Phnom Penh, at the confluence of the Mekong and the Tonle Sap Rivers, is the capital of Cambodia and its largest city.
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.
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.
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.
- See Cambodia | Get in for general information on getting into Cambodia.
- See Cambodia | Get in | Visas for detailed visa information.
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). Check out some of the antique shavers that are still on sale!
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.
- Ho Chi Minh City (USD10, around 6 hr) no change of bus.
- Pakse (around 14 hr)
- 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!
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:
- Battambang (USD5, 4 hr)
- Koh Kong
- Poipet for Aranyaprathet in Thailand
- Siem Reap (USD5-10, 6 hr) Capitol Tours is the only company that runs buses to central Siem Reap. Other companies leave travellers at the mercy of tuk-tuk touts in an out of town bus station.
- Sihanoukville (USD4.5-10, 3-5 hr)
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
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 . 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. USD5 which includes a very good audio tour.
- The National Museum of Cambodia, St 13, Sangkat Chey Chumneas, Khan Daun Penh (Opposite the Royal Palace), ☎ +855 23 211753, +855 12 621522 (mobile), fax: +855 23 211753, e-mail: email@example.com. 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 rent sarongs and oversized T-shirts for 1,000 riel (plus USD1 deposit) at the entrance. 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 Genocide Museum (S-21 Prison), St 113, Boeng Keng Kang 3, Chamkar Morn, ☎ . 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.
- 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.
- Bicycle Tours and Rental (Phnom Penh), ☎ +855 89 834704 or +855 15 696376, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Sa-Su, 09:00-17:00. During the week upon request. Take a short trip alone or with your family, friends and colleagues to the other side of the Mekong River or into the countryside. USD2.
- The Empire, 34, St 130 (Just off the Riverside Blvd). Cinema/restaurant featuring blockbusters, kids movies, documentaries, music, animations, and the classics on the 6 m (19 ft) wide big screen on the 2nd floor of an original Cambodian wooden house and with air conditioning. They have a 2nd movie room opened with a 5 m wide screen. Enjoy a movie with a drink and hot buttered popcorn and lie on big futons or sit on wicker sofas. Check the website for latest movie schedule. USD3.50 for adults, USD2 for under 18, for all day.
- 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 190+ extremely poor families as well as medical assistance. They also provide vocational training and feed and send many children to local schools. Volunteers are always welcome to help for a day or more, such as delivering fresh water supplies to poor villages.
- Institute Francais. Film screenings. Fewer with English subtitles than there once were.
- 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 Tour, 29 St 130 (Diagonally opposite Indochine 2 Hotel). 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 House, 6, 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.
- NagaWorld Casino. The only casino in Phnom Penh.
- Orphanage Visit. 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 organizations that run educational programs, and see if there is any way you can assist. For more information see ChildSafe International 
- Scuba Nation Diving Centre, #18Eo, St 3 (Close to the FCC), ☎ , fax: +855 23 211850, e-mail: email@example.com. 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 to 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, and a wide array of heavy machine guns and grenade launchers, etc..
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.
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 Treasures, 9 St 148. Antiques, art, and curios from Cambodia's past and nearby SE Asian cultures.
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 Books, 5 Sothearos Blvd (St 3) (One block from the Royal Palace), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Company, 8 St 240, Chaktomuk Duan Penh (Around the corner from Monument Books), ☎ . 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 Books, 79 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 Center, 154 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: email@example.com. 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 Books, 111 Norodom Blvd (Near the corner of St 240), ☎ , fax: +855 23 217618, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Cambodia, St 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: email@example.com. 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
Throughout the city, but especially in the Russian Market, there are tailors willing to make custom made clothes. A man can get a medium quality custom made shirt for USD12, or a high quality custom made shirt for USD15. Definitely worth the purchase, as you'll never have a more perfect fit.
- Beautiful Shoes, 138 St 143, Boeung Keng Kong 3 (One street behind the Genocide Museum and about 10 min from Riverside). They will make you an excellent pair of custom men's business shoes. USD35–60.
- Apple Macs. Cambodia is a cheap place to buy a MacBook, iPad or iPod. Prices are in US dollars at same rates as in the USA but there is no added tax. iPhones are available here only by special import and from licensed Apple agents, therefore they are not so cheap here. By far the most expert Mac retailer and repairer is Uniyang near the Central Market.
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 Cambodia, 373 Sisowath Quay. Handicrafts from around the country.
- Kravan House, 13 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 Painting, Sisowath 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.
- 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.
- City Mall, Monireth 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 population.
- 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, therefore they are sold at the Russian market. You can also purchase fake Swiss watches and pirated software at low prices. It also has the best iced coffee in the city. Russian Market is located away from normal tourist areas, but motodop drivers who cater to tourists will know it.
