Phnom Penh II

Phnom Penh (PP) has moved up much higher on my list of favorite places due to my recent visit.

As I mentioned before, on my prior visit I wasn’t feeling well so only really went out for 1 day in Phnom Penh.

I arrived here over a week ago and had booked 2 separate tickets out but on both occasions I decided to cancel the flights out as I was just having too good of a time in PP.

For anyone who likes to get into a place before it really gets popular and establish a residence/business and then watch its value grow in leaps and bounds over the coming years and decades, I would put Phnom Penh at the VERY top of the list.

I never saw Thailand in the 1960s, or earlier, but I bet it was a lot like Cambodia.

PP is a really neat city. It has a gorgeous downtown waterfront (Tong Le Sap River) location on which the Royal Palace is literally front and center and accessible. There are a few cool establishments that have been developed including the aforementioned FCC Hotel but for the most part it is nothing but little shops and businesses… no grand developments, although I have heard that a Korean company is building a huge resort/casino development somewhere in this area which I expect will lead to continued investment and development in PP. I foresee this area as being an amazing, cool, funky, modern, highly desirable address in the years to come.

Buying or investing here now would be the equivalent of buying some Shanghai or Hong Kong waterfront property in the early 1900s. Not that I expect Phnom Penh to evolve into something exactly like Shanghai or HK… but to invest here with a time horizon of 5-30 years would almost certainly look like one of the wisest moves in retrospect.

So, am I going to? Probably not. I’m very short term minded. I really have no plans to be around in 20 years and even if I am, being a real estate tycoon in Cambodia isn’t something to which I aspire.

That said, I would definitely look at purchasing a little abode given the right set of circumstances. With circumstance #1 being major improvements in the internet infrastructure in this region (something that could easily be cleared up in a matter of months once someone begins working on it).

DISCLAIMER: PP is very early in it’s development… and that’s why there is so much opportunity. But don’t come here expecting all the modernity of Thailand or Hong Kong. There are lots of things that need a lot of improvement. But even since my last trip here two years ago the changes are very noticeable.

When I first came here it seemed most streets were awash in garbage. Not sure what the deal was but obviously waste management was not working well.

There are still issues here. Certain parts of town, especially the market areas, once they shut down for the evening turn into smelly, gross dumping areas. Rats, bats and bugs abound.

As well, as I mentioned previously, poverty is still a fairly noticeable issue here… something that will naturally ease as the economy becomes more prosperous. But there are parts of town where you could end up walking through garbage, avoiding stepping on rats while being hounded by naked children begging for food… so, as I said, parts of this place are far from perfect AT THE MOMENT.

However, the same could be said for the downtown East side of Vancouver. You could find yourself walking through trash, trying not to step on needles while 80lb methheads filter along behind you offering manual stimulation for $10 and feeling lucky if you got out of there without being stabbed.

As with most places, if you know the places to avoid you would never see these spots… but in PP there are a fair amount of areas that the less adventurous type may not find appealing.

However, an average evening for me in PP entailed waking up at one of many beautiful modern hotels, all for under $100/night, some under $50/night, taking a dip at the pool. Working until dinner then taking one of thousands of available tuk tuks for $2 to the FCC or to the Rainhouse (another good place to start the evening with a cool club upstairs) or one of dozens of very good restaurants riverfront for dinner. Then dropping in for a drink at one of dozens of lounges and bars, most filled with nice, beautiful, fun girls who would be thrilled if you bought them a drink for $2. And then carousing about one of dozens of discos from the very modern places like Rock or Spark or to places such as Orange, Heart of Darkness, Martinis or others.

If you don’t mind a place that is just a bit rough around the edges you really should check out PP. And if you have designs on becoming the next Stanley Ho or Li Ka Shing in Asia, investment into PP, and Cambodia in general, will pay off in spades.