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Phnom Penh

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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.

Understand

Once a rough change for western visitors, Phnom Penh has seriously improved over the past few years. Don't forget that the country was devastated by the Khmer Rouge. Infrastructure may still lacking in some areas and you'll find rubbish, potholes and dust in secondary streets as well as beggars and touts. As everywhere in Asia traffic can be risky but it is fairly light compared to busy cities like Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh.

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 - which are Asia's worst driving, noise, dust and perennial theft.

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

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.

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 or by credit card.


Phnom Penh International Airport [1] (IATA: PNH | ICAO: VDPP) is the larger of airport in Cambodia, located 7 km west of the city.

The following airlines operate service to/from Phnom Penh: AirAsia (Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok), Asiana Airlines [2](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 centre.

Taxis from the public taxi stand at the airport cost a flat US$9, and tuk-tuks cost US$7. While taxis might be a safer option, it's better to avoid them as the drivers are arrogant and tend to not return change. Tuk-tuk drivers are a lot more friendly and more flexible. For visitors on a budget without a lot of luggage, it's worth catching an official motorcycle taxi for US$2.

By bus

Mekong Express, Phnom Penh Sorya Transport, 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 ($US3-10), 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 US$1-2 fee.

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

Beware that safety standards in Cambodia are low. Horrendous bus crashes (not always reported) are common, with 'quality' bus lines and 'cheapies' alike.

By boat

Ferries connect Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and usually take 6 hr; tickets for foreigners cost US$35. 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.The boat leave 7:30am.

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

By train

There is a limited freight service running from Kampot to Phnom Penh, but no passenger services currently (Feb. 2011) exist anywhere in the country. There are plans to have a line from Sihanoukville, through Kampot and to Phnom Penh.

The only 'passenger service' is the bamboo railway just outside Battambang.

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. Traffic is somewhat chaotic and can be dangerous, even by Asian standards. Wear a helmet and ride carefully. A safer alternative is public transport other than motorbike taxis. Rent per day for a 100cc bike is about US$5-6 depending on condition, and some can be arranged through guesthouses. Two bike rental shops are located at Monivong Boulevard - Lucky Bike Rental and New Bike Rental. Be aware of the traffic rules (you might get US$1-2 'fines' from police) and the security of the bike - theft is common. Always park at designated area and pay a small parking fee, else lock it up with a chain (which will be provided by the bike rental shop).
  • 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 (US$0.50). Fares are higher at night and with more than one passenger. Often not much English is spoken.
  • 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. Tuk tuk and motorcycle taxi drivers will often not know their way around the city, so be prepared. Two great and English speaking Tuk Tuk drivers are Sambo ☎+855 92 446 013 and John ☎ +855 12 538 037. They can both be texted or phoned to organise a pick up.
  • 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.
  • Cycling, is a rewarding experience that will open up extended horizons around the city. Ride slowly, be visible and predictable by avoiding quick turn.
  • 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 360⁰ surveillance is required when crossing roads. There is almost no street lighting off the major boulevards, and walking at night is not recommended.

Cautions

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

2. Sometimes the only English a driver knows is something like "yes, no problem" . This may lead 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.

3. Don't leave bags, phones, etc exposed to snatchers. Ideally don't carry bags at all: such thefts from tuk tuks and motorbikes are epidemic in Phnom Penh, with Western women the prime targets.

4. The tuk tuk drivers outside the Foreign Correspondent's Club are notoriously pushy and aggressive. They are 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. Dawn at Sisowath Quay is also a busy time, with locals doing calisthenics in front of the Royal Palace, and the sun rising over the river. In addition to the recent brick attacks on foreigners, there are supposedly child gangs and pickpockets - so extra caution is warranted. See A Stroll on Sisowath Quay for a self-guided tour.
Tuol Sleng Prison
  • Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21 Prison), Street 113, Boeng Keng Kang 3, Chamkar Morn, +855 23 300-698, [3]. 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.
    A hefty slice of your Tuol Sleng entrance fee will go into the pocket of the museum's director, who is the son of the responsible government minister. (This is perhaps the main reason the museum is in rather shabby condition, and the displays so unimaginative.) And a warning to those who patronize the souvenir shop. Don't get conned into buying some vintage Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega watches. They are fakes and are worthless. The owner is very convincing and will tell you that it is a collection from her husband.
    Instead, right across from the museum (No 54 & 56, Street 113, Phnom Penh is a little shop called CHA (http://www3.online.com.kh/users/wthanchashop) that provides inexpensive handmade goods that are made by women disabled from polio and landmines. If you ask, you will also be able to tour the shop, meeting the female workers and seeing where they study English.
    US$3.
The Killing Fields
  • The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, (About 17 km south of Phnom Penh, 40 minutes by taxi or moto or tuktuk). 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 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. Unfortunately, in 2005 the memorial site was sold to a for-profit private company [4]. A tuk tuk to the site should cost US$9-11 return, including stopping at the Genocide Museum on the way and waiting for you at both places. US$3.
  • The Royal Palace. 7:30AM-11AM & 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 US$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 211753, +855 12 621522 (mobile) (, fax: +855 23 211753), [5]. 8AM-5PM daily, last admission 4:30PM. 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. US$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. The access to the temple was limited in mid-2011 whilst under renovation. Admission: US$1; elephant ride: US$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. There is also an Olympic-size swimming pool and diving pool with a 10 meter platform open to the public opposite the main building, across the track. 6,000 riel to get in, 500 riel to check your things.
  • 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" [6] nearby, which takes in thousands of adolescents from the dump and its surrounding areas, and sends them out into the world two or three years later fluent in English and French, and as a result can gain valuable life skills. 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. The dump is now not in use by the refuse company, but still used by factories and construction companies, so much of the community which lived here have moved to the new dump which is not open to tourists. While the security here do refuse entry, it is still possible to walk in. There is a charity run school on top of the dump near the entrance.

