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Phnom Penh

Photo © Renno

Travel Guide Asia Cambodia Phnom Penh

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Introduction

Phnom Penh - Monks on their way to the temple

Phnom Penh - Monks on their way to the temple

© All Rights Reserved Gelli

Phnom Penh is the capital, largest city and most wealthy city in Cambodia. The city was first settled in 1372. It did not become very important untill Angkor fell to Siam, at that time the King of Cambodia moved the capital nearby to current day Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh itself was not official the capital of Cambodia until 1865. By the 1920s the city was considered the “Pearl of Asia” because of heavy French colonialism. Its wealth only grew once the canals to the countryside and the railroad to Sihanoukville was completed.

The city suffered greatly because the Vietnam War. The North Vietnamese used Cambodia as a base to lunch attacks and only helped to fuel the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge took over Phnom Penh on April 17th 1975. Immediately Pol Pot emptied the city of people and placed many of the wealthier and more educated people in labor camps. He shortly thereafter create the S-21 Prison Camp in the Tuol Svay Prey High School. There is only 12 known survivors of this detention center, thousands of people were processed then executed in nearby killing fields. In 1979 the Vietnamese drove the Khmer Rouge out of Phnom Penh.

Today Phnom Penh is turning back into a major economic center for Asia and has a population of over 1 million. Tourism is still a big thing but industry and food production are growing parts of the economy. Phnom Penh is a great place to spend a few days. Just remember that the ghosts of the past are still very present, as with the rest of Cambodia.

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Sights and Activities

  • Killing Fields are located just outside of town and are quite stunning. The best way to reach them is to hire a Tuk-Tuk for the day.
  • The Royal Palace is a very nice palace and worth a visit. The main hall has amazing statues and paintings.
Pictures of the dead at S.21 - Phnom Penh

Pictures of the dead at S.21 - Phnom Penh

© All Rights Reserved BramRamaut

  • Tuol Svay Prey High School Museum (Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum) is the old home to S-21 and is an excellent museum although a big shocking. There are movies shown every afternoon.
  • Shooting Ranges are available for people that are interested. You can fire anything from a handgun to an AK-47 to a rocket launcher. Just ask yourself “How often in life do you get to throw a hand grenade?”

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Weather

Phnom Penh has a hot and humid tropical climate. The city has a wet southwest monsoon from May to October and a dry northeast monsoon from November to April. Temperatures are between 22 °C (December to February) and 25 °C (April to October) at night, and 30 °C (November and December) to 35 °C (April) during the day most of the year, but April sees temperatures of 40 °C occasionally. September and October are the wettest months, with 225 and 250 mm of rain respectively. December to March is the driest time of the year, with January and February sometimes seeing hardly a drop of rain (around 5-10 mm on average a month).

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max31.5 °C32.8 °C34.9 °C34.9 °C34.3 °C33.5 °C32.5 °C32.5 °C32.3 °C31.1 °C29.9 °C30.1 °C
Avg Min21.9 °C23 °C24.1 °C25 °C25.3 °C25 °C24.7 °C24.6 °C24.3 °C23.8 °C22.7 °C21.7 °C
Rainfall25.5 mm11.5 mm58 mm101 mm111.6 mm177.1 mm195.9 mm172 mm248.8 mm318.9 mm135 mm80.3 mm
Rain Days2.82.45.28.616.416.619.621.419.82411.84.8

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Getting There

By Plane

Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH) is located 7 kilometres from Phnom Penh.
Airlines serving the Phnom Penh are Asiana Airlines and Korean Air from Seoul, Malaysia Airlines from Kuala Lumpur, Cambodia Angkor Air from Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap, Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur]], Bangkok Airways, Thai Air Asia and Thai Airways from Bangkok, China Airlines and EVA Air from Taipei, China Eastern Airlines from Kunming and Nanning, China Southern Airlines from Beijing and Guangzhou, Dragonair from Hong Kong, Jetstar Asia Airways and Silk Air from Singapore, Shanghai Airlines from Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Tri-MG Intra Asia Airlines from Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore, and Vietnam Airlines from Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Vientiane.

