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 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. 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.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
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.
- 1 Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH IATA) (7 km west of the city). The largest airport in Cambodia.
The terminal is a thoroughly pleasant and modern facility and features a post office, a bank with ATMs, restaurants, coffee shops, duty-free shops, a bookstore, a pharmacy, a tourist help desk and a business centre. A new international airport is expected to open by the end of 2021.
Taxis from the public taxi stand at the airport cost around US$12 and tuk-tuks cost around US$8. The drivers may tell you there's a fixed price, but that's not true – the fare is subject to haggling like most things in Cambodia. Grab taxis (via phone app) are now allowed into the airport and cost about $7 into the city. If you are willing to lug your bags outside the airport fence you can catch a tuk-tuk into town for US$5 but have to haggle hard for that price. The ride into town can take about an hour or so and is full of car exhaust from all the traffic, so think twice about taking a tuk-tuk.
For a more budget-friendly transfer, you can take the relatively new Phnom Penh City Bus line 3. The stop is right outside of the airport on the main road. The line runs east through the city center to the banks of the Mekong. Fare is 1500 riel from the bus driver, no change available.
The airport train stopped running in 2020 and, given that the new Phnom Penh airport is under construction, will probably not run again. At any rate, it no longer runs as of Feb 2023.
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 US$21 at the airport, and US$11 at supermarkets in the city. Electronics are also overpriced, but at least they're the genuine article.
Cambodia is improving its roads. 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 amongst both "quality" and "cheapie" buses.
- 1 bus station. This 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.
- 2 bus street, St 106 riverside. This short stretch of street, along the north side of the Night Market near riverside, is the base for several buses such as Giant Ibis.
Tickets are available at the bus station. Guesthouses and travel agents throughout the city will also arrange tickets for a US$1–2 commission.
Some passengers have experienced valuables being stolen from their luggage when stored out of sight.
- Bangkok: The bus service from Bangkok to Phnom Penh (also Siem Riep) is run by BKS, The Transport Company. Buses leave Mo Chit Bus Station (buy your tickets at ticket window 22) at 05:00 and the 719-km trip takes 11 hours via Aranyaprathet district in Sa Kaeo. You will do the standard border crossing formalities there. A 30-day tourist visa for Cambodia costs US$30 (2019). Bus fare to Phnom Penh is 900 baht (2013). Return buses to Bangkok leave Phnom Penh daily at 07:00.
- Ho Chi Minh City (US$10, 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 (US$5, 4 hr)
- Koh Kong
- Poipet for Aranyaprathet in Thailand
- Siem Reap (US$5-10, 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 (US$4.5-10, 3-5 hr)
Ferries connect Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and usually take 6 hr. Tickets for foreigners cost US$32. 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.
- Hang Chau Speedboat (tour guide, water, snack, insurance, no pick up). Leaves from the ferry pier on Sisowath Quay, and seems to be the main affordable option other than the mythical "slow boats" (see below). Check website for schedule. Takes 4 hr, US$27
- Mandarin Cruises, 5 hr, US$65
- Victoria Speed Boat, 5 hr, US$65
The relevant border crossing to Vietnam is called "Song Tien landport" on the Vietnam eVisa website, despite this place name not seeming to appear on any maps.
Many tour operators also include the Phnom Penh-Chau Doc route as part of 2-3 day Mekong Delta tours, often charging hundreds or even thousands of dollars. It might be cheaper to take one of the above ferries to Chau Doc and then arrange a Mekong Delta tour locally there. Tours offering "Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon" usually put you on a bus or van for the Chau Doc to HCMC leg of the journey, and possibly for other parts as well. It is apparently no longer possible to reach Saigon from Phnom Penh traveling only by boat.
Travelling by train to Phnom Penh is a possibility, however trains are slow and infrequent. National railway company Royal Railways[dead link] runs two passenger services from the 2 Phnom Penh Royal railway station. :
Trains leave from the capital at 07:00 on F-Su (occasionally also on M Tu, doublecheck on easybook) and 16:00 on Sundays.
In the other direction departures from Sihanoukville are at 07:00 usually on Sa-M and 16:00 on Sundays.
- Phnom Penh - Pusat - Battambong - Serei Saophoan - Poipet
This is a once-weekly service. Updates can be found on the Cambodian Railways Facebook Group.
