Phnom Penh: Wikis


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Phnom Penh
Clockwise from top left: Aerial view of downtown Phnom Penh, Wat Phnom, Independence Monument, Silver Pagoda, Royal Palace complex,Chan Chhaya Pavilion,OCIC tower,Sorya Shopping Center and the boulevard straight Phsar Thom Thmei known as Central Market.

Nickname(s): Pearl of Asia (pre-1960s)
Phnom Penh is located in Cambodia
Phnom Penh
Location of Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Coordinates: 11°33′N 104°55′E / 11.55°N 104.917°E / 11.55; 104.917
Country Cambodia
Province Phnom Penh
Subdivisions 8 districts (khans)
Settled 1372
Became Capital 1865
 - Type Municipality
 - Mayor & Governor H.E. Keb Chutema
(Khmer: កែប ជុគិមា)
 - Vice Governors H.E. Than Sina, H.E. Map Sarin, H.E. Seng Tong
Area [1]
 - City 290 km2 (112 sq mi)
Elevation 11.89 m (39 ft)
Population (May 2009)[1]
 - City 2,000,064
 Density 4,571.3/km2 (11,839.6/sq mi)
 Urban 1,242,241
 - Demonym Phnom Penher
 - Dialect Phnom Penh Khmer
Time zone UTC/GMT +7 hours
Area code(s) 855 (023)
Phnom Penh from east drawn in 1887 (Courtesy of Phnom Pen Then & Now).

Phnom Penh (Khmer: ភ្នំពេញ, another Romanization: Phnum Pénh. literally: "Hill of Penh" or more loosely "Pehn's Hill") is the capital and largest city of Cambodia. Phnom Penh has been the main capital since the French colonized Cambodia, it has become the center for the country's economic system and has grown to be the source of renowned industrial, commercial, cultural, tourist and historical centers, after 1979.

Once known as the "Pearl of Asia" it is considered one of the loveliest of French-built cities in Indochina[2] in the 1920s, Phnom Penh, along with Siem Reap and Sihanoukville is a significant global and domestic tourist destination for Cambodia. Founded in 1434, the city noted for its historical attractions. There are a number of examples of surviving French colonial architecture, such as the The Royal palace.

Situated on the Tonlé Sap, Mekong and Bassac River, Phnom Penh is home to more than 2 million of Cambodia's population of over 14 million. Phnom Penh is the wealthiest and most populous city in Cambodia. It is also the country's commercial, political and cultural hub.[3]



Stupas in front of Wat Phnom

Phnom Penh City takes its name from the present Wat Phnom or Hill Temple. Legend has it that in 1372, an old nun named Penh went to fetch the water in the Mekong river and found a dead Koki tree floating down the stream. Inside the hole of that dead Koki tree contained four bronze and one stone Buddha statues in it.

Daun (Grandma) Penh brought the statues ashore and ordered people to pile up earth at northeast of her house and used those Koki trunks to build a temple on that hill to house the five Buddha statues, then named the temple after her as Wat Phnom Daun Penh, which presently known as Wat Phnom, a small hill of 27 metres (89 ft) in height.

Phnom Penh was also previously known as Krong Chaktomuk (Khmer: ក្រុងចតុម្មុខ) meaning "City of Four Faces". This name refers to the junction where the Mekong, Bassac, and Tonle Sap rivers cross to form an "X" where the capital is situated. Krong Chaktomuk is an abbreviation of its ceremonial name given by King Ponhea Yat which full named Known as "Krong Chaktomuk Mongkol Sakal Kampuchea Thipadei Sereythor Inthabot Borei Roth Reach Seima Maha Nokor".

This ceremonial name is composed into Pali, translates clearly but not official right as " The Place of Four river that give a happiness and success of Kampuja Kingdom, the highest leader as well as impregnable city of God Indra of the enormous Kingdom".[4])


Phnom Penh first became the capital of Cambodia after Ponhea Yat, king of the Khmer Empire, moved the capital from Angkor Thom after it was captured by Siam a few years earlier. There are stupa behind Wat Phnom that house the remains of Ponhea Yat and the royal family as well as the remaining Buddhist statues from the Angkorean era. There is a legend that tells how Phnom Penh was created. In the 1600s, Japanese immigrants settled on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.[5]

Phnom Penh remained the royal capital for 73 years from 1432 to 1505, when it was abandoned for 360 years from 1505 to 1865 by subsequent kings due to internal fighting between the royal pretenders. Later kings moved the capital several times and established their royal capitals at various locations in Tuol Basan (Srey Santhor), Pursat, Longvek, Lavear Em and Oudong.

