Phnom Penh

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The Silver Pagoda, in the grounds of the Royal Palace.

Phnom Penh, at the confluence of the Mekong and the Tonle Sap Rivers, is the capital of Cambodia and its largest city.

Understand[edit]

Despite being liberated from the Khmer Rouge by the Vietnamese in 1979, Phnom Penh has long remained a bit rough. Things are improving, though roads remain shabby, traffic chaotic, and electricity strained.

The city is slowly gaining high rise buildings and traffic lights. The beauty that made it a "Paris of the East" before 1970 is unfortunately well hidden, though a few French colonial buildings remain. The wide boulevards and promenades envisaged by the French have become parking spaces and market stalls: pedestrians are not in favour.

The most pleasant strolling is to be done along the park-like river front, which hosts cafés and restaurants aplenty. Standard tourist sights are few, which makes the city a place to relax, watch the street life and absorb the local colour. Phnom Penh is a worthwhile destination for those who enjoy an "edgy" experience and can brave the downsides of reckless driving, noise, dust, and perennial theft.

Touts and beggars abound. A firm but polite refusal should work. Older or disabled beggars will be happy to accept 500 riel. Bear in mind that anyone old enough to have survived the Khmer Rouge has had a tough life. Generosity here is no bad thing. Some older people may even invoke a blessing on you for your gift. Cocky young kids demanding a dollar should not be encouraged.

The weather is hot and humid, with showers in the late afternoon in the rainy season.

History[edit]

In 1975 Phnom Penh was choked with up to 2 million refugees from the war between the then US-backed government and the Khmer Rouge. The city fell to the Khmer Rouge in 1975, who completely emptied it of civilians and allowed it to crumble for several years. The city's small class of skilled or educated professionals was systematically murdered by Pol Pot, or driven into exile.

Cambodia's developing economy and institutionalised corruption have concentrated wealth into a new class of nouveau riche that now frequent Phnom Penh's new fancy hotels and restaurants. Increasing tourist numbers are also bringing about improving tourist infrastructure.

Orientation[edit]

All of Phnom Penh's streets are numbered. Some major thoroughfares also have names. The scheme is simple: odd-numbered streets run north-south, the numbers increasing as you head west from the river, and even numbered streets run west-east, increasing as you head south (with some exceptions, e.g., the west side of what was Boeung Kak Lake).

House numbers, however, are quite haphazard. Don't expect houses to be numbered sequentially on a street; you might even find two completely unrelated houses with the same number on the same street.

Get in[edit]

See Cambodia | Get in for general information on getting into Cambodia.
See Cambodia | Get in | Visas for detailed visa information.

By plane[edit]

Phnom Penh International Airport (IATA: PNH) is the largest airport in Cambodia, 7 km west of the city.

The new terminal is a thoroughly pleasant and modern facility, and features a post office, bank (including ATMs), restaurants, duty-free shop, newsstand, tourist help desk, and business centre.

Taxis from the public taxi stand at the airport cost a flat USD9, and tuk-tuks cost USD7 officially. If you are willing to lug your bags outside the airport fence you can catch a tuk-tuk into town for USD5. While taxis might be a safer option, it's better to avoid them as the drivers are arrogant and tend to not return change. Tuk-tuk drivers are a lot more friendly and more flexible. For visitors on a budget without a lot of luggage, it's worth catching an official motorcycle taxi for USD2.

Duty free shop prices in Cambodia are horribly inflated. Alcohol and cigarettes cost half as much at shops and supermarkets in the city, like the Lucky Supermarket, so stock up on alcohol (put it in your checked baggage due to liquid restrictions for carry-on baggage) and cigarettes before you come to the airport. For example, 1 l of Absolut Vodka is USD21 at the airport, and USD11 at supermarkets in the city. Electronics are also overpriced, but at least they're the genuine article.

By bus[edit]

Cambodia is improving its roads. Since around 2008, asphalt has been blazing trails into unexpected and remote places making for faster, year-round accessibility. The main highways that run on either side of the Tonle Sap from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, Battambang, Sisophon and Poipet (for Thailand) are both well-paved and in good condition.

The quality of buses runs the gamut, with the less desirable buses being a few dollars cheaper than more comfortable options. Safety standards are low and crashes (not always reported) are common, both "quality" and "cheapie" buses alike.

The chaotic bus station at the southwest corner of the Central Market is the base for buses run by Mekong Express, Phnom Penh Sorya Transport, Capitol Tours, and GST Express.

Tickets are available at the bus station. Guesthouses and travel agents throughout the city will also arrange tickets for a USD1–2 commission.

Some passengers have experienced valuables being stolen from their luggage when stored out of sight.

International services[edit]

Borders are not open 24/7. Some night buses will wait at the border until it opens. If entering Cambodia, watch out for visa scams and avoid the Kumho Samco if coming in from Vietnam.

  • Bangkok (USD15, around 14 hr) change of bus required at Poipet.
  • Vientiane (around 27 hr) A generally inconvenient and stressful trip. Contrived border procedures, multiple bus changes, tickets not being honoured, and nocturnal groping should all be expected. Travelling via Bangkok (theoretically also around 27 hr, but with tight connections) should be considered as the 20:00 Bangkok-Nong Khai (Laos border, 20 km from Vientiane) sleeper train (13 hr) will be safer and more comfortable than any overnight bus through Southern Laos.

Buses arriving from Pakse enter the city at night (around 19:30-20:00) via Monivong Ave, leaving tired and emotional travellers prone to being preyed on tuk-tuk touts. Watch out!

Domestic services[edit]

Phnom Penh is the domestic transport hub and direct buses run to just about every provincial capital, including far flung town like Pailin, Samraong, Banlung and Sen Monorom. The crowded peasant mover Paramount Angkor specializes in out-of-the-way towns. Avoid it for intercity travel as it's the same price as more genteel companies but does not guarantee a seat.

More frequently visited destinations include:

By boat[edit]

Ferries connect Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and usually take 6 hr. Tickets for foreigners cost USD32. Many, but not all, of these ferries offer the option of sitting on the roof, which makes for a much more scenic, albeit less comfortable ride than the bus; take sun block, a hat, and enough water to last you for several hours just in case the boat gets stuck. The boat leaves at 07:30.

Fast boats leave every morning around 08:00 from Chau Doc in Vietnam's Mekong Delta and take 5 hr to reach Phnom Penh. The boats make the return journey the same day and leave Phnom Penh around 13:00, arriving in Chau Doc in the early evening.

There are 3 choices of boat to Chau Doc:

  • Hang Chau Speedboat (no pick-up, tour guide, water, snack, insurance), leaves at 12:00, takes 4 hr, USD22
  • Dalta Adventure, leaves at 08:30, 5 hr, price USD21
  • Mekong Tour Slow Boat, leaves at 07:30, takes 7-8 hr, price USD12

By train[edit]

There is a limited freight service running from Kampot to Phnom Penh on the Southern Line.

"Bamboo trains" operate in various towns along the line, though the one most pushed to tourists is just outside Battambang.

Get around[edit]

Phnom Penh's main streets are in good shape. Some smaller streets and footpaths are rutted and potholed, clogged with garbage, stagnant water, parked motorbikes, sleeping people, and building materials. Many smaller streets bear either no or misleading signage, however Phnom Penh is logically laid out (see orientation) and navigating is not too difficult.

Tuk-tuk, sir?

Not having a ride will necessarily entail your being pestered for one. Phnom Penh's lack of coordinated public transport gives jobs to many poor provincial immigrants, who badger any pedestrian in the city centre, particularly tourists.

  • Agree a fare in advance. Be clear whether it is for one way or return and in total or per person.
  • Drivers will try to avoid losing face by not admitting ignorance. Therefore, "Do you know where this address is?" will always be answered by "yes". Put it to the test and show a driver a recipe, while claiming it's an address. Be patient and expect the driver to pull over mid-trip to ask passers-by for directions even to the most obvious of destinations.
  • Don't leave possessions exposed to snatchers. Women are often targeted.
  • The tuk-tuk drivers outside the Foreign Correspondent's Club are notoriously pushy and aggressive. Avoid them: walk half a block and hire someone else. If you don't want a lift saying "no thanks" generally works. Better still, try it in Khmer: "otday awkunh".
  • Motorbikes, (but not self-drive cars) can be rented for USD5–6 per day, sometimes through guesthouses. Traffic is chaotic and dangerous, even by SE Asian standards. Wear a helmet and drive carefully. Two rental shops are on Monivong Blvd: Lucky Bike Rental and New Bike Rental. Accept that paying USD1–2 police "fines" is part of driving. Theft is common: park in designated guarded areas and pay a small parking fee or use a lock and chain, which should be provided.
  • Motorbike-taxis, (motodops or simply motos) should take you anywhere cheaply. A trip from Sisowath Quay to Central Market costs about 2,000 riel (USD0.50). Fares are higher at night and with more than one passenger. Often little English is spoken. No helmets are provided.
  • Taxis, are growing much more common, with more than 100 metered taxis now operating in the city. They can be found in tourist areas such as the riverfront and Street 51 bar area in the evening. Easier, call one of the taxi companies for pick-up. Non-metered taxis still run throughout the city and can be found along the riverfront tourist area and near major hotels. Fares must be agreed in advance. Fares vary; your accommodation provider may help.
  • Tuk-tuks (aka remorque moto), consist of a motorcycle with a cabin for the passengers hitched to the back. They are cheap (Per tuk-tuk: USD2-3 for a trip in the city, USD8 to the airport) and plentiful. Driving standards vary. Drivers in tourist areas may speak some English. Drivers generally do not know their way around and may stop to ask for directions.
  • Cyclos, are three-wheeled pedal cycle-rickshaws. They are slow, scenic, traditional and romantic, though waning in number.
  • Cycling, can extend the horizons of the city. Ride slowly, be visible and predictable by avoiding quick turns. Bicycles can be hired for $1 to $3 per day or if staying longer you can buy a cheap Chinese style bike for $30-$50, new or second hand. A good place to buy is in the area around the top of St105, near St182. Having a bike greatly reduces the amount of annoying verbal ride offers by tuk tuk and moto taxi drivers. There are plenty of repair places in town to fix a puncture, pump up tires or do any repair work at cheap prices. A puncture repair costs $1.
  • Walking, can be a challenge. Remember little gives way to big here, pedestrians come last, even on the now cluttered, once grand, wide, French-built pavements! To cross safely, judge gaps in the traffic and proceed with care. Give oncoming vehicles ample time to see and avoid you, or try to cross with the brightly coloured and revered monks. There is almost no street lighting off the major boulevards, and walking at night is not recommended. Traffic signals and pedestrian crossings are generally ignored by drivers.
  • Car, Phnom Penh is notorious for its massive traffic jams, and rightly so. In addition, traffic is chaotic and motorcyclists seemingly suicidal. Therefore, most tourists consider driving in Phnom Penh a nightmare, and it is highly recommended that you stick to public transport and not try to drive yourself around.