Do

  • The Flicks Community Movie House, #39b, Street 95 (South of Sihanouk Blvd, between Str 310 and 360), [7]. At least 2 screenings per day. Since 2008, features blockbusters, kids movies, documentaries, music, animations and the classics on the 6 m (19 ft) wide big screen on the 2nd floor of an original Cambodian wooden house and with air conditioning. Enjoy a movie with a drink and hot buttered popcorn and lie on big futons or sit on wicker sofas. Check the website for latest movie schedule. Free movie on Saturdays at 4PM. US$3.50 for adults, $2 for under 17.
  • Phnom Penh Pub Quiz on Thursdays, #8, Street 144 (side street from the Riverside) (On riverside go into sidestreet at La Croissette), [8]. 8PM-10:30PM. Quiz covers general knowledge, sports, geography and stupid facts and is composed of 7 rounds of 10 question each, including a picture round and a music round. Winning team wins 50% of the quizpot. US$2pp, max 4 pax per team.
  • Meta House, 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.
  • Centre Cultural Francais, [9]. Less English subtitles than there once were, plus an incomprehensible schedule and website (even the CCF staff can't decipher them and it hasn't been updated since 2007), have now put these excellent movies out of reach of all but the most determined English.
  • Hash House Harriers, [10]. A running club that meets every Sunday at 2:15PM at the railway station. $5.
  • Massage. Phnom Penh has a large number of massage and spa places and these seem to be popular among locals and tourists alike. If you are a single man do not expect the sort of "services" you are likely to be offered in Bangkok, however. 1 hour: US$4-50.
  • NagaWorld Casino, [11]. The only casino in Phnom Penh.
  • Visit an Orphanage. 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 'straight' orphanages in Phnom Penh: almost all are scams. Also, accepting impromptu visits from unscreened foreigners is often a sign of a substandard orphanage which does not have the children's best interests at heart. If you really want to help, try contacting organizations that run educational programs, and see if there is any way you can assist. For more information see ChildSafe International [12]
  • Help the Needy with Choice, [13]. 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. US$8.
  • 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 and will take a nice commission for taking you there.
  • Bicycle tours and rental, (Phnom Penh), +855 89 834704 or +855 15 696376 (), [14]. Sat-Sun from 9AM-5PM. During the week upon request. Take a short trip alone or with your family, friends and colleagues to the other side of the Mekong River or into the countryside. US$2.
  • Mekong Islands bicycle tour, 29 Street 130 (diagonally opposite Indochine 2 Hotel), [15]. 8AM-12.30PM. 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. (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. Anything electronic is likely to cease functioning 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 % surcharge). It is quite possible to stay in Phnom Penh without ever changing money into Riels, as long as you have US dollars. Take lots of low denomination US notes - notes above US$20 can be difficult to change except in hotels. Torn or otherwise damaged US currency will not be accepted.

Most manufactured goods you buy in Cambodia will be of dubious quality: this especially applies to electronic goods of any kind. 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 US$100 or US$50 notes. ANZ Royal bank charges US$4 per transaction. The Canadia bank ATMs are also fee free. Union Commercial Bank plc charges US$2 per transaction (Feb 2011).

Cashing traveller's cheques can be a big problem; 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 a 20-30% failure rate; sunglasses bought from roaming street vendors do not give full UV/polarized protection; and virtually all will fall apart within 2 weeks. Most watches are 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. The market has recently been beautifully renovated, and is now worth a trip just to admire its architecture.
  • Sorya Mall, currently Phnom Penh's main Western-style mall, is nearby. Sorya is rather drab by Western standards, and is crowded with stalls (like a traditional market - a strange juxtaposition). But it is air-conditioned and contains a range of cheap fast-food outlets as well as a well-stocked supermarket named Lucky Supermarket. Sorya Mall is on Street 63, close to the corner with Street 154. (NB: Don't leave a moto with the Sorya parking people, who are known to steal helmets, and double 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, Monireth Boulevard, (near the Olympic Stadium). Opened in September 2009, making it the newest and biggest western-style mall in Phnom Penh. The mall contains a large branch of Lucky Supermarket, as well as many fast-food outlets and modern shops, mainly catering to Phnom Penh's growing middle-class population.
  • Russian Market, (Cambodian: "Psar Toul Tom Poung"). The "Russian Market" moniker following the Vietnamese occupation of the city in the 1980s, but many motodops are not familiar with the name. Real designer clothes at a huge discount price. 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 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.
  • Olympic Market, (Psar Olympic). Olympic Market was built in 1994 and is a local favorite with shoppers looking for wholesale fabrics, everyone day 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. Buyer should definitely give this market a visit.