It was not until 1866, under the reign of King Norodom I, that Phnom Penh became the permanent seat of government, and the current Royal Palace was built. Beginning in 1870, the French Colonialists had turned a riverside village into a city when it started to build hotels, schools, prisons, barracks, bank, public works offices, telegraph offices, law courts, and health services buildings. In 1872, the first glimpse of a modern city took shape when the colonial administration contracted a French contractor, Le Faucheur, to construct the first 300 concrete houses for sales and rentals to the Chinese traders.

By the 1920s, Phnom Penh was known as the Pearl of Asia, and over the next four decades continued to experience growth with the building of a railway to Sihanoukville and the Pochentong International Airport (now Phnom Penh International Airport). Phnom Penh under the period of Sihanouk’s rule had seen the expansion and the constructions of many modern infrastructures. The city had been expanded and many infrastructures had been built.[6]

The exterior of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Phnom Penh

During the Vietnam War, Cambodia was used as a base by the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong, and thousands of refugees from across the country flooded the city to escape the fighting between their own government troops, the NVA/NLF, the South Vietnamese and its allies, and the Khmer Rouge. By 1975, the population was 2 million, the bulk of whom were refugees from the fighting. The city fell to the Khmer Rouge on April 17. Many of its residents, including those who were wealthy and educated, were forced to do labor on rural farms as "new people". Tuol Svay Prey High School was taken over by Pol Pot's forces and was turned into the S-21 prison camp, where Cambodians were detained and tortured. Pol Pot sought a return to an agrarian economy and therefore killed many people perceived as educated, "lazy", or political enemies. Many others starved to death as a result of failure of the agrarian society and the sale of Cambodia's rice to China in exchange for bullets and weaponry. The former high school is now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, where Khmer Rouge torture devices and photos of their victims are displayed. Choeung Ek (The Killing Fields), 15 kilometres (9 mi) away, where the Khmer Rouge marched prisoners from Tuol Sleng to be murdered and buried in shallow pits, is also now a memorial to those who were killed by the regime.

The Khmer Rouge were driven out of Phnom Penh by the Vietnamese in 1979,[7] and people began to return to the city. Vietnam is historically a state with which Cambodia has had many conflicts, therefore this liberation was and is viewed with mixed emotions by the Cambodians. A period of reconstruction began, spurred by continuing stability of government, attracting new foreign investment and aid by countries including France, Australia, and Japan. Loans were made from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank to reinstate a clean water supply, roads and other infrastructure. The 1998 Census put Phnom Penh's population at 862,000;[8] by the next census in 2008, it was 1.3 million.[1]


Satellite view of Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is located in the south-central region of Cambodia, at the confluence of the Tonlé Sap, Mekong, and Bassac rivers. These rivers provide potential freshwater and other resources. The city, located at 11°33′00″N 104°55′00″E / 11.55°N 104.91667°E / 11.55; 104.91667 (11°33' North, 104°55' East, [3]), covers an area of 375 square kilometres (145 sq mi), with some 11,401 hectares (28,172 acres) in the municipality and 26,106 hectares (64,509 acres) of roads. The agricultural land in the municipality amounts to 34.685 square kilometres (13 sq mi) with some 1.476 square kilometres (365 acres) under irrigation.


The climate is hot year-round with only minor variations. City temperatures range from 18° to 38 °C (64° to 100 °F) and experiences tropical monsoons. Southwest monsoons blow inland bringing moisture-laden winds from the Gulf of Thailand and Indian Ocean from May to October. The northeast monsoon ushers in the dry season, which lasts from November to March. The city experiences the heaviest precipitation from September to October with the driest period occurring from January to February.

It has two distinct seasons. The rainy season, which runs from May to October, can see temperatures rise up to 40 °C (104 °F) around April and is generally accompanied with high humidity. The dry season lasts from November to April when temperatures can drop to 22 °C (72 °F). The best months to visit the city are November to January when temperatures and humidity are lower.

Phnom Penh
Climate chart (explanation)
average max. and min. temperatures in °F
precipitation totals in inches
Climate data for Phnom Penh
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 31.1
Average low °C (°F) 21.7
Precipitation mm (inches) 7.6
Source: [9] 2008-01-04


Administratively, Phnom Penh is a municipality standing at 375 square kilometres (145 sq mi) and is governed with a status that is equal to provinces of Cambodia. As such, it has a similar political structure to its provinces. The municipality is subdivided into 7 administrative divisions called Khan (district) and of the 7 Khans, Dangkor, Meanchey and Russei Kaev are considered the outskirts of the city. All Khans are under the governance of the Phnom Penh Municipality. The Khans are further subdivided into 76 Sangkats (communes), and 637 Kroms.

