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All that said, the city is slowly gaining high rise buildings and traffic lights, while still retaining some of the beauty that made it a Paris of the East before 1970. The city's few French colonial buildings are beautiful: thus a handful of its streetscapes make for a pleasant walk. There are some beautiful wide boulevards, and a parklike riverfront with cafés and restaurants aplenty. The standard tourist sights are few. But as a place to relax, watch the streetlife and absorb local color, Phnom Penh is a worthwhile destination for those who enjoy an 'edge' experience and can brave the downsides.
 
All that said, the city is slowly gaining high rise buildings and traffic lights, while still retaining some of the beauty that made it a Paris of the East before 1970. The city's few French colonial buildings are beautiful: thus a handful of its streetscapes make for a pleasant walk. There are some beautiful wide boulevards, and a parklike riverfront with cafés and restaurants aplenty. The standard tourist sights are few. But as a place to relax, watch the streetlife and absorb local color, Phnom Penh is a worthwhile destination for those who enjoy an 'edge' experience and can brave the downsides.
 
In 2010 the '''National Film Board of Canada''' produced an online documentary called ''Out My Window'' [http://highrise.nfb.ca/outmywindow]. It provides a unique view of high-rise life in Phnom Penh through interactive photo panoramas.
 
  
 
===History===
 
===History===

Revision as of 23:56, 30 December 2010

The Royal Palace

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

Contents

Understand

For western visitors, Phnom Penh can be a rough change. The city is characterised by warmth and humidity, infrastructure is largely lacking, there are rubbish and dust in the streets, risky traffic, blocked sidewalks, harassment from tuk tuk and moto drivers, touts and beggars - and a permanent crime wave, which now includes unprovoked brick attacks against Westerners in the main tourist area. The Ministry of Land Management [1] still allows many architectural horrors to be built, though a determined group of Khmer architects is fighting the trend. Unhappily there are few green spaces.

All that said, the city is slowly gaining high rise buildings and traffic lights, while still retaining some of the beauty that made it a Paris of the East before 1970. The city's few French colonial buildings are beautiful: thus a handful of its streetscapes make for a pleasant walk. There are some beautiful wide boulevards, and a parklike riverfront with cafés and restaurants aplenty. The standard tourist sights are few. But as a place to relax, watch the streetlife and absorb local color, Phnom Penh is a worthwhile destination for those who enjoy an 'edge' experience and can brave the downsides.

History

Those who find Phnom Penh's current state lacking should recall the terrible times the city has been through in recent decades. In 1975 it was choked with up to 2 million refugees from the war between the then U.S.-backed government and the Khmer Rouge. Following the fall to the Khmer Rouge in 1975, it was completely emptied of civilians and allowed to crumble for several years. Most of the small class of skilled professionals had been murdered by Pol Pot, or driven into exile.

As Cambodia's economy has risen, a new rich class has arisen in Phnom Penh, and a crop of new hotels and restaurants has opened to accommodate them and the tourist trade. There is now a large gulf between the very rich and the very poor, largely due to Cambodia's all-pervasive corruption. A trip to the green-domed Sorya Mall will transport you to the consumerist world to which the emerging middle and upper classes aspire.

Orientation

All of Phnom Penh's streets are numbered, although some major thoroughfares have names as well. The scheme is simple: odd-numbered streets run north-south, the numbers increasing as you head west from the river, and even numbers run west-east, increasing as you head south (with some exceptions, e.g. the west side of the Boeung Kak lake). House numbers, however, are quite haphazard. Don't expect houses to be numbered sequentially in a street; you might even find two completely unrelated houses with the same number in the same street.

Get in

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

See Cambodia | Get in | Visas for detailed visa information.

By plane

Departure taxes
International flights: US$25

Domestic flights: US$6

Both must be paid in US dollars cash. In theory, you can pay by credit card, but the option is usually unavailable.


Phnom Penh International Airport [2] (IATA: PNH | ICAO: VDPP) is the larger of airport in Cambodia, located 7km west of the city.

The following airlines operate service to/from Phnom Penh: AirAsia (Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok), Asiana Airlines [3](Seoul-Incheon), Bangkok Airways (Bangkok), Cambodia Angkor Air (Ho Chi Minh City, Siem Reap), China Airlines (Taipei), China Eastern Airlines (Kunming, Nanning), China Southern Airlines (Beijing, Guangzhou), Dragonair (Hong Kong), EVA Air (Taipei), Jetstar Asia Airways (Singapore), Korean Air (Seoul-Incheon), Malaysia Airlines (Kuala Lumpur), Shanghai Airlines (Shanghai), SilkAir (Singapore), Thai AirAsia (Bangkok), Thai Airways International (Bangkok), Vietnam Airlines (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Vientiane)

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 center. Taxis from the public taxi stand at the airport cost a flat $9, and tuk-tuks cost $7. While taxis might be a safer option, it's better to avoid then 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 US$2.

By bus

Phnom Penh Sorya Transport [4] Capitol Tours, and GST Express operate bus service to/from the rather chaotic "station" at the southwest corner of the Central Market. Direct buses go to Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Vientiane, Siem Reap ($3-$10), Sihanoukville, Poipet, Koh Kong, Battambang, Kampot, Ratanakiri, Kratie, Stung Treng, Pursat, and Svay Sisophon. Advance bookings are advisable, and can also be sorted out by most travel agents and guesthouses for a $1-$2 fee.

You can travel on the Mekong Express from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City (~$11) or from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville ($7).

The quality of buses runs the gamut, with the less desireable buses being a few dollars cheaper than more comfortable options.

Be sure that you are aware of border hours and crossing procedures. Some night buses into Cambodia will leave you at the border (sleeping on the bus) while the borders are closed during the night.

By boat

Ferries connect Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and usually take 4-5 hours; tickets for foreigners cost US$25. 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 sunblock, a hat, and enough water to last you for several hours just in case the boat gets stuck.

Fast boats leave every morning around 8AM from Chau Doc in Vietnam's Mekong Delta and take 5 hours to reach Phnom Penh. The boats make the return journey the same day and leave Phnom Penh around 1PM arriving in Chau Doc in the early evening.

By train

Train service used to run to/from Battambang; however, service has been cancelled indefinitely. A new Company has been established with the intention of reopening the railway and there were signs of controlled activity at Phnom railway station in early March 2010.

Get around

Phnom Penh's main streets are in good shape; however smaller streets and footpaths are often rutted and pot-holed, clogged with garbage, stagnant water, parked motos, sleeping people, livestock, and building materials. Many smaller streets either lack signage or bear misleading signs, however, Phnom Penh is logically laid out (see orientation) and navigating the city is not difficult if you know where you're going.

  • Motorbikes (but not self-drive cars) are available for rent, however Phnom Penh traffic is chaotic and dangerous even by Asian standards: public transport (other than motorbike taxis) is safer.
  • Motorbike-taxis (motodops, motodups or simply motos in local parlance) are ubiquitous and will take you anywhere for a small fare. A trip from Sisowath Quay to Central Market costs about 2,000 riel (50 US cents). Fares are higher at night and with more than one passenger.
  • Taxis are available at a few locations - most notably outside the Foreign Correspondents' Club on Sisowath Quay. Most taxis do not have meters, and fares must be agreed in advance. Fares vary, due to fluctuating fuel prices; ask hotel/guesthouse staff for assistance (hotels and guesthouses will organise taxis on request). There are a few metered-taxi companies emerging in Phnom Penh. They are very reasonably priced and in high demand. Be prepared to wait for their service, and plan accordingly.
  • Tuk-tuks are a Cambodian vehicle consisting of a motorcycle with a cabin for the passengers hitched to the back. They are cheaper than taxis and offer a scenic experience of the city. Their clientele is almost exclusively tourists, and most drivers in tourist areas speak some English.
  • Cyclos are three-wheeled cycle-rickshaws. Considerably slower then a motodop, and gradually becoming less common in the city, they are still popular with locals and foreigners alike. The nature of the seat lends itself to a quick and easy way to transport all manner of goods from one place to another, even other cyclos and the occasional motorbike as well.
  • Walking can be a challenge, as cars and motos sometimes do not stop for pedestrians. 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. On larger roads, two streams of traffic travel in each direction, totalling four streams of traffic you have to watch for: thus constant 360 surveillance is required when crossing roads. There is almost no street lighting off the major boulevards, and walking there at night is not recommended.