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

Leave Monument Books at the top as it has the most extensive collection; list other bookshops in alphabetical order, ignoring "The".

  • Monument Books, 111 Norodom Boulevard (near the corner with Street 240), +855 23 217617 (, fax: +855 23 217618), [16]. 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.
  • Bohr's Books, 5 Sothearos Boulevard (Street 3), +855 12 929148 (). A small store offering a large, diverse collection of books. Easy to find, it is only one block from the Royal Palace. 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 214452. 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 chain of secondhand bookstores dealing mainly in mass market paperbacks. Uncommunicative, monosyllabic staff.
  • International Book Centre, 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 218352, +855 23 222822 (Sihanouk) (, fax: +855 23 721368), [17]. A large barn-like 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 211753, +855 12 621.22 (mobile) (, fax: +855 23 211753), [18]. 8AM-5PM daily, last admission 4:30PM. Has a small selection of books on Cambodian archaeology, art, culture and history. Remember that money you spend at any Cambodian government-run institution will end up in officials' pockets.

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, #138 Street 143, Boeung Keng Kong 3, (one street behind Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and about 10 min from the Riverside). They will make you a good quality pair of men's business shoes for US$35-60.

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), [19]. 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 - jewellery

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 US$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 jewellery and gemstones from a reputable shop established for many years, with a reputation to protect.

Cambodian Handicraft Association, (CHA), No 54 & 56, St 113, (across from the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum), [20]. Handmade silk goods, jewellery, accessories and clothing made by women disabled from polio and landmines. 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.

Electronics

  • Apple Macs, [21]. Cambodia is a cheap place 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 available here. By far the most expert Mac retailer and repairer is Uniyang near the Central Market.

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 m off Sihanouk Blvd and opp. Sport shop). Cafe established in 2006 with a Pub upstairs. Owned by a Singaporean, an ex-Chef of Intercontinental Hotel, Phnom Penh. With the help of his Khmer wife & family it has become very popular with local expats and tourists. Chinese, Malaysian, Singaporean, Western and some Khmer Dishes. From US$1.40-2.80
  • Baitong Restaurant, No. 7 St. 360, (opposite the International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP)). Authentic Khmer, Thai and Vietnamese dishes. They also have breakfast express and lunch buffet set around US$2-3.75. 2 large rooms can be used for conferences, training and other events and a smaller room for meetings and private dinners.
  • Camory Cookie Boutique, 167 Sisowath Quay (between St. 110 and 118), (), [22]. 9AM-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.
  • Comme a la Maison, No. 13 St. 57, In a pleasant garden terrace. Laid-back but stylish French feel with warm service. Pizza and salads, ice-cream desserts.
  • Home Away From Home, Street 93. Small family run restaurant. Service is very friendly, but you may have to be patient if a bunch of people just ordered before you. US$2-3
  • K.K. Tandoor, Sothearos Blvd, (opposite vietnamese monument and next to Pannasastra University campus). Moderately priced Indian food with chicken tandoori, butter chicken and Naans. air-con. You can get draft beer for a dollar.
  • La Croisette, cnr Sisowath Quay and Street 144. French sidewalk café, Open all day.
  • La Lotus Blanc, 402 Stung Mean Chey and n152 St51 Boeung Keng Kang. French and the Asian cuisines and quite a popular neighborhood hub. The food is prepared and served by students from the PSE.
  • Setsara Thai Restaurant, #3D Street 278. Thai restaurant with a really good Thai chef, good music, reasonable prices and good service though a bit slow sometimes. They have some good French specialties as well.
  • The Vegetarian, #11 Street 200 (Oknha Men). Well you guess it this is a place where cows are happy. Most of the dishes at US$1.50. Good daily special with white or brown rice and 3 small dishes. Most of the customers are westerners. English speaking staff.
  • Tom Yum Kung Thai Restaurant, #10, Street 278, (), [23]. 7AM-10PM. Thatch-roofed Thai/Khmer restaurant in the BKK1 area, popular with locals and visitors alike. Big selection of authentically prepared Thai and Khmer dishese. As one might expect, the tom yum kung is recommended. Provides air-con upstairs, fans downstairs.
  • Warung Bali, #3D Street 178 No. 25 E0, Royal Palace. Small traditional Indonesian restaurant in one of Phnom Penh's touristic area.

