Renting an apartment in Siem Reap can be challenging at the best of times. It’s currently a renter’s market and there’s an abundance of serviced apartments and short-term and long-term apartment rentals in Siem Reap available at bargain prices, but there are still things you need to be aware of when renting an apartment in Siem Reap. Here’s the lowdown.
As Cambodia is currently closed to international tourists due to the pandemic and won’t re-open to leisure travellers until late 2021 (at the earliest), we’ve updated our guide to renting an apartment in Siem Reap with more of a focus on long-term apartments and serviced apartments aimed at expatriates, business travellers, and global nomads. Slow travellers dreaming of a future Cambodia trip should also find this guide helpful.
We’ve added an interview with the Siem Reap branch manager of Cambodia’s most professional real estate agents, IPS, along with questions about apartments to ask real estate agents and landlords, especially if you’re looking for an apartment online from overseas, lockdown or quarantine, and tips regarding leases and dealing with landlords, based on our own experience.
As regular readers know, when we’re not testing out hotels for stories, our preference will always be to rent apartments when we travel. Encouraging you to try to live like locals to gain a deeper insight into local life remains one of the guiding philosophies of Grantourismo and an essential part of our ‘slow, local, experiential’ travel mission.
With that in mind, we’ve still kept our pick of the best Siem Reap short-term apartments and holiday apartments for domestic tourists and future visitors, and we’ll give that section a thorough update when Cambodia announces a date for re-opening to foreign travellers.
A new feature of our updated insider guide to renting an apartment in Siem Reap is an interview with a local expert, a Siem Reap real estate agent from IPS Cambodia, who are Siem Reap’s most professional real estate agents in our experience.
Published 2013/Updated: 31 August 2021
Renting an Apartment in Siem Reap – Our Comprehensive Insider Guide to Siem Reap Apartment Rentals
When we first decided to make Siem Reap our base for bouncing around Southeast Asia on food and travel writing assignments, we had been staying in hotels for six months in Vietnam and prior to that living in serviced apartments in Bangkok. In between we’d spent a couple of months in 2012 in Cambodia, renting a serviced apartment in the capital, Phnom Penh while we were there working on stories, but we didn’t fall in love with the city.
After trying out some 40-odd hotels in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, we were well and truly ready for an apartment with a kitchen. So when we returned to Cambodia in 2013 we decided to test out ‘Temple Town’, as Siem Reap is fondly called, due its proximity to Angkor Archaeological Park, which is literally 15 minutes the road.
We were initially envisaging renting an apartment in Siem Reap just for a month, as we weren’t 100% sure whether we wanted to make Siem Reap our base or give Phnom Penh another try, and our long-term plan had been to return to Hoi An, Vietnam. So we had the idea to test out both cities for a month each before committing to a long-term lease. We highly recommend you do the same.
After looking at quite a number of Siem Reap apartments with two real estate agents, we ended up serendipitously finding an apartment ourselves. It was a spacious light-filled one-bedroom unit with a decent kitchen and wrap-around balcony just a block from the riverside.
There were very few long-term apartment rental options back in those days so we found ourselves jumping into a one-year lease. How things have changed. Now there’s everything from holiday apartments and serviced apartments to short-term apartment rentals (from one month to six months leases or longer) and long-term apartment rentals (a 1-year lease or longer is preferable).
The market has changed significantly yet again since the pandemic and accommodation boundaries have become blurred. Short-term apartment rentals are now offering long-term stays. Landlords that offered long term rentals are now more flexible. Hostels and hotels have added kitchenettes to rooms, while apartments with kitchenettes have installed proper functioning kitchens to appeal.
We therefore decided to consult an expert on renting out apartments in Siem Reap, real estate agent David Granger from IPS Cambodia, to give you an accurate picture of the state of things right now. IPS Cambodia is widely acknowledged as Siem Reap’s most professional real estate agency and that has been our experience dealing with them too. Scroll down for that interview.
Short-Term Apartment Rentals in Siem Reap
Serviced Apartments in Siem Reap
If renting an apartment in Siem Reap means a fully-furnished serviced apartment then you’re in luck. There are some impressive properties. Some of the best serviced apartment complexes in Siem Reap are Chateau d’Angkor La Residence and Templation Residence.