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. Street signage is clear and 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 US$5–6 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 US$1–2 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. Fares are higher at night and with more than one passenger. Often little English is spoken. No helmets are provided.
Taxis 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: US$2-3 for a trip in the city, US$8 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.
PassApp tuk-tuks are metered three-wheeler auto-rickshaws. Several companies have apps that allow you to order one, uber-style. PassApp is one of the front-runners and works very well for visitors. It works out to be much cheaper than tuk-tuks and since the app shows the price, there is no haggling. Many of the drivers are not able to read maps so may need your help finding your pick-up and drop-off locations. The app can be downloaded for Android and Apple phones.
Cyclos are three-wheeled pedal cycle-rickshaws. They are slow, scenic, and traditional, 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 US$1-3 per day or if staying longer you can buy a cheap Chinese style bike for US$30-50, new or second hand. A good place to buy is in the area around the top of St105/St107, near St182. Perhaps give your bike to a worthy charity when you leave, such as Choice Cambodia, who will give it to a needy child as a means for getting to and from school. 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 US$1.
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.
- at 1500 riel per ride tickets are inexpensive
- it is safer than on motorbikes and tuk tuks, no risk of bag/phone snatching
- with air-conditioning you are screened from heat, noise, dust and smells of the city streets
Though all bus stops have the route map for that particular bus route displayed, the free App “Stops Near Me” (from Google Play and Apple App Store) comes in handy. Not only does it show the full route map with all bus stops in English, it also tracks buses live so that you know when the next one will be arriving.
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.
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 wall and security guards.
- 1 The National Museum of Cambodia, St 13, Sangkat Chey Chumneas, Khan Daun Penh (Opposite the Royal Palace), ☏ , (mobile), fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. 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 building is of some historic interest, designed in the early 20th century by a French scholar of Khmer culture to evoke traditional Khmer architecture. 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. The gift shop has a small selection of books on Cambodian archaeology, art, culture, and history. US$10, youth US$5.
- 2 The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, Sothearos Blvd (one block to the west of Sisowath Quay). 08:00-10:00 & 14:00-17:00. The King of Cambodia still lives here, but much of the palace is open to the public. The manicured gardens are nearly as dazzling as the colorful glass tiles of the palace roof. 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, and no scarves or shawls) - make sure you dress accordingly, because they'll happily sell you a ticket before informing you that your attire is inappropriate. Shorts that cover your knees are okay. The palace complex has a structured, formal, organised, and harmonious layout with a clear and specific architectural style. There are no information panels, so a guide hired at the gate (US$10) can give you a good explanation of the history of the palace and of the Cambodian monarchy. US$10.
- 3 Sisowath Quay (Riverside). Phnom Penh is a bite-sized town, and it's easy to combine sightseeing, shopping, eating and drinking into a single walk through the city. The key to connecting the dots is the town's riverside promenade, Sisowath Quay, which runs along the west bank of the Tonle Sap River. Every morning the Quay kicks off with a life affirming exercise session to some interesting music. It's fronted by a large, long open space with manicured lawns, palm trees and open pathways, all 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. 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.
- 4 Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21 Prison), St 113, Boeng Keng Kang 3, Chamkar Morn, ☏ . 08:00-17:00. 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 history. The beautiful courtyard with palm trees makes for an unsettling contrast with the horrors remembered in the museum: concrete cells, 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 US$1.50-2. There is also a short movie screening featuring some survivors that plays at 09:30 upstairs in the far building. An audio tour (available in several languages) is enough to understand the place and lets you go at your own pace. Plan to spend about three hours at the museum if you do the audio tour. There are survivors who sell their books on site. Across from the museum (No 54 & 56, St 113, 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. US$5 entrance, US$5 for audio tour or guided tour.
- 5 The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek (about 17 km south of Phnom Penh, 40 min by taxi or motorbike or tuk-tuk). 07:30-17:30. 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. 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 US$9-11 return (after haggling, of course), including stopping at the Genocide Museum on the way and waiting for you at both places. A tour bus to the site that also stops at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum will cost US$16 or US$28 for 2 people, plus admissions. US$3, audio tour US$3.
- 6 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.
- 7 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 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.
- 8 Wat Botum (about 3 km south of Wat Phnom, near the Royal Palace). Historically, the wat was 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.