Cautions:

1. As a huge number of scarred or maimed locals can attest, motorbikes are the least safe alternative. On a motorbike you are exposed to the worst consequences of the city's bad drivers and appalling accident rate.

2. To avoid later disagreements, bargain a fare before you leave. Starting to walk away is the best way to produce a reasonable fare.

3. Sometimes the only English a driver knows is something like "Yes, no problem" - leading you to believe he knows where he is going when he does not. Most tuk tuk and moto drivers in Phnom Penh come from rural villages. Incredibly, some cannot find Sisowath Quay or Sihanouk Boulevard. Make sure the driver knows where he is going before getting in/on.

4. Don't leave bags, phones, etc exposed to snatchers: such thefts from tuk tuks and motorbikes are epidemic in Phnom Penh.

5. The tuk tuk drivers outside the Foreign Correspondent's Club are notoriously pushy and aggressive. They may be best avoided: walk half a block and hire someone else.

See

Sisowath Quay as seen from FCC
  • Sisowath Quay aka 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 expat Westerners prepared to run its gauntlet of touts selling drugs, girls and tuk tuk rides. Unfortunately the riverfront (once seen as Phnom Penh's 'safe' area) is no longer entirely safe for tourists. Tourist police are supposedly present in plainclothes, but sadly they have had no effect on the wave of brick attacks on foreigners that has marked 2010. 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 riverfront park opposite the Royal Palace, and is perhaps best experienced in the early evening. In addition to the recent brick attacks on foreigners, there are supposedly child gangs and pickpockets - so extra caution is warranted. See A Stroll on Sisowath Quay for a self-guided tour.
Tuol Sleng Prison
  • Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21 Prison), Street 113, Boeng Keng Kang 3, Chamkar Morn, 855-23-300-698, [5]. 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 throughout Phnom Penh for US$1.50-2.
    Just a warning to those who patronise the souvenir shop here. Don't get conned into buying some vintage Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega watches. They are fakes and are worthless. The lady owner is very convincing and she will tell you that it is a collection from her husband.
    $3.
The Killing Fields
  • The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, (About 17 km south of Phnom Penh, 40 minutes by taxi). 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 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 somber 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. Recommended to visit after learning more about the Khmer Rouge terror at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, however, like the Genocide Museum, this place is not for the squeamish. As millions were killed during the traumatic genocidal regime of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, as a sign of respect - it would be good to wear respectable clothing such as long pants and no sleeveless shirts or tops. Flowers and incense can be bought in front of the stupa. A tuk tuk to the site should cost US$10-12 return, including waiting for you. US$3.
  • The Royal Palace. 7:30AM-11:00 & 2:30PM-5PM. Including the two magnificent pagodas in the Palace Grounds, the Silver Pagoda and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, are among the few public buildings in Phnom Penh really worth seeing. They were built in the 19th century with French technology and Cambodian designs, and have survived the traumas of the 20th century amazingly intact. 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 $1 deposit) at the entrance. US$6 or 25,000 Riel.
  • The National Museum of Cambodia, Street 13, Sangkat Chey Chumneas, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh (opposite the Royal Palace), +855.23.211.753, +855.12.621.522 (mobile) (, fax: +855.23.211.753), [6]. 08:00-17:00 daily, last admission 16.30. Contains an excellent collection of art from Cambodia's "golden age" of Angkor, and a lovely courtyard at the center. A main attraction is the statue of King Jayavarman VII (1181-1219) in mediation 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. Unfortunately, no photos may be taken inside the museum, although photography is allowed in the central courtyard upon payment of a small fee (cameras: US$1, videocameras: US$3). 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 otherwise of the coming harvest is determined. You may have heard stories of sightseers carrying umbrellas inside to avoid showers of bat droppings, but alas (?), the bats moved out after the renovation of 2002. $3.
  • Wat Phnom, (on a hill at the center of a small park near Sisowath Quay, on St. 94). Name means "Hill Temple". 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: $2; Elephant ride: $15.
  • Wat Botum, (about three kilometres 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.
  • 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 the multi-colored fountains are activated and communal music is played. .
  • Olympic Stadium. Built in the 1960s for an 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.
  • Stung Meanchey Garbage Dump. Where hundreds of the poorest of the poor, including many small children, swarm over the refuse (which includes burning plastic and syringes) hoping to find anything of value. In addition to - or instead of - visiting the dump, you can stop by the impressive French NGO, "Pour un sourire d'enfant" [7] nearby, which takes in thousands of adolescents from the dump and its surrounding areas, and claims to send them out into the world two or three years later fluent in English and French, and more sought-after by employers than university graduates. PSE staff will give you a guided tour of their learning centre on request. PSE is also in need of foreign volunteer teachers who can commit a little time.

Do

  • Hash House Harriers, [8]. A running club that meets every Sunday at 14.15 at the railway station.
  • Massage. 1 hour: $7.
  • NagaWorld Casino, [9]. The only casino in Phnom Penh.
  • Visit an Orphanage. Frequently visited by foreigners wanting to help out with time, money, food, school books, etc. Be aware that orphanages may be exploitative and poorly run - your money may go to the owner rather than the kids. 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 anything you can assist. For more information see ChildSafe International [10]
  • Help the Needy with CHOICE, [11]. 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 170+ families with their bi-weekly Sunday visits. They also support a local orphanage that they visit every Saturday and also run a daily soup kitchen in the city. Volunteers are always welcome to help for a day or more.
  • 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. $8.
  • Meta House Films, N° 6, Phuong (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 7PM, in the bar-lounge on the roof.
  • French Cultural Centre movies, [12]. Less English subtitles than there once were, plus an incomprehensible schedule and website (even the CCF staff can't decipher them), have now put these excellent movies out of reach of all but the most determined Anglophone.
  • Thunder Ranch Shooting Range, (near Killing Fields of Cheoung Ek). Moto drivers, apparently oblivious to the reaction most visitors have, will try to include this in a trip to the killing fields. Previously cows and other farm animals could be used to serve as targets for an extra fee (about $300 for a cow) but that service has sinced been removed. Pistol: $10, AK-47: (30 bullets) $40, Rocket launcher: $200 and a wide array of heavy machine guns and granade launchers etc..
  • Bicycle tours and rental, (Phnom Penh), (), [13]. 9-17 hours. Take a short trip alone or with your family, friends and colleagues to the other side of the Mekong River. You can get out of Phnom Penh in just a few minutes from the center of town without own transportation by using the ferry. We are sure you would like to have a break from your hard work or from visiting museums, Toul Sleng and other attractions in the dusty city. Here you will find quiet and green countryside like forest, fruit orchards and meadows, a pagoda that is set in beautiful nature, water buffalo, fish ponds, making of straw floor mats, and the best places for having a picnic lunch or snack. Business hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 9AM to 5PM. During the week upon request. For further information call telephone:+855 (0)89834 704 or +855 (0)15696 376. Prices from $2.
  • Mekong Islands bicycle tour, 29 Street 130 (diagonally opposite Indochine 2 Hotel), [14]. 8AM-12.30PM. Daily 20km 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. $29. (11.571105,104.924884)

Buy

For the shopper, it is best to enter Cambodia with the phrase 'caveat emptor' ('let the buyer beware') ringing in one's ears.