See[edit]

Sisowath Quay as seen from FCC

France's Cambodian colony was acquired late and largely neglected. Historic, colonial architecture was limited to start with and has largely decayed. The Grand Post Office Building, Central Market and Raffles Le Royal Hotel are notable exceptions. Generally any building in good condition, old or new, will be behind a big big wall and security guards.

  •    Independence and Liberation Memorials. Impressive Buddhist-style Independence Memorial, commemorating the departure of the French in 1953, dominates the centre of the city. Nearby is the Stalin-style Liberation Memorial, marking the Vietnamese capture of the city in 1979. The area is especially popular on weekend nights with locals when multi-coloured fountains are activated and communal music is played.
  • The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek (About 17 km south of Phnom Penh, 40 min by taxi or motorbike or tuk-tuk). This place is not for the squeamish. A former Chinese cemetery, this is where the Khmer Rouge killed many thousands of their victims during their four-year reign of terror. Today the site is marked by a Buddhist stupa packed full of over 8,000 human skulls. The sides are made of glass so the visitors can see them up close. There are also pits in the area where mass graves were unearthed, with ominous scraps of clothing still to be found here and there. It is a serene yet sombre place. Regularly throughout the day, a small museum screens a documentary with gruesome video images of human remains that were unearthed when the mass graves were found in 1979. Visit after learning about the Khmer Rouge terror at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. As millions were killed during the traumatic genocidal regime of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, as a sign of respect, wear respectable clothing such as long pants and no sleeveless shirts or tops. Flowers and incense can be bought in front of the stupa. In 2005 the memorial site was sold to a for-profit private company [1]. A tuk-tuk to the site should cost USD9-11 return (after haggling, of course), including stopping at the Genocide Museum on the way and waiting for you at both places. USD6 which includes a very good audio tour.
  • The National Museum of CambodiaSt 13, Sangkat Chey Chumneas, Khan Daun Penh (Opposite the Royal Palace),  +855 23 211753, +855 12 621522 (mobile)fax: +855 23 211753, e-mail: . Daily, 08:00-17:00, last admission 16:30. Contains an excellent collection of art from Cambodia's "golden age" of Angkor, and a lovely courtyard at the centre. A main attraction is the statue of King Jayavarman VII (1181-1219) in a meditative pose. Other exhibits worth seeing include graceful statues of Hindu gods, ancient stelae (tablets) inscribed in Sanskrit and old Khmer, and artefacts from a prehistoric burial site. No photos may be taken inside the museum, although photography is allowed in the central courtyard upon payment of a small fee (cameras: USD1, video cameras: USD3). In the middle of the courtyard is the original statue of the "Leper King" (actually Yama, the Hindu god of death) from the terrace of the Leper King in Angkor Archaeological Park. The pleasant little park in front of the museum is the site of the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony, at which the success or failure of the coming harvest is determined. You may have heard stories of sightseers carrying umbrellas inside to avoid showers of bat droppings, but the bats moved out after the renovation of 2002. USD3.
  • Olympic Stadium. Built in the 1960s for the Asian Games that never happened, this interesting complex in the Modern-style has been sold off to the Taiwanese, in a murky deal by the Cambodian government. The new owners have recently renovated it and it has begun to be used once again as a venue. However in the evenings a walk around the top perimeter is worthwhile: you can see hundreds attending exercise and dance classes, and get a view of the abandoned track below. There is also an Olympic-size swimming pool and diving pool with a 10 m platform open to the public opposite the main building, across the track. 6,000 riel to get in, 500 riel to check your things.
  • The Royal Palace. 08:00-10:00 & 14:00-17:00. 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. They were built in the 19th century with French technology and Cambodian design, and have survived the traumas of the 20th century amazingly well. See them early in the day before it gets too hot. No photography is allowed inside the Silver Pagoda and some of the palace buildings. You're expected to dress decently (no bare legs or shoulders), but you can buy sarongs and oversized T-shirts for USD $2-3. Shorts that cover your knees are okay. In general, the palace complex has a more structured, formal, organised, and harmonious layout with a clear and specific architectural style rather than in Bangkok which has more hodgepodge of styles taken here and there. USD6.25 or 25,000 riel.
  • Sisowath Quay (Riverside). An attractive boulevard running along the banks of the Mekong and Tonle Sap. It's fronted by a large, long open space with manicured lawns, palm trees and open pathways, all recently re-done as part of a Japanese funded project to upgrade the flood infrastructure along the river. The built-up side of the street is home to cafés and shops and the better class of bar, and is popular with tourists and expats prepared to run its gauntlet of touts selling drugs, girls, and tuk-tuk rides. Unfortunately the river front (once seen as Phnom Penh's "safe" area) is no longer entirely safe for tourists. Tourist police are supposedly present in plainclothes. The esplanade along the river is also popular with Cambodians, who come here in the cool of the evening to enjoy the quasi-carnival atmosphere. It begins at the river front park opposite the royal palace, and is perhaps best experienced in the early evening. Dawn at Sisowath Quay is also a busy time, with locals doing calisthenics in front of the royal palace, and the sun rising over the river. In addition to the recent brick attacks on foreigners, there are supposedly child gangs and pickpockets so extra caution is warranted. See A Stroll on Sisowath Quay for a self-guided tour.
Tuol Sleng Prison
  •    Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21 Prison)St 113, Boeng Keng Kang 3, Chamkar Morn +855 23 300698. A school converted into Cambodia's most important prison in 1975. More than 14,000 people were tortured here before being killed at the killing fields; only 8 prisoners made it out alive. The museum is easily accessible and a must-see for everyone interested in Cambodia's horrific recent past. The infamous "skull map" has been dismantled, although there are still skulls stacked in cabinets, implements of torture and disturbing photographs of people dying. For an introduction and further reading, try David Chandler's Voices from S-21 (ISBN 0520222474). Documentary movie S-21 can be purchased in Phnom Penh for USD1.50-2. A hefty slice of your Tuol Sleng entrance fee will go into the pocket of the museum's director, who is the son of the responsible government minister. (This is perhaps the main reason the museum is in rather shabby condition, and the displays so unimaginative.) And a warning to those who patronize the souvenir shop. Don't get conned into buying some vintage Rolex, Patek Philippe, or Omega watches. They are fakes and are worthless. The owner is very convincing and will tell you that it is a collection from her husband. Instead, right across from the museum (No 54 & 56, St 113, Phnom Penh is a little shop called CHA (http://www3.online.com.kh/users/wthanchashop) that sells inexpensive handmade goods that are made by women disabled from polio and land mines. If you ask, you will also be able to tour the shop, meeting the female workers and seeing where they study English. USD2.
The Killing Fields
  •    Wat Botum (About 3 km south of Wat Phnom, near the Royal Palace). Historically the wat favoured by royalty. In the 1930s it housed a charming young novice named Saloth Sar, who "never caused anyone any trouble, never started fights - a lovely child". Later in life he changed his name to Pol Pot.
  •    Wat Phnom (Hill Temple) (On a hill at the centre of a small park near Sisowath Quay, on St 94). The temple itself is notable more for its historic importance than physical structure, but the park is a pleasant green space and a popular gathering place for locals. A few monkeys keep quarters there as well and will help themselves to any drinks you leave unattended. Admission: USD1; elephant ride: USD15.