- 9 Wat Phnom (Hill Temple), Norodom Blvd at St 94 (on a hill at the centre of a small park near Sisowath Quay). 07:00-18:30. This hilltop pagoda marks the spot where the city was founded, and is always busy with pilgrims and fortune-tellers. The temple 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: US$1.
- 10 Wat Ounalom, Samdech Sothearos Blvd. 06:00-18:00. Dates back to 1422 and is one of the five original founding monasteries of Phnom Penh. Donations welcome.
- 11 Wat Langka. Offers free meditation session on Mondays and Thursdays at 18:00.
- 12 Sosoro Museum, #16 106 Preah Moha Ksatreiyani Kossamak Avenue. Tu-Su 09:00-18:00. Opened 2019, this is a modern museum about money. 2,000 years of Cambodia’s monetary history through display cases and panels enhanced by multimedia presentations, and interactive exhibits. Adult 20,000 riels, 32,000 riels with audioguide; child 2,000 riels, 14,000 riels with audioguide.
- 13 Phnom Tamao Zoological Park and Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC), National Road No 2, Tro Pang Sap Village, Tro Pang Sap Commune, Ba Ti District (take Jwy 2 to zoo exit), ☏ , WildlifeToursPT@wildlifealliance.org. Daily 08:00-17:00. This is the largest zoo in Cambodia, and it's unique because it's made up of animals that have been rescued from illegal wildlife trade, sometimes for the final purpose of ending up on the dining room table. Among the residents are a number of sun bears and tigers. A full-scale tour is rather pricey at ~US$120, but may be worth it. Otherwise general admission is much less.
- 1 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. US$8.
- Cambodian Cruises, Titanic Tourism terminal passenger, ☏ . Cambodian Cruises operates river cruises from Phnom Penh. The trips are "all-inclusive," but their website notes that they actually do not include "personal expenses, tips, and other services not mentioned."
- 2 Mekong Islands Bicycle Tour, 23 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. US$29.
- 3 Veasna In The Kitchen (Veasna's Phnom Penh Cooking Classes), Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh, ☏ , email@example.com. By appointment. Offers private customised cooking classes including market tours in a large kitchen overlooking the Phnom Penh riverside. Private dining experiences also available. Website includes large library of 'how to' cooking videos on classic Cambodian dishes, these are regularly updated. US$45.
- 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 more than 200 extremely poor families, and medical assistance if needed. They also provide vocational training and feed and send many children to local schools and universities. Skilled volunteers especially teachers are welcome to help.
- 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.
Phnom Penh has plenty of modern cinemas such as Major at Aeon Mall and Sorya Center Point, and Legion at Exchange Square.
The remaining mini cinemas are:
- Institute Francais. Film screenings, with few English subtitles.
- 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.
- Hash House Harriers. A running club that meets every Sunday at 14:15 at the railway station. US$5.
- 4 NagaWorld Casino. The only casino in Phnom Penh.
- Scuba Nation Diving Centre, 18Eo, St 3 (Close to the FCC), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, US$20; AK-47, (30 rounds) US$40; rocket launcher, US$350.
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.
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 upmarket places will accept credit cards (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 US$20 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. MB Bank (St 93 cnr St 214) doesn't charge and allows up to US$1,000 withdrawal (July 2016). Otherwise typical charges are US$5 regardless of amount withdrawn, typically US$400 is the maximum. ANZ Royal Bank and Canadia Bank charge US$5 per transaction, maximum single withdrawal US$400. For safety reasons, it's a good idea to use ATMs at actual bank branches when they are open so any problems can immediately be reported and there is often a security guard on duty too. It also gives the opportunity to ask for smaller notes, such as 20s or 10s which are much easier to spend and get change back from and little risk of picking up counterfeit notes. The Mekong Bank at 220 Sisowath Quay are happy to change big notes to smaller ones or change damaged notes.
Cashing traveller's cheques can be problematic. Even major banks may refuse to exchange traveller's cheques above US$100.
- 2500 riel shops, St 51. If you like dollar, euro or pound shops then you will enjoy the Cambodian versions, which are even cheaper at 2500 riel. They are also sometimes called 1000 or 1500 riel shops. There are a few along St 310.
- 1 $1.9 shop, St 172 (cnr Monivong). Japanese almost US$2 shop. Full of different kinds of items. Similar shops can be found Aeon Mall.
- 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.