As central, comfortable, spacious, and secure they may be, however, serviced apartments in Siem Reap are expensive compared to serviced apartments of a similar standard in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hanoi, Saigon, Kuala Lumpur, and Penang. Some of the buildings feel more like hotels than serviced apartments, which is not what people who prefer to stay in apartments want, otherwise they’d just stay in hotels.
The kitchens also vary in quality and are not as well equipped when compared to serviced apartments in other Southeast Asian cities, such as Singapore, Bangkok and Saigon. All have big fridges, but some only have microwaves, others only have a two-burner gas stovetop, while the best have proper Western stoves with ovens. You’d be hard pressed to cook decent meals with the utensils available in some.
Serviced apartments generally have a washer-dryer, often to be found in the kitchen, while the best will have a separate laundry. Most have lush gardens and swimming pools, although they can tend to be on the small side, and some have small gyms.
Serviced Apartments in Siem Reap — What They Cost and What’s Included
The inclusion of utilities such as electricity, water, WiFi, and cable TV varies from property to property. Some properties include some services in the rent but not others, so they may include water but charge for electricity, for instance. Ask questions about what’s included and what the average costs are when you enquire so there are no nasty surprises at the end of your stay.
In terms of ‘service’, weekly or twice-weekly cleaning is included in some apartments, while others charge extra, although this can be as little as US$5 a month. Free WiFi is generally included. Unlike serviced apartments in Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, for instance, Siem Reap serviced apartments don’t usually provide services such as a reception desk with concierge, a travel desk for tour bookings, nor a restaurant or cafe.
Pre-pandemic rents for one-bedroom serviced apartments averaged at around US$130-250 per night or US$1,200-1,600 per month during high season. Rates are at their lowest during the monsoonal low season (May-October) but highest during the dry high season (November-April). Pandemic rates have dropped to as low as US$450-700.
Most properties only discount on their nightly rate if you stay a month or more, others discount for a weekly stay, so their one-bedroom apartment, say, which might be $145 a night ($130 in low season), could be $650 for a week and $1,300 for a month. If you take out a 6-month lease, the rent might be reduced to US$1,100 a month.
Still, while those prices might be fine for business travellers on expense accounts, they’re high for the average traveller renting an apartment in Siem Reap, especially when compared to other cities in the region. The prices are particularly on the high side for families and couples. In some cases, families and groups of foodie friends travelling together would be best booking a 2- or 3-bedroom apartment and splitting the cost.
While the pandemic has meant much lower rents on most apartments in Siem Reap, serviced apartments are not reducing rents as much as other types of lodgings are, and seem to prefer to stay empty.
Best Serviced Apartments in Siem Reap
Our picks of the best serviced apartments in Siem Reap.
Chateau d’Angkor La Residence
Chateau d’Angkor La Residence is a lovely option for renting an apartment in Siem Reap, located in the leafy French Quarter in a colonial-style building with pretty balconies, chequerboard tiles, lush gardens, and a decent sized swimming pool. But now it operates more like a hotel, with greater interest in higher-paying guests staying a few nights than people wanting to settle in for a while, and now calls its apartments ‘suites’. Still, the suites are generously sized, as you’d expect from a building that used to offer long-term apartments, with the one-bedroom suites at a spacious 82 m² and the two-bedroom suites a large 128 m², with spacious bedrooms, and separate dining and living areas decorated with artwork, artefacts, and potted plants. And it has all the amenities of serviced apartments, with fully-equipped kitchens with fridges and kitchenware, washing machines and irons. Check availability and rates on booking.com.
Formerly known as Steung Siem Reap Residences and Apartments, Templation Residence has clean, comfortable, spacious apartments, with polished wooden floors, plush furnishings and balconies. There are good sized bedrooms with big comfy beds and plenty of cupboards and storage space if you’re settling in for a while, along with great kitchens with separate dining areas and tables that seat six if you’re travelling with family or like entertaining with new friends, as we do when we travel. The property also has a good-sized swimming pool, small gym and garden with manicured lawns. The complex is in a terrific location on the corner of Wat Bo Road, a block from the river, a short stroll from some of Siem Reap’s best restaurants, such as Sugar Palm, Cuisine Wat Damnak, and is handy to Old Market and the compact historic centre. In low season, rates start at US$130 a night. Check availability and rates on booking.com.