- Sorya Shopping Center, St 63 (between St 154 and St 142). 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). But 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. Located near Central Market
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 unintended consequences.
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.
- Asian Spice Cafe Pub, 79 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 Restaurant, 7 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 Boutique, 167 Sisowath Quay (Between St 110 and 118), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Pub, 19 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 Guesthouse, 9 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 Restaurant, St 172, ☎ . Very popular with many expats who meet here on regularly. Try their special beef Wellington.
- Comme a la Maison, 13 St 57. In a pleasant garden terrace. Laid-back but stylish French feel with warm service. Pizza and salads, ice cream desserts.
- Evergreen Vegetarian House, 109 St 130 (Between St 15 and 19), e-mail: email@example.com.. 06:30-14:00, 15:30-21:00. Small restaurant with big selection of Asian (Japanese, Thai, Cambodian) vegetarian, with and without mock meats. Delicious. Air-con. USD2–5.
- Halal Foods Mumina, 86 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. Tandoor, Sothearos 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 Blanc, 402 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 Shop, 69H St 101, Boeng Trabek Ward, Chamkar Mon (Near Rock entertainment Centre, Royal University of Law & Economics), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Restaurant, 3D 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.
- Tom Yum Kung Thai Restaurant, 10 St 278 (In the BKK1 area), e-mail: email@example.com. 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 Vegetarian, 11 St 200 (Oknha Men). Most of the dishes at USD1.50. Good daily special with white or brown rice and 3 small dishes. Most of the customers are Westerners. English speaking staff.
- Warung Bali, 3D St 178 No. 25 E0, Royal Palace. Small, traditional Indonesian restaurant in one of Phnom Penh's tourist area.
- Amok Restaurant & Cafe, 2 St 278 (Near Independence monument), ☎ . 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.
- Anise, 57 St (Near 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.
- Atmosphere, 141C Norodom Blvd. Fancy French restaurant. Quiet on an ordinary day, but draws a regular crowd of expats.
- Aussie XL, 205A 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.
- Bai Thong, 100-102 Sothearos Blvd, ☎ +855 23 211054, +855 12 666390 (mobile), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 11:00-14:00, 18:00-23:00. French and Indochinese cuisine in nicely decorated surroundings. USD10-20.
- Blue Cat, St 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 Bakery, 17 St 214 (Next to Old Pencil Supermarket), ☎ . Great coffee with good barista. The bakery chef was trained at Cordon Bleu and the sandwiches are great.
- Cafe Yejj, 170 St 450 (Southeast corner of the Russian Market, less than 15 m east 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 Restaurant, 27 St 110 (Near the river front in the café and bar area), e-mail: email@example.com. Excellent and plentiful Indian food, vegetarian or not, in a convenient central location. Also has rooms from USD8. Set meals USD4.
- Le Duo, St 228 (Between Monivong and St 63). Italian food. Sicilian-born Luigi makes great pasta and pizzas.
- Equinox, St 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 Cafe, 105 St 19 (Street behind Lux Cinema, close to the corner), ☎ +855 16 386094 or +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, art work, and movie room. free Wi-Fi. USD1.75-4.5.
- Friends Restaurant, 215 St 13 (50 m north of the National Museum), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- Frizz Restaurant, 67 St 240, ☎ +855 23 220953, +855 12 845525 (mobile). 10:00-23:00. Traditional Cambodian cuisine. The restaurant operates the Cambodia Cooking Class. USD5-10.
- Green Mango Restaurant and Bar, 170E Street 63 (Corner of St 278, Boeung Keng Kang I), ☎ . 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 Clay, 39B St 155 (South of the Russian Market), ☎ . 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 Café, 56 Sihanouk Blvd. Soups, salads and sandwiches in a cosy setting overlooking the Independence Monument. Good vegetarian options. Has a rotating art exhibition.
- Khmer Surin, 11 St 57 (South of Sihanouk Blvd). Romantic restaurant that serves delicious Khmer and Thai food. The traditional Khmer seafood dish, amok, stands out.
- Meta House, 37 Sothearos Blvd (Across from the Australian Embassy), ☎ . 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), ☎ . 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 Tea, 285-287 Preah Monivong (Not far from the New York Hotel), ☎ . 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 Bistro, 273a 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 Khmer's "root of lotus".
- The Shop, 39 St 240, ☎ +855 23 986964, +855 92 955963 (mobile), e-mail: email@example.com. 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.
- Le Bistrot, 4D, St 29. French and Italian in an old villa.
- FCC Phnom Penh (Foreign Correspondents' Club), 363 Sisowath Quay, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. Over USD20.
- La Luna d'Autunno, 4D, St 29. Italian food in a beautiful old villa with lovely garden setting, air-con inside.