Most manufactured goods you buy in Cambodia will be of dubious quality: this especially applies to electronic goods of any kind. At least a third of anything electronic will cease to work within days, if it ever does. Handmade goods (shoes and silks for example) are generally of good quality.

As elsewhere in Cambodia, transactions are made in US dollars and in Cambodian riel, and only upmarket places will accept plastic (normally with a 3 percent surcharge). Take lots of low denomination US notes - notes above US$20 can be difficult to change. In place of coins you will get back riel, at a set exchange rate of 4000 to the dollar. There are a number of international ATM machines dispensing US currency around the city, including the Sisowath Quay tourist strip and in Sorya Market. They also work with international maestro cards. You can change $US notes into smaller denominations at the currency booths along the footpath on Sisowath. The cheapest ATM is inside the Mekong Bank at 220 Sisowath Quay, they have no charge for international cards but are only open during business hours. They will also change larger notes to smaller ones here if the ATM gives you $100 or $50 notes. ANZ Royal bank charges $4 per transaction! The Canadia bank ATM's are also fee free.

Note that cashing traveller's cheques can be a big problem, and even major banks may refuse to exchange traveller's cheques of value above US$100.

Popular tourist buys include Cambodian silk, local silverware, traditional handicrafts and curios (including Buddha figures), and made-to-order clothes (these are often of good quality, unlike electronic goods). 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 is promoting the preservation of Cambodia's cultural legacy.

Beware that DVDs and CDs you buy in Phnom Penh have around a 10-20% failure rate; with sunglasses bought from roaming street vendors you will probably find that 100% don't give full UV/polarized protection. Most watches are also 'fake' copies or cheaply manufactured, including those bought in the Central Market.

The Art Deco dome of the Central Market
  • Central Market (in Cambodian called Psar Thmei - "New Market") is a 1930s Art Deco covered market near the Riverfront (Sisowath Quay) district. The market is well set out, and sells everything from flowers to video games. As of August 2009, two arms of the building were undergoing renovations and one more was largely empty. However, the central dome and the last arm were open and busy, as were the temporary markets around them.
  • Sorya Mall, currently Phnom Penh's main Western-style mall, is nearby - less colorful than the traditional markets, but it is air-conditioned and contains a range of cheap fast-food outlets as well as a well-stocked supermarket named Lucky Supermarket. If looking for Sorya, go SOUTH of the Central Market. It's on a north-south street on the west side. Asking anyone in the Central Market will be futile, however they DO understand "Sorya". (NB: Don't leave a moto with the Sorya parking people, who are well-known for stealing helmets, and doubling the parking charges on a whim.) On the south-west edge of town is the even newer Sovanna mall. Freezing aircon and modern shops make this popular too.
  • City Mall was opened in September 2009, making it the newest and biggest western-style mall in Phnom Penh. It can be found on Monireth Boulevard near the Olympic Stadium. 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.
  • Russian Market (Cambodian "Psar Toul Tom Poung" - it gained the "Russian Market" moniker following the Vietnamese occupation of the city in the 1980s, but many motodops are not familiar with the name) offers the opportunity to buy real designer clothes at a huge discount price. A lot of the factories for Levi's, CK, Ralph Lauren and many other brands are in Phnom Pehn, however a lot of the clothes sold here are deemed unfit to be shipped abroad due to very small fault in the clothing which a majority of people wouldn't even notice, 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 ice coffee in the city. Russian Market is located away from normal tourist areas, but motodop drivers who cater to tourists will know it.

Antiques and home decor

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

  • Hidden Treasures, #9 Street 148, has antiques, art and curios from Cambodia's past and nearby South-East Asian cultures.

Books

  • Monument Books, 111 Norodom Boulevard (near the corner with Street 240), +855.23.217.617 (, fax: +855.23.217.618), [15]. 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. You can also get a good tea or coffee and cake there - 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.
  • Bohr's Books, 5 Sothearos Boulevard (Street 3), +855.12.929.148 (). A small store offering a large, diverse collection of books - perhaps Phnom Penh's best. A second store now operates in Street 172, 400m from Wat Unalom
  • Boston Book Company, 8 Street 240, Chaktomuk Duan Penh (just around the corner from Monument Books), +855.92.214.452. A secondhand bookstore that, as of October 2009, had just opened. Has a good collection of fiction and non-fiction works, including texts for teachers and students. Situated in an attractive building, it will eventually have a cafe.
  • D's Books, 79 Street 240, and 363 Sisowath Quay (near the Foreign Correspondents' Club). A cheerful chain of secondhand bookstores dealing mainly in mass market paperbacks.
  • International Book Center, 154 Sihanouk Boulevard (Street 274, between Monivong Boulevard and Street 63); 250 Preah Monivong Boulevard (near Central Market); 43-45 Kampuchea Krom Boulevard (at the corner with Street 215), +855.23.218.352, 222.822 (Sihanouk) (, fax: +855.23.721.368), [16]. A large bookshop concentrating mainly on textbooks and other educational works. Has a small classic literature collection. Also sells stationery, electronic devices, sporting goods and souvenirs.
  • The National Museum of Cambodia, Street 13, Sangkat Chey Chumneas, Khan Daun Penh (opposite the Royal Palace), +855.23.211.753, +855.12.621.522 (mobile) (, fax: +855.23.211.753), [17]. 08:00-17:00 daily, last admission 16.30. Has a small selection of books on Cambodian archaeology, art, culture and history.

As of October 2009, the bookshops Fantastic Planet (formerly at 22D Street 278) and the London Book Centre (51 Street 240) were no longer in operation.

Pirated books are widely available from street sellers, but spend a minute or so leafing through the book before buying: sometimes they lack contents pages, or pages are in the wrong order or missing, or the book inside the cover is not the book described on the cover.

Clothes and accessories

  • Beautiful Shoes one street behind Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, at #138 Street 143 (in the suburb of Boeung Keng Kong 3 – about ten minutes from the Riverside). They will make you a good quality pair of men's business shoes for about $27. Sandals are cheaper. Pick from their styles, or customise. Officially orders take 4 days, but there may be delays. There are several similar shops alongside and opposite. You would pay $100 to $200 for shoes of this quality in a Western shoe store.

Handicrafts and souvenirs

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

  • 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), [18]. Features brightly-colored fun and funky paintings of Cambodian life - a welcome relief after visiting some of Cambodia's more heart-breaking attractions.

Russian Market - Jewelry

There are many booths that sell fake jewelry and syntactic gemstones in the Russian Market. Don't buy from a booth which cannot issue a certificate of warranty. Make sure you are entitled to a full refund if the item is different from what you were told. Don’t buy a 5-carat, 'flawless' chicken-blood ruby for $500 and think that you have hit the jackpot. If your instinct tells you that the price is too cheap, remember the saying, “If it’s too good to be true then it probably is”. Buy jewelry and gemstones from a reputable shop established for many years, with a reputation to protect.

Electronics

  • Apple Macs, [19]. Cambodia is possibly the cheapest place in the world to buy a Macbook or iPod. Prices are in US dollars at same rates as in the USA but there is no added tax. iPhones and iPads are not yet available here.

Eat

Phnom Penh offers some interesting culinary treats you won't find elsewhere in the country. Many of these include French-influenced dining as well as Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian and modern takes on traditional Cambodian dishes. The standard pizza-banana pancake-fried rice backpacker fare is also always easy to find.

The best area to wander is along the riverfront where everything from stand-up stalls to fine French bistros can be found. Take great care eating from stalls, however. Peeled fruit and vegetables and anything uncooked should be regarded with suspicion.