The municipality is governed by the Governor who acts as the top executive of the city and manages the general affairs as well as overlooking the Municipal Military Police, Municipal Police and Bureau of Urban Affairs. Below the Governor is the First Vice Governor and 5 Vice Governors. The Chief of Cabinet who holds the same status as the Vice Governors, heads the Cabinet that consists of 8 Deputy Chiefs of Cabinet which in turn are in charge of the 27 Administrative Departments. Every khan (district) also has a head Chief. [4]

List of Phnom Penh Administrative Units
Name of district khan (since January 2003) Number of communes sangkat (since September 2006) Number of villages phum (since December 2006)
Chamkarmon 12 sangkats 95 kroms
Daun Penh 11 sangkats 134 kroms
Prampir Makara 8 sangkats 33 kroms
Tuol Kork 10 sangkats 143 kroms
Dangkor 15 sangkats 143 kroms
Meanchey 8 sangkats 30 kroms
Russei Kaew 12 sangkats 59 kroms


As of 2008, according to preliminary census results, Phnom Penh had a population of 1,325,681 people, with a total population density of 4,571 inhabitants per square kilometre (11,839/sq mi) in a 290 km2 (112 sq mi) city area. The entire population in Phnom Penh has divides into two communities; Suburban community consist the number of 510,908 people from 93,682 families whoes living in 3 Khan such Khan Doug Kor, Khan Mean Chey and Khan Resey Koe, covering on 347.24 km2 (134 sq mi). Another community know as Urban communtiy left 500,356 people in 87,581 families resident in Khan Chamkor Mon, Khan Doun Penh, Khan Prampir Makara and Khan Toulkouk, dominate on only 28.28 km2 (11 sq mi). Annual population growth in the city over the period 2001-2010 is 3.92%[1] since in 1998,the population of Phnom Penh City were 862,000 people, including 149,000 families. Phnom Penh is mostly inhabited by Cambodians (or Khmers) - they represent 90% of the population of the city. Other ethnic groups are Thais , Budong, Mnong Preh, Kuy, and Chuoy. Chams people also speard around thousand people living in downtown , nearby their clerkly.[citation needed]. There is also a local community of ethnic Nigerians living in Phnom Penh.[10] The Nigerians living in the capital city make up the largest African nationality in Cambodia. The state religion is Theravada Buddhism, hence more than 90% of the people in Phnom Penh are Buddhists with the Chams practicing Islam and over the years since 1993, there has been an increase in the practice of Christianity which was practically wiped out after 1975 when the Khmer Rouge took over. English and French are widely used in the city, but the official language is Khmer.


Completed in 2009, OCIC Tower is the tallest building in Cambodia and will be the headquarters for Canadia Bank.

Double-digit economic growth rates in recent years have triggered an economic boom, with new hotels, restaurants, bars, and residential highrise buildings springing up around the city. Phnom Penh's wealth of historical and cultural sites makes it a very popular tourist destination.

The US$2.6 billion new urban development, Camko City, is meant to bolster the city landscape. The Bureau of Urban Affairs of Phnom Penh Municipality has plans to expand and construct new infrastructure to accommodate the growing population and economy. High rise buildings will be constructed at the entrance of the city and near the lakes and riverbanks. Furthermore, new roads, canals, and a railway system will be used to connect Camko City and Phnom Penh.[11]

Opponents have accused that the construction of Camko City would cause more flooding, traffic problems and environmental hazards.[12] Such modernization could lead to higher deforestation rates due to construction. Cambodia already has one of the worst deforestation rates.[13] Other projects include:

Phsar Thom Thmei currently under a massive restoration project

With the economic growth seen since the 1990s, new shops have opened as well as western-style malls such as Sorya Shopping Center and the new Sovanna Shopping Center. Two international franchises have also opened up in Phnom Penh. Dairy Queen has already opened up inside Phnom Penh International Airport and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has opened up a restaurant on Monivong Boulevard and plans to open more soon.[16]The same company that opened up KFC in Cambodia has now obtained franchise rights to open Pizza Hut in the country.[17]

Nowadays, the Central market is a tourist hot spot. The four wings of the yellow coloured Phsar Thom Thmei are teeming with numerous stalls selling gold and silver jewellery, antique coins, clothing, clocks, flowers, food, fabrics and shoes.