- 102, 1A, St 102 (One block south of Le Royal), ☎ . 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, ☎ . Seating by a water feature or on the terrace, enjoying Phnom Penh riverside activities. Western and Asian dishes.
- Le Wok, 33 St 178 (Near the National Museum), ☎ . 09:00-23:00. Delicious French and pan-Asian cuisine in a tastefully decorated venue. Over USD20; lunch special USD10.
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.
- Blue Cat, St 110 (Just off the riverside). Classy bar, friendly staff, fun popular place with free pool and a night club upstairs. Cheap cocktails.
- Blue Chili, 36Eo, 178 St (Behind the National Museum), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. One of the more popular gay bars in town.
- FCC and Guesthouse (Sisowath Quay). Overlooking the river. Excellent place to meet professionals and travelling people. Happy hour 17:00-19:00.
- Green Vespa, 95 Sisowath Quay (Near St 102). 06:00-late. Friendly pub and great single malt collection.
- Liquid, 3B 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 genuine slate pool tables in town. As much a mid-week bar as a weekend bar.
- Rubies, St 240. Wine bar favoured by young expats working for local NGOs. Busy with a cliquey atmosphere on a weekend night.
- Sharky's Bar & Restaurant, 126 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 plenty of available seating. Most moto taxis will understand "Shockeee Bah".
- The Terrace Pub (Just off the main riverside road, look for the big British flag on the right side of the street). British-owned pub. USD0.75/beer and friendly staff.
- UpDownbar, St 136 (Across the famous 136 Bar). Relaxed atmosphere, with a bar upstairs and on the ground floor.
- 69 Bar. Popular dance-oriented hostess bar.
- Barbados (South of St 104 near the river). Hostess bar. Buy 5 beers and get 1 free.
- Golden Vine, St 108 (Next to VooDoo Lounge). Hostess bar with pool table.
- Martini Pub & Disco, St 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 Bar, St 104. Popular low-key hostess bar. The bar has a good range of single malt whiskys.
- One3Six Bar, St 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 Stop, St 51. Popular hostess bar.
- Sugar Shack, Sothearos 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 Lounge, St 51 (Near St 108). Great range of drinks, nice decor, air-con, happy hostesses, and a pool table. Two other hostess bars nearby.
- Walkabout, St 51. 24/7. Food and good pool tables. Many freelance girls congregate here. Popular after hours bar, also has rooms available.
- Zanzibar, St 104. High energy hostess bar with reasonable prices and a pool table upstairs, very popular among expats.
- Zapata Bar, St 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.
- Equinox, St 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.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Splurge||splurge Over USD50|
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.
- Basac Guesthouse & Restaurant, 128 F2 3 St (Sothearos Blvd) (Near Russian Embassy), ☎ +855 97 6342156, +855 12 646156, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 40 remodelled rooms with air-con and fan, hot water, big screen cable TV, fridge, and window (both not in every room) with a view. Comfortable rooms. No Wi-Fi. From USD5-15.
- Boddhi Tree Umma Guesthouse, 50 St 113 (Opposite Tuol Sleng), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 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 Guesthouse, 207Eo St 107, Sangkat Beng Prolit, 7 Makara (Next to the Capitol Tours office), ☎ . 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 Guesthouse, 69 St 70 (Near French Embassy), ☎ . TV, DVD, Wi-Fi, laundry, motorbike rental, bus and flight tickets and visa extension services. French, English and Khmer spoken. USD14-20.
- Europe Guesthouse, 51 St 136, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 House, 48FGH 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 Guesthouse, 141 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 & Restaurant, 1 St 259 (Near Hotel Cambodiana), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 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 Guesthouse, 159 Ang Yukanthor, St 19 (Short walking distance to riverside), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- Mad House, St 454 (Near Russian Market), e-mail: email@example.com. Very friendly guesthouse with Western management, Aussie/USA. So join in the madness and stay a few nights. They have very good free Wi-Fi as well as a bar and restaurant. USD5 dorms, USD15 rooms.
- Mini Banana, 136 St 51 (Head south along St 51 from Sihanouk Blvd, small alley on the left after St 282), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Guesthouse, 5 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, ☎ . 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 of rats and cockroaches and mosquitoes. From USD12.
- Simon's Guesthouse, 11 St 93, Boeung Kak Lake, ☎ . 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 Hotel, 26 St 172, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 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 Guesthouse, 2 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 Backpackers, 17 St 144 (In the centre of Phnom Phen river side). Nice backpackers guesthouse with a friendly and helpful English and Norwegian management. Dorm beds & private rooms. A large stylish bar and kick back area. Great for meeting other backpackers, with regular events & live music Free Wi-Fi. dorm beds from USD4.50.
