Cambodia - An Emerging Dental Destination

Cambodia's Independence Monument

Country Profile

The Kingdom of Cambodia – once known as the Khmer Empire – is near the southern tip of the Indochina Peninsula where it borders on the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest. Laos is to the northeast and Vietnam to the east, while Thailand itself lies on its northwest border.

The country is enjoying an economic renaissance with an average growth of 6% during the past ten years. New roads, schools and other infrastructures are appearing everywhere as hotels, hospitals and clinics open up. The dental industry has also been enjoying a quiet boom, with advanced treatments including implants, porcelain veneers and dentures pricing up to 80% cheaper on the cross rates, but comparable in quality.

National Demographic

Approximately 95% of the almost fifteen million people are faithful to the Theravada thread of Buddhism. There are also niche groups of Chinese, Chams, Vietnamese, and some thirty hill tribes. Khmer is the official language, although many older folk are also fluent in French. Younger people regularly encounter English on the internet, and are able to understand it.

The five most populous cities are in order Phnom Penh, Kandal, Banteay Meanchey, Battambang and Siem Reap, although the state capital is by far the largest. The bicameral parliament functions within a constitutional monarchy with ultimate authority vested in the king. Some 30% of the population is aged fourteen or younger while the median age is twenty-three. Average life expectancy is sixty-three years.


The state corporation is Telecom Cambodia. This separated from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication in 2006, and now also owns the primary internet service provider CamNet. There are several independent mobile operators in a fiercely competitive market. In 2012, the government appointed an independent regulator. By 2013, there were over eighteen million mobile subscribers. However, fixed broadband penetration remains a low 0.3%, mainly because there are only 720,000 fixed line subscribers.

3G and 4G LTE services: Both Metfone and SMART offer 3G and 4G services in Cambodia. Metfone has better coverage nation-wide but SMART is also acceptable for mobile devices. 

English Literacy

As Cambodia emerges from its past and becomes a rising Asian star, it is embracing Western culture and trading vigorously with the First World. This and the tourism bonanza have brought English to the world of business, particularly in the hospitality and health sectors, where encounters with English speakers are frequent. Medical tourists may anticipate conversing in English during all phases of their dental treatments.

School System

New wealth and democratic government have brought great strides in basic education, and raised primary school enrollment to 96%. Much work is still required at secondary and upper secondary level, where emphasis is on sport, information technology, and the technical stream generally. In the cities, a number of private schools have emerged and are providing first-rate schooling. There are several francophone schools and universities funded by the old colonial power.

Further Education

During the Khmer Rouge regime, many venerable universities closed down. Since then much has been achieved, although the enrollment rate still lags behind other Asian nations. This in partly due to most of the twenty-one institutions of higher learning being situate in the denser urban areas. That said, the Cambodians are catching up, and already have universities on par with their neighbors.

Dental Education

The Phnom Penh University of Health Sciences founded in 1946 and re-established in 1980, has faculties of Dentistry, Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing and Public Health. Their degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery takes seven years to complete including two-year internship. Their spread of courses embraces all modern specialisms, such as implants, veneers of all kinds, dentures and cosmetic treatments. The Faculty of Dentistry of the International University began teaching in 2003, and is visited regularly by overseas specialist lecturers.

The Dentistry Profession

The Cambodia Ministry of Health recognizes the credentials of dentists from many other countries. In this way, the historic lack of skills is readily filled by expatriates mainly from America and Japan. While Cambodia may not immediately spring to mind as a dental tourist destination, this land of gentle, caring people is already sourcing many dentistry clients from Australia and Europe, who flock there because of the attractive dental service prices. The Cambodia Dental Association assumes responsibility for regulating professional standards.

Getting There for Dental Care

There are two ways to arrive in Cambodia as a visitor. You can travel overland by regular bus service or by affordable taxi from neighboring Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Alternatively, you can fly directly to Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH) ten kilometers west of the nation’s capital. From there, you may connect to local flights that take you to Siem Reap or Sihanoukville. Alternatively, you can pick up a hire car and be ready to explore.

Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH), the largest airport in Cambodia that handles both passenger as well as commercial traffic. 

Where: Confederation de la Russie, Phnom Penh, Cambodia Call: +855 23 890 022

Siem Reap International Airport is the second largest international airport in Cambodia and is in Siem Reap. From this airport one can find buses and taxis that offer services to Thailand and Saigon.

Where: National Highway 6, Krong Siem Reap Call: 063 761 261

Getting Around

Buses are the most frequent mode of travel in the city. Foreigners most often use Giant Ibis Transport as they have routes to Siem Reap, Preah Sihanouk, and even Saigon and Bangkok. Cars, motorbikes and cycle rickshaws constitute the public transport system of the city and is now can be easily rented through mobile apps.

Things to Do

The Royal Palace, including the two magnificent pagodas in the Palace Grounds, the Silver Pagoda and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, are among the few public buildings in Phnom Penh really worth seeing.

The National Museum, contains an excellent collection of art from Cambodia's "golden age" of Angkor, and a lovely courtyard at the centre.

Where: Street 13, Sangkat Chey Chumneas, Khan Daun Penh Call: +855 23 211753


Sharky Bar, which claims to be the longest running rock n’ roll bar in Indochina, is on a mission to be the place to go for live music in Phnom Penh so why not pay them a visit!

Where: 126 Street 130, Phnom Penh Call: (012) 228 045

Although Garage Bar is now owned by a Brit, it remains an American-style spot known for its excellent sous vide burgers and its great soundtrack — and willingness to let patrons make requests and even DJ. Just off the Riverside promenade, Garage Bar offers a welcome respite from the neighboring girly bars. It’s a great place to meet other expats and the occasional tourist who wanders in.

Where: 9 Street 110, Daun Penh, Phnom Penh Call: 092 271 349

Where to Eat

Tom Yum Kung Thai Restaurant, is a thatch-roofed Thai/Khmer restaurant popular with locals and visitors alike. Big selection of authentically prepared Thai and Khmer dishes. As one might expect, the tom yum kung is recommended!

Where: #10, Street 278, BKK1, Khan Chamkarmorn, Phnom Penh Call: +855 (0)23 720 234

The Corn offers its visitors a very inventive menu along with a friendly atmosphere great food and even better prices!

Where: #58 268 Preah Suramarit Blvd, Phnom Penh Call: +855 17 773 757

Ways to Pay

The Cambodian Riel is the currency of Cambodia.