Cambodia Angkor Air has its head office in Phnom Penh.[18]


Phnom Penh is notable for "Kuy Tiev Phnom Penh" (Khmer: គុយ​ទាវ) , its variation on rice-noodle soup. Phnom Penh also has its own dialect of Khmer. Speakers of the Phnom Penh dialect often elide syllables, which has earned it the reputation for being lazy speech. Phnom Penh is also known for its influence onNew Khmer Architecture. The city is the most modern of Cambodian cities. It is both the economic and cultural center of Cambodia.

Cityscape and architecture

Preah Thineang Dheva Vinnichay Palace, also known as Throne Hall

The oldest structure is the Wat Phnom from the founding days of the city, constructed in 1373. The main tourist attractions are the Royal Palace with the Silver Pagoda, which dates to the mid 1800s; the National Museum, constructed during the French colonial era in the late 1800s in the classical Khmer style hosts a vast collection of Khmer antiquities; the Independence Monument (Khmer: Vimean Akareach), although modern from the 1950s, is also constructed in the ancient Khmer style.

The French, who were the colonial masters from the 1800s to the 1940s, also left their mark, with various colonial villas, French churches, boulevards, and the Art deco market Phsar Thom Thmei. A notable landmark of the colonial era is the Hotel Le Royal.

Example of French colonial architecture in Phnom Penh

Starting with independence from the French in the 1950s and lasting until the era of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, Phnom Penh underwent tremendous growth as the capital city of a newly independent country. King Sihanouk was eager to present a new style of architecture and thus invigorate the process of nation building. A new golden era of architecture took off, with various projects and young Khmer architects, often educated in France, given opportunities to design and construct. This new movement was called "New Khmer Architecture" and was often characterised by a fusion of Bauhaus, European post-modern architecture, and traditional elements from Angkor. The most prominent architect was Vann Molyvann, who was nominated chief national architect by the king himself in 1956. Molyvann created landmark buildings such as the Preah Suramarit National Theatre and the Council of Ministers building, other architects helped construct the newly founded Royal Khmer University, the Institute of Foreign Languages and the National Sports Centre. With the growth of the upper and entrepreneurial middle class, new suburbs were built in the 1950s and 60's.

Although these buildings survived the Khmer Rouge era and the civil war, today they are under threat due to economic development and financial speculation. Villas and gardens from that era are being destroyed and redeveloped to make place for bigger structures. The landmark National Theatre by Molyvann was ripped down in 2008[19]. A movement is rising in Cambodia to preserve this modernist heritage. Old villas are sometimes being converted into boutique hotels, such as the Knai Bang Chatt.

Monuments and memorials to the genocide during the Khmer Rouge era in the 1970s are the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (a former high school used as a concentration camp) and on the outskirt of the city the Choeung Ek Genocide Center. The Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Monument was commissioned by the Vietnamese communists as symbol of Khmer-Vietnamese "friendship" during the late 1970s following the liberation of Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge.

Newspapers and magazines






  • AsiaLIFE Guide Phnom Penh, a monthly English-language lifestyle magazine published in Phnom Penh.
  • Pocket Guide Cambodia publishes four separate guides aimed at English-speaking residents and visitors. Titles include Drinking & Dining, Out & About, After Dark, Door 2 Door as well as one Khmer-language guide called Sabay Sabay targeting the emerging young professional marketplace

French newspapers


Phnom Penh International Airport is the second-largest and second-busiest airport in Cambodia after Angkor International Airport in Siem Reap. It is located 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) west of central Phnom Penh. Taxis, pick-ups, and minibuses leave the city for destinations all over the country, but are fast losing ground to cheaper and more comfortable buses. Phnom Penh also has a rail service.

Cambodia's national flag carrier, Cambodia Angkor Air, launched in 2009, is headquartered in Phnom Penh and has its main hub there, with an additional hub at the Angkor International Airport.[18] Budget flights from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Phnom Penh is operated by AirAsia, the region's leading low-cost carrier. [5]

Common traffic jams in Phnom Penh

There are two bus companies, Phnom Penh Public Transport and GST Express, running services to Sihanoukville, Kampong Chhnang, Udong and Takéo.

Phnom Penh Sorya Transport Co. offers bus travel to several provincial destinations along the National Routes and to Ho Chi Minh City. Motorcycles are a popular form of quick travel in the city streets.

Although the city is 290 kilometres (180 mi) from the sea, it is a major port on the Mekong River valley, and it is linked to the South China Sea via a channel of the Mekong delta in Vietnam.

Local means of public transportation within the city most often include the cycle rickshaw, known in Khmer as "cyclo", and motorcycle taxis. Private forms of transportation include bicycles and automobiles.


