances are purchased at outdoor markets where prices are lower, but quality cannot be guaranteed; or if appliances are purchased at more expensive — and more reliable — stores).

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 6/9/2005 5:36 AM

Available housing in Phnom Penh is not built to U.S. safety standards, and the U.S. Embassy goes to great effort and expense to upgrade each house leased. Wood-fire stoves are replaced with gas stoves, grounded electrical outlets are installed for a washer and dryer, the electricity is upgraded to 60 amps, three-phase grounded electricity with a breaker panel, and hot water pipes and water heaters are installed in all bathrooms and kitchens. All houses have running water and indoor plumbing. Tap water in Cambodia is not drinkable, and all U.S. Embassy houses are provided with a water distiller. All Embassy houses have telephone land lines. All U.S. direct-hire employees at post are also issued a mobile telephone and a two-way radio.

Electricity outages in Phnom Penh, formerly a daily event, are now an infrequent occurrence, but all Embassy-leased houses are equipped with a 40 KVA generator and an automatic transfer switch, providing an adequate 24-hour electrical supply. The reserve tank is large enough to operate the generator 24 hours per day for 8–10 days. The electricity in Cambodia is 220v, 50 Hz (cycles), but this level fluctuates and power surges are common. Power surge protectors are desirable for sensitive electronic equipment (they are not provided by the Embassy).

Food Last Updated: 6/9/2005 5:38 AM

Food shortages are not a problem in Phnom Penh, and a variety of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables are always available. Several western-style supermarkets stock supplies of imported meat, both fresh (imported from Australia and New Zealand) and frozen (imported from the U.S.). Available types of meat vary but usually consist of various cuts of beef, pork and chicken. Prices for imported meat are higher than in the U.S. Locally produced meat is available, but there are no standards for quality control or hygienic handling and processing. Locally produced milk should be avoided, but imported fresh pasteurized milk is available at several supermarkets. In addition, the markets stock UHT milk, dried milk, and canned condensed milk. Imported Western-type foods are available at several markets, but selection and availability vary. Imported processed baby food is also sometimes available.

There are no government or private commissaries in Phnom Penh; however, U.S. personnel are allowed to join and subsequently order merchandise from the commissary in Bangkok. Purchases are sent on military support flights that come about six times a year, on a sporadic schedule, but generally a flight arrives every two months. Many U.S. products that are not available on the local economy can be obtained through the Bangkok commissary, but the cost of packing and sending the products to the airport can make this option expensive. Post recommends shipping in your consumables’ order such items as paper and party products, specialty spices and foods, hot cereals, chocolate chips and baking items, baking equipment, specific brands of pet food, pet litter, home office supplies, stamps, special brands of cleaners, feminine hygiene products, other personal hygiene products such as shampoo, hair conditioners if you are partial to specific brands, and cosmetics. Contact lens solution can be difficult to find. Contact lens wearers are recommended to bring in their own supply.

Dining out is a favorite pastime in Phnom Penh given the large selection of good restaurants. Local cuisine offerings include Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Thai, Middle Eastern, French, Russian, German, Mexican, Italian, Korean, Pakistani/Indian and continental cuisine. Many restaurants serve Western-style breakfasts and brunches. The major hotels all have dining establishments usually serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets. For fast food, there are several delicatessen-style sandwich shops, pizzerias and hamburger joints in town. Prices vary by establishment but as a rule of thumb, the prices for Western food generally fall in the range to be found in mid-range restaurants in Washington, D.C. Local cuisine options run much cheaper.

The local cuisine is quite good, similar to Thai food but not generally as spicy. Fresh seafood is a major component of many local dishes. Native Marylanders on staff can attest that the steamed/fried crab dishes feature the best fresh crab this side of the Chesapeake Bay. For non-seafood eaters, Cambodian cuisine also offers a multitude of choices featuring beef, pork, chicken and vegetarian dishes.

Clothing Last Updated: 6/9/2005 5:40 AM

Cambodian culture and custom dictate modesty in dress, particularly for women. Very short skirts and shorts should be avoided, although sleeveless tops are acceptable for women (shoulders should be covered when visiting temples and wats). Many Cambodians wear Western-style clothing, particularly in Phnom Penh, but traditional skirts and sarongs are also common. Although shorts are seen on Westerners and Cambodian children, Cambodian adults do not wear them. Clothing appropriate for a tropical climate is worn year round, and most occasions call for casual attire.

