Key investment locations & local terminologies you will need to know

Feb. 11, 2020, 5:56 p.m.

First of all, let's understand how locations work in Cambodia. Locations are defined by three main terms. Each term has two commonly-used and widely-accepted words. Sounds confusing. Don’t sweat, we’ve got you covered.

When we say locations, we mean cities, suburbs, districts, provinces, etc. Simply put, locations in Cambodia are defined by 1. City/Province, 2. Khan/District, 3. Sangkat/Commune, and even then if you were on a website like Wikipedia you will get confused as it starts talking about municipalities and so on.

In this guide, we will provide you a better explanation of the terminology used for some of the most popular and high potential locations for developments in Cambodia and identify a few of the terms, locations, and references that might confuse you as a property seeker in Cambodia.

City or Province

There are 25 cities and provinces in Cambodia and most Cambodians as well as expats, use the term province if they refer to any location outside of Phnom Penh, which they regard as a city. Regardless they are more or less the same thing. And the top three locations for condominium investment are Phnom Penh city, Siem Reap province and Preah Sihanoukville, known locally as Kom Pong Som province.

(Silk island, locally known as Koh Dach, is a 1-hour drive famous gateway island from the bustling city of Phnom Penh / Seiha Phorn) 

Khan or District

The next level is commonly known as Khan or District. There are 12 districts within Siem Reap province, 4 in Preah Sihanoukville and 14 currently in Phnom Penh. For the purposes of better planning, in 2019 the Cambodian government created two new districts within Phnom Penh. One known as Kamboul and the other one is Boeung Keng Kang, a more important district for condominium investors to learn about. Located right in the heart of Phnom Penh, Boeung Keng Kang is locally known as BKK by Cambodians and expats. BKK is a hotspot for some of the most promising top-tier residential development projects.

(BKK is one of the hotspots for new developments in Phnom Penh / Realestate.com.kh) 

Sangkat or Commune

The next level is known as Sangkat or Commune and even then it goes more granular (with Khom or Village) although those are little known, even by local Cambodians. Since 2019 Boeung Keng Kang now houses Boeung Keng Kang I (BKK1), Boeung Keng Kang II (BKK2), Boeung Keng Kang III (BKK3), Olympic, Tumnop Teuk, Tuol Svay Prey I and Tuol Svay Prey II. While another popular location for condominium investment known as Tonle Bassac which is just next door to BKK1 and is located within the Chamkarmon district.

If you are searching for property on realestate.com.kh, we have not made the change in our location data set as the market (property seekers, agents and developers) generally follows the old locations and classifications for now.

Phnom Penh

If you are looking for property in the capital city of Phnom Penh, the hot sub-locations for these top-grade and luxury investments include:

1. Chamkarmon, as mentioned above the classification for the sub-locations by law has changed, however, the agents, developers and property seekers have not adopted this yet, so as to not confuse the users of realestate.com.kh - neither have we. Chamkarmon can sometimes be referred to as the centre of Phnom Penh, and whilst the district does demand the highest rental returns and the highest land price per square meter especially in BKK1 and Tonle Bassac the actual Central Business District (CBD) is in sangkat Wat Phnom within Daun Penh district.

Another hot location for condominium investment is Koh Pich which translates to Diamond Island in khmer, is actually not a sangkat itself. Koh Pich (Diamond Island) is a part of Tonle Bassac commune.



Remember, If you are searching for properties on realestate.com.kh and you are interested in properties within Koh Pich, you can simply select this location from the landmarks drop-down list within the search bar or simply select Tonle Bassac as your prefered location.

2. Central Business District, whilst it needs some time to be adopted market-wide, the CBD in Cambodia is defined by the main collection of A to B grade office towers in Phnom Penh including Vattanac Capital Tower, Canadia Tower, Exchange Square, and Raintree which are all located within sangkat Wat Phnom in Daun Penh district. In its vicinity, you will also find key government ministries as well as the leading bank and financial headquarters.



3. The South of Phnom Penh or Hun Sen Boulevard is one of the fastest-growing hot spots for investment in Cambodia. Key landmarks and hubs already in operation in the area include: The Factory (an integrated entertainment, food & beverage, arts, culture, and workspace) as well as ISPP, Cambodia's leading international school. Adding to that both landed property and condominium developers have already started construction in the area and three major malls (including AEON Mall 3) will be coming in full operation within the next 5 years. All of which points to a fantastic opportunity for investors, as the area is truly moving out of being a backwater swamp to one of the most livable areas in Phnom Penh. Most developers and agents will refer to the location as "The South", "South of Phnom Penh" or "60 Meter Road" which is actually Hun Sen Boulevard. It runs through multiple sangkats including Chak Angrae Leu which is in Meanchey district.