Mid-range

  • Amok Restaurant & Cafe, 2 St 278, (near Independence monument), ☎ +855 12 912 319. Nice cozy decor, with open air dining. Traditional Khmer dishes and other styles. The classic fish amok is well done, and the servings are large.
  • Anise, 57th St (near corner of Sihanouk)and 278 St,. Comfortable, nicely decorated corner restaurant with free wifi and some good dishes from a varied menu, including Southeast Asian. Their Club Sandwich is excellent. Perhaps a little over-priced.
  • Atmosphere, No. 141C, Norodom Blvd. Fancy French restaurant. Quiet on an ordinary day but draws a regular crowd of expats.
  • Aussie XL, 205A 51st (Pasteur) St. About the only thing Aussie about this place is the owner. Look in vain for a can of Foster's. But the food is very good and the wood-fired oven pizza matches anything found in Italy.
  • Bai Thong, 100-102 Sothearos Boulevard, +855 23 211 054, +855 12 666 390 (mobile) (). 11AM-2PM, 6PM-11PM. French and Indochinese cuisine in nicely decorated surroundings. US$10-20.
  • Bali Café, 379 Sisowath Quay. Indonesian food with broader Asian/Thai/Khmer and Western options. 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. Comfortable and friendly. Suitable for family dining with an international and Khmer menu, and a respectable wine list. Free wifi
  • Cafe Yejj, #170 Street 450, (southeast corner of the Russian Market, less than 50 ft east of the corner of Streets 155 & 450). Indoor and outdoor seating both ground level and second floor. Pasta, panini, burritos and 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. Sit inside if you do not want to be bothered by beggars.
  • Chi Cha Restaurant, #27, St. 110 (near the riverfront in the café and bar area), (). Excellent and plentiful Indian food, vegetarian or not, in a convenient central location. Also has rooms from US$8. Set meals US$4.
  • Dosa Corner, (near the side entry of Wat Langka and fairly close to the Independence monument). Indian restaurant withexcellent dosas (large thin pancake) and other Indian favourites.
  • Edelweiss, No. 375 Sisowath Quay, (next door to Pop Cafe). Cambodia's only German restaurant. Run by Ulli and Mama with a menu in German and English.
  • Equinox, Street 278, (near Street 51), [24]. Pizzas, baguettes, burgers, pastas and some more western specialities. Great indoor outdoor ambiance. Meat and salads come from a local organisation who encourage and teach farmers in organic growing methods..
  • The Empire, No.34 St 130, (), [25]. 4:30pm-late. Great traditional style Khmer dishes developed with foreign tastes in mind, also bar. Relaxed modern styling.
  • Friends Restaurant, #215 Street 13 (50m north of the National Museum), +855 12 802 072 (), [26]. Mon-Sat 11AM-9PM, closed Sundays. Run by a NGO that trains and educates former streetchildren. 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, +855 23 220 953, +855 12 845 525 (mobile), [27]. 10AM-11PM. Traditional Cambodian cuisine. The restaurant also operates the Cambodia Cooking Class [28]. US$5-10.
  • Garden Center Café, #23 Street 57 and 175 Street 155, [29]. The one on Street 155 is a café/restaurant in a garden setting, popular with local ex-pats. The one on Street 57 is air-conditioned with walls completely covered with reproductions of paintings. The owners also claim to make the best yoghurt in Phnom Penh.
  • Green Mango Restaurant and Bar, #170E Street 63. (corner of street 278, Boeung Keng Kang I), ☎ +855 23 720470. Western, Khmer and Mediterranean dishes. A good place for casual meet-ups with friends. Excellent wifi connection, great choice of music and friendly staff.
  • Jars of Clay, #39B Street 155, +855 23 300 281. Closed Sundays. Cafe managed only by women near to the Russian Market. Great place to relax after a visit to the crowded Russian Market. English-style breakfast, quiches, sandwiches, soups, absolutly delicious cakes. Smoothies, ice cream and really good coffee and A/C. 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, #17 Street 214, (next to Old Pencil Supermarket), [30], ☎+855 23 217262. Great Coffee with good barista. The bakery chef was trained in Le Cordon Bleu and the Sandwiches are great.
  • Khmer Surin, #11 Street 57, (south of Sihanouk Boulevard). 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 228, (between Monivong and Street 63). Italian food. Sicilian-born Luigi makes great pastas and pizzas.
  • Mazinga Thai Restaurant, #6HEo, Sothearos (St. 3) (near Wat Ounalom), [31]. Beautfully decorated restaurant with a wide selection of Thai dishes at a reasonable price. The staff are attentive and friendly, traditional Thai seating is available upstairs.
  • Meta House, #37 Sothearos Boulevard (across from the Australian Embassy), +855 23 224 140, [32]. Nice gallery, German pfannkuchen (flat pizzas) and interesting documentaries about Cambodia.


  • Metro Café, cnr of Sisowath Quay and Street 148, (opposite Riverside Bistro). Stylish fusion of Asian and Western culture. A/C. Good selection of small tapas-style dishes from US$1 and a great steak for about US$12. Free wifi.
  • Nature and Sea, Corner of Street 278 and 51, +85512 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. Outdoor restaurant with a good selection of imported wine.
  • Paris Bubble Tea, 285-287 Preah Monivong, (not far from the New York Hotel), ☎ +855 23 990 373. 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). Italian style cafe with A/C and outdoor areas where they take great pride in their coffee and provide free wireless internet.
  • Pop Cafe, No. 371 Sisowath Quay. Small modern Italian restaurant renowned for its fresh pasta.
  • Riverside Bistro, #273a Sisowath Quay [33]. In an old colonial style building withcomfortable outdoor dining and 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 986964, +855 92 955963 (mobile) (), [34]. 7AM-7PM. 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). Food and tasty fruit shakes with free wifi and newspapers to read. US$2-5.
  • Yumi Restaurant, No 29a, Street 288, BKK1, +855 92 163903 (), [35]. noon-2PM, 6PM-10PM. 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. US$5-$15.