Local markets stock some Western clothing including children’s clothing; however, finding “larger” American sizes can be challenging. Clothing can also be made locally at very low cost (the material — cotton, silk, polyester — is more expensive than the labor). Local tailors are adept at copying clothing styles from patterns although individuals have reported mixed results in finding good tailors to handle more complicated alterations and custom-made requests. Most personnel at post depend on catalog/internet shopping to buy their basic wardrobe. Good quality ready-made shoes are difficult to find. Leather shoes and sandals, for adults and children, can be custom-made locally at relatively inexpensive prices, and again, local craftsmen can copy favorite shoes or sandals.

Personnel should bring with them to post any desired athletic shoes and clothing (including bathing suits). During the rainy season, rubber boots, a long, lightweight raincoat, and a rain hat are desirable. Umbrellas are also a necessity during the rainy season. Although umbrellas can be purchased locally, personnel may want to bring with them a small, compact umbrella that can be carried in a purse or briefcase.

Men Last Updated: 6/9/2005 5:38 AM

At work, men will be most comfortable in short-sleeved dress shirts and cotton pants. Long-sleeved dress shirts and neckties are appropriate for business meetings and more formal occasions. Cotton material is available locally, and dress shirts can be made inexpensively. Personnel should bring tropical-weight suits for formal occasions, although for most situations shirt and tie is adequate. Formal entertaining is rare in Cambodia. Black tie is not necessary even for the Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission.

Women Last Updated: 12/3/2003 3:38 PM

Women will be most comfortable at work wearing at or below the knee lightweight skirts and dresses, or appropriate slacks. Shorter styles are acceptable for westerners but are not customary in Cambodian culture. Tight, scanty or otherwise revealing clothing should be avoided. In Cambodia’s tropical climate, natural fiber clothing, especially cotton, is usually the most comfortable. Sandals or other casual shoes are appropriate for work; for more formal occasions, pumps or dress sandals are appropriate. At more formal functions, women should wear skirts or dresses rather than dress pants. Formal entertaining is rare at the post and evening dress is not necessary even for the Ambassador or DCM. Women should not wear black or white to Cambodian weddings (these colors are worn at funerals).

Children Last Updated: 12/3/2003 3:39 PM

Young children should plan to wear shorts and polo shirts/t-shirts or sundresses year round, with sandals or sneakers (sneakers, incidentally, are difficult to find for children in Phnom Penh). There are very few occasions requiring dress-clothes for children, and the climate rarely calls for trousers.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 6/9/2005 5:43 AM

Necessary toiletries, cleaning and household supplies can be purchased locally, although selection and brand names are limited. Most available products are imported from Thailand, and some European and a few American brands are available. If personnel have a preferred brand of cosmetics and toiletries they should bring a supply with them to the post. Limited supplies of feminine napkins and tampons are available at several markets in Phnom Penh. Contact lens wearers should bring an adequate supply of needed solution with them. Sterile .01 saline drip solution is occasionally available at local pharmacies. Insect repellent with deet is available locally. Tobacco products, including some American brand of cigarettes, can be purchased locally. Batteries are available in standard sizes, but quality is not comparable to American brands. Diapers, infant lotions and powders, baby bottles and other accessories are available at several markets, although they are expensive. Cloth tablecloths, placemats and napkins can be inexpensively made locally.

For other suggestions on Consumables, see previous FOOD section.

Basic Services Last Updated: 6/9/2005 5:43 AM

Local tailors are adequate and inexpensive. Fine quality is sometimes limited by sewing machines that are very basic and frequently manually powered. Tailors are adept at copying clothing styles but usually do not have a lot of experience doing custom designs. Some minor shoe repairs can be done locally, and leather shoes and sandals can be custom-made at inexpensive prices. Good quality repair services can be hard to find. Dry-cleaning services are available at two hotels but at prices higher than Washington, D.C. drycleaners. Beauty and barbershops are widely available locally, at very low prices by American standards, although services are generally limited to haircuts, manicures and pedicures. Local garages can provide basic mechanic services on most cars. Wood and iron workers are also available locally, although the wood is often not sufficiently pre-treated and may crack if taken to a non-tropical country.