Do[edit]

  •    The Empire cinema34, St 130 (Just off Riverside Blvd), e-mail: . M-F, 16:00-23:00; Sa-Su, 13:30-23:00. Arthouse cinema/restaurant featuring blockbusters, children's films, documentaries, music, animations and the classics on the big screen on the 2nd floor of an original Cambodian wooden house with air conditioning. Drinks and house-made hot buttered popcorn available. The Killing Fields screens daily. USD3.50 for adults, USD1.50 for under 18 for all day.
  •    Flicks 2 cinema#90, St 136 (near Feel Good Cafe). Great 32-seat mini cinema showing lots of great movies. Their website gives the current film schedule. $3.50 all day ticket.
  • Feel Good Spa#79, St 136 (next to Flicks 2 cinema),  078 888 773. Western-managed-spa and emporium that offers many different types of massage and health treatments.
  • Hash House Harriers. A running club that meets every Sunday at 14:15 at the railway station. USD5.
  •    Help the Needy with Choice. A great way to help some of the local poor people in a positive and rewarding way is to help the expat run charity called Choice. They help provide food and basic supplies to about 200+ extremely poor families as well as medical/dental assistance. They also provide vocational training and feed and send many children to local schools and universities. Volunteers are always welcome to help for a day or more, such as delivering safe water supplies to poor villages.
  •    Mekong Cruises. Boats leave every evening for a river cruise. Many provide snacks or dinners at sunset. Be sure to visit Mekong Island to see rural life. USD8.
  •    Mekong Islands Bicycle Tour23 St 144. 08:00-12:30. Daily 20 km bicycle ride with Grasshopper Adventures, along small trails along the rivers and criss-crossing the islands (4 ferry hops) to explore the lush green countryside around Phnom Penh. USD29.
  • Meta House6, St 264, opposite Wat Botum. Art gallery, bar, mini-cinema and production house. Shows free, high quality foreign and Cambodian films Tu-Su nights at 19:00 in the bar-lounge on the roof.
  • Orphanage Visit (ChildSafe International). If considering visiting one of the orphanages do be aware that they may be exploitative and poorly run. Your money may go to the owner rather than the children. There are few if any legitimate orphanages in Phnom Penh: almost all are scams. Also, accepting impromptu visits from unscreened foreigners is often a sign of a substandard orphanage which does not have the children's best interests at heart. If you really want to help, try contacting organisations like this one that run educational programs, and see if there is any way you can assist.
  • Scuba Nation Diving Centre18Eo, St 3 (Close to the FCC),  +855 12 715785fax: +855 23 211850, e-mail: . M-F, 09:00-18:00, Sa 09:00-17:00, Su 11:00-18:00. The pioneers of diving in Cambodia, providing comprehensive diving and snorkelling services, day trips, liveaboards, nitrox and a full range of PADI courses from beginner to instructor. Flexibility is the key: you can do training sessions while sightseeing in Phnom Penh, then finish with a liveaboard on the only custom made diving boat in Cambodia.
  • Thunder Ranch Shooting Range (Near killing fields of Cheoung Ek). Shooting range run by a unit of the Royal Cambodian Army. For a pretty hefty fee you can fire everything from pistols to machine guns at paper targets. Moto drivers, apparently oblivious of the reaction most visitors have, will try to include this in a trip to the killing fields and will take a nice commission for taking you there. Pistol, USD20; AK-47, (30 rounds) USD40; rocket launcher, USD350.
  • Backstreet Academy#14, Street 360, Sangkat Boueng Keng Kong 1 (BKK1) +855 077793214, e-mail: . 09:00-18:00. An alternative tour experiences platform, they enable locals to offer authentic and unique activities to tourists such as fishing on the mekong like a local fisherman, coconut carving workshops, Cambodian Boxing, Apsara dance classes, even a fear factor challenge where you learn to cook insects which are sold by vendors along the streets in Phnom Penh. A social enterpise, they work with many underprivileged people who either serve as hosts or facilitators. The facilitators will pick you up from your hotel and translate for you. These facilitators are usually young students looking for work to pay for their education or orphans looking to transition into society. Transport is provided for most activities in Phnom Penh. A great way to interact with local people and take in the culture and have something memorable to bring home.

Buy[edit]

Popular tourist buys include silk, silverware, handicrafts and curios (including Buddha figures), and made-to-order clothes (which are often of good quality). If you want to support businesses that are noted for supporting Cambodia's culture and heritage, look for the Heritage Friendly Business Logo from Heritage Watch, an organization that promotes the preservation of Cambodia's cultural legacy.

About Money. The Cambodian riel is not used for large purchases. Prices for anything more substantial than a plate of rice will be quoted in US dollars. The Cambodian Central Bank maintains the riel at approximately 3,900–4,100 to the dollar. Be wary if rates are outside this range. Money changers are plentiful near the central market and display their rates on boards.

Only up market places will accept plastic (normally with a 3% surcharge). Changing dollars into riel is generally unnecessary, though the parsimonious will notice a small benefit. Small purchases with notes above USD20 can cause problems, though vendors will manage. Do not worry if a vendor runs off with your large note, they are finding change not robbing you. Torn, damaged, or old series US currency may not be accepted.

There are plenty of ATMs. They dispense US dollars and accept international cards. Canadia Bank ATMs are fee-free, as is the ATM is inside the Mekong Bank at 220 Sisowath Quay. ANZ Royal bank charges USD4 per transaction. Union Commercial Bank PLC charges USD2 per transaction.

Cashing traveller's cheques can be problematic. Even major banks may refuse to exchange traveller's cheques above USD100.

  •    2500 riel shopsSt 154, near St 51. If you like dollar, euro or pound shops then you will enjoy the Cambodian versions, which are even cheaper at 2500 riel. There is a good one near the side entrance of Sorya Mall on St 154.
  • Get a visa. Phnom Penh is a good place to get visas for neighbouring countries Vietnam and Thailand as well as for China. You can get these visas by going directly to the embassies, but that will take two visits, time filling in forms, potentially a lot of waiting and transport costs. For a few dollars extra a visa agent can be well worth it. Visas for Indonesia can only be obtained from the Indonesian Embassy.

Antiques[edit]

The Cambodia Antiquities Law (1996) bans the sale, purchase and export of Cambodian antiques, and since 1999 the US has banned their import. Consequently, most of the "antiques" sold in Cambodia are reproductions.

  • Hidden Treasures9 St 148. Antiques, art, and curios from Cambodia's past and nearby SE Asian cultures.

Books[edit]

The pirated books that children will try to sell you for USD5 need to be haggled down (they buy them for USD1). Spend a minute or so leafing through before buying. Quality varies: pages can be in the wrong order or missing, or the book may not be the one described on the cover.

  • Bohr's Books5 Sothearos Blvd (St 3) (One block from the Royal Palace),  +855 12 929148, e-mail: . A small store offering a large, diverse collection of books. Easy to find. A second store now operates on St 172, 400 m from Wat Unalom.
  • Boston Book Company8 St 240, Chaktomuk Duan Penh (Around the corner from Monument Books),  +855 92 214452. A second-hand bookshop. Has a good collection of fiction and non-fiction, including texts for teachers and students. In an attractive building, it will eventually have a cafe.
  • D's Books79 St 240, and 363 Sisowath Quay (Near the Foreign Correspondents' Club). A chain of second-hand bookshops dealing mainly in mass market paperbacks. Uncommunicative, monosyllabic staff.
  • International Book Center154 Sihanouk Blvd (St 274, between Monivong Blvd and St 63); 250 Preah Monivong Blvd (near Central Market); 43-45 Kampuchea Krom Blvd (at the corner of St 215) +855 23 218352, +855 23 222822 (Sihanouk)fax: +855 23 721368, e-mail: . Large barn-like bookshops selling mostly textbooks and other educational works. Has a small classic literature collection. Also sells stationery, electronic devices, sporting goods and souvenirs.
  • Monument Books111 Norodom Blvd (Near the corner of St 240),  +855 23 217617fax: +855 23 217618, e-mail: . Has the most extensive collection of new books in Phnom Penh, including fiction and non-fiction, children's books, non-English-language works (in French and Khmer, for instance), magazines and newspapers. There is a particularly good collection of books from and about Cambodia, for instance, on Angkor Wat, the Khmer Rouge regime, and the history of Cambodia. Prices can be very high, often above the list price, and can be purchased cheaper elsewhere in town. However, you can also get a good tea or coffee and cake there, if the serving staff are awake and it's a nice place to sip and read without being pestered. Monument Toys upstairs has a collection of children's toys and games. There is a branch of the bookshop at the airport.
  •    The National Museum of CambodiaSt 13, Sangkat Chey Chumneas, Khan Daun Penh (Opposite the Royal Palace),  +855 23 211753, +855 12 621.22 (mobile)fax: +855 23 211753, e-mail: . Daily, 08:00-17:00, last admission 16:30. Has a small selection of books on Cambodian archaeology, art, culture, and history. Remember that money you spend at any Cambodian government-run institution will end up in officials' pockets.

Clothing and accessories[edit]

Throughout the city, but especially in the Russian Market, tailors make custom made clothes: A medium quality costs USD12 and a high quality costs USD15.

  • Beautiful Shoes138 St 143, Boeung Keng Kong 3 (One street behind the Genocide Museum and about 10 min from Riverside). Good custom-made shoes. USD35–60.

Electronics[edit]

  •    Apple Computers. Cambodia is a cheap place to buy a MacBook, iPad or iPod: prices are in US dollars are similar to elsewhere, but without added tax. iPhones are available only by special import and from licensed Apple agents and so are not cheap. The best Mac retailer and repairer is Uniyang near the Central Market.
  •    Huawei Phones (Monivong Blvd). Cheap and decent Android phones and Bluetooth speakers.
  •    Samsung Phones. Cambodia is a cheap place to buy Samsung phones as there is no sales tax, but it's best to buy from one of only two authorised dealers in Phnom Penh. One near Central Market and the other on Monivong Blvd. Note that Samsung one year guarantees are only valid in the country where you buy, unlike Apple that honours warranties worldwide.

Handicrafts[edit]

St 178, just north of the National Museum, is known as Artist Street and has many interesting boutiques.