- 2 Worldwide Travel and visa agent, St 172 cnr St 19. Get your bus tickets and visas from this helpful and long running green coloured travel agent.
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 US$5 can be haggled down (they buy them for US$1). 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.
- 3 Bohr's Books, 5 Sothearos Blvd (St 3) (One block from the Royal Palace), ☏ , email@example.com. 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.
- 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), ☏ , (Sihanouk), fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: , email@example.com. 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.
Clothing and accessories
Throughout the city, but especially in the Russian Market, tailors make custom made clothes: A medium quality costs US$12 and a high quality costs US$15.
- Beautiful Shoes, 138 St 143, Boeung Keng Kong 3 (one street behind the Genocide Museum and about 10 min from Riverside). Good custom-made shoes. US$35–60.
- Close Out Factory Outlet, #44A, St 289. Stock bargain priced clothes and large sizes.
- 4 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 Uniyoung near the Central Market.
- 5 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 has closed and the other on Monivong Blvd. The Samsung one-year guarantees are only valid in the country of purchase.
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. Specializes in 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 Gallery, 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. This features some very famous "happy monk" paintings which you will see a lot around Phnom Penh.
- 6 Central Market (Psar Thmei). The "New Market" is a beautiful 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. Its architecture is worth admiring. Quite a few of the stalls inside the market are owned by ethnic Chinese, so if you don't speak Khmer, you might get lucky with Teochew.
- 7 Night Market (between St 106 and St 108, riverside). Good for local food with many food stalls. Sells clothes as well but you need to haggle. Usually some live entertainment, but is primarily for the locals. Friendly neighborhood atmosphere; eat barefoot sitting on mats on the ground. US$2-4 for a decent dinner.
- 8 City Mall, Monireth Blvd (Near Olympic Stadium). The mall contains a large branch of Lucky Supermarket, as well as many fast food outlets and modern shops.
- 9 Olympic Market (Psar Olympic). Olympic Market was built in 1994 and is a local favorite 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.
- 10 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 away from normal tourist areas, but motodop drivers who cater to tourists will know it.
- 11 Sorya Centre Point (formerly Sorya Shopping Center), St 63 (between St 154 and St 142 near Central Market). Renovated, renamed and made more upmarket in 2018. It is air-conditioned and contains a range of fast food outlets including Starbucks, Cafe Amazon, Asian Kitchen, Bonchon as well as the well-stocked Lucky Supermarket and Guardian pharmacy all on the ground floor. There is a multi-screen Major cinema on the 5th floor. On the 4th floor is a food court.
- 12 Aeon Mall. Probably Phnom Penh's most modern shopping mall (opened mid-2014) with many brand name and Japanese stores. It has many restaurants and 7 screen, including one 4DX, Major Cineplex Cinema on 2nd floor. It has a small ice rink and laser tag on the 4th floor. Access via central escalators.
- 13 Exchange Square, St 102. A multi-purpose development with upmarket shops and restaurants including a Starbucks, Hard Rock Cafe and Legend cinema on the 2nd floor, above Hard Rock Cafe.
- Aeon Supermarket, 132 street Samdach Sotheros Tonie Bassac Kan Chamkamon, ☏ . 09:00-22:00. The biggest supermarket in Phnom Penh.
- Thai Huot Supermarkets, 99-105 Monivong Blvd, ☏ . 09:00-22:00. There are three Thai Huot supermarkets in Phnom Penh.
- Lucky Supermarkets, 160 Sihanouk Boulevard. 09:00-22:00. Lucky Supermarkets is the biggest nationwide retailer in Cambodia.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
|Mid-range||US$5 - US$10|
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.
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 US$1 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.
- 1 Friends Restaurant, #215, St 13 (50 m north of the National Museum), ☏ , 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. US$3-6.
- 2 Kathmandu Kitchen, 13 Long Nget Street 258 (south of the Palace, in the same street as Lazy Gecko and Okay Guesthouse, on corner Sothearos BlvD), ☏ . Delicious Nepali and Indian food for reasonable prices in a restaurant setting with free water and condiments. US$2-5; veg. Nepali-style thali US$3.5.
- 3 Sony Side Up (formerly Chat 'n Chew), St 172, ☏ . Very popular with expats who hang out here. Owner Sony and his family are very friendly and helpful.
