Immerse yourself in beautifully manicured gardens, delightful royal abodes, and in the serene calm of this classic Khmer palace. The throne, used for coronation and important ceremonies, sits in a finely decorated room. At its side stands a small delightful ornate maisonette offered by Napoleon III to King Norodom. Walk across to the Silver Pagoda and observe the golden Buddha, encrusted with 9,584 diamonds, the largest one weighing 25 carats. Please remember to dress a bit formally when visiting the Silver Pagoda - wear long trousers or a long skirt.
A former school known as S-21, this building became the hub of the Khmer Rouge’s interrogation and torture of more than 17,000 ‘enemies’ of the state. School rooms were turned into cells and today victims’ portraits align the corridors of this daunting building. This is an emotional visit, at a place to pay respect to the victims of Cambodia’s tragedy.
View the city whilst cruising on the Mekong or Tonle Sap. You can choose a one-day trip, or a longer excursion including accommodation. Boats can be hired on the riverside banks, and size varies according to the number of passengers. There is also an array of tour operators offering different kind of tours.
This is a leading art institution for young Cambodians. Its main vision is to be a forum for the research, preservation and promotion of Cambodian arts and culture. In contrast to traditional Angkor Wat paintings, Reyum students are taught to approach art in a thoughtful way which incorporates Khmer culture. Down the street from Reyum there are numerous art shops. This is the city’s artistic hub and an interesting place to explore and meet the local artists in their workshops.
Wat Phnom is said to be the first pagoda in town, dating back to 1373. It is located on a small hill and locals come here to pray for good luck. When visiting Wat Phnom, be aware that due to the site’s popularity there will be a number of beggars, street urchins and other vendors trying to gain your attention. Some may try to sell birds in cages and you pay to set the bird free as locals claim the birds are trained to return to their cage afterwards.
This red-stoned traditional royal Khmer building offers a glimpse of the Khmer Empire’s rich heritage. With artefacts dating back to pre-Angkorian times, the museum’s pieces are some of the only remaining historical items that survived the Khmer Rouge. Relax in the quiet garden in the museum’s central courtyard.
This field reminds its visitors of a time with brutal executions and torture. More than 17,000 people were killed here during the Khmer Rouge regime, and today there are mass graves and a memorial stupa (a Buddhist reliquary) with thousands of human bones. An audio tour tells the heart-braking history.
For a different film experience, visit one or all of the Flicks Community Movie Houses. This volunteer-run cinema has three different outlets, but all of them are unique. Instead of chairs there are sofas and pillows on the floor and there is also an outdoor cinema during dry-season. Book your ticket online: you are allowed to stay and watch as many films as you wish.
This is the biggest zoo in Cambodia, and here you can see many different animals from the local fauna. The Wildlife Rescue Center saves animals that have been trapped or injured, to set them free again after rehabilitation. If you book a tour you will get the chance to see the staff's heroic work and to meet some of the animals.
About one hour drive from the city, you can visit the ruins from the Phnom Chisor Temple, a temple from the Angkorian era. From the hill where it is located you will have great views over the country side, but keep in mind that it can be very hot to climb all the way up during mid day.
Shadow-puppet theatre is a tradition in this part of the world, and Sovanna Phum Art Association & Art Gallery hosts this kind of performances. After the 50-minute long show, the audience is welcomed to try and handle the puppets themselves. They also host classical dance and traditional drum shows.
This sophisticated restaurant offers good Khmer and Thai food like mango salad and excellent amok in a relaxing low seating ambiance in an old wooden house. Even though the climate outside is hot and humid for most of the year, the plants and water managed micro climate will wipe the heat out.
This is a popular lunch place to have local and Vietnamese dishes and you will be amazed by how high value for money the food is. The menu shows pictures of the dishes so do not worry if you can not understand all the native names. Don't forget to try the fresh spring rolls and coconut shake, they are very traditional and delicious.
You can find extensive, tasty and affordable Khmer in Boat Noodle. Another reason to try this out is the ambiance. It has the look and feel of a traditional Khmer house, wooden decor, Khmer silk, surrounded by lush plants and fishes swimming in small ponds. Their English speaking staffs enable you to tone down the spiciness of some dishes easily.
The organisation Friends has helped young people on the street by teaching them how to work as chefs and service staffs since 1994. This is their own restaurant and here you will not only enjoy a delicious meal like crispy noodles and the buttermilk chicken burger but also help with the future work of this organisation.
This place is run by a Belgian couple and here you can choose from a selection of healthy breakfast options, delicious juices, tasty sandwiches and quiches. Splurge on the dessert selection and the home made pralines.They have a couple of outlets across town and you find one of them here:
Vibe offers tasty burgers, bowls and drinks for every meal of the day, and it's the first vegan cafe in Phnom Penh. It has a very tasteful decor, with lots of plants, elegant wooden tables and beautiful detail. Its reasonable prices and its yummy recipes make it one of the best places to stop near the Russian Market.
The Lounge is a cool hip bar and club, and the place to be at weekends where Phnom Penh's cool locals and expats mingle. It features hip-hop on Fridays and a mix of music on Saturdays, so come here to soak up the atmosphere whilst drinking a cocktail at the balcony overlooking the riverside.
Set in the most luxurious hotel in town, Le Royal, the Elephant Bar’s happy hour (4pm to 9 pm) serves some of the best cocktails in town. Dress up and indulge in live piano music and comfortable seating. A must try is their Femme Fatale cocktail, specifically created in 1967 for Jacqueline Kennedy during her visit to Cambodia.