  • Cambodian Handicraft Association (CHA), 54 & 56, St 113 (Across from the Genocide Museum). Handmade silk goods, jewellery, accessories and clothing made by women disabled from polio and land mines. If you ask, you will also be able to tour the shop, meeting the female workers and seeing where they study English. The products are absolutely beautiful and the majority of the silk is sourced from a local village, where it is all hand woven. The costs of running the project are covered by selling the artists' work in the shop. They receive no grants or aid.
  • Colors of Cambodia373 Sisowath Quay. Handicrafts from around the country.
  • Kravan House13 St 178. Has a wide range of Cambodian silk products, including a wide range of ladies' handbags at a fraction of the price you would pay in a hotel gift shop.
  • Stef's Happy PaintingSisowath Quay (Near St 178, directly under FCC). Features brightly-colored fun and funky paintings of Cambodian life - a welcome relief after visiting some of Cambodia's more heart-breaking attractions.
The Art Deco dome of the Central Market

Marketplaces[edit]

  •    Central Market (Psar Thmei). The "New Market" is a 1930s art Deco covered market near the Riverfront (Sisowath Quay) district. The market is well laid out, and sells everything from flowers to video games. It has recently been beautifully renovated and its architecture alone is worth admiring.
  •    Night Market (Between St 106 and St 108, riverside). F-Sa nights. Good for cheap local food with many food stalls. Usually some live entertainment, but is primarily for the locals.
  •    City MallMonireth Blvd (Near Olympic Stadium). The newest and biggest Western-style mall in Phnom Penh. The mall contains a large branch of Lucky Supermarket, as well as many fast food outlets and modern shops, mainly catering to Phnom Penh's growing middle-class.
  • Olympic Market (Psar Olympic). Olympic Market was built in 1994 and is a local favourite with shoppers looking for wholesale fabrics, everyday wear, religious paraphernalia and traditional Khmer dresses. Buyers can look forward to big discounts in this market especially if they are buying in bulk. The market is well laid out and is one of the more modern multi-story market complexes. Buyers should definitely give this market a visit.
  •    Russian Market (Psar Toul Tom Poung). The Russian Market moniker dates to the Vietnamese occupation of the city in the 1980s. Real designer clothes at discount prices. A lot of the factories for Levis, CK, Ralph Lauren and many other brands are in Phnom Penh; however, a lot of the clothes sold here are deemed unfit to be shipped abroad due to very small faults and, therefore are sold at this market. You can also purchase fake Swiss watches and pirated software at low prices. It's located away from normal tourist areas, but motodop drivers who cater to tourists will know it.
  •    Sorya Shopping CenterSt 63 (between St 154 and St 142 near Central Market). Phnom Penh's main Western-style mall, is nearby. Sorya is rather drab by Western standards, and is crowded with stalls (like a traditional market, a strange juxtaposition). It is air conditioned and contains a range of cheap fast food outlets as well as the well-stocked Lucky Supermarket. Don't leave a motorbike with the Sorya parking people, who are known to steal helmets and double the parking charges on a whim.
  •    Aeon Mall. Probably Phnom Penh's most modern shopping mall (opened mid 2014) with many brand name and Japanese stores. Also has many restaurants and 7 screen Major Cineplex Cinema.

Eat[edit]

Phnom Penh offers some interesting culinary treats not found elsewhere in the country. These include French-influenced dining and Thai, Vietnamese, and Indonesian dishes. Pizzas, banana pancakes, and fried rice are always easy to find.

The river front hosts everything from stand-up stalls to fine French bistros. Stalls likely lack hygienic practices: eating peeled fruit and vegetables and anything uncooked may have undesirable consequences.

Exotic treats[edit]

Duck embryo eggs are sold at the southwest corner of Sokun Mean Bun St (St 178) and Norodum Blvd (in front of the green SSN Bldg) inside a big high school compound, together with days old hatched chicks to frogs (everything is eaten, not just the legs) dipped in batter and deep fried. Skewered and grilled pigs ears, chicken claws, and gizzards are sold in the Central Market. Pig intestines are sold at USD1 per 100 g, cut into pieces and splattered with sauce. Grilled small crabs, lobsters, prawns are also sold in the market. Chicken feet are sold in the open-air restaurants as you turn to the right at St 154 as you go northbound from Monivong Blvd. Bugs and other insects, especially the grasshopper, spider/crab, and grubs and pupae stage are sold along Sothearos Blvd from 184 St to 178 St.

Budget[edit]

  •    Aroma Chef (St 172, opposite Chat 'n Chew). A great eating place in the middle of St 172. Khmer and International menu, nice staff and pleasant atmosphere.
  • Asian Spice Cafe Pub79 St 111 (50 m off Sihanouk Blvd opposite Sport Shop). Cafe established in 2006 with a pub upstairs. Owned by a Singaporean, a former Intercontinental Hotel chef. Very popular with expats and tourists. Chinese, Malaysian, Singaporean, Western and some Khmer dishes. USD1.40-2.80.
  • Baitong Restaurant7 St 360 (Opposite the International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP)). Authentic Khmer, Thai, and Vietnamese dishes. They also have breakfast express and lunch buffet set around USD2–3.75. 2 large rooms can be used for conferences, training and other events and a smaller room for meetings and private dinners.
  • Camory Cookie Boutique167 Sisowath Quay (Between St 110 and 118), e-mail: . 09:00-20:30. A cafe-cum-development project that trains chefs and ploughs back money into humanitarian causes. The Sreh T'nout cookie, made from a rich combo of chocolate, nuts and palm sugar, is their bestseller.
  • Cavern Pub19 St 104. English-style pub with English-style food. Open 11:00-02:00. Great happy hour till 18:00. Live music/open mic night on Monday, British comedy night Tuesday, Live sport on the weekend.
  • C'est Wat Restaurant and Guesthouse9 St 118 (2 min walk from the riverside). 10:00-15:00. Check out the massive USD7.50 Sunday roast with free glass of wine, or the huge USD4 all day breakfast: pork sausages, back bacon, mushrooms, eggs, potato fritters, beans, toast, tea or coffee. USD0.75 beer.
  •    Chat 'n Chew RestaurantSt 172 +855 12 482302. Very popular with many expats who meet here on regularly.
  • Comme a la Maison13 St 57. In a pleasant garden terrace. Laid-back but stylish French feel with warm service. Pizza and salads, ice cream desserts.
  •    Dark RoseSt 228 (Just off St 51). Great BBQ pork ribs for just 6,000 riel a plate.
  • Evergreen Vegetarian House109 St 130 (Between St 15 and 19), e-mail: . 06:30-14:00, 15:30-21:00. Small restaurant with big selection of Japanese, Thai & Cambodian vegetarian food, with and without mock meats. Delicious. Air-con. USD2–5.
  •    Feel Good Cafe (next to Flicks 2 cinema). Great cafe run by a Kiwi couple serving good coffee and food. Also offers cooking classes.
  •    Cafe Fin (4memories), No 27Eo, St 506/135, Phsar Doeum Thkov, Chamkarmorn (+855) 97 682 8166, e-mail: . 08:00 - 20:00. Near the Russian Market Café Fin provides a tranquil environment where you can have breakfast / lunch / dinner and enjoy the view from the spacious and breezy roof terrace. It also serves as an ideal venue for breaks, meetings and functions. Its menu offers a range of Western food and Asian home-cooking specials, as well as a variety of creative drinks 5 - 20 $.
  • Halal Foods Mumina86 St (North side of the street, in front of South China Airlines office). Recommended are the Muslim restaurants on north of the Phnom Penh Hotel. Also, the guesthouses in this area are among the cheapest, offering USD4 rooms. This area is popular with the French and Brits as their embassies are located nearby.
  • K.K. TandoorSothearos Blvd (Opposite Vietnamese Monument, next to Pannasastra University). Moderately priced Indian food with chicken tandoori, butter chicken, and naans. Air-con. You can get draft beer for a dollar.
  • La Lotus Blanc402 Stung Mean Chey and 152 St 51 Boeung Keng Kang. French and Asian cuisines and quite a popular neighbourhood hub. The food is prepared and served by students from the PSE.
  • NOW Snack Shop69H St 101, Boeng Trabek Ward, Chamkar Mon (Near Rock Entertainment Centre, Royal University of Law & Economics),  +855 97 9498853, e-mail: . 06:00-19:00. English speaking staff will serve you breakfast, lunch, dinner, Vietnamese snacks, coffee, tea, shake, juice, fruit yogurt. USD0.50-2.00.
  • P&K Restaurant (formerly "Old Ponlok"), 319 Sisowath Quay Blvd. Khmer & Chinese restaurant on the riverside, Good service and authentic and absolutely delicious Khmer takes on Chinese cuisine, with everything in between. The beef tripe with teouk prahok is especially delicious. Apparently open since 1984 and quite popular with locals. USD0.50 draft Angkor. USD3–12.
  • Setsara Thai Restaurant3D St 278. Thai restaurant with a really good Thai chef, good music, reasonable prices and good service, though a bit slow sometimes. They have some good French specialties as well.
  •    Tinat Restaurant (Corner of St 51 & St 154). Extensive local food photo menu at cheap prices, such as sweet and sour pork with rice, USD1.75.
  • Tom Yum Kung Thai Restaurant10 St 278 (In the BKK1 area), e-mail: . 07:00-22:00. 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 gung is recommended. Air-con upstairs, fans downstairs.
  • The Vegetarian11 St 200 (Oknha Men). Good daily special with white or brown rice and 3 small dishes. Most of the customers are Westerners. English speaking staff. Most dishes at USD1.50.
  • Warung Bali3D St 178 No. 25 E0, Royal Palace. Small, traditional Indonesian restaurant in a tourist area.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Amok Restaurant & Cafe2 St 278 (Near Independence Monument),  +855 12 912319. Nice cosy décor, with open air dining. Traditional Khmer dishes and other styles. The classic fish amok is well done, and the servings are large.
  • Anise57 St (Near the corner of Sihanouk and 278 St). Comfortable, nicely decorated corner restaurant with free Wi-Fi and some good dishes from a varied menu, including SE Asian. Their club sandwich is excellent. Perhaps a little over-priced.
  • Atmosphere141C Norodom Blvd. Fancy French restaurant. Quiet on an ordinary day, but draws a regular crowd of expats.
  • Aussie XL205A 51 (Pasteur) St. About the only thing Aussie about this place is the owner. Look in vain for a can of Foster's. But the food is very good and the wood-fired oven pizza matches anything found in Italy.
  • Blue CatSt 110. Comfortable and friendly. Suitable for family dining with an international and Khmer menu, and a respectable wine list. Free Wi-Fi.
  • Brown Coffee and Bakery17 St 214 (Next to Old Pencil Supermarket),  +855 23 217262. Great coffee with good barista. The bakery chef was trained at Cordon Bleu and the sandwiches are great.
  • Cafe Yejj170 St 450 (SE corner of the Russian Market, less than 15m E of the corner of St 155 & 450). Indoor and outdoor seating both ground level and second floor. Pasta, panini, burritos and Cambodian food. Participates in breaking the cycle of poverty by training women-at-risk as employees. Service very good. Very clean bathroom upstairs. Most dishes less than USD4. Sit inside if you do not want to be bothered by beggars.
  • Chi Cha Restaurant27 St 110 (Near the riverfront in the café and bar area), e-mail: . Excellent and plentiful Indian food, vegetarian or not, in a convenient central location. Also has rooms from USD8. Set meals USD4.
  • The Corn26 Preah Suramarit Blvd (Norodom Blvd). Mostly vegetarian Cambodian food with numerous (excellent) vegan options and a friendly English-speaking staff
  • Le DuoSt 228 (Between Monivong and St 63). Italian food. Sicilian-born Luigi makes great pasta and pizzas.
  •    EquinoxSt 278 (Near St 51). Pizzas, baguettes, burgers, pastas and some more Western specialities. Great indoor outdoor ambiance. Meat and salads come from a local organisation that teaches farmers organic growing methods.
  • 50 Cents Cafe105 St 19 (Street behind Lux Cinema, close to the corner),  +855 16 386094, +855 97 2226666. 08:00-22:00. Thai food, western food with affordable prices. Drinks such as cocktails, coffee, and soft drinks; fresh fruit salad, crepes, ice cream, quiet rest on cool sofa, artwork, and movie room. Free Wi-Fi. USD1.75-4.5.
  • Friends Restaurant215 St 13 (50 m north of the National Museum),  +855 12 802072, e-mail: . M-Sa 11:00-21:00, closed Su. Run by a NGO that trains and educates former street children. Western and Asian dishes, most of them tapas, so order 2 or 3. Nice garden terrace, stylish interior. Good choice of vegetarian dishes. USD3-6.
  • Green Mango Restaurant and Bar170E Street 63 (Corner of St 278, Boeung Keng Kang I),  +855 23 720470. Western, Khmer, and Mediterranean dishes. A good place for casual meet-ups with friends. Excellent Wi-Fi connection, great choice of music and friendly staff.
  • Jars of Clay39B St 155 (South of the Russian Market),  +855 23 300281. Closed Su. Cafe managed by women. Great place to relax after a visit to the crowded Russian Market. English-style breakfast, quiches, sandwiches, soups, delicious cakes. Smoothies, ice cream and really good coffee and air-con. USD4-10.
  • Java Café56 Sihanouk Blvd. Soups, salads and sandwiches in a cosy setting overlooking the Independence Monument. Good vegetarian options. Has a rotating art exhibition.
  • Khmer Surin11 St 57 (South of Sihanouk Blvd). Romantic restaurant that serves delicious Khmer and Thai food. The traditional Khmer seafood dish, amok, stands out.
  •    Meta House37 Sothearos Blvd (Across from the Australian Embassy),  +855 23 224140. Nice gallery, German pfannkuchen (flat pizzas) and interesting documentaries about Cambodia.
  • Metro Café (Corner of Sisowath Quay and St 148, opposite Riverside Bistro). Stylish fusion of Asian and Western culture. Air-con. Good selection of small tapas-style dishes from USD1 and a great steak for about USD12. Free Wi-Fi.
  • Nature and Sea (Corner of Street 278 and 51),  +855 12 879486. Relaxed restaurant on a 2nd floor rooftop opposite to Wat Langka that promotes health food. Delicious salads, crepes, juices. Try the passion fruit juice. USD3-7.
  • Paris Bubble Tea285-287 Preah Monivong (Not far from the New York Hotel),  +855 23 990373. Pleasant and has fun and refreshing bubble tea. Try the classic Pearl Milk Tea.
  • Penny Lane Café (Corner of St 111 & St 242. Not far from the Town View Hotel). Italian-style cafe with air-con and outdoor areas where they take great pride in their coffee. Free Wi-Fi.
  • Riverside Bistro273a Sisowath Quay. In an old colonial style building with comfortable outdoor dining and views of the Tonle Sap. Popular with local expats, tourists, and affluent Khmers. Try "root of lotus".
  • The Shop39 St 240 +855 23 986964, +855 92 955963 (mobile), e-mail: . 07:00-19:00. Popular place with a good selection of sandwiches, quiches, salads and freshly baked goods. Has a cosy and quiet courtyard seating area. Very good breakfast options. Less than USD5.
  •    Chez LippSt 86, very near Monivong. All you can eat, cook your own with table top "steam boat" style cookers. Prawns, squid, beef, chicken etc. $7.50 per person. Popular with locals, less known by tourists and expats. Beware the monkey near the entrance.