The Mission offers, at no cost to U.S. employees and their eligible family members, a children’s playroom, a fitness room and an Internet café located across from the Embassy compound.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 12/3/2003 3:40 PM

Host country domestic help is widely available, and many personnel at post employ a maid and/or a cook and sometimes a driver. Personnel with children often hire on nannies who double as maids. Many personnel also chose to employ a part-time gardener. Full-time (44 hours/week) maids/cooks are usually hired on for about $100 a month and part-time (6–8 hours/week) gardeners are about $20–$30 a month. Prices for drivers vary depending on whether you provide the car. Full-time (44 hours/week) drivers’ salaries run $150 a month and rental of car (maintenance included) an additional $250–$350 dollars a month. Employer is expected to pay for gasoline and generally drivers are paid for overtime. Generally, domestic staff are given additional benefits, such as a 13-month payment in conjunction with the Cambodian New Year. Many people pay for English lessons, cooking lessons and basic medical care as well.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 6/9/2005 5:45 AM

Although Cambodians are predominately Buddhist, religious freedom is generally respected by the Khmer people and Cambodian government. Religious services and facilities in Phnom Penh seem to change often, depending on the current expatriate population. The daily paper has a weekly section that includes when and where various religious groups meet. Among those denominations currently represented in Phnom Penh: Bahai; Baptist World Mission; Bethany Baptist; Catholic; Church of Christ the King; Church of Christ Our Peace; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; International Christian Fellowship; Seventh-day Adventist.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 6/9/2005 10:47 PM

As the expatriate community has grown over the years, the number of suitable primary and secondary schools in Phnom Penh has likewise grown. There are three schools in Phnom Penh that many Embassy children attend. They are the International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP), the French-language Lycée Francais René Descartes (LFRD), and the Northbridge International School (NISC).

ISPP is a non-profit, parent-owned school that was started in 1991. NISC is associated with the International School of the Eastern Seaboard in Chonburi, Thailand, and was established in 1997. Both schools have been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Both ISPP and NISC are a part of the Mekong River International School Association (MRISA), which is designed to bring together students in schools in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam for sporting events and cultural exchanges. LFRD is operated by the French Ministry of Education and strives to provide students with an education identical to that of a public school in France.

ISPP secondary and elementary school campuses are located centrally in Phnom Penh on Norodom Blvd. In the 2004/2005 school year there were a total of 378 students from 34 countries from ages 3 to 19. Of those, 11 were graduating seniors and about 94 were in grades 9 to 12. This school is within a 5 to 10 minute drive of most embassy housing and the embassy compound. ISPP is the only school at this moment offering professional assistance to special needs children. ISPP follows the International Baccalaureate Program for primary grades and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program for grades 11 and 12 rather than the U.S. standard academic system. Some Mission parents have found that the IB system and the U.S. standard academic system are not entirely compatible although the IB program is becoming more commonly known in the U.S. and accepted by U.S. colleges.. For more information on ISPP, go to

LFRD was opened in 1992 and currently enrolls 390 children. It is located in the Wat Phnom quarter next door to the new American Embassy Complex. LFRD teaches the French national curriculum as defined by the French Ministry of National Education and the language of instruction is French. The mission of the school, as well as that of all other French schools affiliated with the Ministry of National Education, is to ensure French citizens abroad receive a French public school education and to contribute to the dissemination of French language and culture. The French curriculum can be divided into four distinct parts: Ecole Maternelle (pre-school), Ecole Elementaire (primary school), College and Lycee. Lycee strives to prepare students either for entrance to a French university or for a successful career. Students must choose which of these paths they wish to take and instruction varies according to this decision. Vocational training is somewhat limited at LFRD for those students choosing not to prepare for university entrance. LFRD has a team of 60 teachers, 26 of which are French and 17 of which are certified by the French Ministry of National Education. For more information, go to

NISC, which lies within the 146-acre gated Northbridge Community, is located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh off of the main road to Pochentong International Airport. This is about a 20 to 40 minute drive from the Embassy, depending on traffic. At the end of the 2004/2005 school year, 247 students were enrolled at NISC representing 27 countries. NISC uses a U.S.-style curriculum. The students take math, science, English, history, a foreign language (French, Spanish, or Khmer), music, art, computers, physical education, and swimming each year. NISC requires students to have 24 credits by graduation. NISC offers some Advanced Placement classes. 

Parents of students in all three Phnom Penh schools mentioned above have expressed satisfaction with the education provided.

For the 2004–2005 school year, the educational allowance fully covered tuitions for all three schools. Prospective bidders planning to send their children to school “away from post” are strongly encourage to check the current rate with allowances or as listed in DSSR Section 920.