Located on the riverside, Karavansara Residence was once the pick of Siem Reap’s serviced apartments if that meant a contemporary style with an open plan layout, spacious rooms, modern furniture, and art work and vases that make the apartments more inviting. There are balconies overlooking the river, and smart kitchens that are reasonably well equipped, although to do real cooking you’d still need to borrow, bring or buy additional utensils. Karavansara feels more like a residential apartment building, which we like, and there are indeed long-term residents in the building. There’s a small pool on the rooftop. We only stayed a couple of nights in a 3-bedroom duplex apartment but could have easily extended our stay for a year if the rent wasn’t out of our budget. Update: Karavansara is currently only renting long-term apartments during the pandemic, but should offer short-term rentals once the country opens to tourists again.
Holiday Rentals, Vacation Rentals and Airbnb in Siem Reap
If you’re considering renting an apartment in Siem Reap when the borders open to tourists later this year for a holiday or short term stay and prefer holiday rentals or vacation rentals to serviced apartments, then you need to take your time, do your research, and scrutinise the property listing closely.
You only have to do a quick Cambodia search on sites such as Airbnb and scan the results to see that many of the properties aren’t apartment rentals, houses or even rooms in private homes at all. While the vacation rental sites have many apartments in Siem Reap listed, you’ll have to look hard and read the fine print to identify what’s what.
I did a search on a handful of sites, including our partner accommodation booking site, booking.com, as well as Airbnb, Flipkey etc and found that many of the apartments listed were actually hotel rooms and didn’t even have the amenities of serviced apartments, such as kitchens and washing machines, nor even have separate bedrooms and living areas.
When I first started looking for holiday rentals years ago, I would get excited thinking I’d found a fabulous place with a stunning swimming pool for a bargain price only to look more closely and find it was a hotel room. Most that advertise ‘kitchens’ turn out to have little more than a mini bar and microwave, while ‘kitchenettes’ are often just mini bars with sinks.
Before booking a holiday rental or renting an apartment in Siem Reap, see our post on How to Avoid Holiday Rental Scams.
Best Holiday Rentals in Siem Reap
These are our picks of the best holiday rentals in Siem Reap, both apartment rentals and houses. We’ll be adding more when we do a thorough update to this section when Cambodia opens to tourists in late 2021.
The Kandal Siem Reap
Located on Hap Guan Street in the heart of the petite shopping, sipping and spa quarter of Kandal Village in Siem Reap, this chic two-bedroom apartment is in a private shophouse building owned by one of the street’s most stylish retailers. There’s a fully equipped kitchen, two cosy bedrooms, a dining/living area, balcony, and all mod cons, such as flat-screen television with cable TV. Board games, puzzles, books, music, and DVDs for children make this feel much more like a home than a holiday rental. One of Siem Reap’s best cafes, The Little Red Fox, is just across the road; some of the city’s most interesting shops pepper the street (Louise Loubatiere and Garden of Desire, for starters), and Frangipani Spa is on the corner. Eating options within a three-minute walk include Cambodian (including lots of street food), Italian, and Japanese. Check availability and rates on booking.com.
Urban Residences Siem Reap
Offering more style than serviced apartments and not technically a holiday rental, as they’re attached to the charming Rambutan Resort, these stunning contemporary apartments nevertheless feel like sleek holiday rentals. Urban Residences offer the best of both worlds: modern urban living (or holidaying) and access to hotel facilities, including a lovely swimming pool, restaurant and bar, and friendly staff to offer local tips and book tuk tuks, tours and restaurants. These chic apartments have spacious rooms with polished concrete floors and pendant lighting, decorated with modernist furniture and local art and handicrafts. There are terraces and balconies, outdoor baths and greenery dripping from the building. But best of all there are superb kitchens with a proper stove with oven, a big fridge, and coffee machine. Each unit is different but the best boasts a few sofas and a big table for six for dinner, making it ideal for entertaining new friends. There’s a washer-dryer, free WiFi, and it’s just a minute’s amble along one of Siem Reap’s most atmospheric little lanes to another of our favourite bars, WILD, and another few minutes through the Art Market (currently closed) to the river into the centre of Siem Reap. Check availability and rates on booking.com.