Splurge

  • 102, 1A, St. 102 (one block south of Le Royal), ☎ +855 23 990880. Probably Phnom Penh's top French restaurant, set in a modern, European-style surroundings. The food is quite competent and the onion soup is superb. Almost entirely undiscovered by tourists but popular with Phnom Penh's moneyed elite, so reservations are recommended. US$30.
  • FCC Phnom Penh (Foreign Correspondents' Club), 363 Sisowath Quay, +855 23 724014 (), [36]. 7AM-midnight. A favourite expat hang-out, exhibiting modern colonial-style charm with superb views of the river. No air-con and rather spoiled by the unseemly gauntlet of touts one has to battle through to leave. FCC does particularly good desserts. Their signature cocktails are the Tonle Sap Breezer and Burmese Rum Sour are US$4.50 each. Over US$20.
  • La Luna d'Autunno, #4D, Street 29. Italian cuisine in a beautiful old villa with lovely garden setting, air-con inside.
  • Le Bistrot, #4D, Street 29. French and Italian in an old villa.
  • Le Quay, Corner of Sisowath Quay & St.110, +855 23 213582, [37]. 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 821857. 9AM-11PM. 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). Spanish style cuisine, overlooking the riverfront next to the Royal Palace.
  • Xiang Palace, (Hotel Intercontinental). Chinese, expensive fine dining including 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 , [38]. Popular dance orientated hostess bar, bar top and balcony dancing.
  • Barbados, (south of Street 104 near the river), Hostess bar. Buy 5 beers and get 1 free.
  • Blue Cat, Street 110, (just off the riverside). Classy bar, friendly staff, fun popular place with free pool and a night club upstairs. cheap cocktails.
  • Caress Bar, [39]. Where the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Tonle Basac rivers meet each other. Cruise the Mekong with style.
  • DV8 Bar, [40] on Street 148 (near the riverfront). 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, Street 278, (near Street 51)[41]. One of the best live music venues in town with weekly concerts from locals and expat bands. It's also a 2 story 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, Sisowath Quay. Overlooking the river. Excellent place to meet professionals and travelling people. Happy hour 5-7PM.
  • Golden Vine, Street 108, (next to VooDoo Lounge). Hostess bar with 8 ball table.
  • Green Vespa, 95 Sisowath Quay, (near street 102). Open from 6AM-late. Friendly pub and great single malt collection.
  • Heart of Darkness, Long established and infamous nightclub in Phnom Penh. It has a dangerous reputation, particularly after a fatal shooting in August 2005. The pistol-packing gangsters seemed to have moved on to other hangouts in recent years, still, discretion is advised, particularly where your pockets are concerned. Saturday nights are always packed.
  • Liquid, #3B street 278. (next door to Equinox). Polished concrete, gun-metal grey floor, chocolate leather seats and fabulously backlit bar serving some of the best and most inventive cocktails in town. One of the only genuine slate pool tables in town. As much a mid-week bar as a weekend bar. Open 8AM-late, daily.
  • Martini Pub & Disco, Street 95 (one block off Monivong Blvd, across from the Total Gas Station). Infamous girlie bar. 2 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, Street 104, [42]. Popular low-key hostess bar. The bar has a good range of single malt whiskeys.
  • One3Six Bar, Street 136. Popular hostess bar. Great range of drinks plus they keep their 42 Below and Grey Goose Vodka in the freezer, so the shots are really smooth.
  • Pit Stop, Street 51. Popular hostess bar.
  • Rubies, Street 240. 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, (about three 1/2 blocks from the "Psar Thmei" (new market), [43]. Since its opening in 1995, Sharky's has been rocking & rolling. Located upstairs on the first floor above street level. Large space, huge centre bar, outside balcony, and plenty of available seating. Most moto taxis will understand "Shockeee Bah".
  • Sugar Shack, Sothearos St, (the street in front of the National Museum and Palace), [44]. Classy little hostess bar featuring a nice selection of wines, champagnes and single malts.
  • The Terrace pub, (just off the main riverside road, look for the big British flag on the right hand side of the street). Relatively new British-owned pub. US$0.75/beer and friendly staff.
  • UpDownbar, Street 136, (across the famous 136 bar). Relaxed atmosphere, with a bar upstairs and groundfloor.
  • VooDoo Lounge, Street 51, (near street 108). New bar with a great range of drinks, nice decor, air-con, happy hostesses, and a pool table. Two other hostess bars nearby.
  • Walkabout, Street 51. Food and good pool tables. Many freelance girls congregate here. Popular after hours bar, also has rooms available. Open 24 hr.
  • Zanzibar, Street 104. High energy hostess bar with reasonable prices and a pool table upstairs, very popular among expats.
  • Zapata Bar, Street 108, (next to VooDoo Lounge). Stylish A/C 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

A good range of accommodation is available around the city. Unfortunately, the budget traveller area of Lakeside, near Beoung Kak lake, is in the process of being torn down due to development (Jan. 2011). Many iconic guesthouses such at No. 9 and No. 9 Sister have been demolished, and many businesses have either relocated or shut down altogether. As of March 2011, guesthouses 10 and 11 still exist and offer rooms from $4/night and $3/night respectively.