Splurge[edit]

  • Le Bistrot4D, St 29. French and Italian in an old villa.
  •    FCC Phnom Penh (Foreign Correspondents' Club), 363 Sisowath Quay +855 23 724014, e-mail: . 07:00-24:00. A favourite expat hang-out, exhibiting modern colonial-style charm with superb views of the river. No air-con and rather spoiled by the unseemly gauntlet of touts one has to battle through to leave. FCC does particularly good desserts. Their signature cocktails are the Tonle Sap Breezer and Burmese Rum Sour are USD4.50 each. USD20+.
  • La Luna d'Autunno4D, St 29. Italian food in a beautiful old villa with lovely garden setting, air-con inside.
  • 1021A, St 102 (One block south of Le Royal),  +855 23 990880. Probably Phnom Penh's top French restaurant, set in a modern, European-style surroundings. The food is quite competent and the onion soup is superb. Almost entirely undiscovered by tourists, but popular with Phnom Penh's moneyed elite, so reservations are recommended. USD30.
  • Le Quay (Corner of Sisowath Quay & St 110),  +855 23 213582. Seating by a water feature or on the terrace, enjoying Phnom Penh riverside activities. Western and Asian dishes.
  • Le Wok33 St 178 (Near the National Museum),  +855 98 821857. 09:00-23:00. Delicious French and pan-Asian cuisine in a tastefully decorated venue. USD20+. Lunch special USD10.

Drink[edit]

Superficial security

Most of the time, Phnom Penh bars and clubs are safe enough and a lot of fun - however, some of the more "hip" places are popular with the notorious local "elite" youth (and their minders) who carry firearms and other weapons, and who are allowed to pass through so-called "security" checks without being searched.

Places to hang out after dark include St 104, St 278, and St 108 around the St 51 corner, which all feature restaurant bars, hostess bars, and guesthouses.

Bars[edit]

  • Blue CatSt 110 (Just off the riverside). Classy bar, friendly staff, fun popular place with free pool and a night club upstairs. Cheap cocktails.
  • FCC and Guesthouse (Sisowath Quay). Overlooking the river. Excellent place to meet professionals and tourists. Happy hour 17:00-19:00.
  • Liquid3B St 278 (Next door to Equinox). Daily, 08:00-late. Polished concrete, gun-metal grey floor, chocolate leather seats and fabulously backlit bar serving some of the best and most inventive cocktails in town. One of the only slate pool tables in town. As much a mid-week bar as a weekend bar.
  • RubiesSt 240. Wine bar popular with young expats working for local NGOs. Busy with a cliquey atmosphere on a weekend night.
  • Sharky's Bar & Restaurant126 St 130 (About 3.5 blocks from the "Psar Thmei" (new market)). Since its opening in 1995, Sharky's has been rocking & rolling. Upstairs on the first floor above street level. Large space, huge centre bar, outside balcony and with plenty of available seating. Most moto taxis will understand "Shockeee Bah".
  • The Terrace Pub (Just off the main riverside road, look for the big UK flag on the right side of the street). British-owned pub. USD0.75/beer and friendly staff.
  • UpDownbarSt 136 (Across the famous 136 Bar). Relaxed atmosphere, with a bar upstairs and on the ground floor.
  •    Eclipse Sky Barcnr Monivong and St 232. Tallest sky bar in Phnom Penh, is a hidden gem in the heart of the city’s business district. From the roof of the 22-story Hyundai Phnom Penh Tower, the view of the city is breath-taking, and the soft mix of pop music in the background adds to the bar’s relaxed ambiance. $3 Tiger draught beer.
  •    Quealy's#209, St 172 (near St 13). 16:00 until late. Friendly little bar run by well known English lady Jess. They also make burgers and bratwurst hot dogs with a free beer.

Hostess bars[edit]

  • Barbados (South of St 104 near the river). Hostess bar. Buy 5 beers and get 1 free.
  • Golden VineSt 108 (Next to VooDoo Lounge). Hostess bar with pool table.
  • Martini Pub & DiscoSt 95 (One block off Monivong Blvd, across from the Total Gas Station). Infamous girlie bar. 2 full bars, food USD2–6, burgers & fries, pizza, Asian dishes, gaming room, disco, outdoor big-screen showing movies or sports. There some copycat Martini bars in other places like Sihanoukville and Siem Reap, but this is the original. A place for single men and loose ladies.

A note on hostess bars

Surveys have found that the HIV rate among Cambodian female sex workers is about 13%.