This beautiful three-bedroom villa and urban suite is owned by one of Siem Reap’s finest chefs, Sothea Seng of Lum Orng Farm to Table and Mahob Khmer restaurants, and his restaurateur wife Sonita. The property design melds Cambodia’s traditional and modernist styles, which means you can expect to find stonework and breeze blocks from the 1960s downstairs and lovely timber verandas and window shutters upstairs, along with colonial-inspired tiles and polished concrete floors, replicas of Khmer Empire statues and modern art on the walls. Other touches we love include the use of recycled wood in handcrafted furniture, light shades made from fishing traps and baskets, and pretty cushions and bed throws made from the colourful fabrics you’ll spot local ladies wearing as sarongs and lounge pyjamas. There’s an alfresco kitchen downstairs (although breakfast is included), free WiFi, a laundry/ironing service, and bicycle and car rental. It’s a 20-minute stroll to the centre of town or 10 minutes by tuk tuk, and free airport transfers are also offered. You can book the whole villa (ideal for families, a group of friends or couple travelling together) or book individual rooms. Check availability and rates on booking.com.
Also owned by chef Sothea Seng and his wife Sonita, Isann Lodge is a larger property of traditional timber villas in a similar design, located in a village on the edge of Siem Reap. There’s a gorgeous swimming pool, lush tropical gardens, and plenty of shady spots to relax with a good book. The accommodation is not self-catering, however, there’s a restaurant, cooking school and small organic farm adjoining the property. While the property is absolutely lovely, it’s location means it’s not suitable for people who want to be able to stroll into town or spend a lot of time shopping, sipping at cafes and bars, and going out at night. It’s a better choice for culinary travellers, with the on-site cooking school and Road 60, one of Siem Reap’s best local street food destinations, a short tuk tuk ride away, as well as travellers who want to focus on the temples: the Angkor Park ticket office is close by, as is the main route to Angkor Archaeological Park. Check availability and rates on booking.com.
You might also find this post on Our Tips to Renting Holiday Apartments – A Checklist useful. For grocery shopping, see our Siem Reap Price Check, which includes information on markets and supermarkets.
Long-Term Apartments and Houses to Rent in Siem Reap
If you’re thinking of renting an apartment in Siem Reap for six months or longer, there are plenty of long-term apartment rentals around. Pre-pandemic, there are fewer rentals available during the cooler, winter high season and more apartments available during the low monsoonal season. This is because many expats on short-term contracts, from NGO workers to archaeologists, skip town during the quieter, wet season.
Most landlords require that you commit to either a 6-month or 12-month lease when renting an apartment in Siem Reap during high season, although the same landlords will consider a 3-month or 1-month stay during low season. The longer you commit for, the cheaper the rent will be. You will generally be required to pay a deposit/bond of 1- to 2-months rent plus one month’s rent in advance.
Most long-term Siem Reap rentals come furnished just like a serviced apartment, and might even include a large fridge, television, washing machine, and ceiling fans if there is no air-conditioning. Others come empty but owners might be prepared to provide furniture if you take out a long lease. Some include services like cleaning and garbage collection, while others don’t, and some include utilities, such as satellite TV and WiFi, but not, say, electricity and water. It varies from property to property.
Landlords generally require utility bills to be paid monthly when you pay the rent. As with serviced apartments, ask lots of questions before you sign a lease about what utilities are included and what aren’t and how much they cost other tenants. If anything is not up to scratch, chat to the owner about what you’d like fixed, changed or added, and begin negotiating. We found owners to be willing to add amenities or fixtures — even to put doorways in walls — to lock a tenant into a long-term lease.
When renting an apartment in Siem Reap expect to pay as little as US$150 a month for a single-room studio with mini-fridge, microwave and kettle, which are often little more than a well-equipped hotel room to anything from US$250-350 per month for a very basic, compact, one-bedroom apartment. You can sometimes find basic two-bedroom apartments for US$500 a month, but they probably won’t be centrally located.
Cheaper apartments in Siem Reap will probably be painted in candy colours, have a very ‘rustic’ kitchen (i.e. a concrete bench without cupboards with just a sink and a single-burner portable gas stove), and be decorated with elaborately carved, heavy wooden furniture and older fixtures.
For US$400-600 a month for a one-bedroom apartment or US$500-800 per month for a two-bedroom apartment you will get a much nicer, larger, better-located, modern apartment that’s furnished more tastefully, with a balcony or terrace, probably a pool and maybe a small gym. The more expensive apartments are generally more Western in style, with cleaner lines, and a higher quality finish.
If you can afford to pay more than US$1,000 per month you can find a modern, centrally-located 3-bedroom apartment with sleek Western kitchen and stylish decor or a large, new, several-bedroom house, while up to $1,500 will get you a massive multi-bedroom modern villa or beautifully renovated, traditional-style Khmer house with lovely gardens and a swimming pool.