- 4 Surn Yi Vegetarian Restaurant, 15 Samdach Preah Thoamak Lekhet Ouk St (don't confuse it with the other vegetarian restaurant next door). Vegetarian restaurant with a variety of dishes including Chinese and Western options. Order by writing the item numbers on a laminated sheet with the marker provided. $3-5.
- 5 Tom Yum Kung Thai Restaurant, 10 St 278 (In the BKK1 area). 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.
- 6 Warung Bali, 3D St 178 No. 25 E0, Royal Palace. Small, traditional Indonesian restaurant in a tourist area.
- Anise, 57 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.
- 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. Foster's has, in keeping with Aussie trends, been banished from the place. But the food is very good and the wood-fired oven pizza matches anything found in Italy.
- 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.
- 7 Chez Lipp, St 86, very near Monivong. All you can eat, cook your own with table top "steam boat" style cookers. Prawns, squid, beef, chicken, etc. US$7.50 per person. Popular with locals, less known by tourists and expats. Beware the monkey near the entrance.
- 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. US$4-10.
- Java Creative Cafe Toul Tom Poung, # 50, Street 468 Toul Tum Poung II, ☏ . Soups, salads and sandwiches in a cosy setting overlooking the Independence Monument. Good vegetarian options. Has a rotating art exhibition.
- 8 Junk Food Junction, cnr St 51 and St 310, BKK1. The BBK1 area is experiencing great growth in construction and becoming continually more an upmarket area of the city. At the junction of St 51 and St 310, each corner now has a multinational joint, KFC, Burger King, Carl's Jnr (California flame grilled burgers) and Gloria Jean's coffee.
- 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.
- Meta House 3.0 (new location), #47, St 178, ☏ . Nice gallery, German pfannkuchen (flat pizzas) and interesting documentaries about Cambodia.
- 9 The Shop, #39, St 240, ☏ , (mobile), email@example.com. 07:00-19:00. Popular place with a good selection of sandwiches, quiches, salads and freshly baked goods plus nice coffee too. Has a cosy and quiet courtyard seating area. Very good breakfast options.
- Bai Thong, 100-102 Sothearos Blvd, ☏ , (mobile), firstname.lastname@example.org. 11:00-14:00, 18:00-23:00. French and Indochinese cuisine in nicely decorated surroundings. US$10-20.
- 10 Dine in the Dark (DiD), St 19 near St 172 (opposite LongLin GH). A great experience eating in total darkness. The service staff are all blind. The vegetarian option is not so great apparently. US$18.
- 11 FCC Phnom Penh (Foreign Correspondents' Club), 363 Sisowath Quay, ☏ , email@example.com. 07:00-24:00. This Phnom Penh institution is in a renovated colonial building and its second-floor terrace offers sweeping views over the river, a Khmer-Western menu and a list of signature cocktails (US$5.50): try the Tonle Sap Breezer or the Burmese Rum Sour. The decor and feel captures the eventful past of the city. The bar is open until midnight and a very popular nightspot on weekends. While famous and definitely worth a visit, it's pricy compared to most of the competition and service and timing tend to be haphazard. No air-con and rather spoiled by the unseemly gauntlet of touts one has to battle through to leave. FCC does particularly good desserts. A major renovation of FCC Phnom Penh is taking place, with the anticipated re-opening in Mid-2023. From US$20.
- 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.
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.
The coffee scene has exploded in the last few years in Phnom Penh. Several global chains are here, including Costa Coffee (UK), Gloria Jean's (Australia), Brown Coffee (Cambodia), Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf[dead link] (USA), Joma[dead link] (Laos), Tous les Jours[dead link] (Korea), Cafe Amazon (Thailand), Big Apple Donuts and coffee (Malaysia), and Starbucks (USA). There are also lots of small independent coffee shops too, such as Feel Good cafe (St 136), The Shop (St 240), Connecting Hands Training Cafe[dead link] (St 178), Bronos (St 57, near Starbucks), Library Cafe (St 51, near Heart of Darkness) and Reptile Coffee (yes they have many live reptiles in glass enclosures for viewing) St 51 / St 144).
- 1 Cousin's Burger Coffee, St 200. 11:00-21:00. French-run, French-style. Coffees as well as burger, fries and soft drinks.