The Gecko & Garden Pre-School, geared for children ages 2 to 5 years, is a parent-owned and operated non-profit pre-school. It is set up to provide an environment where children can learn through play.

School activities aim to foster independence and creative expression, while considering each child’s interests and abilities.School hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. After-school activities on afternoons and Saturdays are offered at an additional cost, and children ages 2 to 5 who are not enrolled in the school are also welcome to participate.

Other Education Opportunities

The French Cultural Center offers French language courses and shows French films on a regular basis. The U.S. Embassy offers a post-language program to teach Khmer to U.S. employees and their adult eligible family members. Khmer language classes are also available at several locations in Phnom Penh or private teachers can be engaged for one-on-one lessons.

Classes: Yoga classes are

available at several locations in town. Cooking classes are offered at several hotels and at a local training center. Art and dance classes are occasionally offered individually around town. The CLO’s office periodically arranges various classes at the Embassy based on community interest. Current offerings have included ball-room dancing, pottery, karate, yoga, sketching and aerobics.

Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 12/3/2003 3:41 PM

The French Cultural Center offers French language courses and shows French films on a regular basis. The U.S. Embassy offers a post-language program to teach Khmer to U.S. employees and their adult eligible family members. Khmer language classes are also available at several locations in Phnom Penh or private teachers can be engaged for one-on-one lessons. Saturday morning Yoga classes are available at the Clark Hatch Health Club. Cooking classes are offered at several hotels and at a local training center for a fee. Art and dance classes are occasionally offered individually around town.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 6/9/2005 11:01 PM

Because of Cambodia’s hot and humid weather, sports enthusiasts should take proper precautions to avoid heat stroke, sunburn, and dehydration. Tennis, swimming, volleyball, soccer, biking, basketball, softball, motorcycling, golf and running are among the locally available sports.

Most of the large hotels in Phnom Penh have a health club membership program that usually includes tennis, swimming, and weight machines and exercise equipment. (Most offer individual and family membership rates.) The Embassy offers the free use of its fitness center.

To avoid traffic, dust, smog, and curious stares, most runners prefer to run at the Olympic Stadium rather than through the streets of Phnom Penh. The Hash House Harriers, an expatriate running club, meets weekly for group runs and socializing. Boating and fishing can be done on the Mekong and Bassac rivers. Small, rudimentary fishing and motorboats can be rented at reasonable cost by the hour or the day (usually a driver is included in the rental cost.) Local boats are not equipped with life preservers or other safety equipment. Some basic fishing tackle can be purchased locally, but anglers will be better off if they bring gear with them. For gardeners, Cambodia’s lush tropical climate encourages rapid growth of a wide range of fruits, vegetables and tropical flowers.

The Embassy and SOS medical clinic field a joint softball team open to any interested Mission member. The team plays on weekends against one other team in town. In the larger community, there are also informal soccer, rugby and basketball leagues. Go-karting is also a popular activity, recommended for children 10 and up. Golf and tennis are offered at various hotels. Golf/tennis lessons run around $10–$20 per session.

Occasionally, boat and swimming races are held on the Mekong and Bassac Rivers, usually in conjunction with a local holiday or festival. The big event every year for Phnom Penh residents is the Water Festival, a 2½-day event featuring competing regional rowing teams in traditional boats. The event brings in approximately 1,000,000 visitors to Phnom Penh.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 6/9/2005 11:03 PM

Within Cambodia, air travel is possible to Siem Reap (and the temples at Angkor Wat), Battambang, Stung Treng and a few other destinations. There are a half dozen daily flights from Phnom Penh to Bangkok (a 1-hour flight) and regular direct flights to other international destinations, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Vientiane, and Kuala Lumpur. There are several “high speed” boat services offering daily trips up the Mekong River to Siem Reap, Kompong Cham and Kratie. Package boat tours are also available for day trips and stops at nearby villages for local handicrafts.

Siem Reap is a popular travel destination for all personnel at post and visitors. The temples at Angkor Wat, built between the 9th and the 14th centuries when the Khmer Empire was the most powerful and influential in Southeast Asia, are among the most spectacular sights in the world and represent Cambodia’s biggest tourist attraction. Personnel can easily arrange trips on their own or join a package tour, ranging from 2 to 5 days in duration, which can be booked through several travel agents in Phnom Penh. Package tour prices include all ground and air transportation, hotel and meals, admission fees at all temples, and an English-speaking guide. Round-trip airfare to Siem Reap is about $135 (daily flights are available from Phnom Penh). Ticket cost to visit the temples is $20 per day or visitors may obtain a three-day pass for $40. Many people opt for the Phnom Penh-Siem Reap speedboat that takes about 5 hours and costs $25 one-way.