You may also be lucky to find an un-renovated traditional Khmer timber house on stilts for as little as US$300-500 a month, however, these may not have air-conditioning (although there will be fans) and will have very rustic kitchens or kitchenettes, generally located downstairs and sometimes outside the house. For US$500-700 a month, they will have air-conditioning, better kitchens and a nicer finish. If you’re after a real bargain, you can sometimes find Cambodian owners renting out their first floor for anything from $150-300 and they will live downstairs.
Houses come with their own set of challenges. They aren’t as secure, so you’ll probably need to hire a security guard depending on the neighbourhood and the maintenance and cleaning will require a handyman or cleaner if the family doesn’t live on site or nearby.
The houses may come with or without furniture, but one thing is for certain, the more you pay the better the kitchens will be. Owners are happy to furnish properties for long-term renters, however, you may be better off buying furniture yourself from one of the secondhand dealers, the cane, bamboo and rattan furniture shops, or furniture makers.
Apartment Rental Search Options
When it comes to renting an apartment in Siem Reap, in the old days expats had success putting the word out amongst tuk tuk drivers that they were searching for apartments, then hiring a driver to take them around to inspect the properties. People would also find rental properties by checking noticeboards such as the one outside Angkor Market, Siem Reap’s best supermarket, and expat real estate pages on Facebook. These days, many ‘freelance’ real estate agents also operate on Facebook.
We no longer recommend renting Siem Reap apartments or any apartments in Cambodia using those methods. Having had some issues with landlords that a tuk tuk driver or freelancer could never have helped us resolve, based on our experience we highly recommend only using a registered professional real estate agent with a good reputation, who can assist you if needed. A tuk tuk driver is not going to be able to help and the freelancer who was so responsive when it came to showing you places probably won’t return your calls.
Finding Apartments to Rent Through Real Estate Agents in Siem Reap
During our years renting apartments in Siem Reap, we’ve found apartments using a handful of professional registered real estate agents — each varying tremendously from the other in terms of their way of doing business — using ‘freelance’ real estate agents, responding directly to owner ads, and serendipitously finding apartments on our own by calling phone numbers on signs on buildings.
Having had a few bad experiences with landlords that covered everything from being regularly overcharged for electricity (as were the other tenants in the building) to living in an apartment that leaked and flooded every time it rained, I would only ever rent an apartment through a professional registered real estate agent who can intervene in such circumstances to resolve the problems.
Professional licensed real estate agents, such as IPS Cambodia, which we wholeheartedly recommend, will listen carefully to what you’re looking for, respond with a range of suitable suggestions, take you to see what you want to see (not what they want to rent), liaise with landlords, answer a million follow-up questions, take room measurements when you can’t, and even go and shoot walk-through videos with narration of apartments that you can’t get to if you’re in quarantine or lockdown or haven’t yet arrived in the country.
Renting Apartments in Siem Reap — Expert Advice from a Siem Reap Real Estate Agent
Interview with Siem Reap Real Estate Agent David Granger, Manager IPS Cambodia
Q. Is it a good time to be renting an apartment in Siem Reap?
A. Yes, it’s a great time to rent an apartment in Siem Reap right now. It is a renter’s market. It’s possible to get much higher quality properties at lower prices than before, due to the lack of rental demand. Savvy renters will find a home they are comfortable with and lock in the low rental price with a 1 or 2-year contract.
Q. Your advice for people considering moving to Cambodia and in particular moving to Siem Reap?
A. An issue to consider is where in Siem Reap you will live. Due to the infrastructure project currently in progress, there are 78 roads in town under some stage of construction. This does cause some inconvenience when travelling in town and trying to access some businesses. This is expected to end in February next year, at which time the city will be an incredible place to be, with upgraded roads, pedestrian walkways, bicycle paths, and landscaped areas.
People moving to Siem Reap can take advantage of this rare occasion of there being no tourists visiting Angkor Wat. This is an incredible opportunity to experience the 8th Wonder of the World in a way that hasn’t been possible for decades. You can feel like you are taking a step back in time and explore the temples without the normal hustle and bustle of the crowds.
Q. Any tips for people just starting to look for places to rent? Are there common mistakes or things that people overlook?
A. Most tenants overlook the small things in the property before moving in. Does the kitchen have hot water to wash your dishes, is the internet fast enough, or is there a generator in case of power failures? The price of the rental property will be reflected in the services provided, and not all tenants require these things. But it’s better to check everything in the apartment before moving in, rather than finding out later.
