Phnom Penh travel tips
Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia is one of the largest city in the country. With many places to go and many places too se we have put out this post for some useful Phnom Penh travel tips for you.
We spent a month in Phnom Penh charging our batteries after some time in Chi Phat, the jungle and along the coastline visiting towns like Kep, Kampot and Sihanoukville.
Living as “expats” gave us a pretty good insight to life in Phnom Penh.
As you enter the city you get overwhelmed by the size of it and the amount of people that crowd in here. The city has heavy traffic and you would think that there couldn’t possibly be space for another store along the streets. Even though they try to squeeze one more in.
But there is a special vibe to Phnom Penh. Like any other big city it is hectic but Phnom Penh doesn’t have the feeling of a very big city. And not the felling of a small town. It is somewhere in between.
TukTuks or mototaxi is the easiest way to get around town or to or from attractions in Phnom Penh. From Riverside to Russian market you should pay no more than 2-2,5 USD. If they say more they are trying to rip you off and tell you that it is very far. They tried that with us several times even though it was the same tuk tuk driver we had mostly AND he knew we lived there and drove that way many times a week. He still persisted on 3 Dollars. So stick to 2 Dollars and threat with going to another driver. As you turn your back to leave he will call you back and accept the 2 Dollars. 90% of the times.
There are many hotels in Phnom Penh most of those located around Riverside and street 172, Pub street. The riverside has usually has the best standard and more to choose from but higher prices hence the location. Pub street or 172 have more guesthouses with prices starting from 7 USD for a double room. But their focus is on he pubs and restaurants on the ground floor and not on the rooms. But they are still decent rooms and you can bargain your way to a better deal if you are staying for more than a day or two.
If you are planning to stay for a month or longer it might be a good idea to start looking for an apartment to rent. Prices usually starts at 300 USD per month and more depending on what type of standard you want. ANd how long you are staying. Apartments in Phnom Penh comes with kitchen, bedroom, private bathroom and usually a washing machine. You need to pay for electricity, usually less than 100 USD/month. Some landlords offers free water supply.
The easiest way to find an apartment is to go hunting on the internet. YOu can find many agents that has several apartments for rent with different landlords. If they have many properties they might have an unlisted apartment that you can arrange a viewing for.
If you like a specific area you can always go apartment hunting. Ask a TukTuk to drive you around or drop you off in the area and look for the ” For Rent” signs. All landlords put their signs with telephone numbers up and they are never far away if you would like to have a look.
Most landlords require a deposit of one months rent that you will get back at the end of the tenancy period. We hired an apartment at street 123 close to the Russian market which is popular among expats. We hired through an agent and never had any problems. Another popular area for apartments is BBK1 around Independence monument. But it’s more pricey.
Sights & attractions
Since Phnom Penh is the capital of Phnom Penh there is a lot of things to do in Phnom Penh. we have listed some of our adventures. Read more under the gallery. ⇓
One of the most famous attractions is the Tuol Tom Poung market. No one hardly calls the market by that name anymore since it is more known as “Russian market“. the stories of why it is called the Russian market vary among expats and locals. but the most common is that it got its name in the 1980’s when most foreigners in the city where Russian.
The market is located a 10-15 minute TukTuk ride from the riverside.
If you want to buy souvenirs a new bag or some clothes or buy some Cambodean silk or go home with some Kampot pepper or Cambodean coffee you are in the right place. The Russian market is known for being the number one stop for tourists that wants to shop in Phnom Penh. The prices can be a bit harsh but the bargaining can be just as fierce. If you see something you like it is probably bets to buy another item you like in the same store so that you can get a good package deal. many stores sell the same things so finding one more item is usually not so hard.
The Central market is mainly known for its architecture. the dome shaped ceiling with the sections coming out of it is one of the most well known buildings in the city.
Central market is built up in sections mostly. In the middle you have the silver, gold, bone, jewelry and precious stones like jade which are all the specialty of the Central market.
one section is just for clothes, one for electronics and one for souvenirs. They can be a bit mixed but you will see the difference in sections as you enter from one of the many entrances in the market. It makes it a bit easier to shop. The central market also has its own food court with street food and vegetables.
Close to the Central market is Sorya mall (there is also a Golden Sorya but definetily not the same mall). If you are in the hunt for some fast food while visiting the Central market then this is the place to go. There are 5 floors with one fast food chain on each floor and a food court with more local food. The Sorya mall also has a Lucky Supermarket and a popular cinema.
Have you run out of things to do at night or just bored? Go see a movie. Cineplex cinema in Sorya mall offers many new movies in English and 3D. Ticket prices usually 5-10 USD. The salons are nice and you are provided with blankets. Keep in mind that Cambodeans like to socialize so the etiquette during the movie might not be the most quiet you have experienced. But still an experience.
One of the most visited areas in the whole city s the Phnom Penh riverside and river promenade. Stretching along a huge portion of the river it is a meeting point for many locals that come here to hang out, have picnics or eat at one of the many restaurants. There is also an outside gym with machines that is free of charge.
Work out in the park
Join the movement and work out in the park. Not just any park. All parks. When the sun starts to go down locals comes out to work ut. Locals in Phnom Penh are mostly active people and you will see them play football, join a street class, jog around the park or use the machines on the riverside. Didn’t bring any work out clothes? Don’t worry Cambodeans work out in what ever they are wearing. Come as you are. Even if it’s a suit and tie.
The Royal Palace
The Royal palace marks the beginning of the Riverside with its grand building and surrounding pagodas. It is common to see monks walk or sit in the park here. Especially on the weekends and when the sun is starting to set and the climate not so warm. There are also small pagodas that locals come to pray and make offerings to during the day.
Wat Phnom Pagoda
One of our favourite places in Phnom Penh is the Wat Phom Pagoda. the Pagoda itself is not very big. But it is very charming and you can come here and witness a ceremony, sit in the park, have a picnic, do some people watching or release a small bird to make a wish. The admission is 1 Dollar to go into the Pagoda area. The park is free.
One of the prides in Phnom Penh is the Independence monument and the Independence monument park. It is actually a park with several monuments with the Independence monument being the tallest one. The park is one of the busiest during the evening since locals like to walk around the park in a collective manner.
Pub street or more officially known as street 172 is known for its pubs and restaurants. With that said there are numerous pubs, restaurant and bars outside of Pub street also. You won’t have to go there just for finding a bar. But it is a nice place to hang out in or if you are staying in the area. The vibe is relaxed and enjoyable. No clubs here, though.
If you’d like to get cultivated the Killing fields is one of the main attractions in Phnom Penh. Actually, it’s 25 minutes with TukTuk outside of Phnom Penh. But who’s counting. The Killing fields is an area with former mass graves from the Khmer Rouge regime. It is now a museum and memorial park for the dead and stands as a memory to what happened in Cambodia during Pol Pots rule and the Khmer Rouge. Skulls from the victims are displayed here and you can still find teeth and remains from the dead as floodings drag up the remains from the soil. The ticket price is 9 USD and the TukTuk to get there is somewhere between 10-20 USD depending on your will to bargain. the price is for there and back.
These are our review of Phnom Penh. The city is to us a city that grows on you. You might not like it at first. But after a while it feels like you have been there long. Many people like Phnom Penh for it’s vibrant city life and the relaxed afternoons. We sure like it too.