As the capital of Cambodia, a number of National Highways connect the city with various parts of the country:

National Highway Code Length Origin Terminal
National Highway 1 10001 167.10 km 103.83 mi Phnom Penh Vietnamese Border
National Highway 2 10002 120.60 km 74.94 mi Phnom Penh Vietnamese Border
National Highway 3 10003 202.00 km 125.52 mi Phnom Penh Sihanoukville
National Highway 4 10004 226.00 km 140.43 mi Phnom Penh Sihanoukville
National Highway 5 10005 407.45 km 253.18 mi Phnom Penh Thai Border
National Highway 6 10006 416.00 km 258.49 mi Phnom Penh Banteay Meanchey


The Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) is the oldest and largest institution of higher education in Cambodia. As of 2008, the university has over 10,000 students across three campuses, and offers a wide range of high-quality courses within the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, and the Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL). There are about fifty higher institutions in Cambodia, most of which have no small campuses. Several international charities, like A New Day Cambodia, operate independent educational facilities in addition to public schools for students.


The martial arts of Bokator, Pradal Serey (Khmer kick boxing) and Khmer traditional wrestling have venues in Phnom Penh watched by dedicated spectators. Cambodia has increasingly become involved in modern sports over the last 30 years. As with the rest of the country, football and the martial arts are particularly popular.

The most prominent of venues in the city is the Phnom Penh National Olympic Stadium with a capacity of 50,000. Built in 1964, it is home to the Cambodian national football team, although the country never hosted the Olympic Games. Noted clubs include Phnom Penh Empire, Khemara and Military Police.

Notable people

Sister cities


  1. ^ a b c d Cambodian 2008 census preliminary results, Statistics Japan 2-6, Tables 2.2-2.6
  2. ^ Peace of Angkor Phnom Penh Accessed 2007-07-27
  3. ^ ref name="NIS2008"/
  4. ^ Sopheak wordpress, [1]. Accessed 2009-08-23.
  5. ^ Japan Times Online [ Researcher locates 17th-century Japanese village in Cambodia] Accessed January 20, 2009
  6. ^ K-media, [2]. Accessed 2009-08-23.
  7. ^ Vietnamese take Phnom Penh, History Today
  8. ^ General Population Census of Cambodia 1998, National Institute of Statistics, Ministry of Planning, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  9. ^ link "Weather for Phnom Penh". link. Retrieved January 4, 2008. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ People's Daily Online Cambodia unveils Phnom Penh development plan Accessed June 14, 2008
  12. ^ People's Daily Online Camko city in First Phase Accessed January 23, 2009
  13. ^ Cambodia: Environmental Profile Accessed February 8, 2009
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Qsr Brands On Kfc Expansion Plans In Cambodia | My Sinchew
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b "Welcome". Cambodia Angkor Air. 2009. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  19. ^ Khmer Architecture Tours


  • Igout, Michel; Dubuisson, Serge (1993). Phnom Penh Then and Now. Bangkok: White Lotus. ISBN 9789748495842. OCLC 29795478. 
  • LeBoutillier, Kris; Ariff, Shahida (2004). Journey Through Phnom Penh: A Pictorial Guide to the Jewel of Cambodia. Singapore: Times Editions. ISBN 9789812325969. OCLC 55501046. 
  • Leroy, Joakim; Hoskin, John (2005). AZU's Dreams of Cambodia. Phnom Penh. Hong Kong: AZU Editions Ltd. ISBN 9789889814021. OCLC 62328690. 

External links

Films and Videos

Coordinates: 11°33′00″N 104°55′00″E / 11.55°N 104.9167°E / 11.55; 104.9167

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

The Royal Palace
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.


For western visitors, Phnom Penh can be a rough change. The city is characterised by very warm and humid temperatures, infrastructure is largely lacking, rubbish and dust in the streets, risky traffic, blocked sidewalks, prowling tuk tuks and moto-drivers, and touts and beggars. 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 as yet.

All that said, the city is improving. It is striving to become more architecturally-developed, with high rise buildings, while still retaining much of the beauty that made it a Paris of the East before 1970. The city's French colonial buildings are beautiful, so its streetscapes make for a pleasant walk. Beautiful wide boulevards, fine colonial architecture and a parklike riverfront with cafés and restaurants aplenty help make Phnom Penh a worthwhile destination for some. The standard tourist sights are few. But as a place to relax, watch the streetlife and absorb local color, Phnom Penh rates very high among Asian cities.


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, it was completely emptied of civilians and allowed to crumble for the next four years. Most of the small class of skilled professionals were murdered or driven into exile. The city fell to the Vietnamese Army in 1979. The new Cambodian government had no money to spend on urban improvement until the peace settlement of 1992.

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 the level of the nation's 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.


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.