The sand beaches at Sihanoukville, located on Cambodia’s coast on the Gulf of Thailand, are 4-hour drive from Phnom Penh and can provide a relatively inexpensive weekend beach getaway. Koh Kong Island, located just off of Cambodia’s western coast in the Gulf of Thailand, is being developed as a tourist destination. Flights are available from Phnom Penh, and the island can also be reached by boat from Sihanoukville.

Day-trip destinations from Phnom Penh include Ou Dong, Cambodia’s capital from 1619 to 1866, located 40 kilometers north of Phnom Penh; Tonle Bati, Ta Prohm and Yeay Peau Temples, located 33 kilometers south of Phnom Penh; temples at Phnom Chisor, located 55 kilometers south of Phnom Penh and 21 kilometers south of Tonle Bati; and Koki Beach, which is not really a beach at all but a popular Khmer destination—especially on Sundays—located on the Mekong River, 12 kilometers east of Phnom Penh. For persons who like to motorcycle but do not own one, motorcycles and mopeds can be rented inexpensively per day.

The overseas designated rest and recuperation (R&R) post is Sydney, Australia; however, employees who select the U.S. for their R&R are entitled to fly to any location within the continental U.S.

Entertainment Last Updated: 6/9/2005 11:09 PM

Formal and organized entertainment in Phnom Penh is limited. The French Cultural Center shows movies in French and sponsors a monthly schedule of lectures. Several times a year, the Center brings classical musicians or theater performances to Phnom Penh. The Phnom Penh Players, an amateur acting group, puts on two plays a year. Traditional Cambodian dance and shadow puppet performances are held frequently. Performances, ceremonies and races are also held in conjunction with most Cambodian national festivals. There is no Western symphony, opera, ballet or performing arts (other than the Phnom Penh Players) in Cambodia.

There are a number of nightclubs in Phnom Penh that offer dancing (most clubs play a combination of Cambodian, Thai, and western rock music). Other nightclubs periodically offer theme nights, such as trivia nights or open-mike nights, hold wine-tastings and host special events in line with Western holidays, such as Halloween parties, New Year’s events and Thanksgiving dinner.

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 6/9/2005 11:10 PM
As the post is relatively small, there are few organized social activities. Personnel tend to socialize on an informal basis, sharing meals and going out to restaurants and nightclubs. There are no social clubs available to personnel.

International Contacts Last Updated: 6/9/2005 11:11 PM
A wide range of nationalities affiliated with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the UN or the diplomatic community resides in Phnom Penh. Although opportunities for formal socializing and entertainment are limited, it is easy to meet people informally by attending local social events and joining organizations such as the Hash House Harriers or the Women’s International Group, socializing at local restaurants and bars, and through schools and church groups.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 6/9/2005 11:11 PM

Embassy officers have frequent contact with the diplomatic community, NGO workers and Cambodian officials. Official entertaining usually involves cocktail parties, receptions and dinners. Home entertainment by the Cambodians is rare; however, senior Cambodian officials usually host annual New Year’s Eve parties and Water Festival parties in which many senior and mid-level officers are invited. Junior officers and staff personnel lead an active social life within the international community. Although they have fewer social requirements than senior officials, they frequently are invited to attend official functions.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 6/9/2005 11:20 PM

Soon after your arrival, you should call on the Chief of Mission, the DCM and other Section and agency heads. Formal calls on Cambodian Ministry officials or other members of the diplomatic community are appropriate. Business cards are presented when making introductory calls.

You may bring a supply of business cards but post recommends having the card printed at post to include Khmer translation. Phnom Penh has commercial printers that can print bilingual cards and invitations. 100 business cards cost between $10-$12. Many employees prepare their own business cards using Embassy software.Dress for individual official and social functions is indicated on invitation cards. Formal occasions are rare for all but the most senior officials; however, there may be occasions when a long skirt and blouse for ladies is appropriate. Ladies should avoid wearing black and white to official functions hosted by Cambodians. Men are rarely asked to dress more formally than a dark suit and tie.