Tenants should check the rental contract to see who is responsible for maintenance and repairs. Unlike in foreign countries, landlords in Cambodia will commonly ask for the tenant to be responsible for anything that needs repair in the home. It’s often a good idea to ask for the landlord to be responsible for the maintenance of utility lines and equipment, which are not possible for the tenant to know the condition of before renting.
Q. There seems to be a lot of ‘freelance’ real estate agents around. What are the advantages of using reputable registered real estate agents over freelancers?
A. There are many freelancers operating here. They are not licensed or registered, and don’t have an office where you can find them later. The most common feedback that we have received from clients who have previously used freelancers is that there have been problems in the language and the terms of the contract, and the freelancers have not been available to help them later when they need help with the landlord or property. Using a reputable real estate agency, with a strong reputation, ensures that you will receive good customer service, even after the rental contract is signed.
Q. Do you think Siem Reap apartment rentals are set up for digital nomads?
A. Yes, I’m already seeing more and more digital nomads coming here. Siem Reap is a perfect environment for the digital nomad. All apartments include WiFi. Some apartment owners may use the cheapest package available, though. Since WiFi in Cambodia is actually quite good, in most cases this is acceptable. Still, it’s best to test the WiFi speed before moving in.
If you love a particular apartment and simply must have it, you can always contribute an additional fee to the landlord and have them upgrade to a better WiFi package. If you rent your own house, you will need to install WiFi yourself, and in cases where the router is already in place, you will be responsible for the monthly WiFi costs. The best operators to choose from are SI-Net and SingMeng, and you can get a very decent fibre optic package for $50/month.
Q. What do you recommend renting in Siem Reap — a modern apartment or traditional wooden house? New expats have romantic ideas about wooden houses, but there are fewer headaches with apartments.
A. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of accommodation, but really it depends upon the tastes of the tenant. Personally, I like a clean, new, modern house with all the modern amenities, however, we have clients who strongly dislike such homes, and will only rent a traditional style wooden house. It really is a matter of personal preference.
Q. Why should our readers use IPS?
A. IPS has been servicing the needs of foreigners and Cambodians for 12 years. We have a strong reputation in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, based on the service we provide to our clients. We are able to help with rentals, sales, advice on property ownership, and all types of advice on living and working in Cambodia.
Questions to Ask Real Estate Agents and Landlords
Some important things to ask real estate agents and landlords about before looking at apartments and definitely before moving into an apartment – especially if you’re apartment hunting online from abroad, lockdown or quarantine.
Size of the Apartment, Rooms and Swimming Pool
Styling, camera angles and wide-angle lenses can make apartments, rooms and swimming pools look larger than they are. Ask to see as many photos as possible, ask the real estate agent to shoot a walk-through video, and ask for specific measurements of the dimensions of the apartment and rooms, and the swimming pool if it has one and that’s important to you.
If you love to cook, you’re going to have a challenging time finding an apartment with a proper stove with oven and grill. Even when a ‘stove’ is listed in the property description, it’s usually only a stove-top with 2-3 burners or it’s a portable Korean-style gas burner of the kind they have at barbecue joints with 1-2 burners. These days, with so many hotels having converted rooms into apartments, many landlords are only providing microwaves. If cooking at home is important, ask lots of questions and ask to see photos if there’s any confusion.
Cost of Utilities and Back-Up Generator
Ask what the average cost of utilities such as electricity and gas are and specifically what the last tenant paid. These vary dramatically between buildings and the first bills can often come as a shock. Note what’s on the meter when you move in. Ask if there’s a back-up generator and if it actually works. Siem Reap has frequent power cuts that can last many hours.
Windows, Fans and Air Conditioning
Ask what directions the windows face and if all the windows open. We’ve rented apartments where some windows don’t open, which meant we relied on fans and air-conditioning more than we liked, and apartments where windows faced east and west, which meant we were living in a sauna/furnace during the hot months. If the windows open, are their screens? Mosquitoes are a serious threat and bugs can be annoying. Are there ceiling fans as electricity bills will rocket during the hot months if there’s only air-conditioning. If not, we recommend buying some floor fans, which are dirt-cheap here.