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 (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. Pay the fare at the taxi desk inside the door exiting the terminal, at which point you will be allocated a driver. For visitors on a budget without a lot of luggage, it's worth catching an official motocycle taxi for US$2.

By bus

Phnom Penh Sorya Transport [3] 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, Kor Kong, Battambang, Kampot, Ratanak Kiri, 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.

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

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 8:00AM 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 1:00PM arriving in Chau Doc in the early evening.

By train

Train service used to run to/from Battambang; however, service has been cancelled indefinitely.

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. 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).
  • 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.


1. As a huge number of scarred or maimed locals can attest, motorbikes - either as rider or passenger - 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 get a fair fare; they will often call you back and agree to your price.

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. Notwithstanding, drivers are not above some bluffing to get you onboard. Make sure the driver knows where he is going before getting in/on.

4. Don't leave bags or other goods exposed to snatchers on motorbikes: such thefts from tuk tuks and motorbikes have been epidemic in Phnom Penh.

5. The tuk tuk drivers outside the Foreign Correspondent's Club are notoriously pushy and aggressive, especially to patrons exitting the FCC. You need to be very firm and assertive if you do decide to hire them, and if you don't feel up to that, its probably better to walk half a block and hire someone else.

Sisowath Quay as seen from FCC
Sisowath Quay as seen from FCC
  • Sisowath Quay aka Riverside. an attractive boulevard running along the banks of the Mekong and Tonle Sap. Until recently it was fronted by a pleasant park, but authorities have now cut down all the trees and it is now hot and unattractive. 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. The riverfront is generally safe for tourists - tourist police are present, but in plainclothes. The esplanade along the river is equally popular with Cambodians, who come here in the cool of the evening to enjoy the quasi-carnival atmosphere. It begins at the Royal Palace (or rather, at the river-front park opposite the Palace), and is perhaps best experienced in the early evening. See A Stroll on Sisowath Quay for a self-guided tour.  edit
Tuol Sleng Prison
Tuol Sleng Prison
  • Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21 Prison), Street 113, Boeng Keng Kang 3, Chamkar Morn, 855-23-300-698, [4]. 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 a 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.  edit
The Killing Fields
The Killing Fields
  • The Killing Fields of Cheoung 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. A tuk tuk to the site should cost US$8-12 return, including waiting for you. US$3.  edit
  • The Royal Palace. 7:30am-11:00 & 2:30pm-5:00pm. 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$6.25 (25,000 Riel).  edit
  • 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), [5]. 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.  edit
  • 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: $1; Elephant ride: $15.  edit
  • 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.  edit
  • 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 very ugly 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. .  edit
  • 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.  edit
  • 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 sourire un 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 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.  edit
  • Hash House Harriers. A running club that meets every Sunday at 14.15 at the railway station.  edit
  • Massage. 1 hour: $6.  edit
  • 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. 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</see> * 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.  edit $8.  edit
  • 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 Tuesday to Sunday nights at 7PM, in the bar-lounge on the roof.  edit
  • French Cultural Centre movies, [7]. 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.  edit
  • 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. Rumors abound that cows and other farm animals used to serve as targets, but this is probably no longer the case. AK-47: $40; Rocket launcher: $200.  edit


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 USD into smaller denominations at the currency booths along the footpath on Sisowath.

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 a minimum 33% failure rate; with sunglasses bought from roaming street vendors it is 100%. Watches also approach 100%, including those bought in the Central Market.

The Art Deco dome of 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.
  • Monument Books, 111 Norodom Boulevard (near the corner with Street 240), +855.23.217.617 (, fax: +855.23.217.618), [8]. 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. 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.  edit
  • Bohr's Books, 5 Sothearos Boulevard (Street 3), +855.12.929.148 (). A small store offering a diverse collection of books.  edit
  • 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.  edit
  • 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.  edit
  • 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), [9]. 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.  edit
  • 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), [10]. 08:00-17:00 daily, last admission 16.30. Has a small selection of books on Cambodian archaeology, art, culture and history.  edit

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.

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


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, 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.