Budget

Take the cross river ferry to sit on mats and eat cheap hawker food while watching the sunset over the city.

  • Asian Spice Cafe Pub #79 St 111, 50 metre off Sihanouk Blvd (opp. Sport shop). Long established Cafe(since 2006) with a Pub upstairs, owned by a Singaporean (ex. Chef of Intercontinental Hotel, Phnom Penh), with the help of his Khmer wife & family, it's has become very popular with local expects and tourists. Served mainly Chinese, Malaysian, Singaporean, Western and some Khmer Dishes only from $1.40 - $2.80
  • Camory Cookie Boutique, 167 Sisowath Quay (between St. 110 and 118), (), [20]. 9AM to 8.30PM. A cafe-cum-development project that trains chefs and plows back money into humanitarian causes. The Sreh T'nout cookie, made from a rich combo of chocolate, nuts and palm sugar, is their best seller.
  • Chenla Restaurant, #13 Street 278, (CLOSED when we went in October, 2009) is a non-profit restaurant which employs poor students from the Phnom Penh area. Great Cambodian mains from US$2-3 and large fruit shakes for less than US$1. Go for a meal and enjoy the after dinner conversation with the enthusiastic servers who like to practice their english!
  • Comme a la Maison, No. 13 St. 57, Set in a pleasant garden terrace and has a laid-back but stylish French feel. Comme a la Maison offers good value, pizza and salads are superb. The ice-cream desserts alone make the trip worth it with professional, warm service.
  • Home Away From Home, Street 93, is a small family run restaurant. Dishes are around US$2-3 and service is very friendly, but you may have to be patient if a bunch of people just ordered before you.
  • K.K. Tandoor. Moderately priced Indian food with chicken tandoori, butter chicken and Naans as the specialty of this air-conditioned restaurant. You can get draft beer for a dollar. Sothearos blvd, opposite vietnamese monument and next to Pannasastra University campus.
  • La Croisette, corner of Sisowath Quay and Street 144, is a French sidewalk café that's open all day.
  • La Lotus Blanc 402 Stung Mean Chey and n152 St51 Boeung Keng Kang. Offering dishes from both the French and the Asian cuisines, this restaurant has become quite a popular neighborhood hub. The prices are very reasonable and the fact that the food is prepared and served by students from the PSE makes it worth visiting.
  • Setsara Thai Restaurant, #3D Street 278, is a very nice little 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, Street 278, Thatch-roofed Thai/Khmer restaurant in the BKK1 area, popular with locals and visitors alike. Big selection of absolutely authentically prepared Thai and Khmer dishes for a bargain price. As one might expect, the tom yum kung is recommended. Provides air-conditioning upstairs, fans downstairs. Opening hours: 7.00AM to 10.00PM Email: mailto:info@tomyumkung-restaurant.com Website: [21]
  • Warung Bali, #3D Street 178 No. 25 E0, Small traditional Indonesian restaurant in one of Phnom Penh's touristic area, Royal Palace.

Mid-range

  • Amok Restaurant & Cafe, 2 St 278, near Independence monument Phnom Penh. Telephone: (012) 912 319. Nice cozy decor, with open air sitting. The traditional Khmer dishes are excellent, and other items on the menu are good too. The classic fish amok is extremely well done, and the servings are large.
  • Anise, 57th St near corner of Sihanouk, is very comfortable with free wi-fi - but has rather ordinary food (e.g. fish and chips out of a packet), which is a little over-priced.
  • Anise Terrace No. 2C, Street 278, Boeng Keng kang 1. Finely decorated restaurant with terrace and balcony, offers Southeast Asian dishes.
  • Atmosphere No. 141C, Norodom Blvd. A fancy French restaurant quiet on an ordinary day but draws a regular crowd of expats located along Norodom Boulevard.
  • Bai Thong, 100-102 Sothearos Boulevard, +855.23.211.054, +855.12.666.390 (mobile) (). 11:00-14:00, 18:00-23:00. French and Indochinese cuisine in nicely decorated surroundings. US$10-20.
  • Bali Café, 379 Sisowath Quay, has pretty good Indonesian food, along with Asian/Thai/Khmer and Western fare. Try the Tahu Telur (fried tofu with eggs). Be careful ordering water or you'll get the small plastic bottle of Evian - at US$3!
  • Blue Cat, Street 110, excellent place, very comfortable and friendly, Suitable for family dining, featuring an international and Khmer menu, and a respectable wine list.free wifi
  • Cafe Yejj, #170 Street 450, offers sidewalk seating and indoor seating both ground level and second floor. Reasonably-priced pasta, panini, burritos and local (Cambodian food). Particiaptes in breaking the cycle of poverty by training women-at-risk as employees. Service very good. VERY clean bathroom upstairs. Most dishes less than US$4. Located at the southeast corner of the Russian Market, less than 50 feet east of the corner of Streets 155 & 450. Sit inside if you do not want to be bothered by beggars. (October 2007)


  • Dosa Corner an Indian restaurant near the side entry of Wat Langka. This is fairly close to the Independence monument. Offers excellent dosas (pan cake) and other Indian items at a very nominal rate
  • Edelweiss Next door to Pop Cafe, No. 375 Sisowath Quay. Cambodia's only German restaurant run by Ulli and Mama. Menu in German and English.
  • Equinox [22] on Street 278 (near Street 51) has now opened a pretty good restaurant. Pizzas, baguettes, burgers, pastas and some more western specialities on the menu. Great indoor outdoor ambiance. Meat and salads come from a local organization who encourage and teach farmers in organic growing methods.
  • Friends Restaurant, #215 Street 13 (50m north of the National Museum), 012 802 072 (), [23]. Mon-Sat 11-21, closed Sundays. Dining for a good cause - Friends is run by a NGO that trains and educates former streetchildren. Regarding the quality of the food and the service, they are doing a terrific job. 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.
  • Frizz Restaurant, 67 Street 240, 023 220 953, 012 845 525 (mobile), [24]. 10:00-23:00. Traditional Cambodian cuisine. The restaurant also operates the Cambodia Cooking Class [25]. US$5-10.
  • Garden Center Café, #23 Street 57 [26] is a garden setting café/restaurant that's popular with local ex-pats.
  • Green Mango Restaurant and Bar, #170E Street 63 corner of street 278, Boeung Keng Kang I, serves up some delicious Western, Khmer and Mediterranean dishes. A good place for casual meet-ups with friends. Excellent WI-FI connection, great choice of music and friendly staffs. Tel: +855-023-720470
  • Jars of Clay, (0)23 300 281. Closed Sundays. Cafe managed only by women near to the Russian Market. It is a great and conveniently air-conditioned place to relax after a visit to the crowded Russian Market. They offer English-Style breakfast, Quiches, Sandwiches, Soups, absolutly delicious Cakes, smoothies, ice cream and really good coffee. US$4-10.
  • Java Café, 56 Sihanouk Blvd, Soups, salads and sandwiches in a cozy setting overlooking the Independence Monument. Good vegetarian options. Has a rotating art exhibition.
  • Brown Coffee and Bakery,[27] Tel:(855) 23 217262, #17 Street 214, next to Old Pencil Supermarket. They have great Coffee, the barista are very professional and craft perfect espresso shots for you all the time. The bakery is awesome, the chef was trained in Le Cordon Bleu. and the Sandwiches are great.
  • Khmer Surin, #11 Street 57 (south of Sihanouk Boulevard) is a rather romantic restaurant that serves delicious Khmer and Thai food. The traditional Khmer seafood dish, amok, stands out.
  • Lazy Gecko, #23B Street 93, Boeung Kak Lake, does a REALLY good hamburger.
  • Le Duo, Street 322 (between Monivong and Street 63) has excellent Italian food. Sicilian-born Luigi makes great pastas and pizzas.
  • Mazinga Thai Restaurant [28], #6HEo, Sothearos (St. 3) (near Wat Ounalom), this beautfully decorated restaurant offers a wide selection of Thai dishes at a reasonable price. The staff are attentive and friendly, and there is traditional Thai seating available upstairs.
  • Metro Café, on the corner of Sisowath Quay and Street 148 (opposite Riverside Bistro), is a stylish fusion of Asian and Western culture. Air-con. Good selection of small tapas-style dishes from US$1 and a great steak (about US$12). Free wi-fi.
  • Nature and Sea, Corner of Street 278 and 51, (0)12 879 486. Relaxed restaurant on a 2nd floor rooftop opposite to Wat Langka that promotes health food. Delicious Salads, Crepes, Juices, try the passion fruit juice. US$3-7.
  • Open Wine 219 St. 19. An outdoor restaurant setting and good selection of imported wine.
  • Paris Bubble Tea, 285-287 Preah Monivong (not far from the New York Hotel) tel 023 990 373; is pleasant and has fun and refreshing Bubble Tea. Try the classic Pearl Milk Tea.
  • Penny Lane Cafe, Corner of St. 111 & St. 242 (not far from the Town View Hotel) An Italian style cafe with aircon and outdoor areas where they take great pride in their coffee and provide free wireless internet.
  • Pop Cafe No. 371 Sisowath Quay. One of the most popular Italian restaurants, this small yet modern eatery is renowned for its fresh pasta.
  • Riverside Bistro, #273a Sisowath Quay [29] occupies an old colonial style building and features comfortable outdoor dining with brilliant views of the Tonle Sap. Popular with local expats, tourists and local affluent Khmers. Try Khmer's "root of lotus".
  • The Shop, 39 Street 240, +855.23.986.964, +855.92.955.963 (mobile) (), [30]. 07:00-19:00. A very 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 US$5.
  • Vicious Cycle Cafe, #29, St 13 (opposite Indochine 2 Hotel). Along with offering great food and tasty fruit shakes, the Vicious Cycle is the spot to be if you're into cycling or even if your not! Also has free wifi and newspapers to read. $2-5.
  • Yumi Restaurant, No 29a, Street 288, BKK1, +855.92.163.903 (), [31]. noon-2PM, 6PM-10PM. Yumi serves a range of Japanese tapas including fresh seafood and meats cooked on a yakitori grill in relaxed, stylish surroundings. Yumi has daily changing menus using fresh local ingredients cooked by one of London’s top chefs and a bar for sakes and wines from their impressive list. $5-$15.