Special Information Last Updated: 6/10/2005 0:25 AM

Cambodia’s nearly 30 years of war not only caused an enormous loss of human life and hardship, but also left a legacy of landmines and unexploded ordinance (UXO) for future generations of Cambodians. Most of the landmines in Cambodia are of Chinese or Vietnamese origin, and were laid during the years of Vietnamese occupation by all parties. They are concentrated in the west and northwest portions of Cambodia along the Thai and Lao borders. The provinces of Battambang, Banteay Mean Chey, Otdar Mean Chey, and Pailin produce 60% of Cambodia’s present-day mine victims. The vast majority of UXO is in the eastern portion of the country as a result of the American, South Vietnamese and Cambodian bombing and ground operations during the Vietnam War. It should be noted that while the majority of UXO is located here, every province in Cambodia (minus Krong Kaeb) has a UXO problem in some form or another. UXO varies from small caliber ammunition, to mortar rounds and sub-munitions from cluster bombs, all the way up to 500-pound bombs dropped by B-52 bombers.

Mine and UXO casualty rates are seasonal, with the months of Jan–May having the highest rates (average 110 victims per month), the months of Jun–Oct having the lowest (average 37 victims per month) and the months of Nov–Dec in the middle (average 77 victims per month). Mine casualty rates are steadily declining in Cambodia through demining and awareness/education programs and now account for 25% of all mine/UXO victims. Of note, half of all mine casualties occur as a result of individuals’ cutting timber and traveling in the forest. UXO accounts for 75% of all mine/UXO victims and of these, slightly more than half are caused by the individual tampering or playing with a UXO device. The lesson here is to stay out of the forest and never touch UXO.

Other Posts or Offices Within the Host Country

There are no U.S. Government posts or offices in Cambodia outside Phnom Penh.

Post Orientation Program

Post provides a half-day newcomer orientation for employees and family members. Past orientations have included various speakers from the Management Sections and the SOS medical doctors followed by a tour of the Embassy compound and the SOS/AEA medical clinic. Incoming employees are also provided with hefty welcome kits from both the Community Liaison Office (CLO) and the Human Resources Section. These kits provide a wealth of information about the post and Phnom Penh and a packet of forms for in-processing. CLO makes every effort to assign a social sponsor for each new family. The social sponsor is an invaluable resource in the first few days to help incoming employees learn where stores, restaurants and services are located in town and introducing the new family to the Mission community.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 6/9/2005 11:28 PM

No U.S. carriers fly directly to Phnom Penh. The most traveled route from Washington to Phnom Penh is via Chicago, Detroit or the U.S. West Coast to Tokyo, then to Bangkok, then to Phnom Penh. Travelers also commonly reach Phnom Penh through Hong Kong and Singapore.

The routing through Bangkok generally requires an overnight stay and luggage is best checked directly through to Bangkok. If an overnight is required in Bangkok, Thai currency (baht) will be needed for meals, ground transportation, etc. Money can be exchanged at bank booths located outside the Customs hall, ground floor. Many Embassy personnel overnight in Bangkok at the Amari Airport Hotel that is connected to the Bangkok Airport by a skybridge although persons with business at the U.S. Embassy often choose to stay at one of the hotels near the main Embassy compound. Taxis are readily available at the Bangkok airport for travel to town at a cost around 300-500 baht one-way ($8-15). The airport taxi stands are located directly outside of the airport arrival terminal. Slightly more expensive limo services are available inside the arrival terminal (600-700 baht or $15-$20.) Travelers are recommended to use these airport services rather than book limo services through the local hotels, which cost two-three times the amount of regular taxis or airport limos. Thai taxis and businesses will not accept U.S. dollars so travelers going into Bangkok are advised to change money before departing the airport.

There is a mandatory 500 baht departure tax ($12-$15) when leaving Bangkok by air. This fee may be paid at manned booths or automatic machines located near the passport control line. The receipt must be shown to the passport control guards to proceed to passport control. The Thai authorities at the departure tax booth and the automatic machines will not accept or exchange U.S. dollars. Travelers who do not have the correct amount in baht must then find a money exchange or bank booth and exchange this amount in baht and return to pay this fee -- which can be stressful if the traveler is in a hurry. Travelers are advised to consider this mandatory departure expense upon first arrival when changing U.S. dollars into baht.

A change of clothing, toiletries and medications should be hand carried in your accompanying baggage (whether or not an overnight stay is required in Bangkok).