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

  • Camory Cookie Boutique, 167 Sisowath Quay (between St. 110 and 118), (), [12]. 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.  edit
  • 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.
  • La Croisette, corner of Sisowath Quay and Street 144, is a French sidewalk café that's open all day.
  • La Lotus Blanc Stung Mean Chey. 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.
  • 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.  edit
  • 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 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)
  • Equinox [13] 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) is run by and for a non-profit that rehabilitates Cambodia's street children, and does delicious international tapas and main dishes.
  • Frizz Restaurant, 67 Street 240, +855.23.220.953, +855.12.524.801 (mobile) (), [14]. 10:00-23:00. Traditional Cambodian cuisine. The restaurant also operates the Cambodia Cooking Class [15]. US$5-10.  edit
  • Garden Center Café, #23 Street 57 [16] 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
  • 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.
  • 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 [17], #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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Riverside Bistro, #273a Sisowath Quay [18] 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) (), [19]. 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. Less than US$5.  edit
  • 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 (, fax: +855.23.427.758), [20]. 07:00-00:00. A favourite expat hang-out, exhibiting modern colonial-style charm with superb views of the river. No air-conditioning, though. They do 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.  edit
  • 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 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.  edit
  • 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.

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 , [21] 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.
  • DV8 Bar [22] 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 [23] on Street 278 (near Street 51) is a cocktail bar featuring paintings by local artist Soumey and photo exhibits by Isabelle Lesser, gaming room with a pool table and the unique bonzini foosball table of Phnom Penh, cool tunes, good food. Increasingly popular with expats.
  • 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.
  • Monsoon Wine Bar on Street 104 is an intimate, cosy wine bar. Try a glass of wine from the well-chosen international wine list or nibble on something from the small but excellent Pakistani menu. Chilled vibe, cool tunes, friendly service.

A note on hostess bars

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

  • OneZeroFour Bar [24] 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 [25] 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 [26] 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.


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).

Boeung Kak Lake, Phnom Penh
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 spent, head for the Riverfront area. The streets have more space and it's in walking distance of the main attractions.

  • 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. $4.  edit
  • Chiva's Shack Guesthouse & Bar, #8, St. 130 (40m from riverside), 012 961073/012 360911, [27]. One of the newest low-cost guesthouses just off the Riverside. It has a great hang out area with TV, and wide selection of movies, games. The bar is reasonably priced, and has a pool table which is free to use. The rooms are tiny, dirty, sticky and there are cockroaches. Be sure to visit their other location on the coast in Sihanouk Ville, a beach bar and restaurant with guesthouse attatched. Wild beach parties. fire shows and great sunsets.  edit
  • Basac Guesthouse & Restaurant, #128 F2, 3 Street( Sothearos Blv) (Near Russian Embassy), +855(0) 97 634 2156 or +855 (0) 12 646 156 (). The Basac Guesthouse has 40 remodel rooms with air-condition and fan, hot water, larg screen TV with cable, fridge and window to view.It offers comfortable rooms and suitable for all travelers. from $5-$15.  edit
  • 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 you directly to the guesthouse (you are not alowed 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"" custom I suppose.  edit
  • 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.  edit
  • Number Nine Sister Guesthouse, Boeung Kak Lake, 012 424 240. just around the corner from, but not as nice as, the original. $4-5.  edit
  • Rory's Guesthouse (Facing the Royal Palace and National Museum and 100 meters from the riverfront), #33 Street 178, Riverside, 012 425 702, [28]. Free wifi. Rooms US$10-30.  edit
  • 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. US$12 and up.  edit
  • 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.  edit
  • Top Banana Guesthouse, #2 Street 278, [29]. A very laid back guesthouse with a cozy, sociable atmosphere and friendly staff. Surprisingly good food. Just tell the moto to take you to Wat Lanka. $5.  edit
  • Dream colors Guesthouse, 69 Street 70d near French Embassy, 0785785762. Dream Colors invites you in a cosy atmosphere tv, dvd, wifi, laundry,organise your trip in Cambodia,sell ticket for bus and plane, rent motobike, language french,english and khmer., for look the pictures [30] $10-13.  edit
  • The Billabong Hotel, 5 Street 158, Sangkat Boeung Raing, +855.23.223.703, [31]. Truly an oasis in the heart of the city. Swimming pool, well-appointed rooms. Breakfast included. Alfresco dining poolside. US$36-65.  edit
  • 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) (), [32]. 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.  edit
  • Bougainvillier Boutique Hotel, 227 Sisowath Quay, +855.23.220.528, [33]. 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.  edit
  • California 2 Guesthouse, 79 Sisowath (North of the night market on the riverfront), 077503144, [34]. 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.  edit
  • Cambodia Uncovered, 11B Boeng Keng Kong (Street 370), +855.12.507.097 (), [35]. 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.  edit
  • 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.  edit
  • Frangipani Villas, 20R Street 252, Sangkat Chaktomuk, Khan Daun Penh (near Pizza World), +855.12.687.717, +855.23.212.100, [36]. 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.  edit
  • Golden Gate Hotel, 9 Street 278, Sangkat Beng Keng Kang 1, Khan Chamkarmorn (near the Independence Monument), +855.23.427.618, [37]. US$15-40.  edit
  • Hotel Cara, 18 Street 47 & 84, Sangkat Srass Chork, +855.23.430.066, [38]. 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.  edit
  • Hotel Luxury World, 35 Street 200, Sangkat Boeung Rang, Khan Daun Penh (along Monivong Boulevard), (), [39]. 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.  edit
  • 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.  edit
  • The Pavilion, 227 Street 19 (near the Royal Palace), [40]. 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.  edit
  • PKD1 Guesthouse, 40 Street 136 (just off the riverfront), +855.12.769.920, [41]. Clean and secure accommodation with fan or air-conditioning, en suite bathrooms, cable TV and refrigerators. US$10-15.  edit
  • Velkommen Inn, 23 Street 104 (just off the riverfront), [42]. 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.  edit