Splurge

  • 102, 1A, St. 102 (one block south of Le Royal), tel. 023-990-880. 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 recommended. US$30.
  • FCC Phnom Penh (Foreign Correspondents' Club), 363 Sisowath Quay, +855.23.724.014 (), [32]. 07:00-00:00. A favourite expat hang-out, exhibiting modern colonial-style charm with superb views of the river. No air-conditioning, though, and rather spoiled by the unseemly gauntlet of touts one has to battle through to leave. FCC does particularly good desserts. Their signature cocktails, the Tonle Sap Breezer and Burmese Rum Sour (US$4.50 each), are also worth a quaff. Over US$20.
  • La Luna d'Autunno, #4D, Street 29 - Italian cuisine in a beautiful old villa with lovely garden setting, aircon inside.
  • Le Bistrot, #4D, Street 29 - French and Italian in an old villa.
  • Le Quay, Corner of Sisowath Quay & St.110, 023 213 582, [33]. Seating by a relaxing water feature or by our terrace enjoying the Phnom Penh riverside's activities, Le Quay is an ideal venue for lunch and dinner.Western and Asian Style Dishes.
  • Le Wok, 33 Street 178 (near the National Museum of Cambodia), +855.98.821.857. 09:00-23:00. Delicious French and pan-Asian cuisine in a tastefully decorated venue. Over US$20; lunch special US$10.
  • Pacharan Bodega No. 389E1, Sisowath, entrance on Street 184. Overlooking the riverfront next to the Royal Palace this restaurant offers Authentic Spanish Cuisine.
  • Xiang Palace (Hotel Intercontinental) Chinese - expensive fine dining, dim sum.

Drink

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


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

  • 69 Bar , [34] Popular dance orientated hostess bar, bar top and balcony dancing.
  • Barbados, south of Street 104 near the river, is a hostess bar. Buy 5 beers and get 1 free.
  • Blue Cat, just off the riverside on street 110, classy bar, friendly staff, fun popular place with free pool and a night club upstairs. cheap cocktails.
  • Caress Bar [35] is where the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Tonle Basac rivers meet each other. Cruise the Mekong with style.
  • DV8 Bar [36] on Street 148 (near the riverfront) is a popular hostess bar with a good selection of spirits and company.
  • Elephant Bar, Raffles Le Royal. The classy bar at the classiest hotel in town, with frescos on the ceiling and live piano in the evenings. Try the Femme Fatale, a mix of cognac and champagne dreamed up for Jacqui Kennedy in 1967. Expensive.
  • Equinox [37] on Street 278 (near Street 51) is one of the best live music venues in town with weekly concerts from locals and expat bands. It's also a two-stories 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 hours 5PM-8PM.
  • FCC and Guesthouse on Sisowath Quay, overlooking the river. Excellent place to meet professionals and travelling people. Happy hour 5-7PM.
  • Golden Vine on street 108 next to VooDoo Lounge. Hostess bar with 8 Ball table.
  • Green Vespa at 95 Sisowath Quay (near street 102). Open from 6AM - late. Friendly pub and great single malt collection.
  • Heart of Darkness has long been the most infamous nightclub in Phnom Penh, closed in August 2005 after a patron was shot to death but is now back in business. Some seating is reserved for well-heeled (gangster elite) Phnom Penh local youth, so move if you are asked. While certainly not the safest place in the world, more nights go by without incident than not. A number of expats avoid it now, however. Saturday nights are always packed.
  • Liquid #3B street 278 next door to Equinox. With its polished concrete, gun-metal grey floor, chocolate leather seats, and fabulously backlit bar (serving some of the best and most inventive cocktails in town), plus one of the only genuine slate pool tables in town, Liquid has been described as a "refreshing new entry into the Phnom Penh Bar Scene and will no doubt do well with Expats and Travelers". As much a mid-week bar as a weekend bar, Liquid is open 8AM til late everyday.
  • Martini Pub & Disco on Street 95 (one block off Monivong Blvd, across from the Total Gas Station) is an infamous girlie bar. Two full bars, food US$2-6, burgers & fries, pizza, Asian dishes, gaming room, disco, outdoor big-screen showing movies or sports. There some copycat Martini bars in other places like Sihanoukeville 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 [38] on Street 104 is a popular low-key hostess bar. The bar has a good range of single malt whiskeys.
  • One3Six Bar Located on Street 136. A popular hostess bar.Great range of drinks plus they keep their 42 Below and Grey Goose Vodka in the freezer, so the shots are real smooth.
  • Pit Stop on Street 51 is a popular hostess bar.
  • Rubies on Street 240 is a wine bar favoured by young ex-pats working for local NGOs. Busy with a cliquey atmosphere on a weekend night.
  • Sharky's Bar & Restaurant, #126 Street 130, Phnom Penh [39] Since its opening in 1995, Sharky's has been rocking & rolling. Located upstairs on the first floor above street level, Sharky's has a large space, huge center bar, outside balcony, and plenty of available seating. Most moto taxis will understand "Shockeee Bah". It's about three 1/2 blocks from the "Psar Thmei" (new market).
  • Sugar Shack [40] on Sothearos (the street in front of the National Museum and Palace) is a classy little hostess bar featuring a nice selection of wines, champagnes and single malts.
  • UpDownbar, Located on Street 136, across the famous 136 bar. Relaxed atmosphere, with a bar upstairs and groundfloor.
  • VooDoo Lounge on Street 51 near street 108 is a new bar with a great range of drinks, nice decor, air-con, happy hostesses, and a pool table. Two other hostess bars nearby.
  • Walkabout on Street 51 has food and good pool tables. Many freelance girls congregate here. Popular after hours bar, also has rooms available. Open 24 hours.
  • Zanzibar on Street 104 is high energy hostess bar with reasonable prices and a pool table upstairs, that's very popular among expats.
  • Zapata Bar on Street 108 next to VooDoo Lounge is a stylish air-con hostess bar with a good range of drinks, and no pool table or food to distract you from the lovely ladies.