4. Riverside, is another hot spot in Phnom Penh and another area that is not commonly referred to by its actual sangkat or district name. Locally, the location simply earns its name as it sits next to Tonle Sap river and ends where it meets the Mekong river.



5. Chroy Changvar is a location often compared to the South of Phnom Penh by agents, developers, buyers, renters, and investors. Not because they are necessarily close to each other, but more because they are both experiencing similar growth in terms of infrastructure development, connectivity, housing developments and more.

Chroy Changvar district is commonly known market-wide as the name of the location suggests - Chroy Changvar.

(Chroy Changvar is another hotspot for development. It is one of the fastest-growing districts in Phnom Penh / Sieha Phorn)

6. Close to the Airport seems to be a term used in emerging market property related marketing worldwide and to add to this the Cambodian government has recently announced the location of the new “Phnom Penh International Airport”. So expect developers to be using a phrase, around both airports from now on. The current airport (the biggest and main airport in Cambodia) is located in Por Sen Chey district, while the new airport will be in Kandal province which is yet another advantage to the Southern part of Phnom Penh. However, all is not lost for those that are looking to or have invested in Por Sen Chey district as this area is very popular with Cambodians and international expats alike, and will remain a key business and logistical hub.

(The current Phnom Penh International Airport is the largest airport in Cambodia) 

7. Sen Sok is a location widely known by the majority of Cambodians, and less common with international investors or even expats, but if you heard the term AEON 2 or Makro Cambodia  then you're more likely to know where we’re talking about or have at least seen it mentioned by developers. This area is also becoming more and more popular with landed and condo developments.



Sihanoukville, Kom Pong Som or even Preah Sihanouk

On realestate.com.kh we refer to the coastal region as Sihanoukville so do most developers, agents, and property sellers, certainly, if they are targeting international buyers. Although Sihanoukville includes sub-locations, the areas are more defined by the name of its different beaches such as Sokha Beach, Independence Beach, Ochheuteal, Serendipity and Otres rather than sangkats or khans. The main landmark that is referred to by property developers is the Golden Lions Roundabout, as most people consider this as the centre of town.



Off the coast of Sihanoukville, there are also multiple islands with many investment opportunities for foreigners and these locations are all prefixed with the word "Koh" at the start of it, which translates to “island” in Khmer language. So if you see the location Koh Rong for example, this means that it is an island off the coast of Sihanoukville.

Ream is another location that you will start to hear more in the coming months and years. Ream is one of the seven national parks in Cambodia and it is only 20 minutes drive from Preah Sihanouk International Airport.

(A beautiful beach inside Ream national park, about 50-minute drive from the city centre / Phan Soumy) 

(Sihanoukville International Airport, one of the three currently running airports in Cambodia / Realestate.com.kh )

(A new under-construction road along the coast of Ream leading to the city centre / Phan Soumy)  

(This road is part of the nearly 300 million dollars road construction project that is being implemented in Sihanoukville / Phan Soumy) 

(A wide-open roundabout overlooking the ocean of one of the 34 under construction roads in the coastal province of Preah Sihanouk / Phan Soumy)  

Siem Reap

Siem Reap is a significant province of Cambodia and home to the famous Angkor Wat temple, the world’s largest religious site. Whilst it remains a favorite place for tourists in Cambodia, it has been less favored by condominium investors. Simply, because up until recently there were not many condominium projects being built. Most of the property developments were and still are landed property or low rise hotels.



Why is this? Developers are not allowed to build above the height of Angkor Wat and therefore they have favored Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. However, this has changed over the last few months. The main thing to know in relation to sub-locations in Siem Reap is to ask the developer if it is close to Pub Street, a famous area within the city centre, full of restants, bars, shops, hotels, guesthouses, and other businesses. Sub locations will be rarely used in marketing material and will simply be marketed with Siem Reap.

How does realestate.com.kh tackle some of the above issues?

Property seekers can simply use the powerful search bar and type in the first three letters of a city, khan or sangkat and choose from the suggested locations that will appear as the user is typing the location. However, property seekers can also choose from the list of popular locations and even popular landmarks in Cambodia once they have clicked the search bar.

Once a property seeker is looking at a property that they are interested in, they can also populate the map that appears on all properties to check the proximity to certain landmarks by simply typing the name of the landmark in the search box on the property page - for example, "Phnom Penh Airport". The map also allows you to populate nearby schools, restaurants, transport and hotels to give the buyer an idea of what infrastructure and amenities are nearby.

Stay up-to-date on the real estate industry in Cambodia and get real-time updates on real estate news as they happen. Download the Realestate.com.kh App now on both iOS and Android.

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