Check out Street 258 (near the Cambodia/Vietnam Friendship Park) as well as Street 51 (near Wat Langka) and Streets 111 and 172 for some good budget options.

  • Basac Guesthouse & Restaurant, #128 F2, 3 Street( Sothearos Blv) (Near Russian Embassy), +855 97 6342156, +855 12 646156 (), [45]. 40 remodelled rooms with A/C and fan, hot water, big screen cableTV, fridge and window with a view. Comfortable rooms. From $5-15.
  • Boddhi Tree Umma Guesthouse, #50, Street 113 (directly opposite to Tuol Sleng), +855 23 211397 (), [46]. 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 US$9-32.
  • Capitol 3 Guesthouse, #207Eo, Street 107, Sangkat Beng Prolit, 7 Makara (next to the Capitol Tours office), +855 23 211027. Warm, friendly staff and quick laundry service. 5 floors of squeaky-clean rooms that are out of the direct sunlight and never seem to get too hot. No elevators. Single fan room with shared bathroom US$3, private bathroom US$4, +cableTV US$5, +hot water and A/C US$8.
  • Chiva's Shack Guesthouse & Bar, #8, St. 130 (40m from riverside), +855 16 406232, [47]. 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 [48] that helps the poor and the homeless meet here. from US$7.
  • Dream colors Guesthouse, 69d, Street 70 near French Embassy, +855 97 8785762, [49]. TV, DVD, wifi, laundry, motorbike rental, bus and flight tickets, and visa extention services. French, English, and Khmer spoken. US$14-20.
  • Europe Guesthouse, No 51 Street 136, +855 23 6918 883 (). 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. US$10-20.
  • The Green House, #48FGH, St. 488, Village III, S/k Phsar Deum Thkov, Chamkamorn District, +855 23 217998, +855 17 200030, [50]. Simple, newly built and elegantly furnished rooms and suites. A/C, insulated window, cableTV, broadband Internet, IDD telephone, newspapers, 24 hr security, laundry and valet service, credit card accepted, mini bar, 24 hr check in, check out and 24 hr housekeeping, ticket reservation, city tour arrangements, pick up service and transfer upon request. Standard single US$13, standard twin US$15, VIP room US$20.
  • King Guesthouse, 141th Street (off Sihanouk Ave), 855 12 220 512. Daily bus service to and from Ho Chi Minh City but if you get their bus from Vietnam they take you directly to the guesthouse and you are not allowed to get off the bus before arriving there. The bus may then park across the entire open front of the place blocking the exit to potential guests that may consider seeking other alternatives.
  • Lazy Gecko Guesthouse & Restaurant (Near the Hotel Cambodiana), #1, Street 259, +855 17 912 935 (). Short stroll to Riverside, Sihanouk Boulevarde, Monivong Boulevarde and the Royal Palace. Good value rooms, most with A/C, many with hot water. Restaurant is downstairs and has daily specials and a Sunday roast. Free wifi. US$5-15.
  • Long Lin Guesthouse, N. 159, Ang Yukanthor (St. 19) 12206 Phnom Penh (Within short walking distance to the riverside), +855 23 992 412 (). Clean, spacious and well-decorated. The owner is very friendly and helpful, as is the service. Tours, buses and boats can also be booked through the guesthouse and may include pick-ups. $12 for a spacious double or twin.
  • Mini Banana, #136, Street 51 (Head south along Street 51 from Sihanouk Blvd., small alley on the left after Street 282), +855 23 726 854 (), [51]. The new sister guesthouse to the famous Top Banana offers a more relaxed atmosphere than it's older brother. From dorms to double rooms, very clean and a friendly atmosphere. Breakfast and lunch served, but you can also order from Top Banana's menu. Easy walk to Street 278, Independence Monument, Sihanouk Boulevarde. Free wifi. US$4 (dorm) - US$17 (A/C).
  • 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. Rather quiet in the evening. From $6-12. (11.5699012,104.9225229)
  • Rory's Guesthouse (Facing the Royal Palace and National Museum and 100 m from the riverfront), #33 Street 178, Riverside, +855 12 425702, [52]. Free wifi. US$10-30.
  • Simon II Guesthouse, (Next to Simon'). Comfortable rooms with A/C and proper bathrooms. But here you pay more, including extra fees for wifi password and toilet paper. A few sightings of rats and cockroaches and the ooms may have mosquitoes. From US$12.
  • Simon's Guesthouse, #11 Street 93, Boeung Kak Lake, +855 12 884650. Tricky to find but the layout of the rooms allows for a nice, cool breeze. Both common access and private bathrooms available Rooms US$2-3.
  • SuperStar Hotel, #26 Street 172, +855 11 399 123 (). Family run hotel and restaurant. $15 a double room with A/C and wifi. Street 172 is relatively quiet with few western bars, restaurants, groceries and a bookstore.
  • Top Banana Guesthouse, #2 Street 278 (tell the moto to take you to Wat Lanka), [53]. 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. US$7-15.