Sleep

Phnom Penh has a wide variety of accommodation, ranging from budget guesthouses (about US$5-20) through good quality mid-range hotels (US$20-50) to extravagant palaces (with extravagant prices to match).

Budget

Boeung Kak Lake, Phnom Penh

Low-cost backpacker accommodation is becoming more abundant by the week. The cheapest ($5 for double) can be found around Boeung Kak Lake, which is slightly toxic. It has been sold for development and is currently being filled in. Expect the guest houses by the lake to be closed in 2010 and a little further afield, the year after. If you have a little more money to spend, head for the Riverfront area. The streets have more space and it's in walking distance of the main attractions.

  • Basac Guesthouse & Restaurant, #128 F2, 3 Street( Sothearos Blv) (Near Russian Embassy), +855(0) 97 634 2156 or +855 (0) 12 646 156 (), [41]. The Basac Guesthouse has 40 remodel rooms with air-conditioning and fan, hot water, big screen TV with cable, fridge and window to view. It offers comfortable rooms and suitable for all travelers. from $5-$15.
  • Boddhi Tree Umma Guesthouse, #50, Street 113 (directly opposite to Tuol Sleng), +855 (0)23 211 397 (), [42]. The Boddhi Tree Umma Guesthouse has 12 tastefully decorated rooms with fan, WiFi. It is a rather quiet guest house with a very personal atmosphere and also has a good restaurant. It is however a bit far from the city centre an you will need to take a moto taxi to go there. from $9-$32.
  • Capitol 3 Guesthouse, #207Eo, Street 107, Sangkat Beng Prolit, 7 Makara, Phnom Penh (Next to the Capitol Tours office), 023 211 027. Warm, friendly staff and quick laundry service. Five floors of squeaky-clean rooms that are out of the direct sunlight and never seem to get too hot - no elevators, though. Single fan room with shared bathroom for 3USD, private bathroom 4USD, +cable TV 5USD, +hot water and AC 8USD. $3.
  • Chiva's Shack Guesthouse & Bar, #8, St. 130 (40m from riverside), 016 406 232, [43]. A popular low-cost guesthouse just off the Riverside, all rooms include breakfast. It has a great hang out area with TV, and wide selection of movies and games. The bar is reasonably priced, $0.75 for glass of draught beer, and has a pool table which is free to use. A charity run by expats called CHOICE [44] that helps the poor and the homeless meet here. from $7.
  • Dream colors Guesthouse, 69d, Street 70 near French Embassy, 0978785762, [45]. TV, DVD, wi-fi, laundry, motorbike rental, bus and flight tickets, and visa extention services. French, English, and Khmer spoken. $14-20.
  • The Green House, #48FGH, St. 488, Village III, S/k Phsar Deum Thkov, Chamkamorn District, 023 217 998, 017 2000 30, [46]. Offers a range of simple, newly built and elegantly furnished rooms and suites. Features air-con, insulated window, cable TV, broadband Internet, IDD telephone, newspapers, 24 hours security, laundry and valet service, credit card accepted, mini bar, 24 hours check in, check out and 24 hours housekeeping, tickets reservation, city tour arrangement, pick up service and transfer upon request. Standard single US$13, standard twin US$15, VIP room US$20.
  • King Guesthouse, 141th Street, off Sihanouk Avenue, 012 220 512. Has ample rooms available to suit your budget. Provides own daily bus service to and from Ho Chi Minh City. I can't comment on the quality of this hotel, but I do know (it's happened to me twice) that if you get their bus from Vietnam, they take you directly to the guesthouse (you are not allowed to get off the bus before arriving there), where the bus will park across the entire open front of the place, totally blocking any exit. It's one way to ""encourage"" customers, I suppose. Cunts!
  • Number Nine Guesthouse, #9 Street 93 Boeung Kak Lake, 012 766 225 / 012 935 813. Well known and popular. Excellent sunsets by the lake. Rooms US$2-4.
  • Number Nine Sister Guesthouse, Boeung Kak Lake, 012 424 240. just around the corner from, and much less seedy than, the original. $4-6.
  • Okay Guesthouse, #5 Street 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. The location is in walking distance of the Royal Palace and the Riverside, but rather quiet in the evening. from $8-$12.
  • Rory's Guesthouse (Facing the Royal Palace and National Museum and 100 meters from the riverfront), #33 Street 178, Riverside, 012 425 702, [47]. Free wifi. Rooms US$10-30.
  • Simon II Guesthouse. Next to Simon's. The only place at the lakeside offering comfortable rooms with aircon and proper bathrooms. But here you pay more, including extra fees for wifi password, toiletpaper, etc. A few sightings of rats and cockroachs. Rooms have mosquitoes in them as well. US$12 and up.
  • Simon's Guesthouse, #11 Street 93, Boeung Kak Lake, 012 884 650. Tricky to find but the layout of the rooms (with bathrooms or shared) allows for a nice, cool breeze Rooms US$2-3.
  • Top Banana Guesthouse, #2 Street 278, [48]. A very laid back small guesthouse on the 2nd and 3rd floor with a cozy, sociable atmosphere and friendly staff. The cheaper rooms are very noisy. Surprisingly good food. Just tell the moto to take you to Wat Lanka. $7-15.