By Train

It is possible to take trains to Phnom Penh but they are actually slower than the bus.

By Car

Private cars with a driver are easy to hire in Phnom Penh and will take travellers to most places in the country.

By Bus

Bus is the main form of transport to and from Phnom Penh. It is best to arrange bus tickets at a guesthouse because bus stations do not really exist and also tend to move often. There are always several buses daily to Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. There are daily buses to all other major towns in Cambodia to and from Phnom Penh. There is a few morning buses to Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok every day, including on holidays.

Boat

It is still possible to take boats to Siem Reap and Battambang still but with the new highways in buses are much cheaper and quicker. Most locals take the bus instead now unless they have a lot of cargo.

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Getting Around

By Public Transport

The two main types of transportation services visitors use in Phnom Penh are motodops and tuktuks. Motodops are informal motorcycle taxis that can be found waiting at most corners of the city. Tell the driver where you want to go and hop on the back. Prices vary between 2,000 riel (US$.50) and US$1 for trips within central Phnom Penh, depending on the distance travelled. Trips at night are usually more expensive, up to double the price.

Tuk Tuks, motorcycles with attached cabins, can take up to, well, lots of people depending on their size and willingness to be close to eachother. Prices are slightly higher than for motodops and increase as the number of custiomers increase. They make for a comfortable, though slow, way of getting places.

By Foot

Phnom Penh is not a good city for walking. Sidewalks are primarily used to do business or to park vehicles. You are then forced to walk in the street and avoid the vehicular madness. There's a reason why you only see foreigners walking!

By Bike

Bicycle rental is available in town. Phnom Penh is not a very bike friendly city, though, so therefore it's usually only school children, tourists, and Mormons (I don't know why) you see on bicycles. Motorcycle rental is more popular and convenient, but don't let Phnom Penh be where you learn to ride. The traffic is madness and you are asking for trouble.

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Eat

Around the lake there are plenty of western and local restaurants. Just try to leave your guesthouse restaurant a few times a day to spread the wealth. Lastly watch out for the “happy pizza” because it is very strong.

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Drink

  • Heart of Darkness is one of Asia’s most famous bars.

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Sleep

Budget

Most of the budget guesthouses are located around the lake. Representatives will meet most tourists at the different bus stations. Lake Side #9 is a nice guesthouse with a great view of the lake. The rooms over the water can get a little buggy. The cheaper rooms are very basic.

More budget options include:

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Frangipani Villa 60s#20R, Street 252, Sangkat Chaktomuk, Khan Daun PenhGUESTHOUSE80
Indochine 2 Hotel#28-30, Street 130Hotel77
Me Mates Place#1B4 street 90 Wat PhnomHOSTEL78
Rory's Pub And GuesthouseNo 33 Street 178 Phnom PenhGuesthouse73
Sunday GuesthouseN.97, St 141Guesthouse76
Hostel Nomads#91, street 108Hostel86
King Guesthouse#149 and #151, St.110 Sangkat Wat Phnom, Khan Daun PenhGuesthouse67
Phnom Penh City Hotel#157, St. 63HOTEL-
Gold Placest 275, Khan Toul KorkApartment-
New York HotelNo. 256, Monivong BlvdHotel81
Hang Pich Guest HouseNo 105, Street 310Guesthouse74
Holiday Villa Hotel & Suites Phnom Penh89, Monivong Boulevard Sangkat Monorom, Khan 7 MakaraHotel-
Pao Yi Hotel Cambodia#27, Street 93 Sangkat Sras Chork Khan Daun PenhHotel-
Naga World HotelSamdech Techo Hun Sen ParkHOTEL-
Blue Dog Guesthouse13, Pasteur (Street 51)Hostel76
Golden Noura VillaNo. 29Eo, St. 178, Sangkat Chey Chum Nas Khan DaunHotel-
Hang Neak Hotel#14 Eo, St 201, Sangkat ToulsvaypreyII Khan ChamkamornHOTEL77
Encounters Hostel and Guest House#89, Street 108HOSTEL80
Royal Inn#128D8, Sothearos Blvd, Tonle Bassac, ChamkamornHotel79
Aqua Boutique Guesthouse#126 St. 63 Khan Daun PenhGuesthouse82
Kha Vi Guest House#7dd(1) St. 258HOSTEL81
Landscape Hotel#443, Street 238 Sang kat Chaktoumuk, Khan Duan Penh,HOTEL-
Dara Reang Sey Hotel Phnom Penh#45 Street 13 and 118, Psar ChasHOTEL76
Pilatus Hotel#1, Street Tonle SapHOTEL-
Midtown InnNo 27R, St 252 Sangkat Chaktomok Khan Daun PenhHotel-
JOCKEY HOTEL115, St. 63 corner 214 Sangkat Beoung Reang Khan Daun PenhHotel-
C'est Wat Restaurant and GuesthouseNo 9 Street 118Guesthouse76
Diamond Palace HotelNo.28 E3-E4, Street Sotheros Phnom PenhHOTEL76
Salita Hotel# 70, St Euporean Union 143 Boeung Kengkang IIHOTEL78
The 88 Backpackers Phnom Penh#98 Street 88 Phnom PenhHOSTEL85
Macau Phnom Penh HotelStreet 360,Boeung Keng Kang III, Khan Chamkar MornHotel77
Mad House39c Street 454 Russian MarketGUESTHOUSE-
Velkommen Guesthouse#18 st 144, Riverside Daun PenhGUESTHOUSE82
The Local Riverside8 street 144 RiversideGUESTHOUSE-
Star Wood Inn#74, Street 141 Sangkat Vielvong, Khan 7makaraGUESTHOUSE78
Dave's Villa#42 Street 488Apartment-
The Mad MonkeyBuilding 26, Street 302 BKK1 Phnom PenhHOSTEL84
Hotel Nine#48 Street 9 Tonle BassacHotel-
Lotus Luxury Villa#11, Street 334 BKK 1Hotel-
Juliana Hotel Phnom PenhNo.16 Juliana, 152 Road, SangHotel-
SAKURA HOTELNo. 32 Road 242 Sangkat Chaktomuk Khan Daun PenhHotel-
OKAY GuesthouseNo.3BEo, 258 Street, Sang kat Chaktomok Daun PenhHOSTEL81
Frangipani Fine Arts Hotel#43, Street 178, Sangkat Cheychumneas Khan Daun PHotel78
Velkommen Backpackers17 st 144 Riverside Daun PenhHOSTEL79
White Mansion Hotel26 street 240Hotel-
The Cheeky Monkey GuesthouseStreet 830 | Tonle BassicGuesthouse81
Angkor Mithona Guesthouse19 Ly Yoak Lay (corner st172-13) Chey ChumneahGUESTHOUSE78
Frangipani Villa-90s Hotel#25, Street 71, S. Boeung Keng Kang I K. ChamkarmHotel-
Hometown HotelNo.35, St172, Sangkat Chey Chumneas Khan Daun PenHOTEL-
Sary's Guesthouse#45 Street 130Guesthouse-
Spring Guest House#34, Street 111 Sangkat Boueng Pralit Khan 7 MakaraGuesthouse72
Royal Guest House91Eo, Street 154, Sangkat Phsar Kandal 2 Daun PenGUESTHOUSE74
Monument Hotel22s Street 29HOSTEL-
11 Happy Backpacker#87-89, 136 Street,GUESTHOUSE76
Diamond Palace II#29EO, Street 178, Sangkat Jeaychumnah Daun PenhHOTEL78
Khmer City Hotel#90H, Street 154 (Dekcho Damdin) Near Monivong BoHOTEL77
Bonitar City Hotel#666, St. 271 ChamkamornHOTEL-
Kambuja Inn8-12 Street 174 Sangkat Phsar Thmey III Khan Daun PenhHotel-
Mittapheap Hotel#262,Monivong Blve (corner St.174) Khan Daun PenhHOTEL-
The White Rabbit#40A St. 294, BKK1HOSTEL79
khmer stayUnit no.99 Street 63 Sangkat Boeung Raing Khan Daun PenhHostel-
Somalina Boutique Hotel126 Preah Trasak Pem (street 6Hotel-
Alibi Guesthouse74-76 Sothearos BdGUESTHOUSE-
The Local - RiversideNo.8 Street 144 RiversideHotel-
Golden River Palace GuesthouseNo.139, Street 13, Sangkat Phsa Kandal 1GUESTHOUSE76
City Centre Hotel#77/79, St130, Sangkat Phsar Chas Khan Daun PenhHOTEL-
Monsoon Boutique Hotel#53-55 E, Street 130. Sangkat Phsar Kandal I Khan Daun PenhHOTEL78
PKD1 Guesthouse#40Eo, St 136, Sangkat Phsa Kandal 1 Khan Daun PenhGUESTHOUSE-
One Up Hotel CambodiaZ9-132 Street 51 Phnom Penh CambodiaHOTEL-
One Up Banana HotelZ9-132 Street 51Hotel86
Bougainvillier Hotel277C, Quay Sisowath Phnom Penh 12306Hotel-
The Top Banana Guest HouseCorner 278 and street 51 Close to Wat LankaGUESTHOUSE-
Skyline Boutique HotelNo.18C, Street 29, Tonle Bassac Khan ChamkarmornHOTEL-
Comfort House22A, St 112, Sangkat Phsar De Po3 Khan Torl KorkGuesthouse-
International GuesthouseN.128 St 136 Sangkat Phsar Kandal 2 Khann Daun PenGUESTHOUSE77
Frangipani Living Arts Hotel and Spa#15, Street 123 Toul Tom Pong I, Khan ChamkarmonHOTEL77
Camory Backpackers Hostel#167 Sisowath Quay Sangkat Phsar Kandla 1 Khun Doun PenhHOSTEL-
Eighty8Street 88 House 98Hostel85