- 2 Luxuries Cafe, ☏ . 06:00-23:00. True to its name this is a very comfortable and luxurious cafe. Has both photo drinks and food menus. Prices surprisingly not expensive.
- 3 Bloom Cafe & Training Center, #40, Street 222 (between St. 63 & 55). Relax and enjoy delicious coffee and cake in comfort.
- Connecting Hands Training Cafe, #42H, street 178 (Opposite the Pagoda). M-Sa 09:00-18:00.
- Big Apple. Enjoy both coffee and donuts. The St 302 branch closed in late 2019, but there are seven other locations still operating.
- 4 Chhma Catfe, St 178. 08:30-20:30. A cat cafe where you can enjoy a nice hot or cold drink in the company of lots of playful cats, when they are not sleeping or eating. US$1.5 donation entrance fee. Smoothies US$2.5.
Places to hang out after dark include St 136 near riverside, St 104 and St 108 near the St 51 corner, which all feature restaurant bars, hostess bars, and guesthouses. For a more upmarket bar and restaurant scene, visit an area called BKK1 that includes St 278 and St 282, near St 51 or St 308.
- 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), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. One of the more popular gay bars.
- FCC and Guesthouse (Sisowath Quay). Overlooking the river. Excellent place to meet professionals and tourists. Happy hour 17:00-19:00.
- Liquid, 3B St 278. 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.
- Rubies, St 240. Wine bar popular with young expats working for local NGOs. Busy with a cliquey atmosphere on a weekend night.
- 5 Zeppelin Cafe, St 278 (Upstairs). Listen to 1970s rock classics played by Mr Jun Rockwell, with his massive vinyl album collection. Relocated in 2016 from St 51 after 8 years. US$2 cocktails and great boiled or fried dumplings.
- 6 Eclipse Sky Bar, cnr 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. US$3 Tiger draught beer.
- Le Moon terrace bar, riverside (roof of Kwest). 17:00-23:00. Opened in November 2010, this is the first open terrace facing the riverside life of Phnom Penh. It's an open-air lounge bar that serves finger foods as well as drinks including cocktails, and a great location for enjoying sunset.
- Cloud9 Skybar, #68 Street 136, Phsar Kandal 1 12204 Phnom Penh, ☏ . In the evenings at Sun & Moon Urban Hotel, guests and local residents can chill out in style at Cloud 9, the hotel’s rooftop bar, with cool beats, creative cocktails, and spectacular views over Phnom Penh city. Poolside BBQ parties and buffet dinners can also be arranged at this location.
- 7 Bouchon, St 174 (next to Romdeng restaurant). 11:00-14:00, 16:00-00:00. French wine and cocktails bar with gourmet food. Famous for its near half price US$3 martinis on Saturday nights 21:00-00:00.
- 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 with plenty of available seating. Most moto taxis will understand "Shockeee Bah".
- 69 Bar. Popular dance-oriented hostess bar.
- Barbados (South of St 104 near the river). Hostess bar. Buy 5 beers and get 1 free.
- 8 Golden Vine, St 108 (next to two other bars Zapata and Enigma). Hostess bar with pool table.
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.
- 9 Shanghai Bar & Restaurant (Corner of St 51 and St 172), ☏ . 15:30-03:00. One of the oldest hostess bars in Phnom Penh, however is not pushy and does not have a bar fine. Downstairs bar has a great music collection from the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. 1st floor lounge disco and rooftop terrace. Prices are reasonable and also has a great value Sunday roast at US$6.
- Zapata Bar, St 108 (next to Golden Vine bar). Stylish air-con hostess bar with a good range of drinks, and no pool table or food to distract you from the lovely ladies.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
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 US$4/night and US$3/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, with street 278 now hosting many budget hostels and bars that were once located on the lake.
- 1 #10 Lakeside Guesthouse (at the lakeside). Rooms $6 (Apr 2023).
- 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 US$3, private bathroom US$4 (which always seem to be full), + cable TV US$5, + hot water and air-con US$8.
- 2 Dragon Guesthouse (near the Capitol Bus Stop). Rooms from $7 (Apr 2023).
- Europe Guesthouse, 51 St 136, ☏ , email@example.com. 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. US$11-20.
- 3 Grand View Guesthouse (at the lakeside). Rooms $6 (Apr 2023).
- 4 Indian Royal Halal Food & Guest House (at the lakeside). Rooms $5 (Apr 2023).