Mid-range

  • The Billabong Hotel, 5 Street 158, Sangkat Boeung Raing, +855.23.223.703, [49]. Truly an oasis in the heart of the city. Swimming pool, well-appointed rooms. Breakfast included. Alfresco dining poolside. US$36-65.
  • Blue Lime, 42 Street 19z (small cul de sac off Street 19, across the street from the Royal Institute of Fine Arts, which is behind the National Museum of Cambodia), +855.23.222.260, +855.12.447.057 (mobile) (), [50]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. A 14-room urban accommodation, with a lush exotic garden and a salt-water swimming pool, centrally located behind the National Museum of Cambodia and the Royal Palace. The rooms, garden and pool are modern minimalist, with concrete furniture, all covered by a free 1 Mb/s wi-fi. Its sister property is The Pavilion (see below). US$40-50, including continental breakfast.
  • Bougainvillier Boutique Hotel, 227 Sisowath Quay, +855.23.220.528, [51]. Situated in Quay Sisowath, all suites have a beautiful sight of the Mekong River. Located in the touristic and lively area, it is just three minutes' walk to Royal Palace, National Museum and Night Market. Its Deluxe Rooms and Suites are all equipped with air-conditioners, cable TV, private safes, minibars, IDD telephones, and free access to ADSL.
  • California 2 Guesthouse, 79 Sisowath (North of the night market on the riverfront), 077503144, [52]. The original hotel at 317 Sisowath Quay closed as of May 2008. After a year and a half closure it is reopened farther north on the riverfront. 3 doors north of the Mekong Express Bus, and near the Port, in the Wat Phnom Area it offers... A 24 hour Bar and Restaurant including wifi and pool table. Rooms are equipped with wifi, room safe, AC, ceiling fan, hot water, fridge, and 26 inch flat screen TVs. Breakfast is included. US$25-35.
  • Cambodia Uncovered, 11B Boeng Keng Kong (Street 370), +855.12.507.097 (), [53]. This great boutique accommodation in central Phnom Penh offers a self-contained apartment for up to four people, along with satellite TV, a DVD player, and a small veranda. Advanced booking required. Off-the-beaten-track boat trips, up-country travel, and cooking classes can also be arranged. singles US$50, doubles US$60, including breakfast.
  • Hotel Cara, 18 Street 47 & 84, Sangkat Srass Chork, +855.23.430.066, [54]. A very nice hotel near the river and port. Good rooms with hot showers, TVs and a quiet ambience. Some rooms have balconies. The front rooms may get noisy because they are next to the main road, but the rooms opening on the side street are much better. Ask the booking desk while making reservations. Very helpful staff. Free Internet access in the office area near the lobby, but the breakfast is poor. US$35-50.
  • Changi Ville Guest House and Cafe, 137B Street 330 (in Chamkarmorn District, about 15 minutes' walk from the Independence Monument). Located in a residential neighborhood, the accommodation offers clean double rooms with attached baths. Friendly staff. Might occasionally have power outages due to its location. US$25.
  • Frangipani Villas, 20R Street 252, Sangkat Chaktomuk, Khan Daun Penh (near Pizza World), +855.12.687.717, +855.23.212.100, [55]. 1960s building with small garden and granite bathroom. Clean and environmentally-friendly. Free high-speed Internet access in each room, free laundry, breakfast. US$30-60.
  • Golden Gate Hotel, 9 Street 278, Sangkat Beng Keng Kang 1, Khan Chamkarmorn (near the Independence Monument), +855.23.427.618, [56]. US$15-40.
  • The Lone Star Saloon Bar and Guest House, #30,st. 23 (In between st.172 & st. 154 near Cyclo Bar), 012577860, [57]. Texas themed restaurant with 3 apt. sized rooms available as guest house rooms. We specialize in southern/southwestern cooking. Is located on a quiet street that is only a few minutes walk from the riverside, or to a late night entertainment district. All rooms have AC, hot water, free super fast Wi-Fi, mini fridge stocked with drinks at bar prices........and there is a great bar/restaurant downstairs. We cater to local expats and are an excellent source of travel info for those new to Cambodia. US$25.
  • Hotel Luxury World, 35 Street 200, Sangkat Boeung Rang, Khan Daun Penh (along Monivong Boulevard), (), [58]. Located 15 minutes away from the airport, this very affordable hotel is situated ideally along Monivong Boulevard; the heart of Phnom Penh, where the Independence Monument is sited, can be reached within ten minutes of walking. There is an affordable massage parlour on the lower levels of the hotel. There also an open-air restaurant with a live band on the roof of the hotel which provides a cosy ambience at night. Free Internet access is located at the lobby area. US$27-47.
  • Okay Guesthouse, #5 Street 258 (Royal Palace area, near Hotel Cambodiana). from $2-$12.
  • Paragon Hotel, 219B Sisowath Quay. Riverfront, near lots of good cafés. Rooms have bathrooms, air-conditioning, TVs, fridges. No breakfast, but close to restaurants that serve it. US$15-30.
  • The Pavilion, 227 Street 19 (near the Royal Palace), [59]. Colonial building dating from 1920, with lush garden, swimming pool, jacuzzi, free Wi-Fi. Some rooms have private swimming pools. Its sister property is Blue Lime (see above). US$50-80.
  • PKD1 Guesthouse, 40 Street 136 (just off the riverfront), +855.12.769.920, [60]. Clean and secure accommodation with fan or air-conditioning, en suite bathrooms, cable TV and refrigerators. US$10-15.
  • Rory's Guesthouse (Facing the Royal Palace and National Museum and 100 meters from the riverfront), #33 Street 178, Riverside, 012 425 702, [61]. Rooms US$10-30.
  • Velkommen Inn, 23 Street 104 (just off the riverfront), [62]. Nice guesthouse on the popular Street 104 with a friendly and helpful owner. Spotless air-conditioned rooms with cable TVs, minibars, safety boxes, en suite bathrooms with hot water, and free wifi. Fifty meters from the bus stations and ferry dock. US$20-40.

Splurge

There are a surprising number of 4 and 5 star hotels in Phnom Penh.

  • Intercontinental Hotel [63], Mao Tse Tung Blvd. A favourite among visiting dignitaries, but rather out of the way in the southwest corner of the city.
  • Lebiz Hotel + Library, 17F Kampuchea Krom (opposite of Central Market), +855 23 998 610 (), [64].
  • Phnom Penh Hotel, Monivong Blvd (just south of the French Embassy). Newly renovated with very nicely appointed rooms and suites.
  • Raffles Le Royal, 92 Rukhak Vithei Daun Penh (off Monivong Blvd), tel. +855 23 981 888, fax. +855 23 981 168, [65]. 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 loving 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). Beware of credit card fraud here - don't let your card out of your sight when paying the bill. US$150/300 low/high season.

Contact

Telephone

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 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, just have your passport and expect to pay no more than $2. There are plenty of phone stalls around central market. Mobitel has the best coverage around the whole of Cambodia and seems to have cheaper calls. Be warned when sending and recieveing international SMS's and Calls as they only have about a 50% sucess rate of being recieved.

Internet

There is no shortage of Internet cafés in Phnom Penh. Most are in the 1,500 riel/hour bracket (a little under 50 US cents), but provide slow service, suffer occasional power outages and do not run firewalls or anti-virus programs.

  • Sunny Internet, 178 Street (opp Foreign Correspondents' Club), also Sisowath Quay (next to the Riverstreet restaurant). Provides a faster service at US$1/hour and is popular with tourists and expats.
  • Galaxy Web, Street 63, near Sihanouk Boulevard. Excellent service, popular with Westerners.

Wireless and wired connections for laptops are available at a number of outlets - most five-star hotels (which provide high-speed broadband access, but at a premium), and 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).

Post

Relax

  • Amara Spa, Corner of Sisowath Quay & St.110, 023 998-730 (), [66]. A rejuvenating experience awaits you at Amara Spa. Discover the ultimate combination of traditional Khmer and Asian therapies blended with the secrets and indulgence of Europe. Achieve pure bliss and tranquility in a sanctuary for you to relax, unwind, and recharge. The Amara Spa will be a unique and comprehensive Day Spa providing a friendly atmosphere for individuals and couples offering a wide selection of facial and body treatments. Amara, which means immortal in the Sanskrit language, will focus on providing an authentic spa experience for the mind, body and soul.

Stay healthy

As in most developing world countries, avoiding cold, cooked food is desirable to obviate stomach upsets. Salads are also suspect at times. Surprisingly, ice is usually OK as it is made from filtered water in factories, and then sold to shops/restaurants.

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

Noise

Phnom Penh is a noisy city. Unrestrained blasting of car horns and a city-wide construction boom put strains on the sanity of the visiting foreigner. There is barely a location in the city that is not within earshot of sledgehammers and power saws. Stay away if you are noise-sensitive - or at the least bring earplugs, earmuffs, an iPod, or whatever it takes.

Hospitals

In seeking medical help in Phnom Penh, the groundrule should be: Ascertain that the doctor has a Western medical degree. If not, get out of there: local training is poor, and treatment is sometimes fatal. The medical standard of the local hospitals can be very basic as well. This also applies to Calmette Hospital - the number one hospital in Phnom Penh. If you need to see a doctor it is recommended you go to one of the international clinics. They can also arrange transfer to a hospital in Thailand if necessary.