Mid-range

  • Boutique Hotel The 252, #19 Street 252, +855 23 998 252 (), [54]. Boutique hotel with 19 spacious and stylish rooms decorated by Tendance Khmère. Overflow 13x5 m swimming pool surrounded by a leafy tropical garden, garden restaurant and bar. All rooms are equipped with AC/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 wifi and includes taxes.
  • The Billabong Hotel, 5 Street 158, Sangkat Boeung Raing, +855 23 223703, [55]. 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, ehind the National Museum of Cambodia and the Royal Palace), +855 23 222260, +855 12 447057 (mobile) (), [56]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 12 noon. 14 rooms with a lush exotic garden and a salt-water swimming pool. The rooms, garden and pool are modern minimalist, with concrete furniture. Free 1 Mb/s wifi. Its sister property is The Pavilion (see below). US$40-50, including continental breakfast.
  • Bougainvillier Boutique Hotel, 227 Sisowath Quay, +855 23 220528, [57]. In Quay Sisowath. All rooms have a view of the Mekong River and suites are all equipped with air-con, cableTV, private safes, minibars, IDD telephones, and free access to internet. US$60-120.
  • California 2 Guesthouse, 79 Sisowath (North of the night market on the riverfront, 3 doors north of the Mekong Express Bus), +855 77 503144, [58]. The original hotel at 317 Sisowath Quay closed as of May 2008. After a year and a half closure it re-opened further north on the riverfront. 24 hr bar and restaurant with wifi and pool table. Rooms have wifi, a safe, air-con, ceiling fan, hot water, fridge, and a 26" flat screen TV. Breakfast is included. US$25-35.
  • Cambodia Uncovered, 11B Boeng Keng Kong (Street 370), +855 12 507097 (), [59]. Self-contained apartment for up to 4 people, along with satellite TV, DVD player, and a small veranda. Advance booking required. Off-the-beaten-track boat trips, up-country travel, and cooking classes can also be arranged. singles US$50, doubles US$60, including breakfast.
  • Hotel Cara, 18 Street 47 & 84, Sangkat Srass Chork, +855 23 430066, [60]. Hotel near the river and port. Good rooms with hot showers, TVs and a quiet ambience. Some rooms have balconies. Very helpful staff. Free internet access in the office area near the lobby. Some rooms are completely renovated, sound-proofed, upgraded and have added amenities. US$28-50.
  • Changi Ville Guest House and Cafe, 137B Street 330 (in Chamkarmorn District, about 15 mins' walk from the Independence Monument). In a residential neighborhood. 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 687717, +855 23 212100, [61]. 1960s building with small garden and granite bathroom. Clean and environmentally-friendly. Free high-speed internet 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 427618, [62]. US$15-40.
  • The Lone Star Saloon Bar and Guest House, #30,st. 23 (In between St.172 & St. 154 near Cyclo Bar), +855 12 577860, [63]. Texas themed restaurant with 3 apt. sized rooms upstairs available as guest house rooms. Located on a quiet street near the riverside. air-con, hot water, free fast wifi, mini fridge stocked with drinks at bar prices. Caters to local expats and provides travel info for those new to Cambodia. US$25.
  • Hotel Luxury World, 35 Street 200, Sangkat Boeung Rang, Khan Daun Penh (along Monivong Boulevard), (), [64]. 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 wifi is available. US$27-47.
  • Okay Guesthouse, #5 Street 258 (Royal Palace area, near Hotel Cambodiana). US$2-12.
  • Paragon Hotel, 219B Sisowath Quay. On riverfront, near lots of good cafés. Rooms have bathrooms, air-con, TVs, fridges. No breakfast. Friendly service and clean. US$15-30.
  • Villa Srey, #16, St. 306, BKK 1, (), [65]. A new boutique hotel in an old colonial house. 6 spacious and stylish rooms, wifi, air-con and a small pool. Breakfast is included. US$50-70.
  • The Pavilion, 227 Street 19 (near the Royal Palace), [66]. Colonial building from 1920, with lush garden, swimming pool, jacuzzi, free wifi. Some rooms have private swimming pools. Its sister property is Blue Lime. US$50-80.
  • PKD1 Guesthouse, 40 Street 136 (just off the riverfront), +855 12 769920, [67]. Clean and secure accommodation with fan or air-con, en suite bathrooms, cable TV and refrigerators. US$10-15.
  • Rory's Guesthouse (Facing the Royal Palace and National Museum and 100 m from the riverfront), #33 Street 178, Riverside, +855 12 425702, [68]. Rooms US$10-30.
  • Velkommen Inn, 23 St 104 (50 m from the bus stations and ferry dock), [69]. Nice guesthouse with a friendly and helpful owner. Spotless air-con rooms with cable TVs, minibars, safety boxes, en suite bathrooms with hot water. Free wifi. US$20-40.

