Tips on Working in Cambodia.


Congratulations on the interview. Now what? 

Working abroad can be tense especially if you have no clue on how the HR process works. This is why I was very careful when I got a job in Cambodia. I was worried about being conned or cheated especially since this was not the usual premium expat package that comes with all the glorious perks. I was fortunate to have friends here before I arrived, therefore I asked as many questions and did some searching before committing to the company.

Through this experience, I’ll share with you some of the things to look out for BEFORE you say yes to working in Cambodia. It might also save you some headache on your first day at work.

1. Know the country well enough or at least the background. 

Read up and research as much as you can about the country such as the culture, weather, properties, neighborhood or religion. This will give you an insight of what you will expect when you land in Cambodia and give you less of a culture shock to deal with. Most people ignore this assuming that the country is super modern with high-tech transportation, and efficient services. When they arrive they get frustrated when things are not what it seems (or expected), therefore learn as much as you can about the country in order for you to adapt quickly.

2. Know the background of the company. 

I do this a lot even before I send my CV out as I don’t wish to waste my time applying to Companies that don’t fit certain requirements. Usually I’ll go through the Company website to see their services, team, current work and media presence. You want to join a company that has good vibes, treats their people well and not involved in any controversy.

3. Ask about their working hours.

This is quite important because more often than not they will inform you that you need to work 5 days a week BUT occasionally come in on the weekends. It’s always best to clarify how many weekends you need to come in or whether there are any compensation involved. My current job requires only working on weekdays from 8:30am to 6:30pm. There’s an hour break in between for lunch. We only need to come back on weekend if needed.

4. Count the Public Holidays.

I cherish any Public Holidays declared in this country because there’s just so many! However, you need to take note that if you’re working with a private company, the holidays are different than the ones for the Government sector. If it’s a national celebration, then yes everyone will get the day off but not for religion or a few international days. For example, my previous company here does not declare Labor Day as a Public Holiday so we had to work, but in this new place, we get that day off. It’s always best to check how many days are given in a year from the company.

The the weekend off to explore the city, like this view from the D22 Hotel.

Take the weekend off to explore the city, like this view from the D22 Hotel.


5. Visa and work permit. 

If you’re applying a job here as a permanent staff, you will need to sort this out before you arrive. This is because the Ministry requires all foreign workers to have a working permit, otherwise you will be fined ($100 for each year). This is also where some companies forget to share the following information:

  • If you come in as a tourist (like most Malaysian), you will need to leave, come in again to get a business visa on arrival.
  • If you need a visa as a visitor here in this country, best to come in with a business visa so that you don’t need to go out again.
  • Once you have the business visa, you’re good for 3 months (costs $35) at least to work in Cambodia. However, most companies will foot this fee for you and apply an extension up to a year. It all depends on what the terms are between you and the company.
  • The work permit will be sorted out by the company. You will need to bring your passport to photocopy with 4 passport photos. For this, you’ll need to do a medical check-up at the Ministry and this will be arranged by the HR/Admin (best to check).
  • The medical check-up is a general check for height, weight, blood pressure and there’s no blood test (phew). So you’ll need to bring your passport, a photocopy, photos and fill up the form at the counter (after measuring your height and weight). Once you complete the check-up, you need to make payment at the counter ($25/person) and then come back when it’s ready.

This whole process will take less than an hour depending on the crowd at the Ministry office and it’s not that difficult. Some companies will ask the employees to pay for the work permit and some will cover it for you.

Other important information

While these points are what employees need to look out for, other benefits could also be discussed before clinching the job. This includes:

  • Currency of salary.
  • Housing and transportation allowances (if any)
  • Medical
  • Insurance
  • Nearby places for lunch

There you have it. Getting a job in Cambodia may not be as hard compared to other countries but at least these information would help manage your expectations. Bear in mind that each company manages their HR differently, therefore you might encounter situations where they wouldn’t know how to to process the work permit for example.

Always ask before you commit to anything. I hope these tips are useful as it is based on my personal experience. Have you ever encountered any challenging situation when it comes to getting work permit here? 

About Yafieda Jamil

A Malaysian girl currently working abroad in Phnom Penh city. I love a good road trip, hot cappuccinos, spicy food and staring at old buildings. My mission is to inspire people to see the world differently before we all get any older. Oh and giraffes are the most beautiful creatures on earth.

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