Employees are recommended to bring half a dozen visa-sized pictures for themselves and accompanying family members to post for use in obtaining diplomatic cards after arrival.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 6/9/2005 11:29 PM

There is a $25.00 departure tax for all international flights and a $6.00 departure tax for all domestic flights from Phnom Penh. There is no restriction on the amount of currency that can be imported into the country, but amounts in excess of $10,000.00 must be declared.

Passage Last Updated: 6/9/2005 11:29 PM

All travelers must have a valid passport. New employees assigned to the Embassy must obtain a diplomatic visa in Washington, D.C. prior to arriving in Phnom Penh. Tourists, business travelers and other visitors to Cambodia may purchase an airport visa on arrival in Phnom Penh for $20. One visa-sized photo needs to be provided for obtaining an airport visa. Baggage claim receipts must be retained and shown to claim bags on arrival in Phnom Penh. Although no inoculations are currently required for entry, there are a number of recommended vaccinations and prophylactics (see Health and Medicine).

Pets Last Updated: 6/9/2005 11:29 PM

Pets are permitted entrance into Cambodia. All pets should have standard vaccinations and certificates, and the post should be notified in advance if an employees plans to bring a pet. Airlines should be contacted directly about its policy for shipping of pets. There is an established veterinarian, Agro Vet in Phnom Penh.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 12/3/2003 3:44 PM

The Ambassador’s written approval must be obtained before bringing any firearms into Cambodia. There are no public shooting ranges in Cambodia and hunting opportunities are not available.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 6/9/2005 11:33 PM

Cambodia is principally a cash economy in which the Cambodian riel and the U.S. dollar are used. Travelers do not need to change dollars into riel, as the dollar is accepted everywhere. Paper riel notes in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000 are in circulation. However, at 4,000 riel to the dollar, transactions are more easily accomplished using dollars. Dollar denominations from 1 to 100 are in wide circulation. Prices of goods and services may be quoted in either riel or dollars and may be paid using either currency. Coins (Cambodian or U.S.) are not used. Often, payments are made in dollars and change is provided in a combination of dollars and riel. Dollars (and riel) are readily available from the U.S. Embassy cashier where U.S. employees may cash personal checks for up to $500 per day. It is important that employees bring an adequate supply of checks to post.

The PCC (Paper Check Conversion) software has been installed at the Cashier window. Personal checks presented at the window for accommodation exchange are immediately scanned and electronically transferred to the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland; and, they are cleared in 24 hours.Checks and credit cards are not readily accepted, except by major hotels, some restaurants and a handful of retail shops. For businesses that accept credit cards, it is not unusual that they add a 3% to 5% surcharge to the transaction. Post employees can cash U.S. traveler and Treasury checks at the U.S. Embassy cashier and at some local banks. However, the local banks charge a fee for service. As of this writing, there are around 20 Western Union agents located in Phnom Penh and more than 60 in other locations outside of the city.

Personal banking in Cambodia is not advised. There are only a few reliable banks in the country and depositors’ accounts are not insured against loss. Although banking regulations exist, they may not always be enforced. Several banks have opened, and then closed, during the past years. No U.S. banks are currently operating in Cambodia.In January 1999, Cambodia instituted a 10% valued added tax (VAT) on the sale of goods and services. VAT paid on services is not reimbursable. However, VAT is not uniformly applied and generally only charged at major hotels, high-end restaurants, on ticket sales and at Western grocery stores. Small local vendors do not charge VAT and there is no government mechanism to enforce compliance. VAT paid on goods is usually reimbursable if claims are filed with the Local Regime Tax Office. The Financial Management Office (FMO) can assist post employees in filing for VAT tax refunds. Original receipts must be submitted to receive the refund. As of this writing, it was taking from 3–12 months to receive VAT refunds.

The metric system is used throughout Cambodia for all weights and measures.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 6/9/2005 11:34 PM

Post employees should consult with the State ICASS shipping and customs section before selling personally owned vehicles (POVs) or other personal property to those not having diplomatic status. There are tax implications on such transactions and permission to sell must be obtained from the Management Officer in advance.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 6/9/2005 11:51 PM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Becker, Elizabeth. When the War Was Over. Simon and Schuster: New York, 1986.

Bizot, Francois. The Gate. Random House, Inc., NY, 2002.

Brown, Frederick Z., ed. Rebuilding Cambodia: Human Resources, Human Rights, and Law.

Public Interest Publications: Virginia, 1993.

Chanda, Nayan. Brother Enemy. Collier Books: New York, 1986.

Chandler, David. A History of Cambodia. Westview Press, Inc.: Boulder, Colorado, 1983.