Ask what is included, what’s not, and the costs for things not included, such as water (is it town water or well water; well water is not drinkable and goes off when the power goes off; landlords typically charge US$5-10 per month); drinking water (sometimes it’s free, sometimes it’s not); WiFi (some buildings provide it, others don’t; sometimes the speed is fast and service reliable; often it isn’t); cable TV (as per WiFi; if there’s no cable, you may want Netflix and therefore good internet); garbage service (mostly free, but not always); and cleaning (sometimes it’s included, other times it isn’t, but the charge is often low, from US$5 a clean to US$15 a month).
Nightly karaoke, noisy kids and guitar-playing neighbours can be positively painful to some, a pleasure to others. We’ve experienced everything from neighbours who treated the apartment complex like a beach resort, boozing in the pool all day every day, to a neighbour who played guitar (badly) and sang (even worse) from the early hours of the morning until well into the evening and it drove me completely mad. We ended up keeping our windows and curtains closed, which wasn’t fun. If you like peace and quiet, especially if you work from home, you’ll want to ask questions about your neighbours.
If you’re bothered by noise and dust, you’ll definitely want to enquire about the state of the street outside and roadworks in the neighbourhood. The centre of Siem Reap is currently experiencing major infrastructure works, which will be wonderful when finished, but at the time of writing most roads in the centre were in the process of being dug up, graded, and having curb and guttering installed. Until then, dust is an issue in the city centre and walking anywhere in the centre is a challenge; it’s pretty much like an obstacle course out there right now. You might want to rent a little out of the centre in a building overlooking rice paddies and palm trees until it’s over.
Obtaining Cambodian Visas
Pre-pandemic, if you were planning on renting an apartment in Siem Reap for a month, a one-month Tourist Visa (US$30) would suffice, however, tourist visas are currently suspended until Cambodia opens to tourism in late 2021.
If you’re a traveller considering renting an apartment in Siem Reap for up to two months or longer for a deeper experience of the temples and Cambodian history and culture, then it’s best to apply to your nearest Cambodian embassy for an Ordinary Visa (US$35).
This is also the kind of visa that people who are exploring the idea of setting up a business, working on a business project or investigating employing opportunities will need. Pre-pandemic, this visa could be obtained at the airport, and then extended for one month, six months or even 12 months by a travel agent or business consultant. At the time of publication you need to apply for this visa at your nearest Cambodian embassy.
If you intend renting an apartment in Siem Reap for 6-12 months for business purposes, where you will need to sign lease, you will need to obtain an Ordinary Visa from a Cambodian embassy and then once you are in Cambodia extend the visa through a consultant.
Pre-pandemic, some travellers would leave the country when their visas expired and head to Bangkok or Saigon for the weekend and return to start a new visa, and many long-term expats would also do ‘visa runs’, ie. leave the country, pass through immigration, get your Cambodia exit stamp, get an entry stamp to another country, exit that country, and re-enter Cambodia on a new visa. This could be done at airports and land borders, but could only be done at the Thailand land border twice in any one year. The Thais would not let you cross three times and to attempt to do so would result in you having to have your photo taken and sign a letter confirming that you entered as an “illegal alien”. As land borders with neighbouring countries are currently closed at the time of publication, none of this is possible.
In the past, expats looking to settle in Cambodia long-term could easily obtain 1-year Ordinary Visas, which could be extended, but since 2017, the process is harder. You must demonstrate that you have employment, will be working as a volunteer, are hoping to start a business, are here working on a project, or are planning to retire in Cambodia. Your best bet is to contact an agent or consultant for professional advice from the outset, such as Consultancy Cambodia.
Once you obtain a job, set up a business, perhaps secure a volunteer opportunity, enrol in a programme of study, or prove you are eligible to retire in Cambodia, then you will need to apply for the type of visa relevant to what you’re doing. As of late 2017 there are a whole array of visa categories with different prices. If you are working in any capacity or running a business, you will need a work permit, as well as need to complete a long list of steps to establish your business. Once again, our best advice is to consult a professional.
There are many agents and consultants in Siem Reap who can arrange Tourist Visas (currently suspended), Ordinary Visas (business visas), Retirement Visas, visa extensions, work permits, advise on establishing a business, and assist with official documents and taxation, however, by far the best consultant most-used by expats is Consultancy Cambodia.
Funky Lane (Street 53), Siem Reap
088 763 6678 / 012 651 110
If you have had a different experience to us renting an apartment in Siem Reap or have additional tips to share or questions to ask, we’d love to hear from you in the Comments below.