Splurge

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

  • Intercontinental Hotel [70], 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 998610 (), [71].
  • 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), ☎ +855 23 981888, (Fax:+855 23 981168), [72]. Phnom Penh's grand old hotel, originally built in 1929 by the French, used as a dry fish store by the Khmer Rouge but given a thorough redecoration by the Raffles group in 1999. Walking distance to Wat Phnom and the river, excellent service, wonderful attention to detail and the "Landmark" rooms in the old wing still use bathtubs and even light switches from 1929 (plus broadband Internet and walk-in showers). 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 US$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 SMSs and calls as they only have about a 50% success rate of being recieved.

Internet

Wifi is available in most of the hotels that welcome western tourists and backpackers. Speed and reliability is on par with neighboring 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)

  • Cybercity8, #17 & 19, St.271 (in front of Sovanna Shopping Centre and just beside KFC Sovanna), +855 17 307 066 (). A modern internet cafe with 3Mb fiber optic cables. Opened 24 hours with promotional rates at night. US$0.50/hr.
  • Sunny Internet, 178 St, (opp 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.
  • 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 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).

Post

The main, impressive French colonial style post office is located at the intersection of Street 13 and 102, roughly between Wat Phnum and the Riverside, also selling postcards.

Another branch is more downtown, at the intersection of Sihanouk and Monivong Boulevard.

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 (as of January 2011) - 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.

Relax

  • Amara Spa, Corner of Sisowath Quay & St. 110, +855 23 998730 (), [73]. Traditional Khmer and Asian therapies including a wide selection of facial and body treatments.
  • The Dollhouse Cambodia, #46AEo, Street 322, Boeng Keng Kang 1 (next to Hamptons Apartments), +855 16 620907 (), [74]. Western style hair salon.

Stay safe

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.

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 Center, (#313 Sisowath, in the Hotel Cambodiana), +855 23 991863, out of office hours +855 12 891613. Provides health care of international standard including plastic surgery.
  • Dr Marissa Regino-Manampan, (Filipino MD @ 262B, Street 63), +855 23 217349.
  • International SOS medical and dental clinic, #161, St. 51 (Pasteur), +855 23 216911. Has local and foreign doctors providing the whole range of standard health care as well as a 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, N° 11, Senei Vinna Vaut Oum (St. 254), +855 23 211300, Mobile: +855 11 811175. US$30 for foreigners, US$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, St 592, Boeung Kak 2, Toul Kok, +855 23 365 555. The second hospital of BDMS (Bangkok Dusit Medical Services PCL) in Cambodia. Private hospital opened in March 2008,. Provides full secondary health care services including : emergency medicine, general surgery, plastic surgery, orthopedic surgery, anesthesiology, pediatrics, OBGYN, general internal medicine, intensive care and rehabilitation services. Good service and some 'real' doctors, but insanely expensive.

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

Crime

Bag snatching

There is an epidemic of bag-snatching in Phnom Penh. Western women are the main targets. 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.

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.

NGOs have got the HIV rate down from around 2% to around 1% over the past decade. But it's possible that newly 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. Older or disabled beggars in the market or other places will be happy to accept half or a quarter dollar (1,000-2,000 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 US$5.

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.


Bricks

In 2010 there was a rash of brick attacks on foreigners along the Riverside, some of which caused serious injuries. Police declined to investigate.

Cope

Embassies and consulates

  • As-flag.png Australia, 16B National Assembly Rd, Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Kahn Chamkamon, +855 23 213 470 (fax: +855 23 213 413), [75]. M-Th 8AM-noon, 1:30PM-5PM, F 8AM-noon, 1:30PM-4:15PM.
  • Sn-flag.png Singapore, 129 Norodom Blvd, Sangkat Chaktomuk, Khan Daun Penh, +855 23 221875 (, fax: +855 23 214578 (administration and consular matters)), [78]. M-F 8AM-12:30PM, 2PM-5PM. Singapore nationals may register online with the Embassy at [79].
  • Uk-flag.png United Kingdom, 27-29 St 75, Sangkat Srah Chak Khan Daun, +855 23 427124, [80].
  • Us-flag.png United States, [81].

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. Watch out for your guesthouse profiteering on the bus tickets - many will quote US$6-8 to Siem Reap or any other destination, whereas this traveller found tickets to Kep and Kampot for US$4.50 and to Siem Reap for just US$3.50 (March 2011). If it seems too good to be true, the above 4-hour bus to Kep, while old (like most in Asia), was air-conditioned and friendly (this traveller was the only Westerner on the bus).

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.

For Vietnam, typical prices are US$ 9-10 to Chau Doc (minibus + slow boat, ~1h stop at vietnamese border office and switch boat, leaves at 7h30 for about 8h trip), US$Ç-10 direct or US$40-60 with stops to Ho Chi Minh City (direct ~6h, 3 to 7 times a day depending on companies between 6h30 and 14h30; with stops through Chau Doc and eventually Can Tho in 2 or 3d leaving 7h30)

For Laos, typical prices are US$19 to Don Det (leaving 6h45, 12h), US$46 to Vientiane (leaving 6h45, 23h)

For Thailand, US$15-26 to Bangkok (12h, departure time depending on company 6h30/5h/20h)







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