Chandler, David. Brother Number One: A Political Biography of Pol Pot. Westview Press,

Inc.: Boulder, Colorado, 1992.

Chandler, David. Facing the Cambodian Past. Silkworm Books: Chiang Mai, 1996.Chandler, David & Mabbett, Ian. The Khmers. Blackwell: Oxford, UK & Cambridge, USA, 1995.

Chandler, David. The Tragedy of Cambodian History: Politics, War, and Revolution Since 1945. Yale University Press: New Haven, Connecticut, 1991.

Chandler, David and Ben Kiernan, eds. Revolution and Its Aftermath in Kampuchea. Yale University Press: New Haven, Connecticut, 1983.

Chandler, David, Ben Kiernan, and Chantou Boua, eds. and trans. Pol Pot Plans the Future: Confidential Leadership Documents from Democratic Kampuchea. Yale University Press: New Haven, Connecticut, 1988.

Coedes, George. Angkor: An Introduction. Oxford University Press: Singapore, 1959, and Oxford University Press: Hong Kong, 1963.

Criddle, Joan D. and Teeda Butt Mam. To Destroy You Is No Loss: The Odyssey of a Cambodian Family. Doubleday: New York, 1987.

Gottesman, Evan. Cambodia After the Khmer Rouge: Inside the Politics of Nation Building. Yale University Press: New York, 2002.

Him, Chanrithy. When Broken Glass Floats: A Memoir of the Khmer Rouge Years in Cambodia. Norton & Company: New York, 2000.

Hinton, Alexander Laban. Why Did They Kill? Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide. University of California Press: Berkeley, CA, 2005.

Jackson, Karl, ed. Cambodia 1975–1978: Rendezvous with Death. Princeton, 1989.

Jacobson, Matthew. Adventure Cambodia. Silkworm Books, 2004.Kamm, Henry. Cambodia: Report from a Stricken Land. Arcade Publishing: New York, 1998.

Kiernan, Ben. How Pol Pot Came to Power. Verso: London, 1985.

Kiernan, Ben and Chanthou Boua. Peasants and Politics in Kampuchea, 1942–1981. Zed Press: London, 1982.

Livingston, Carol. Gecko Tails. Weidenfeld & Nicolson: London, 1996.

May, Someth. Cambodian Witness. Random House: New York, 1986.

National Geographic. March 1971. “The Lands & Peoples of South-East Asia.” National Geographic Society: Washington, D.C., 1971.

National Geographic. May 1982. “The Temples of Angkor.” National Geographic Society: Washington, D.C., 1982.

National Geographic. May 1982. “Kampuchea Wakens from a Nightmare.” National Geographic Society: Washington, D.C., 1982.

Neveu, Roland. The Great Little Guide: Phnom Penh and Cambodia, The Great Little Guide. Ltd.: Bangkok, 1993.

Ngor, Haing with Roger Warner. A Cambodian Odyssey. Warner Books, Inc.: New York, 1987.

Osborne, Milton. Sihanouk: Prince of Light, Prince of Darkness. Silkworm: Chiang Mai, 1994.

Shawcross, William. Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon & the Destruction of Cambodia. Simon and Schuster: New York, 1979.

Short, Phillip. Pol Pot Anatomy of a Nightmare. Henry Holt and Co.: New York, NY, 2004.

Szymusiak, Molyda. The Stones Cry Out: A Cambodian Childhood 1975–1980. Hill and Wang: New York, 1986.

Ung, Loung. Lucky Child: Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind. HarperCollins: New York, NY, 2005.

Vickery, Michael. Kampuchea: Politics, Economics and Society. Lynne Rienner: Boulder, Colorado, 1988.

Welaratna, Usha. Beyond the Killing Fields: Voices of Nine Cambodian Survivors in America.

Stanford University Press: Stanford, California, 1993.


S-21, The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine. 2004.

The Killing Fields. Columbia Pictures, 1984.

Internet Sites

Local Holidays Last Updated: 6/9/2005 11:56 PM

Cambodian New Year (3-day celebration) Mid-April
Chrat Prea Angkal (Royal Ploughing Day) May
King Sihamoni’s Birthday May
Pchum Ben (Feast of the Ancestors. 3 day celebration) Sept/October
The Water Festival (3-day celebration) Oct/November
Former King Sihanouk’s Birthday October — November
Independence Day (celebrates independence from the French) November 9

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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