- Khmer City Hotel (One street south of the Sorya bus terminal), 90H St 154, ☏ . Surprisingly good for the price. Free Wi-Fi. US$15-20.
- Lazy Gecko Guesthouse & Restaurant, 1 St 259 (Near Hotel Cambodiana), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. US$5-15.
- 5 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. US$6-12.
- 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. US$7-15.
- 6 Velkommen Guesthouse, 17 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 US$4.
- 7 Mad Monkey Hostel, 26, Street 302 (Close to independence monument and Wat Langka), ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:00. Popular party hostel in the BKK1 backpackers district, provides a pool, rooftop bar and pool bar. 220 beds available from US$5 per night, private rooms from US$10 per night.
- Onederz Phnom Penh, No 12-14 Preah Ang Duong St., adjacent to St. 110, ☏ . 24-hour reception. From US$12 for a bunk (Apr 2022).
- Angkor International Hotel, 38-50 St 148 (100 m west of Kandal Market, 300 m from the river and national museum), ☏ , 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. 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. 95,000 riel (US$23).
- 8 Blue Lime, 42 St 19z (cul de sac off St 19, across the street from the Royal Institute of Fine Arts), ☏ , (mobile), 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. US$40-50, including continental breakfast.
- The Quay Boutique Hotel, 277 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. US$48 (Apr 2022).
- Cambodia Uncovered, BKK1, ☏ , 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 tailor made private boat and road trips, up-country travel, and cooking classes can also be arranged. singles US$55, doubles US$75, including breakfast and Wi-Fi.
- 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. From US$35.
- Golden Gate Hotel, 9 St 278, Sangkat Beng Keng Kang 1, Khan Chamkarmorn (Near Independence Monument), ☏ . US$15-40.
- Bamboo9 Boutique, # 41, Street 9 (Near Independence Monument), ☏ , email@example.com. 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. US$40-70.
- 9 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. Quiz nights on Monday 19:30. Play as individuals not teams. US$25.
- Pavilion Hotel (Oasis Heritage), 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. US$50-80.
- Bar Oz Riverside Guesthouse (formerly Sundance Riverside), 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. US$15 (Apr 2022).
- The 252, 19 St 252, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. US$45-65 including breakfast, free Wi-Fi and taxes.
- Villa Samnang (Villa Samnang), 15 St 302, email@example.com. 14 bright and spacious rooms with air conditioning and TV. US$50-90.
- 10 YK Art House, 13A St 830, Tonle Bassac (easiest access is when coming south down Sothearos Blvd, making a right onto St 830, just before Wat Svay Popey), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. A hotel and apartment complex in two buildings separated by a yard with large trees and a small swimming pool. Wi-Fi, Air-con and several lounges. Breakfast available. US$20-60.
- Cambodian Country Club & Hotel Resort, St 2004 Group 6 Toeuk Thla, District Russey Keao, ☏ , , email@example.com. 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 US$2, a meal between US$2.50 and US_8. US$75.
- La Maison d Ambre, 123 St 110, corner St 19, Sangkat Wat Phnom (opposite Wat Phnom), ☏ , fax: , 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 m²) have been designed and decorated, each in a unique interpretation around the themes of luxury and travel. Has a fine restaurant. US$90-160.
- Raffles Le Royal, 92 Rukhak Vithei Daun Penh (off Monivong Blvd), ☏ , fax: . Phnom Penh's grand old hotel, 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, , and don't leave without sampling the delectable tiny pastries at the Le Phnom deli (only US$0.50 a piece, half price after 18:00). US$150–300 low/high season.
- Sokha Hotel Phnom Penh, 113 St 360, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. US$84-89.
- 11 Central Mansions, No. 1A, St. 102 Sangkat Wat Phnom, ☏ . Hotel in a French colonial style building. The attached bistro The Shop is delicious and opens at 06:30, making it a solid choice for an early breakfast even if you're not staying at the hotel.
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. One example: a group of men 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.
Beware of fake monks. Real monks don't walk around begging from tourists. Ignore them or call the tourist police (012 942 4840) if you are harassed by fake monks.
As in most developing world countries, avoiding cold, uncooked food is desirable to prevent stomach upsets. Salads are also suspect at times.
As of 2019, antimalarials are not needed for Phnom Penh (unlike most of the rest of the country), but you should use mosquito repellent as there is a risk of dengue.