  • OneZeroFour BarSt 104. Popular low-key hostess bar. The bar has a good range of single malt whiskys.
  • One3Six BarSt 136. Popular hostess bar. Great range of drinks plus they keep their 42 Below and Grey Goose in the freezer, so the shots are really smooth.
  • Pit StopSt 51. Popular hostess bar.
  • 69 Bar. Popular dance-oriented hostess bar.
  • Sugar ShackSothearos St (The street in front of the National Museum and Palace). Classy little hostess bar featuring a nice selection of wines, champagnes, and single malts.
  • VooDoo LoungeSt 51 (Near St 108). Great range of drinks, nice decor, air-con, happy hostesses, and a pool table. Two other hostess bars nearby.
  • WalkaboutSt 51. 24/7. Food and good pool tables. Many freelance girls congregate here. Popular after hours bar, also has rooms available.
  • ZanzibarSt 104. High energy hostess bar with reasonable prices and a pool table upstairs, very popular among expats.
  • Zapata BarSt 108 (Next to VooDoo Lounge). Stylish air-con hostess bar with a good range of drinks, and no pool table or food to distract you from the lovely ladies.

Live music[edit]

  • EquinoxSt 278 (Near St 51). One of the best live music venues in town with weekly concerts from locals and expat bands. It's also a 2 storey cocktail bar featuring monthly art exhibitions by local and international artists, gaming room with a pool table and the unique bonzini foosball table of Phnom Penh, cool tunes, good food. Increasingly popular with expats. Happy hour 17:00-20:00.

Sleep[edit]

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget budget USD5-20
Mid-range midrange USD20-50
Splurge splurge Over USD50


Budget[edit]

The former Boeung Kak Lake with demolished guesthouse, Phnom Penh, Oct 2011

A good range of accommodation is available around the city. The budget traveller area was area known as Lakeside, near the now filled in Beoung Kak lake. The colony of guesthouses has been decimated, but not eradicated. Remaining businesses are desperate for clients, which makes prices very cheap. Guesthouses 10 and 11 still exist and offer rooms from USD4/night and USD3/night respectively. Services include such laundry, Internet, money exchange, ATMs, and restaurants, including an excellent Indian restaurant.

St 258 (near the Cambodia/Vietnam Friendship Park), Street 51 (near Wat Langka) and St 111 and 172 also have some good budget options.

  • Boddhi Tree Umma Guesthouse50 St 113 (Opposite Tuol Sleng),  +855 23 211397, e-mail: . 12 tastefully decorated rooms with fan, Wi-Fi. It is a rather quiet guesthouse with a very personal atmosphere and also has a good restaurant. It is however a bit far from the city centre and so you will need use a taxi. From USD9-32.
  • Capitol 3 Guesthouse207Eo St 107, Sangkat Beng Prolit, 7 Makara (Next to the Capitol Tours office),  +855 23 211027. Warm, friendly staff and quick laundry service. 5 floors of squeaky-clean rooms that are out of the direct sunlight and never seem to get too hot. No elevators. Free Wi-Fi. Single fan room with shared bathroom USD3, private bathroom USD4 (which always seem to be full), + cable TV USD5, + hot water and air-con USD8.
  • Dream Colors Guesthouse69 St 70 (Near French Embassy),  +855 97 8785762. TV, DVD, Wi-Fi, laundry, motorbike rental, bus and flight tickets and visa extension services. French, English and Khmer spoken. USD14-20.
  • Europe Guesthouse51 St 136 +855 23 6918883, e-mail: . One of the cleanest and most conveniently located guesthouses you can find. TV, Wi-Fi, laundry, bus and flight tickets. French, English and Chinese spoken. Often the cheaper rooms are full. USD11-20.
  • The Green House48FGH St 488, Village III, S/k Phsar Deum Thkov, Chamkamorn District +855 23 217998, +855 17 200030. Simple, newly built and elegantly furnished rooms and suites. Air-con, insulated window, cable TV, broadband Internet, IDD telephone, newspapers, 24 hr security, laundry and valet service, credit cards accepted, mini bar, 24 hr check in, check out and 24 hr housekeeping, ticket reservation, city tour arrangements, pick up service and transfer upon request. Standard single USD13, standard twin USD15, VIP room USD20.
  • Khmer City Hotel (One street south of the Sorya bus terminal), 90H St 154, phone=. Surprisingly good for the price. Appears to have been recently refurbished. Free Wi-Fi. USD15-20.
  • King Guesthouse141 St (Off Sihanouk Ave),  855 12 220 512. Daily bus service to and from Ho Chi Minh City, but if you get their bus from Vietnam they take you directly to the guesthouse and you are not allowed to get off the bus before arriving there. The bus may then park across the entire open front of the place blocking the exit to potential guests who may consider seeking other alternatives.
  • Lazy Gecko Guesthouse & Restaurant1 St 259 (Near Hotel Cambodiana),  +855 78 786025, e-mail: . Short stroll to Riverside, Sihanouk Blvd, Monivong Blvd and the royal palace. Good value rooms, most with air-con and many with hot water. Restaurant is downstairs and has daily specials and a Sunday roast. Free Wi-Fi. USD5-15.
  • Long Lin Guesthouse159 Ang Yukanthor, St 19 (Short walking distance to riverside),  +855 23 992412, e-mail: . Clean, spacious and well-decorated. The owner is very friendly and helpful, as is the service. Tours, buses and boats can also be booked through the guesthouse and may include pick-ups. USD12 for a spacious double or twin.
  • Mini Banana136 St 51 (Head south along St 51 from Sihanouk Blvd, small alley on the left after St 282),  +855 23 726854, e-mail: . The new sister guesthouse to the famous Top Banana offers a more relaxed atmosphere than its older brother. From dorms to double rooms, very clean and a friendly atmosphere. Breakfast and lunch served, but you can also order from Top Banana's menu. Easy walk to St 278, Independence Monument, Sihanouk Blvd. Free Wi-Fi. USD4 (dorm)-USD17 (air-con).
  •    Okay Guesthouse5 St 258 (Royal Palace area, near Hotel Cambodiana). Large and busy guest house with restaurant, terrace, Internet cafe. A good place if you like hanging out with other travellers. They show movies every evening. The rooms are basic but clean, the cheaper rooms are sometimes very small and do not have a window, the more expensive rooms on the 2nd floor are generally a bit better. Somewhat quiet in the evening. They provide food, rooms, buses & tours. The rooms are rather bleak and sad by Cambodian guesthouse standards but cheap and relatively clean. Check your bed for bedbugs as they are common here. From USD6-12.
  • Rory's Guesthouse (Facing the Royal Palace and National Museum and 100 m from the river front), 33 St 178, Riverside +855 12 425702. Free Wi-Fi. USD10-30.
  • Simon II Guesthouse (Next to Simon's Guesthouse). Comfortable rooms with air-con and bathrooms. Extra charges for Wi-Fi and toilet paper. Have been some reports of rats and cockroaches and mosquitoes. From USD12.
  • Simon's Guesthouse11 St 93, Boeung Kak Lake +855 12 884650. Tricky to find but the layout of the rooms allows for a nice, cool breeze. Both shared and private baths available. Rooms USD2-3.
  • SuperStar Hotel26 St 172 +855 11 399123, e-mail: . Family-run hotel and restaurant. Air-con and Wi-Fi. St 172 is relatively quiet with a few Western bars, restaurants, groceries, and a bookshop. USD15.
  • Top Banana Guesthouse2 St 278 (Near Wat Lanka). A very laid back small guesthouse on the 2nd and 3rd floor with a cosy, sociable atmosphere and friendly staff. The cheaper rooms are very noisy. Surprisingly good food. USD7-15.
  •    Velkommen Backpackers17 St 144 (In the centre of Phnom Penh, riverside). Nice backpackers guesthouse with friendly and helpful English and Norwegian management. Dorm beds & private rooms. A large stylish bar. Great for meeting other backpackers, with regular events and live music. Free Wi-Fi. Dorm beds from USD4.50.
  •    4memories Guesthouse (Cafe Fin), No 27Eo, St 506/135, Phsar Doeum Thkov, Chamkarmorn (Near Russian Markets),  (+855) 97 682 8166, e-mail: . 4 memories is a boutique guesthouse with 5 uniquely designed guesthouse rooms and a rooftop lounge. Located in a peaceful community, this guesthouse offers the perfect place to relax after experiencing the bustling life of Phnom Penh. The popular Russian Market (Toul Tompong Market) is only 1km away from the guesthouse. 25 - 34 $.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Angkor International Hotel38-50 St 148 (100 m west of Kandal Market, 300 m from the river and national museum),  +855 23 217609, e-mail: . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. English and French spoken. Breakfast. Western and Asian restaurant, free Wi-Fi. Easy reservation and secure payment on-line. 100 rooms renovated in 2012. Clean and stylish Khmer furnishings. Air-con, desk, tiled/marble floors, cable TV, minibar, private safes, elevator, safe at reception, bar and terrace, non-smoking floor, tour services. Warm and helpful. Room service 24/7. Massage. USD25.
  •    Blue Lime42 St 19z (Cul de sac off St 19, across the street from the Royal Institute of Fine Arts),  +855 23 222260, +855 12 447057 (mobile), e-mail: . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. 14 rooms with a lush exotic garden and a saltwater swimming pool. The rooms, garden and pool are modern minimalist, with concrete furniture. Free 1 Mb/s Wi-Fi. Its sister property is The Pavilion. USD40-50, including continental breakfast.
  • Bougainvillier Boutique Hotel227 Sisowath Quay (Quay Sisowath),  +855 23 220528. All rooms have a view of the Mekong River and suites are all equipped with air-con, cable TV, private safes, mini bars, IDD telephones, and free access to Internet. There are 3 floors and no elevator so getting to the top floor can be a bit of a struggle. USD60-120.
  • California 2 Guesthouse79 Sisowath (North of the night market on the river front, 3 doors north of the Mekong Express Bus),  +855 77 503144. 24 hr bar and restaurant with Wi-Fi and pool table. Rooms have Wi-Fi, a safe, air-con, ceiling fan, hot water, fridge, and a 26" flat screen TV. Breakfast included. USD25-35.
  • Cambodia UncoveredBKK1 +855 12 507097, e-mail: . Self-contained apartment for up to 4 people, along with satellite TV, DVD player, and a small veranda. Advance booking required. Off-the-beaten-track tailor made private boat and road trips, up-country travel, and cooking classes can also be arranged. singles USD55, doubles USD75, including breakfast and wi-fi.
  • Changi Ville Guesthouse and Cafe137B St 330 (Chamkarmorn District, about 15 min walk from the Independence Monument). In a residential neighbourhood. Clean double rooms with attached baths. Friendly staff. Might occasionally have power outages due to its location. USD25.
  • Frangipani Villa Hotelsvarious locations. Four hotels in Phnom Penh. The spacious rooms are examples of contemporary Cambodian design. Spotless air-con rooms with cable TVs, mini-bars, strongboxes, en suite baths with hot water. Free Wi-Fi. Management does not support sex tourism. USD35+.
  • Hotel Cara18 St 47 & 84, Sangkat Srass Chork +855 23 430066. Hotel near the river and port. Good rooms with hot showers, TVs and a quiet ambience. Some rooms have balconies. Very helpful staff. Free Internet access in the office area near the lobby. Some rooms are completely renovated, soundproofed, upgraded and have added amenities. USD28-50.
  • Hotel Luxury World35 St 200, Sangkat Boeung Rang, Khan Daun Penh (On Monivong Boulevard), e-mail: . There is an affordable massage parlour on the lower levels of the hotel. There is an open-air restaurant with a live band on the roof of the hotel which provides a cosy ambience at night. Free Wi-Fi. USD27-47.
  • Hotel Nine48 St 9 (Near Independence Monument),  +855 23 215964, e-mail: . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. Relaxing spot in the middle of the city with a very good Asian fusion kitchen and local chef, breakfast included. All rooms are equipped with air-con & fan, 22 inch LCD TV with international channels, DVD player. USD40-70.
  •    The Lone Star Saloon Bar and Guesthouse30 St 23 (Between St 172 & St 154 near Cyclo Bar),  +855 12 577860. Texas-themed restaurant with 3 apt-sized rooms upstairs available as guesthouse rooms. On a quiet street near the riverside. Air-con, hot water, free fast Wi-Fi, mini fridge stocked with drinks at bar prices. Caters to local expats and provides travel info for those new to Cambodia. USD25.
  • Okay Guesthouse5 St 258 (Royal Palace area, near Hotel Cambodiana.). Safe and quite well-run, but if you have arrived in Cambodia to escape Western culture for awhile, be advised that a large TV in the dining/meeting room is always on, loud. USD2-12.
  • Paragon Hotel219B Sisowath Quay. On river front, near lots of good cafés. Rooms have bathrooms, air-con, TVs, fridges. No breakfast. Friendly service and clean. USD15-30.
  • The Pavilion227 St 19 (Near the Royal Palace). Colonial building from 1920, enclosed from the hustle and bustle of the city outside. Lush gardens surround the swimming pool. Also has a Jacuzzi and free Wi-Fi. Offers a free professional massage to each guest. Some rooms have private swimming pools. USD50-80.
  • PKD1 Guesthouse40 St 136 (Just off the river front),  +855 12 769920. Clean and secure accommodation with fan or air-con, en suite baths, cable TV and refrigerators. USD10-15.
  • The 25219 St 252 +855 23 998252, e-mail: . 19 spacious and stylish rooms. Overflow 13 x 5 m swimming pool surrounded by a leafy tropical garden, garden restaurant and bar. All rooms are equipped with air-con/fan, 22 inch LCD TV with international channels, DVD player, dock speaker system for iPod/iPhone and line-in for MP3 players. USD45-65 including breakfast, free Wi-Fi and taxes.
  • Villa Srey16 St 306, BKK 1, e-mail: . A new boutique hotel in an old colonial house. 6 spacious and stylish rooms, Wi-Fi, Air-con and a small pool. Breakfast included. USD40-60.