  • American Medical Centre, (#313 Sisowath (in the Hotel Cambodiana)), 023 991 863 (out of office hours 012 891 613). Provides health care of international standard.
  • Dr Marissa Regino-Manampan, (Filipino MD @ 262B, Street 63), Clinic phone: 023-217 349.
  • International SOS medical and dental clinic, #161, St. 51 (Pasteur), 023 216 911. Has local and foreign doctors providing the whole range of standard health care as well as a 24h 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, N° 11, Senei Vinna Vaut Oum (St. 254), 023-211 300, Mobile: 011-811 175. $30 for foreigners, $15 for Khmers. Some of the Khmer doctors here are foreign-trained and competent - but a little abrupt and uncommunicative (in the Asian doctor style). The two French doctors are both competent and communicative, and tend to be favoured by expats. One of them, Dr Garen, speaks good English..
  • Royal Rattanak Hospital, No 11, Street 592,Boeung Kak 2, Toul Kok, 023-365-555. The second hospital of BDMS (Bangkok Dusit Medical Services PCL) in Cambodia. Private hospital open since March 2008,. The hospital provides full operating secondary health care services including : Emergency medicine, General Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery, Anesthesiology, Pediatrics, OBGYN, General internal medicine, Intensive care, Rehabilitation and Health Promotion etc. Good service and some 'real' doctors, but insanely expensive.

The cost of a blood test for malaria in Calmette Hospital is $27.50 (April 2009).

Stay safe

Crime-wise, Phnom Penh has a bad reputation. In terms of armed robbery you are safer now than in the 1990s - but not exactly safe. As population and incomes have grown, so has vehicle ownership - but not driving skills - meaning the city's roads are its most dangerous places. Augmenting that danger are the present waves of bag-snatching, and of brick-throwing at foreigners.

Brick attacks

According to The Phnom Penh Post there has been a string of unprovoked brick attacks on foreigners along Riverside in 2010. The brick is generally aimed at the head, and is thrown from a moving SUV. The Post reports eight injuries to date, though the toll may be higher. Police have denied that these attacks are occurring.

Armed robbery

Phnom Penh still has more bad guys with guns than most Asian cities. Official figures (likely underestimates) report an average of 50 incidents per month (Cambodians and foreigners), leading to 5 deaths and 10 serious injuries. Most commonly Cambodians are victimised for their cell phones or motorbikes. Phnom Penh's Expat Advisory online forums reports a resurgence of armed robberies of foreigners - usually women - involving motorbikes with young men who carry knives or guns. (Often around Streets 51 and 57 in the wealthier area of town - but it can happen anywhere.) Avoid walking in quiet areas at night, try to find a dependable tuk-tuk driver, and don't carry unnecessary valuables or cash.

Additionally, there is street violence between groups of young men to watch out for; and the occasional street shooting. In 2008 a man was shot dead on the dancefloor at The Golden Beach nightclub for bumping another dancer (burly security guards now flank the dancefloor); and on the first Sunday in July, 2008, a wealthy Phnom Penh resident's bodyguard opened fire on a tuk tuk driver in the middle of Riverside - Phnom Penh's busiest tourist street - after their vehicles collided. The shooter missed the tuk tuk driver, but hit a passing moto driver in the leg. (The police found that nothing was amiss, and sent the participants on their ways.)

Bag snatching

In recent times Phnom Penh has endured a wave of bag-snatching. The Phnom Penh Post reports - and many foreign residents attest to - a large upsurge in this crime, both in broad daylight and at night; in crowded streets and deserted ones alike. The victims are almost entirely Western and Khmer women riding in tuk tuks or on motorbikes (either as passengers or drivers).

Sometimes these incidents are violent, with women dragged off moving motorbikes and thrown to the road. In November 2007, a 28-year-old French woman named Aurelia Lacroix was killed in one of these attacks - though Aurelia's death may just be the tip of the iceberg.

When targeting pedestrians, thieves grab bags, or snatch mobile phones and purses out of hands.

If you must carry a bag - and preferably don't - when using motodops put it between you and the driver. In tuk-tuks put it under your seat. Apart from their appalling road safety record, motorbikes do not allow you to protect your bag as well as you can in a four-wheel vehicle.

Bag-snatching happens all over Phnom Penh, including outside popular expat hang-outs (e.g. Elsewhere). Some moto drivers may be in league with the thieves.

Unsafe sex

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

Thus another Phnom Penh danger is HIV, which surveys reveal is carried by about one in eight of Cambodia's female sex workers.

Additionally, certain high-risk sexual behaviours are emerging in recent Cambodian population studies: nearly 100% of men who have sex with men (MSM) also have sex with women; a new class of 'hidden' sex workers, such as beer girls and park-based prostitutes, is often out of reach of educators; there is very low condom-use among 'sweethearts', and many Cambodians have multiple sweethearts in one year; male clients persuade or force prostitutes not to wear condoms. (This happens to 67% of Cambodian prostitutes every week!)

On top of this, as of the first half of 2008 - according to interviewees in The Phnom Penh Post - the police have begun closing down brothels and beating up and raping prostitutes. This in turn is driving the trade underground, and thus into more dangerous waters where educators cannot reach.

NGOs have got the HIV rate down from around 2% to around 1% over the past decade. But it's possible these emerging behaviours will cause that to reverse.

Touts

The worst area is the tourist strip along the river - where some Phnom Penh residents won't venture, for that reason. Here drivers tout not only rides, but massage, sex and drugs. A polite refusal will generally guarantee being left alone (though tourists not accepting rides are sometimes abused outside the Foreign Correspondents Club). Older or disabled beggars in the market or other places will be happy to accept half or a quarter dollar (2000/1000 riel), and some older people might even invoke a blessing on you for your gift. Younger kids with modern needs may want a dollar, or to sell you a (pirated) book for around five dollars. A bit more worryingly, gangs of Vietnamese boys in this area sometimes cause trouble by pickpocketing and physically abusing tourists.

Some foreign visitors have cut short their stays in Phnom Penh after a day or two of such harassment. The DRP ('Don't Reward the Pests') movement is growing among Phnom Penh residents: adherents do not engage touts and drivers who harass them, but seek out those who wait to be approached.

Traffic

Having said all that, the greatest danger in Phnom Penh is none of the above: it is getting hit by a motorbike - or thrown off one - in the city's unpredictable traffic.

Cambodia has arguably the worst drivers in Asia. Although traffic tends to be slower than Bangkok's and less dense than Saigon's, it is literally all over the road: two streams going in each direction at any one time; plus endless switching from one stream to the other.

Crossing the road in this city requires constant 360 degree vigilance.

Using motorbike taxis, or riding your own motorbike, in the stead of tuk tuks, will save you a few dollars a week. However an airlift to a Bangkok hospital will quickly make that seem like a false economy. Tuk Tuks, however, can often give a false sense of security. They are usually very cheap motorbikes with substandard brakes pulling incredibly high loads, and if they need to stop quickly, it will often not be possible. Minimise the risk by choosing sober drivers, vehicles in good condition, and not overloading.

Cope

Embassies

  • Ru-flag.png Russia, 213, Blvd. Sothearos, Phnom Penh, +855 23 210-931 (, fax: +855 23 216-776), [67].
  • Sn-flag.png Singapore, 129 Norodom Boulevard, Sangkat Chaktomuk, Khan Daun Penh, +855.23.221.875 (, fax: +855.23.214.578 (administration and consular matters)), [68]. M-F 08:00-12:30, 14:00-17:00. Singapore nationals may register online with the Embassy at [69].
  • Us-flag.png United States, [70].
  • Uk-flag.png United Kingdom, 27-29 Street 75. Sangkat Srah Chak Khan Daun, Phnom Penh, +855 23 427124, [71].

Get out

Sihanoukville, Battambang, Siem Reap and Angkor are within a few hours' reach; see above. Some companies also offer services to Kampot, Kep and Bokor National Park.

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.







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