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.
- Pharmacie de la Gare, 124Eo Preah Monivong Blvd. Has a good reputation for selling a wide range of medicines, and for their products being real, not fake.
Cheap SIM cards from US$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 (cellcard) and Metfone have the best coverage around the whole of Cambodia. Metfone is particularly good for their internet packages (e.g. US$5 for 20 GB for one week, US$7 for 40 GB for two weeks, Jan 2020) and they allow hotspot tethering from your smart phone unlike Mobitel. Useful if you use a laptop a lot and want to use wifi via your hotspot enabled smart phone. SIM cards with these rates are available at the airport. Smart has probably the cheapest for local phone calls but not so great for internet. Dual sim phones are popular in Cambodia so as to take advantage of different deals available, such as Smart for calls and cellcard or Metfone for internet.
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.
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 (~US$0.50)
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), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 24/7. A modern Internet cafe with 3Mb fiber optic cables. Open 24 hours with promotional rates at night. US$0.50/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 US$1/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.
BBC World Service news is broadcast in Phnom Penh on easy to remember 100.00MHz FM.
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: . 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, ☏ , (24 hr), fax: , email@example.com.
- France, 1 Monivong Blvd, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 08:30-11:30.
- Indonesia, St 466, (Oknha Nhek Tioulong) corner Norodom Boulevard, ☏ . M-Th 08:00-17:00.
- Philippines, House No 15, St 422, Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Khan Chamkarmon, ☏ , , fax: , email@example.com.
- Russia, 213 Blvd Sothearos, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Singapore, 129 Norodom Blvd, Sangkat Chaktomuk, Khan Daun Penh, ☏ , fax: (administration and consular matters), email@example.com. M-F 08:00-12:30, 14:00-17:00.
- Sweden, 10th floor, Phnom Penh Tower, 445, Monivong Blvd, (St. 93/332), Sangkat Boeung Pralit, Khan 7 Makara, ☏ , fax: (administration and consular matters), firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 09:00-12:00.
- United Kingdom, 27-29 St 75, Sangkat Srah Chak Khan Daun, ☏ .
- United States, 1, St 96, Sangkat Wat Phnom, Khan Daun Penh, ☏ . You are lucky if you visit during December and get to view their Christmas light display!
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), ☏ , (Mobile). 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. US$30 for foreigners, US$15 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 US$4,000. You pay around US$190/night.
- 3 Chenda Polyclinic, 8, St 39, ☏ . An efficient and low-cost multi-service clinic. Bookings not always necessary, a good place to head to if sick. Particularly good place if you have no insurance as its costs are low. They are good a removing moles and various other lumps for as little as US$20 each.
- 4 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.
|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 (US$19, 12 hr) leave at 06:45. The 27 hr journey to Vientiane costs US$46 and takes four different buses. The first leg is on the Don Det bus. Once over the border you'll spend hours on cramped minibuses heading to Pakse before the final stretch to the capital. The border is slow and bureaucratic, with endless form-filling and small bribes to officials, long walks hauling your luggage between windows (500 m), and no one much to assist with enquiries. There have been reports of various problems on the onward journey to Vientiane, from Lao companies not honouring tickets sold in Cambodia, to nocturnal groping.
Prices May 2012:
|To||Bus Company (comments)||Departs||Hours||US$|
|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, US$15–26) are generally unproblematic. You will change buses at the border. Anything more than US$15 is a bit steep given that Phnom Penh to Siem Reap should cost US$5 and that Siem Reap to Bangkok should cost US$10.
Prices May 2012:
|To||Bus Company (comments)||Departs||Hours||US$|
|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|
There are legends of a slow boat to Chau Doc in Vietnam (US$9–10) that you can take instead of a bus (US$10, 6 hr to either Ho Chi Minh City or Chau Doc), though it's not clear whether this is still possible. Faster boats (4-5hrs) from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc do still run once a day (see "Get In" section above). There is reportedly no longer any regular boat service from Chau Doc onward towards Ho Chi Minh City or even other parts of the Mekong Delta. The journey can be also stretched into a 2-3 day Mekong tour, usually including both boat and bus segments (possibly starting from about US$60, though most range from about US$100 up into the thousands).
Prices May 2012:
|To||Bus Company (comments)||Departs||Hours||US$|
|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|