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Work

Most foreigners working in Phnom Penh are either English teachers or foreign aid workers. More business people are starting to show and the occasional Christian missionary can be spotted around town also. There is also a large population associated with the embassies in the city.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There are internet cafes throughout the city, but they are grouped more tightly in places where there are more tourists, such as the riverside. Your guesthouse or hotel might also have internet available.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country code of Cambodia is 855. To call out of Cambodia, dial 001 followed by the country code and telephone number of the other party. Many of the internet bars also have international calling options and you can also arrange calls at post offices. Services are usually run by the governmental telecommunication network Camintel. You can find telephone cards in many shops, starting from serveral US dollars to around US$50. Samart, Mobitel and Shinawrata are the main mobile phone providers, with Mobitel offering the best and most widespread services, although calling from outside towns (countryside) is still tricky.

Post

Cambodia's national postal service offers a wide range of services, though in general things go slowly and are not always very reliable. That said, things have been getting better over the years, and you can expect for your postcard or letter to finally arrive after 5-10, depending from where you send it (avoid small towns) and to where you send it. Prices are around 2000-2,500 Riel to countries in Europe, Asia, Australia and North America, and it's slightly more expensive sending it from more remote places in the provinces. Post offices in Cambodia generally are open from around 8:00am to 5:00pm, with some regional variations. Sendings parcels is only possible from the capital Phnom Penh and it's very expensive as well. You might be better to send it from Thailand, or otherwise check private companies like DHL, TNT or UPS, which are more reliable and might even be cheaper!
The main post office is located near the train station and can send international mail. There are also a post office on Sihanouk just to the west of the Sihanouk-Monivong intersection. There are rarely any customers here and therefore service is very quick.

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