Splurge[edit]

  • Cambodian Country Club & Hotel ResortSt 2004 Group 6 Toeuk Thla, District Russey Keao +855 23 885591/2; +855 23 883861/2, e-mail: . A copy of an Australian country club, financed by a rich Chinese owner. There is an open-air kids' swimming pool (covered with a net to avoid too much sun), an outdoor swimming pool where the expats send their kids to learn to swim. Surrounded by nice lounge chairs for sunbathing and relaxing. Horseback riding, about 10 tennis courts, 2 badminton courts, and a workout room. A Coca-Cola costs about USD2, a meal between USD2.50 and USD8. USD75.
  • Intercontinental HotelMao Tse Tung Blvd. A favourite among visiting dignitaries, but rather out of the way in the southwest corner of the city. Has a Chinese restaurant, Xiang Palace, for expensive fine dining including dim sum.
  • La Maison d Ambre123 St 110, corner St 19, Sangkat Wat Phnom (Opposite Wat Phnom),  +855 23 222780fax: +855 23 222791, e-mail: . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. On one of central Phnom Penh’s busiest commercial streets. The elegant white concrete façade typical of the Sankum era’s urban heritage has been restored to its former splendor. Ten apartments (60-120 sq m) have been designed and decorated, each in a unique interpretation around the themes of luxury and travel. Has a fine restaurant. USD90-160.
  • Raffles Le Royal92 Rukhak Vithei Daun Penh (Off Monivong Blvd),  +855 23 981888fax: +855 23 981168. Phnom Penh's grand old hotel, originally built in 1929 by the French, used as a dry fish store by the Khmer Rouge, but given a thorough redecoration by the Raffles Group in 1999. Walking distance to Wat Phnom and the river, excellent service, wonderful attention to detail and the "Landmark" rooms in the old wing still use bathtubs and even light switches from 1929 (plus broadband Internet and walk-in showers). Try the Femme Fatale, a mix of cognac and champagne dreamed up for Jackie Kennedy in 1967 at the hotel's elegant Elephant Bar. USD150–300 low/high season.

Stay safe[edit]

As in any big city, be wary walking alone at night.

Daytime bag-snatching is not uncommon. Women are the main targets. When riding in a tuk-tuk keep your bag toward the middle of the tuk-tuk to protect against bag snatching. When on a motorcycle taxi, keep your bag between you and the driver or in front of the driver. Do not carry/wear your bag on your back!

Scammers and con men sometimes work the tourist areas such as the riverfront, Hun Sen Park and the Sorya Mall. A group of scammers operate around the riverside, targeting travellers. Their basic method is to start a conversation, make friends, claim to have a relative who is soon moving to your country of origin, and invite you to dinner at their house. Once you get there, they will apparently try to trick you into playing a rigged card game for money, and if that fails then they will give you stories about sick relatives and ask money for that instead.

Stay healthy[edit]

As in most developing world countries, avoiding cold, uncooked food is desirable to prevent stomach upsets. Salads are also suspect at times. Ice is usually OK as it is made from filtered water in factories.

Unsafe sex[edit]

There are dozens of girlie bars catering to foreigners in the cross-streets back from the river. Freelance girls are picked up at establishments like Heart of Darkness, Sharky's Bar, Riverhouse Lounge, and Martini Bar.

HIV is carried by about one in eight of Cambodia's female sex workers. NGOs have got the HIV rate in the general population down from around 2% to around 1% over the past decade, but emerging liberal behaviour coupled with ignorance of safe practices may reverse this gain. Condoms are strongly advised.

Connect[edit]

Telephone[edit]

Cheap SIM cards from $2 for GSM phones are available on almost any major street. A vendor should have an activated test card to be used to make sure your phone will operate on that network. Calls between mobile networks can be spotty and Skype calls from abroad to mobiles in Cambodia are sometimes dropped, so be prepared to redial frequently. SIM cards, phone credit and internet packages can be bought and activated at the airport located just after passing through customs. A great time and place to do so if you know you going to buy a local sim card in Cambodia. Its a good idea to have your phone sim unlocked before leaving home. It seems all phones sold in Cambodia are unlocked. Dual sim phones are cheaply available which are useful for travellers who want to use their home sim card and a local sim card at the same time.

Mobitel and metfone have the best coverage around the whole of Cambodia. Metfone is particularly good for their internet packages (e.g. 2.5Gb for one month for $5) and they allow hotspot tethering from you smart phone unlike Mobitel. Useful if you use a laptop a lot and want to use wifi via your hotspot enabled smart phone.

Most of the major networks, such as metfone, have kiosks at the Phnom Penh airport located just after walking through customs where you can buy a local sim card, some credit and an Internet data package. If so, check that it all appears to be operating OK before heading off, such as by loading up a web page and checking your balance.

Internet[edit]

Wi-Fi is available in most of the hotels that welcome Western tourists and backpackers. Speed and reliability is on par with neighbouring countries. There is no shortage of Internet cafés in Phnom Penh. Most are in the 1,500 riel/hour to 2,000 riel/hour bracket (~USD0.50)

Wireless and wired connections for laptops are available at a number of outlets. Most up-market hotels provide high-speed broadband access, but at a premium. A number of cafés along Sisowath Quay including the Foreign Correspondents' Club (expensive), Fresco Café (under the FCC, also expensive), K-West Café (at the Amanjaya Hotel), the Jungle Bar and Grill, and Phnom Penh Café (near Paragon Hotel), and Metro Cafe (free).

  • Cybercity 817 & 1, St 271 (In front of Sovanna Shopping Centre beside KFC Sovanna),  +855 17 307066, e-mail: . 24/7. A modern Internet cafe with 3Mb fiber optic cables. Open 24 hours with promotional rates at night. USD0.50/hr.
  • Galaxy Web (St 63 Near Sihanouk Boulevard). Excellent service, popular with Westerners.
  • Sunny Internet178 St (Opposite Foreign Correspondents' Club, also Sisowath Quay, next to the Riverstreet restaurant.). Provides a faster service at USD1/hr and is popular with tourists and expats.