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

  • Intercontinental Hotel [43], Mao Tse Tung Blvd. A favourite among visiting dignitaries, but rather out of the way in the southwest corner of the city.
  • 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, [44]. 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.



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 $10. 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.


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).

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.


Phnom Penh can be 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.


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.  edit
  • Dr Marissa Regino-Manampan, (Filipino MD @ 262B, Street 63), Clinic phone: 023-217 349.  edit
  • 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.  edit
  • Naga Clinic, N° 11, Senei Vinna Vaut Oum (St. 254), 023-211 300, Mobile: 011-811 175. 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.  edit
  • 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.  edit

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

Stay safe

Crime-wise, Phnom Penh has a partly-deserved bad reputation. In terms of armed robbery you are safer now than before - 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 is the present wave of bag-snatching.

Armed robbery

There are still more bad guys with guns than in some Asian cities. Official figures (almost certainly 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. As of June 2008, Phnom Penh's Expat Advisory website reported a resurgence of armed robberies against foreigners - usually women - involving motorbikes with young men on them carrying 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. A man was recently 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 (Sisowath Quay) - 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. In early 2008 The Phnom Penh Post reported - and many foreign residents attested 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 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 is just 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) on weekend nights. Some moto drivers may be in league with the thieves. Moto drivers who work the riverside are generally quite reliable.

Unsafe sex

Most girlie bars catering to foreigners are in the cross-streets going back off the river, and there are dozens. 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.

If you engage in paid sex, use a condom - with water-based lubricant if needed - without fail. Have the necessaries ready in your room (or pocket) before you embark on a night out drinking: condoms can be hard to find at 2AM with a number of bottles of beer onboard, but if you're in need, ask a driver to take you to a 7-11 or 24 hour shop.

The Asian-made condoms onsale everywhere - such as the Japanese brand Okamoto - are too small for most Western men. Your bargirl will often refuse to have sex with you if the condom doesn't fit right; and if she doesn't refuse, you are in danger.

If you don't know where to find a larger brand and size, you can buy Durex size 52.5's at the pharmacy one block behind the FCC, on the corner. (Or any such pharmacy with a large green neon cross.)


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. They may want to engage in conversation, but a polite, positive, dismissive attitude will almost always guarantee being left alone. 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 try to invoke a blessing on you for your actions. Younger kids with modern needs may want a dollar, or try to sell you a (pirated) book that costs around five dollars.

There have also been instances of gangs of Vietnamese boys in this area who cause trouble such as pickpocketing and physically abusing tourists. Sadly, some foreign visitors 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: who do not engage touts and drivers who harass them, but seek out those who wait to be approached. Generally though Phnom Penh's touts are some of the least persistent you will encounter in South East Asia.


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 Southeast 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 is dangerous. Constant 360 degree vigilance is essential.

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.

  • Singapore, 129 Norodom Boulevard, Sangkat Chaktomuk, Khan Daun Penh, +855.23.221.875 (, fax: +855.23.214.578 (administration and consular matters)), [45]. M-F 08:00-12:30, 14:00-17:00. Singapore nationals may register online with the Embassy at [46].  edit
  • United States, [47].  edit

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.

This is a guide article. It has a variety of good, quality information including hotels, restaurants, attractions, arrival and departure info. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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Proper noun

Phnom Penh

  1. Capital city of Cambodia.


Simple English

File:Phnom penh
Pavillon at the Royal Palace, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phnom Penh (Khmer: ភ្ន៓ពេញ; official Romanization: Phnum Pénh; IPA: [pʰnum peːɲ]) is the largest, most populous, and the capital city of Cambodia. It is also the capital of the Phnom Penh administrative city. On April 17, 1975, it was taken over by the Khmer Rouge who soon forced everyone to leave. It was later taken from the Khmer Rouge by the Vietnamese in January of 1979.

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