- Angkor International Hotel, 38-50 St 148 (100 m west of Kandal Market, 300 m from the river and national museum), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- The Billabong Hotel, 5 St 158, Sangkat Boeung Raing, ☎ . Breakfast included. Al fresco dining poolside. USD36-65.
- Blue Lime, 42 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: email@example.com. 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 Hotel, 227 Sisowath Quay (Quay Sisowath), ☎ . 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 Guesthouse, 79 Sisowath (North of the night market on the river front, 3 doors north of the Mekong Express Bus), ☎ . 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 Uncovered, 11B Boeng Keng Kong (St 370), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 boat trips, up-country travel, and cooking classes can also be arranged. singles USD50, doubles USD60, including breakfast.
- Changi Ville Guesthouse and Cafe, 137B 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 Hotels, various 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+.
- Golden Gate Hotel, 9 St 278, Sangkat Beng Keng Kang 1, Khan Chamkarmorn (Near Independence Monument), ☎ . USD15-40.
- Hotel Cara, 18 St 47 & 84, Sangkat Srass Chork, ☎ . 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 World, 35 St 200, Sangkat Boeung Rang, Khan Daun Penh (On Monivong Boulevard), e-mail: email@example.com. 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 Nine, 48 St 9 (Near Independence Monument), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Guesthouse, 30 St 23 (Between St 172 & St 154 near Cyclo Bar), ☎ . 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 Guesthouse, 5 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 Hotel, 219B 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 Pavilion, 227 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 Guesthouse, 40 St 136 (Just off the river front), ☎ . Clean and secure accommodation with fan or air-con, en suite baths, cable TV and refrigerators. USD10-15.
- The 252, 19 St 252, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 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 Samnang (Villa Samnang), 15 St 302, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 14 bright and spacious rooms with air conditioning and TV. USD50-90.
- Villa Srey, 16 St 306, BKK 1, e-mail: email@example.com. 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.
- Cambodian Country Club & Hotel Resort, St 2004 Group 6 Toeuk Thla, District Russey Keao, ☎ +855 23 885591/2; +855 23 883861/2, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Hotel, Mao 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.
- Lebiz Hotel + Library, 17F Kampuchea Krom (Opposite Central Market), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com.
- La Maison d Ambre, 123 St 110, corner St 19, Sangkat Wat Phnom (Opposite Wat Phnom), ☎ , fax: +855 23 222791, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Royal, 92 Rukhak Vithei Daun Penh (Off Monivong Blvd), ☎ , fax: +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.
- Sokha Club Hotel, No 63, Preah Norodom Blvd Sangkat Phsar Thmey III, Khan Daun Penh (Opposite Lux Cinema), ☎ , fax: +855 23 990151, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. USD84-89.
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.
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.
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.
Cheap SIM cards 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.
It's now easier than ever to buy a SIM card in Phnom Penh which can be found for as little as USD2–5. There are plenty of phone stalls around the central market. Mobitel has the best coverage around the whole of Cambodia and seems to have cheaper calls. But sending and receiving international SMSs and calls only have about a 50% success rate of being received.
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 8, 17 & 1, St 271 (In front of Sovanna Shopping Centre beside KFC Sovanna), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Internet, 178 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.
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.
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
- Australia, 16B National Assembly Rd, Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Kahn Chamkamon, ☎ , fax: +855 23 213413. M-Th 08:00-12:00 and 13:30-17:00; F 08:00-12:00 and 13:30-16:15.
- China, 156 Mao Tsetung Blvd, ☎ +855 23 720920, 24 hr +855 12 810928, fax: +855 23 720922, e-mail: email@example.com.
- France, 1 Monivong Blvd, ☎ , fax: +855 23 430037, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 08:30-11:30.
- Singapore, 129 Norodom Blvd, Sangkat Chaktomuk, Khan Daun Penh, ☎ , fax: +855 23 214578 (administration and consular matters), e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 08:00-12:30, 14:00-17:00. Singapore nationals may register online with the Embassy at .
- United Kingdom, 27-29 St 75, Sangkat Srah Chak Khan Daun, ☎ .
- United States, 1, St 96, Sangkat Wat Phnom, Khan Daun Penh, ☎ .
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-Manampan, 262B St 63, ☎ . Filipino MD. Family medicine.
- IMI International Dental Clinic, 193 St 208, ☎ . 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 Clinic, 161 St 51 (Pasteur), ☎ . 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 Clinic, 11 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 Hospital, 11 St 592, Boeung Kak 2, Toul Kok, ☎ . 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.
- Tropical & Travellers Medical Clinic: Dr. Gavin Scott, 88 St 108, ☎ . British doctor. General Medicine. Tropical medicine.
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.
|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|
|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|
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|
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|
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 (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|
|Poipet ← Pursat ←||NW SE||→ END|
|END ←||N S||→ Takeo → Sihanoukville|