Post[edit]

The main, impressive French colonial-style post office is at the intersection of St 13 and 102, roughly between Wat Phnum and the Riverside. Another branch is more downtown, at the intersection of Sihanouk and Monivong Blvd. Both offices offer full range of postal services, including PO boxes for affordable prices, and are open 7 days a week.

Postage for international postcards is 3,000 riel. Very nice picture stamps are available. Philatelists: ask for mix and match options. Letters and especially parcels to Phnom Penh's post office frequently go missing, or are not made available to recipients for up to one year.

Cope[edit]

Bring your largest pair of sunglasses: Phnom Penh is dusty year-round (even in the wet season) and riding in tuk-tuks means a lot of the dust in your eyes.

Embassies and consulates[edit]

  • Australia Australia16B National Assembly Rd, Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Kahn Chamkamon +855 23 213470fax: +855 23 213413. M-Th 08:00-12:00 and 13:30-17:00; F 08:00-12:00 and 13:30-16:15.
  • Singapore Singapore129 Norodom Blvd, Sangkat Chaktomuk, Khan Daun Penh +855 23 221875fax: +855 23 214578 (administration and consular matters), e-mail: . M-F 08:00-12:30, 14:00-17:00. Singapore nationals may register online with the Embassy at [2].

Medical[edit]

Ascertain that the doctor has a Western medical degree. If not, get out. Local training is poor and treatment can be fatal. Local hospitals are generally basic, including Calmette Hospital, the city's best. A doctor's appointment should be made at one of the international clinics, which can also arrange transfer to a hospital in Thailand if necessary.

  • Dr Marissa Regino-Manampan262B St 63 +855 23 217349. Filipino MD. Family medicine.
  • IMI International Dental Clinic193 St 208 +855 23 212909. International Dental Clinic is one of the biggest high-tech dental clinics in Cambodia. Offering convenient and flexible services and total dental care since 1997. Recognised by the Ministry of Health and National Dental Council of Cambodia. Now has a second clinic, in cooperation with a Japanese dentist, in Siem Reap Province.
  • International SOS Medical and Dental Clinic161 St 51 (Pasteur) +855 23 216911. Has local and foreign doctors providing wide ranging standard health care and 24 hr emergency service. This clinic is experienced with foreigners and with travel insurance requirements and will ensure that all documentation for insurance claims are provided.
  • Naga Clinic11 Senei Vinna Vaut Oum (St 254) +855 23 211300, Mobile: +855 11 811175. Some of the Khmer doctors here are foreign-trained and competent, but abrupt and uncommunicative, in the Asian doctor-style. The two French doctors are both competent and communicative, and are favoured by expats. One of them, Dr Garen, speaks good English. USD30 for foreigners, USD15 for Khmer.
  • Royal Rattanak Hospital11 St 592, Boeung Kak 2, Toul Kok +855 23 365555. The second Cambodian hospital of Bangkok Dusit Medical Services PCL. Provides full secondary health care services including: emergency medicine, general surgery, plastic surgery, orthopedic surgery, anesthesiology, pediatrics, Ob-Gyn, general internal medicine, intensive care and rehabilitation services. Good service and some real doctors, but insanely expensive. A keybone operation with 4 days stay costs around USD4,000. You pay around USD190/night.

Go next[edit]

Cambodia[edit]

Sihanoukville, Battambang, and Siem Reap are within a few hours reach. Watch out for guesthouses profiteering on bus tickets. Several tour companies offer day-trips to Tonle Bati, which includes Ta Prohm, an Angkor-era temple not to be mistaken for the Angkor-area temple of the same name.

Rates as of May 2012 (from Mekong Imperial International Travel & Tour Co., Ltd. at 339 Sisowath Quay (Riverside) Tel:+855 23 5550401; +855 92 341732; +855 95 793232). They do free pick-up. It could be USD1 cheaper to buy directly from the bus company.

To Company (comments) Departs Hours USD
Siem Reap Mekong Express (air-con, snack, water, guide) 07:00 08:30 12:30 14:25 6 12
Apsara Khmer Travel (air-con, water) 07:00 09:00 13:30 15:30 5 9
Gold VIP (air-con, snack, water) 07:00 08:30 13:30 14:30 20:00 24:00 5-6 9
Selia Angkor (air-con, snack, water) 07:00 09:00 14:00 15:00 5 9
Virak Buntham 11:30 (5 hr) 18:00 20:00 24:00 (6 hr) 9
Sok Sokha (cold towel, air-con, snack, water) 07:30 08:30 12:30 13:30 6 8
Capitol (air-con) 06:15 07:30 08:30 10:15 12:00 13:30 14:30 6.5 7
Phnom Penh Sorya (air-con) 07:00 07:45 08:45 11:30 12:45 15:15 7 7
Sihanoukville Phnom Penh Sorya (air-con) 07:00 08:00 09:00 11:30 12:45 15:45 17:00 5 7
Capitol (air-con) 07:15 08:45 09:45 11:15 12:15 13:30 14:30 5 7
G.S.T. (air-con) 07:15 08:15 12:30 13:30 13:15 5 7
Virak Buntham (blanket, water, air-con) 01:30 4 8
Kep/Kompot Capitol (air-con) 07:30 13:00 4 7
Phnom Penh Sorya (air-con) 06:45 07:30 09:30 12:45 13:45 5 7
Kratie Phnom Penh Sorya (air-con) 06:45 07:15 8:00 10:30 6 8
G.S.T. (air-con) 07:00 6 8
Battambang Virak Buntham (air-con) 05:00 06:30 5 7
Capitol (air-con) 07:00-14:45 (every hr) 5 7
Phnom Penh Sorya (air-con) 06:30 07:45 08:45 10:45 12:45 6 7
Koh Kong Virak Buntham (air-con) 07:45 12:30 6 9
Phnom Penh Sorya (air-con) 07:45 11:30 6 9
Kampong Cham Capitol (air-con) 08:15 14:00 3 6
Phnom Penh Sorya (air-con) 07:15-15:45 every hr 3 6
Preah Vihear G.S.T. (air-con) 07:30 8 7
Poi Pet Virak Buntham (air-con) 20:00 21:00 24:00 7 10
Phnom Penh Sorya (air-con) 06:15 06:30 07:45 07:30 8 10
Capitol (air-con) 06:30 08:00 10:00 8 10
Stung Streng Phnom Penh Sorya (air-con) 07:15 9 12
Rathanakiri Phnom Penh Sorya (air-con) 07:30 13 12
Mondulkiri Phnom Penh Sorya (air-con) 08:15 8 10

Laos[edit]

Buses to Don Det (USD19, 12 hr) leave at 06:45. The 27 hr journey to Vientiane costs USD46 and takes four different buses. The first leg is on the Don Det bus. Once over the border you'll spend hours on cramped minibuses heading to Pakse before the final stretch to the capital. The border is slow and bureaucratic, with endless form-filling and small bribes to officials, long walks hauling your luggage between windows (500 m), and no one much to assist with enquiries. There have been reports of various problems on the onward journey to Vientiane, from Lao companies not honouring tickets sold in Cambodia, to nocturnal groping.

Prices May 2012:

To Bus Company (comments) Departs Hours USD
4000 Islands/Don Khong (ferry not included) Phnom Penh Sorya 06:45 10 23
Pakse Phnom Penh Sorya 06:45 12 30
Vientiane Phnom Penh Sorya 06:45 22.5 50

Thailand[edit]

Through tickets to Bangkok (14 hr, USD15–26) are generally unproblematic. You will change buses at the border. Anything more than USD15 is a bit steep given that Phnom Penh to Siem Reap should cost USD5 and that Siem Reap to Bangkok should cost USD10.

Prices May 2012:

To Bus Company (comments) Departs Hours USD
Bangkok Virak Buntham (via Koh Kong) 07:45 >12 28
Virak Buntham (via Poipet) 21:00 21:30 24:00 24:30 12 23
Gold VIP (via Poipet) 20:00 24:00 (night bus) >12 23
Angkor Express (via Poipet) 06:30 13 18
Capitol (via Poipet) 06:30 13 18
Phnom Penh Sorya (via Poipet) 06:30 13 18
Ko Chang Virak Buntham 07:45 9 23
Ko Samet Virak Buntham 07:45 12 29
Pattaya Virak Buntham 07:45 11 29
Trat Virak Buntham 07:45 8 19

Vietnam[edit]

Slow boats to Vietnam (USD9–10) are a scenic alternative to the bus (USD10, 6 hr). The 8 hour journey begins at 07:30 with a minibus to the boat, which then goes to Chau Doc in Vietnam, stopping for an hour at the border for immigration and a change of vessel. Faster boats (USD10) to Ho Chi Minh City take around 6 hours and depart 3-7 times per day. The journey can be also stretched into a 2-3 day Mekong tour (USD40–60).

Prices May 2012:

To Bus Company (comments) Departs Hours USD
HCMC Mekong Express (air-con, snack, water, guide) 06:30 07:00 08:30 13:00 14:00 15:00 6 13
Sapaco Tourist (air-con, water, toilet) 06:00 07:00 08:00 09:00 11:30 13:00 14:00 15:00 6 12
Khai Nam Transport 05:30 07:00 08:00 09:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 6 11
Virak Buntham 08:30 6 11
Virak Buntham (blanket, air-con) 00:30 (night bus) 8 12
Capitol 06:45 08:00 13:30 6 11
Phnom Penh Sorya 05:45 06:45 08:30 11:45 13:30 6 15
Hatien Champa Mekong (minibus, air-con) 08:00 5 15
Phu Quoc Champa Mekong (minibus, air-con) 08:00 7 27


Routes through Phnom Penh
PoipetPursat  NW CR Northern Line.png SE  END
END  N CR Southern Line.png S  → Takeo → Sihanoukville


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