This garden bar in Tonle Bassac has gained a reputation as a chill, comfortable cultural hub in the city. They boast a decor inspired by modern urban art and indie aesthetic, surrounded by vegetation. Along with their careful choice of beer, they also serve food. Board games are available, and many kinds of events take place here.
Street 240, behind the Royal Palace, offers higher end choices from clothes to jewellery. The Bliss shop sets the scene with its beautiful silk clothing, bedding and accessories. Further down is Veggies, the local delicatessen. The rest of the street has small boutiques selling jewels, art and antiques.
The Tuol Tom Pong Market, otherwise known as the Russian market, is the mecca for any shopping devotee. From Gap t-shirts to the newest DVD Hollywood blockbuster, to teapots and antique sabers, a whole day of rummaging around may still seem short. Take a break, enjoy the noodle soups and excellent Vietnamese coffee, and lose yourself in the fabulous rows of silk on sale.
Visas for Cambodia are available at airports and land borders, and are easy to obtain for citizens of most countries (see below). In order to obtain one, make sure you can provide a passport valid for at least six months and a passport-sized self photo for your visa. Citizens from the following countries will need to make advance arrangements for their visa: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Sudan. Visitors from an ASEAN member country do not need a visa to enter Cambodia, as long as they have a valid passport. Be aware that overcharging can be an issue at land borders with Thailand and Laos. To avoid that, you may want to arrange a visa in advance. Online e-visas are only accepted at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports, and at the land borders of Bavet/Moc Bai (Vietnam), Cham Yeam/Hat Lek (Thailand) and Poipet/Aranya Prahet (Thailand).
Cambodia has rainy weather for half of the year and dry weather for the other half. The seasons can be subdivided into dry-cool (November-January), dry-hot (February-May), rainy-hot (May-September) and rainy-cool (October-November). You'll find the best weather in the dry-cool season, with an overall average temperature of 26°C - this is the most popular time to go. The rainy-cool season can be an alternative if you want to avoid the crowds of tourists, and the green landscapes boast incredibly beautiful colours during this time. However, so much rain might be uncomfortable for some, and if you're planning day trips be aware that water may flood the streets and make it impossible to reach smaller, remote places.The rainiest months are August and September.
Vaccinations are not mandatory to enter Cambodia, but they are highly recommended. If you will need essential medications during your stay, bring enough of them from home - you might not find them in Phnom Penh. A good travel insurance is extremely important. Health care is not cheap in Cambodia, and at the hospital, payment is required up front, which can be a very serious problem in emergency situations. Moreover, you might have to be transported to another country for bigger issues, and it's very expensive (and still requires upfront payment). Please make sure you gather as much information as possible on the topic, and be safe. Avoid tap water, even if purified - stick to bottled water, which is available everywhere. Bring a good insect repellent in order to avoid mosquito borne diseases.
Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH) lies approximately 10 km from Phnom Penh. The easiest way to get to and from the airport is by taxi. It takes around 20 - 40 minutes depending on traffic. You can also take a tuk-tuk, which costs about $5. Whatever alternative you choose, you can buy a coupon inside the airport terminal to avoid the hustle outside.
Although many visitors still often use tuk tuks, cyclos or taxis to move inside the city, the municipality of Phnom Penh has recently re-opened "Phnom Penh city bus", an efficient public bus service that is a bit slower, but more comfortable than the alternatives. Moreover, they don't require you to negotiate prices with the driver, as other means of transport do. Bus tickets are very cheap, and you can find transport apps for your phone. You can find an alternative, private bus company at: Giant Ibis Transport +855 969 993 333 http://giantibis.com/contact.php
A good way to get around in Phnom Penh is hiring a tuk-tuk, a motor vehicle combining a motorcyle and a trailer, which has become traditional in Cambodia. Make sure to agree on a price before getting on. At night the price can increase. Cyclos, usually driven by elderly men from the countryside, are slower but provide a relaxing way to view the city and are slightly cheaper than moto-taxi drivers. Phone apps are also available to hail tuk tuks and taxis. Hailing a motorbike driver is also popular, but be aware: although this is a nice way to explore the city, cautious driving is required to avoid accidents. Phnom Penh’s traffic can be dangerous and road regulations are not followed by most drivers. Beware of traffic police on major crossroads. If they stop you, a money transaction might be necessary. Lucky Lucky Motorcycles has been renting bikes for years and has the largest variety of motorbikes. Find the company at:
There are two types of taxis in Phnom Penh, those with a meter and those without. You find them outside major hotels or close to the tourist attractions. If you choose a taxi without a meter, always agree on a price before you start the journey. Two of the taxi companies offering metered taxis are Global Taxi and Choice Taxi: Global Taxi 674, Street 271 (Yothapol Khemarak Phoumin), Phsar Doeum Thkov Commune, Phnom Penh +855 092 889 962 Choice Taxi A13, Confederation de la Russie, Phumi Phlov, Phnom Penh +855 023 923 923
One of the biggest pharmacies in Phnom Penh is Pharmacie de la Gare, which is is found next to the railway station, at: 124Eo Preah Monivong Boulevard (93), Phnom Penh +855 092 711 771 [email protected] pharmacie-delagare.com/en UCare Pharmacy is part of a recently opened pharmacy chain and offers one of the largest stock of medicine (from France) in town. You find one of their stores at: