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Phnom Penh, at the confluence of the Mekong and the Tonle Sap Rivers, is the capital of Cambodia and its largest city.
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Points of Interest in Phnom Penh
France's Cambodian colony was acquired late and largely neglected. Historic, colonial architecture was limited to start with and has largely decayed. The Grand Post Office Building, Central Market and Raffles Le Royal Hotel are notable exceptions. Generally any building in good condition, old or new, will be behind a big big wall and security guards.
- Independence and Liberation Memorials. Impressive Buddhist-style Independence Memorial, commemorating the departure of the French in 1953, dominates the centre of the city. Nearby is the Stalin-style Liberation Memorial, marking the Vietnamese capture of the city in 1979. The area is especially popular on weekend nights with locals when multi-coloured fountains are activated and communal music is played.
- The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek (About 17 km south of Phnom Penh, 40 min by taxi or motorbike or tuk-tuk). This place is not for the squeamish. A former Chinese cemetery, this is where the Khmer Rouge killed many thousands of their victims during their four-year reign of terror. Today the site is marked by a Buddhist stupa packed full of over 8,000 human skulls. The sides are made of glass so the visitors can see them up close. There are also pits in the area where mass graves were unearthed, with ominous scraps of clothing still to be found here and there. It is a serene yet sombre 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. Visit after learning about the Khmer Rouge terror at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. As millions were killed during the traumatic genocidal regime of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, as a sign of respect, wear respectable clothing such as long pants and no sleeveless shirts or tops. Flowers and incense can be bought in front of the stupa. In 2005 the memorial site was sold to a for-profit private company . A tuk-tuk to the site should cost USD9-11 return (after haggling, of course), including stopping at the Genocide Museum on the way and waiting for you at both places. USD5 which includes a very good audio tour.
- The National Museum of Cambodia, St 13, Sangkat Chey Chumneas, Khan Daun Penh (Opposite the Royal Palace), ☎ +855 23 211753, +855 12 621522 (mobile), fax: +855 23 211753, e-mail: email@example.com. Daily, 08:00-17:00, last admission 16:30. Contains an excellent collection of art from Cambodia's "golden age" of Angkor, and a lovely courtyard at the centre. A main attraction is the statue of King Jayavarman VII (1181-1219) in a meditative 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. No photos may be taken inside the museum, although photography is allowed in the central courtyard upon payment of a small fee (cameras: USD1, video cameras: USD3). 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 failure of the coming harvest is determined. You may have heard stories of sightseers carrying umbrellas inside to avoid showers of bat droppings, but the bats moved out after the renovation of 2002. USD3.
- Olympic Stadium. Built in the 1960s for the Asian Games that never happened, this interesting complex in the Modern-style has been sold off to the Taiwanese, in a murky deal by the Cambodian government. The new owners have recently renovated it and it has begun to be used once again as a venue. However in the evenings a walk around the top perimeter is worthwhile: you can see hundreds attending exercise and dance classes, and get a view of the abandoned track below. There is also an Olympic-size swimming pool and diving pool with a 10 m platform open to the public opposite the main building, across the track. 6,000 riel to get in, 500 riel to check your things.
- The Royal Palace. 08:00-10:00 & 14:00-17:00. 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 design, and have survived the traumas of the 20th century amazingly well. 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 USD1 deposit) at the entrance. In general, the palace complex has a more structured, formal, organised, and harmonious layout with a clear and specific architectural style rather than in Bangkok which has more hodgepodge of styles taken here and there. USD6.25 or 25,000 riel.
- Sisowath Quay (Riverside). An attractive boulevard running along the banks of the Mekong and Tonle Sap. It's fronted by a large, long open space with manicured lawns, palm trees and open pathways, all recently re-done as part of a Japanese funded project to upgrade the flood infrastructure along the river. The built-up side of the street is home to cafés and shops and the better class of bar, and is popular with tourists and expats prepared to run its gauntlet of touts selling drugs, girls, and tuk-tuk rides. Unfortunately the river front (once seen as Phnom Penh's "safe" area) is no longer entirely safe for tourists. Tourist police are supposedly present in plainclothes. The esplanade along the river is also popular with Cambodians, who come here in the cool of the evening to enjoy the quasi-carnival atmosphere. It begins at the river front park opposite the royal palace, and is perhaps best experienced in the early evening. Dawn at Sisowath Quay is also a busy time, with locals doing calisthenics in front of the royal palace, and the sun rising over the river. In addition to the recent brick attacks on foreigners, there are supposedly child gangs and pickpockets so extra caution is warranted. See A Stroll on Sisowath Quay for a self-guided tour.
- Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21 Prison), St 113, Boeng Keng Kang 3, Chamkar Morn, ☎ +855 23 300698. A school converted into Cambodia's most important prison in 1975. More than 14,000 people were tortured here before being killed at the killing fields; only 8 prisoners made it out alive. The museum is easily accessible and a must-see for everyone interested in Cambodia's horrific recent past. The infamous "skull map" has been dismantled, although there are still skulls stacked in cabinets, implements of torture and disturbing photographs of people dying. For an introduction and further reading, try David Chandler's Voices from S-21 (ISBN 0520222474). Documentary movie S-21 can be purchased in Phnom Penh for USD1.50-2. A hefty slice of your Tuol Sleng entrance fee will go into the pocket of the museum's director, who is the son of the responsible government minister. (This is perhaps the main reason the museum is in rather shabby condition, and the displays so unimaginative.) And a warning to those who patronize the souvenir shop. Don't get conned into buying some vintage Rolex, Patek Philippe, or Omega watches. They are fakes and are worthless. The owner is very convincing and will tell you that it is a collection from her husband. Instead, right across from the museum (No 54 & 56, St 113, Phnom Penh is a little shop called CHA (http://www3.online.com.kh/users/wthanchashop) that sells inexpensive handmade goods that are made by women disabled from polio and land mines. If you ask, you will also be able to tour the shop, meeting the female workers and seeing where they study English. USD2.
- Wat Botum (About 3 km 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.
- Wat Phnom (Hill Temple) (On a hill at the centre of a small park near Sisowath Quay, on St 94). 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: USD1; elephant ride: USD15.
About Phnom Penh
In 1975 Phnom Penh was choked with up to 2 million refugees from the war between the then US-backed government and the Khmer Rouge. The city fell to the Khmer Rouge in 1975, who completely emptied it of civilians and allowed it to crumble for several years. The city's small class of skilled or educated professionals was systematically murdered by Pol Pot, or driven into exile.
Cambodia's developing economy and institutionalised corruption have concentrated wealth into a new class of nouveau riche that now frequent Phnom Penh's new fancy hotels and restaurants. Increasing tourist numbers are also bringing about improving tourist infrastructure.
- Bicycle Tours and Rental (Phnom Penh), ☎ +855 89 834704 or +855 15 696376, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Sa-Su, 09:00-17:00. During the week upon request. Take a short trip alone or with your family, friends and colleagues to the other side of the Mekong River or into the countryside. USD2.
- The Empire, 34, St 130 (Just off the Riverside Blvd). Cinema/restaurant featuring blockbusters, kids movies, documentaries, music, animations, and the classics on the 6 m (19 ft) wide big screen on the 2nd floor of an original Cambodian wooden house and with air conditioning. They have a 2nd movie room opened with a 5 m wide screen. Enjoy a movie with a drink and hot buttered popcorn and lie on big futons or sit on wicker sofas. Check the website for latest movie schedule. USD3.50 for adults, USD2 for under 18, for all day.
- Hash House Harriers. A running club that meets every Sunday at 14:15 at the railway station. USD5.
- Help the Needy with CHOICE. A great way to help some of the local poor people in a positive and rewarding way is to help the expat run charity called CHOICE. They help provide food and basic supplies to about 190+ extremely poor families as well as medical assistance. They also provide vocational training and feed and send many children to local schools. Volunteers are always welcome to help for a day or more, such as delivering fresh water supplies to poor villages.
- Institute Francais. Film screenings. Fewer with English subtitles than there once were.
- 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. USD8.
- Mekong Islands Bicycle Tour, 23 St 144. 08:00-12:30. Daily 20 km bicycle ride with Grasshopper Adventures, along small trails along the rivers and criss-crossing the islands (4 ferry hops) to explore the lush green countryside around Phnom Penh. USD29.
- Meta House, 6, St 264, opposite Wat Botum. Art gallery, bar, mini-cinema, and production house. Shows free, high quality foreign and Cambodian films Tu-Su nights at 19:00 in the bar-lounge on the roof.
- NagaWorld Casino. The only casino in Phnom Penh.
- Orphanage Visit (ChildSafe International). If considering visiting one of the orphanages do be aware that they may be exploitative and poorly run. Your money may go to the owner rather than the children. There are few if any legitimate orphanages in Phnom Penh: almost all are scams. Also, accepting impromptu visits from unscreened foreigners is often a sign of a substandard orphanage which does not have the children's best interests at heart. If you really want to help, try contacting organisations like this one that run educational programs, and see if there is any way you can assist.
- Scuba Nation Diving Centre, #18Eo, St 3 (Close to the FCC), ☎ +855 12 715785, fax: +855 23 211850, e-mail: email@example.com. M-F, 09:00-18:00, Sa 09:00-17:00, Su 11:00-18:00. The pioneers of diving in Cambodia, providing comprehensive diving and snorkelling services, day trips, liveaboards, nitrox and a full range of PADI courses from beginner to instructor. Flexibility is the key: you can do training sessions while sightseeing in Phnom Penh, then finish with a liveaboard on the only custom made diving boat in Cambodia.
- Thunder Ranch Shooting Range (Near killing fields of Cheoung Ek). Shooting range run by a unit of the Royal Cambodian Army. For a pretty hefty fee you can fire everything from pistols to machine guns at paper targets. Moto drivers, apparently oblivious to the reaction most visitors have, will try to include this in a trip to the killing fields and will take a nice commission for taking you there. Pistol: USD20, AK-47: (30 rounds) USD40, rocket launcher: USD350, and a wide array of heavy machine guns and grenade launchers, etc..
Phnom Penh offers some interesting culinary treats not found elsewhere in the country. These include French-influenced dining and Thai, Vietnamese, and Indonesian dishes. Pizzas, banana pancakes, and fried rice are always easy to find.
The river front hosts everything from stand-up stalls to fine French bistros. Stalls likely lack hygienic practices: eating peeled fruit and vegetables and anything uncooked may have unintended consequences.
Duck embryo eggs are sold at the southwest corner of Sokun Mean Bun St (St 178) and Norodum Blvd (in front of the green SSN Bldg) inside a big high school compound, together with days old hatched chicks to frogs (everything is eaten, not just the legs) dipped in batter and deep fried. Skewered and grilled pigs ears, chicken claws, and gizzards are sold in the Central Market. Pig intestines are sold at USD1 per 100 g, cut into pieces and splattered with sauce. Grilled small crabs, lobsters, prawns are also sold in the market. Chicken feet are sold in the open-air restaurants as you turn to the right at St 154 as you go northbound from Monivong Blvd. Bugs and other insects, especially the grasshopper, spider/crab, and grubs and pupae stage are sold along Sothearos Blvd from 184 St to 178 St.
- Aroma Chef, St 172 (Opposite Chat n Chew). A great eating place in the middle of St 172. Khmer and International menu, nice staff and pleasant atmosphere.
- Asian Spice Cafe Pub, 79 St 111 (50 m off Sihanouk Blvd opposite Sport Shop). Cafe established in 2006 with a pub upstairs. Owned by a Singaporean, a former Intercontinental Hotel chef. Very popular with expats and tourists. Chinese, Malaysian, Singaporean, Western and some Khmer dishes. USD1.40-2.80.
- Baitong Restaurant, 7 St 360 (Opposite the International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP)). Authentic Khmer, Thai, and Vietnamese dishes. They also have breakfast express and lunch buffet set around USD2–3.75. 2 large rooms can be used for conferences, training and other events and a smaller room for meetings and private dinners.
- Camory Cookie Boutique, 167 Sisowath Quay (Between St 110 and 118), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00-20:30. A cafe-cum-development project that trains chefs and ploughs back money into humanitarian causes. The Sreh T'nout cookie, made from a rich combo of chocolate, nuts and palm sugar, is their bestseller.
- Cavern Pub, 19 St 104. English-style pub with English-style food. Open 11:00-02:00. Great happy hour till 18:00. Live music/open mic night on Monday, British comedy night Tuesday, Live sport on the weekend.
- C'est Wat Restaurant and Guesthouse, 9 St 118 (2 min walk from the riverside). 10:00-15:00. Check out the massive USD7.50 Sunday roast with free glass of wine, or the huge USD4 all day breakfast: pork sausages, back bacon, mushrooms, eggs, potato fritters, beans, toast, tea or coffee. USD0.75 beer.
- Chat 'n Chew Restaurant, St 172, ☎ +855 12 482302. Very popular with many expats who meet here on regularly. Try their special beef Wellington.
- Comme a la Maison, 13 St 57. In a pleasant garden terrace. Laid-back but stylish French feel with warm service. Pizza and salads, ice cream desserts.
- Dark Rose, St 228 (Just off St 51). Great BBQ pork ribs for just 5,000 riel a plate, a bargain good feed.
- Evergreen Vegetarian House, 109 St 130 (Between St 15 and 19), e-mail: email@example.com.. 06:30-14:00, 15:30-21:00. Small restaurant with big selection of Asian (Japanese, Thai, Cambodian) vegetarian, with and without mock meats. Delicious. Air-con. USD2–5.
- Halal Foods Mumina, 86 St (North side of the street, in front of South China Airlines office). Recommended are the Muslim restaurants on north of the Phnom Penh Hotel. Also, the guesthouses in this area are among the cheapest, offering USD4 rooms. This area is popular with the French and Brits as their embassies are located nearby.
- K.K. Tandoor, Sothearos Blvd (Opposite Vietnamese Monument, next to Pannasastra University). Moderately priced Indian food with chicken tandoori, butter chicken, and naans. Air-con. You can get draft beer for a dollar.
- La Lotus Blanc, 402 Stung Mean Chey and 152 St 51 Boeung Keng Kang. French and Asian cuisines and quite a popular neighbourhood hub. The food is prepared and served by students from the PSE.
- NOW Snack Shop, 69H St 101, Boeng Trabek Ward, Chamkar Mon (Near Rock Entertainment Centre, Royal University of Law & Economics), ☎ +855 97 9498853, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 06:00-19:00. English speaking staff will serve you breakfast, lunch, dinner, Vietnamese snacks, coffee, tea, shake, juice, fruit yogurt. USD0.50-2.00.
- P&K Restaurant (formerly "Old Ponlok"), 319 Sisowath Quay Blvd. Khmer & Chinese restaurant on the riverside, Good service and authentic and absolutely delicious Khmer takes on Chinese cuisine, with everything in between. The beef tripe with teouk prahok is especially delicious. Apparently open since 1984 and quite popular with locals. USD0.50 draft Angkor. USD3–12.
- Setsara Thai Restaurant, 3D St 278. Thai restaurant with a really good Thai chef, good music, reasonable prices and good service, though a bit slow sometimes. They have some good French specialties as well.
- Tinat Restaurant (Corner of St 51 & St 154). Extensive local food menu at cheap prices, such as sweet and sour pork with rice, USD1.75.
- Tom Yum Kung Thai Restaurant, 10 St 278 (In the BKK1 area), e-mail: email@example.com. 07:00-22:00. Thatch-roofed Thai/Khmer restaurant, popular with locals and visitors alike. Big selection of authentically prepared Thai and Khmer dishes. As one might expect, the tom yum gung is recommended. Air-con upstairs, fans downstairs.
- The Vegetarian, 11 St 200 (Oknha Men). Most of the dishes at USD1.50. Good daily special with white or brown rice and 3 small dishes. Most of the customers are Westerners. English speaking staff.
- Warung Bali, 3D St 178 No. 25 E0, Royal Palace. Small, traditional Indonesian restaurant in one of Phnom Penh's tourist area.
- Amok Restaurant & Cafe, 2 St 278 (Near Independence Monument), ☎ +855 12 912319. Nice cosy décor, with open air dining. Traditional Khmer dishes and other styles. The classic fish amok is well done, and the servings are large.
- Anise, 57 St (Near the corner of Sihanouk and 278 St). Comfortable, nicely decorated corner restaurant with free Wi-Fi and some good dishes from a varied menu, including SE Asian. Their club sandwich is excellent. Perhaps a little over-priced.
- Atmosphere, 141C Norodom Blvd. Fancy French restaurant. Quiet on an ordinary day, but draws a regular crowd of expats.
- Aussie XL, 205A 51 (Pasteur) St. About the only thing Aussie about this place is the owner. Look in vain for a can of Foster's. But the food is very good and the wood-fired oven pizza matches anything found in Italy.
- Bai Thong, 100-102 Sothearos Blvd, ☎ +855 23 211054, +855 12 666390 (mobile), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 11:00-14:00, 18:00-23:00. French and Indochinese cuisine in nicely decorated surroundings. USD10-20.
- Blue Cat, St 110. Comfortable and friendly. Suitable for family dining with an international and Khmer menu, and a respectable wine list. Free Wi-Fi.
- Brown Coffee and Bakery, 17 St 214 (Next to Old Pencil Supermarket), ☎ +855 23 217262. Great coffee with good barista. The bakery chef was trained at Cordon Bleu and the sandwiches are great.
- Cafe Yejj, 170 St 450 (Southeast corner of the Russian Market, less than 15 m east of the corner of St 155 & 450). Indoor and outdoor seating both ground level and second floor. Pasta, panini, burritos and Cambodian food. Participates in breaking the cycle of poverty by training women-at-risk as employees. Service very good. Very clean bathroom upstairs. Most dishes less than USD4. Sit inside if you do not want to be bothered by beggars.
- Chi Cha Restaurant, 27 St 110 (Near the riverfront in the café and bar area), e-mail: email@example.com. Excellent and plentiful Indian food, vegetarian or not, in a convenient central location. Also has rooms from USD8. Set meals USD4.
- Le Duo, St 228 (Between Monivong and St 63). Italian food. Sicilian-born Luigi makes great pasta and pizzas.
- Equinox, St 278 (Near St 51). Pizzas, baguettes, burgers, pastas and some more Western specialities. Great indoor outdoor ambiance. Meat and salads come from a local organisation that teaches farmers organic growing methods.
- 50 Cents Cafe, 105 St 19 (Street behind Lux Cinema, close to the corner), ☎ +855 16 386094 or +855 97 2226666. 08:00-22:00. Thai food, western food with affordable prices. Drinks such as cocktails, coffee, and soft drinks; fresh fruit salad, crepes, ice cream, quiet rest on cool sofa, artwork, and movie room. Free Wi-Fi. USD1.75-4.5.
- Friends Restaurant, 215 St 13 (50 m north of the National Museum), ☎ +855 12 802072, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 11:00-21:00, closed Su. Run by a NGO that trains and educates former street children. Western and Asian dishes, most of them tapas, so order 2 or 3. Nice garden terrace, stylish interior. Good choice of vegetarian dishes. USD3-6.
- Frizz Restaurant, 67 St 240, ☎ +855 23 220953, +855 12 845525 (mobile). 10:00-23:00. Traditional Cambodian cuisine. The restaurant operates the Cambodia Cooking Class. USD5-10.
- Green Mango Restaurant and Bar, 170E Street 63 (Corner of St 278, Boeung Keng Kang I), ☎ +855 23 720470. Western, Khmer, and Mediterranean dishes. A good place for casual meet-ups with friends. Excellent Wi-Fi connection, great choice of music and friendly staff.
- Jars of Clay, 39B St 155 (South of the Russian Market), ☎ +855 23 300281. Closed Su. Cafe managed by women. Great place to relax after a visit to the crowded Russian Market. English-style breakfast, quiches, sandwiches, soups, delicious cakes. Smoothies, ice cream and really good coffee and air-con. USD4-10.
- Java Café, 56 Sihanouk Blvd. Soups, salads and sandwiches in a cosy setting overlooking the Independence Monument. Good vegetarian options. Has a rotating art exhibition.
- Khmer Surin, 11 St 57 (South of Sihanouk Blvd). Romantic restaurant that serves delicious Khmer and Thai food. The traditional Khmer seafood dish, amok, stands out.
- Meta House, 37 Sothearos Blvd (Across from the Australian Embassy), ☎ +855 23 224140. Nice gallery, German pfannkuchen (flat pizzas) and interesting documentaries about Cambodia.
- Metro Café (Corner of Sisowath Quay and St 148, opposite Riverside Bistro). Stylish fusion of Asian and Western culture. Air-con. Good selection of small tapas-style dishes from USD1 and a great steak for about USD12. Free Wi-Fi.
- Nature and Sea (Corner of Street 278 and 51), ☎ +855 12 879486. Relaxed restaurant on a 2nd floor rooftop opposite to Wat Langka that promotes health food. Delicious salads, crepes, juices. Try the passion fruit juice. USD3-7.
- Paris Bubble Tea, 285-287 Preah Monivong (Not far from the New York Hotel), ☎ +855 23 990373. Pleasant and has fun and refreshing bubble tea. Try the classic Pearl Milk Tea.
- Penny Lane Café (Corner of St 111 & St 242. Not far from the Town View Hotel). Italian-style cafe with air-con and outdoor areas where they take great pride in their coffee. Free Wi-Fi.
- Riverside Bistro, 273a Sisowath Quay. In an old colonial style building with comfortable outdoor dining and views of the Tonle Sap. Popular with local expats, tourists, and affluent Khmers. Try "root of lotus".
- The Shop, 39 St 240, ☎ +855 23 986964, +855 92 955963 (mobile), e-mail: email@example.com. 07:00-19:00. Popular place with a good selection of sandwiches, quiches, salads and freshly baked goods. Has a cosy and quiet courtyard seating area. Very good breakfast options. Less than USD5.
- Le Bistrot, 4D, St 29. French and Italian in an old villa.
- FCC Phnom Penh (Foreign Correspondents' Club), 363 Sisowath Quay, ☎ +855 23 724014, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 07:00-24:00. A favourite expat hang-out, exhibiting modern colonial-style charm with superb views of the river. No air-con and rather spoiled by the unseemly gauntlet of touts one has to battle through to leave. FCC does particularly good desserts. Their signature cocktails are the Tonle Sap Breezer and Burmese Rum Sour are USD4.50 each. USD20+.
- La Luna d'Autunno, 4D, St 29. Italian food in a beautiful old villa with lovely garden setting, air-con inside.
- 102, 1A, St 102 (One block south of Le Royal), ☎ +855 23 990880. Probably Phnom Penh's top French restaurant, set in a modern, European-style surroundings. The food is quite competent and the onion soup is superb. Almost entirely undiscovered by tourists, but popular with Phnom Penh's moneyed elite, so reservations are recommended. USD30.
- Le Quay (Corner of Sisowath Quay & St 110), ☎ +855 23 213582. Seating by a water feature or on the terrace, enjoying Phnom Penh riverside activities. Western and Asian dishes.
- Le Wok, 33 St 178 (Near the National Museum), ☎ +855 98 821857. 09:00-23:00. Delicious French and pan-Asian cuisine in a tastefully decorated venue. Over USD20; lunch special USD10.
Places to hang out after dark include St 104, St 278, and St 108 around the St 51 corner, which all feature restaurant bars, hostess bars, and guesthouses.
- Blue Cat, St 110 (Just off the riverside). Classy bar, friendly staff, fun popular place with free pool and a night club upstairs. Cheap cocktails.
- Blue Chili, 36Eo, 178 St (Behind the National Museum), ☎ +855 12 566353, e-mail: email@example.com. One of the more popular gay bars in town.
- FCC and Guesthouse (Sisowath Quay). Overlooking the river. Excellent place to meet professionals and travelling people. Happy hour 17:00-19:00.
- Green Vespa, 95 Sisowath Quay (Near St 102). 06:00-late. Friendly pub and great single malt collection.
- Liquid, 3B St 278 (Next door to Equinox). Daily, 08:00-late. Polished concrete, gun-metal grey floor, chocolate leather seats and fabulously backlit bar serving some of the best and most inventive cocktails in town. One of the only genuine slate pool tables in town. As much a mid-week bar as a weekend bar.
- Rubies, St 240. Wine bar popular with young expats working for local NGOs. Busy with a cliquey atmosphere on a weekend night.
- Sharky's Bar & Restaurant, 126 St 130 (About 3.5 blocks from the "Psar Thmei" (new market)). Since its opening in 1995, Sharky's has been rocking & rolling. Upstairs on the first floor above street level. Large space, huge centre bar, outside balcony, and plenty of available seating. Most moto taxis will understand "Shockeee Bah".
- The Terrace Pub (Just off the main riverside road, look for the big British flag on the right side of the street). British-owned pub. USD0.75/beer and friendly staff.
- UpDownbar, St 136 (Across the famous 136 Bar). Relaxed atmosphere, with a bar upstairs and on the ground floor.
- Barbados (South of St 104 near the river). Hostess bar. Buy 5 beers and get 1 free.
- Golden Vine, St 108 (Next to VooDoo Lounge). Hostess bar with pool table.
- Martini Pub & Disco, St 95 (One block off Monivong Blvd, across from the Total Gas Station). Infamous girlie bar. 2 full bars, food USD2–6, burgers & fries, pizza, Asian dishes, gaming room, disco, outdoor big-screen showing movies or sports. There some copycat Martini bars in other places like Sihanoukville and Siem Reap, but this is the original. A place for single men and loose ladies.
- OneZeroFour Bar, St 104. Popular low-key hostess bar. The bar has a good range of single malt whiskys.
- One3Six Bar, St 136. Popular hostess bar. Great range of drinks plus they keep their 42 Below and Grey Goose in the freezer, so the shots are really smooth.
- Pit Stop, St 51. Popular hostess bar.
- 69 Bar. Popular dance-oriented hostess bar.
- Sugar Shack, Sothearos St (The street in front of the National Museum and Palace). Classy little hostess bar featuring a nice selection of wines, champagnes, and single malts.
- VooDoo Lounge, St 51 (Near St 108). Great range of drinks, nice decor, air-con, happy hostesses, and a pool table. Two other hostess bars nearby.
- Walkabout, St 51. 24/7. Food and good pool tables. Many freelance girls congregate here. Popular after hours bar, also has rooms available.
- Zanzibar, St 104. High energy hostess bar with reasonable prices and a pool table upstairs, very popular among expats.
- Zapata Bar, St 108 (Next to VooDoo Lounge). Stylish air-con hostess bar with a good range of drinks, and no pool table or food to distract you from the lovely ladies.
- Equinox, St 278 (Near St 51). One of the best live music venues in town with weekly concerts from locals and expat bands. It's also a 2 storey cocktail bar featuring monthly art exhibitions by local and international artists, gaming room with a pool table and the unique bonzini foosball table of Phnom Penh, cool tunes, good food. Increasingly popular with expats. Happy hour 17:00-20:00.
Popular tourist buys include silk, silverware, handicrafts and curios (including Buddha figures), and made-to-order clothes (which are often of good quality). 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 promotes the preservation of Cambodia's cultural legacy.
- About Money. The Cambodian riel is not used for large purchases. Prices for anything more substantial than a plate of rice will be quoted in US dollars. The Cambodian Central Bank maintains the riel at approximately 3,900–4,100 to the dollar. Be wary if rates are outside this range. Money changers are plentiful near the central market and display their rates on boards.
The Cambodia Antiquities Law (1996) bans the sale, purchase and export of Cambodian antiques, and since 1999 the US has banned their import. Consequently, most of the "antiques" sold in Cambodia are reproductions.
- Hidden Treasures, 9 St 148. Antiques, art, and curios from Cambodia's past and nearby SE Asian cultures.
The pirated books that children will try to sell you for USD5 need to be haggled down (they buy them for USD1). Spend a minute or so leafing through before buying. Quality varies: pages can be in the wrong order or missing, or the book may not be the one described on the cover.
- Bohr's Books, 5 Sothearos Blvd (St 3) (One block from the Royal Palace), ☎ +855 12 929148, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A small store offering a large, diverse collection of books. Easy to find. A second store now operates on St 172, 400 m from Wat Unalom.
- Boston Book Company, 8 St 240, Chaktomuk Duan Penh (Around the corner from Monument Books), ☎ +855 92 214452. A second-hand bookshop. Has a good collection of fiction and non-fiction, including texts for teachers and students. In an attractive building, it will eventually have a cafe.
- D's Books, 79 St 240, and 363 Sisowath Quay (Near the Foreign Correspondents' Club). A chain of second-hand bookshops dealing mainly in mass market paperbacks. Uncommunicative, monosyllabic staff.
- International Book Center, 154 Sihanouk Blvd (St 274, between Monivong Blvd and St 63); 250 Preah Monivong Blvd (near Central Market); 43-45 Kampuchea Krom Blvd (at the corner of St 215), ☎ +855 23 218352, +855 23 222822 (Sihanouk), fax: +855 23 721368, e-mail: email@example.com. Large barn-like bookshops selling mostly textbooks and other educational works. Has a small classic literature collection. Also sells stationery, electronic devices, sporting goods and souvenirs.
- Monument Books, 111 Norodom Blvd (Near the corner of St 240), ☎ +855 23 217617, fax: +855 23 217618, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Has the most extensive collection of new books in Phnom Penh, including fiction and non-fiction, children's books, non-English-language works (in French and Khmer, for instance), magazines and newspapers. There is a particularly good collection of books from and about Cambodia, for instance, on Angkor Wat, the Khmer Rouge regime, and the history of Cambodia. Prices can be very high, often above the list price, and can be purchased cheaper elsewhere in town. However, you can also get a good tea or coffee and cake there, if the serving staff are awake and it's a nice place to sip and read without being pestered. Monument Toys upstairs has a collection of children's toys and games. There is a branch of the bookshop at the airport.
- The National Museum of Cambodia, St 13, Sangkat Chey Chumneas, Khan Daun Penh (Opposite the Royal Palace), ☎ +855 23 211753, +855 12 621.22 (mobile), fax: +855 23 211753, e-mail: email@example.com. Daily, 08:00-17:00, last admission 16:30. Has a small selection of books on Cambodian archaeology, art, culture, and history. Remember that money you spend at any Cambodian government-run institution will end up in officials' pockets.
Clothing and accessories
Throughout the city, but especially in the Russian Market, there are tailors willing to make custom made clothes. A man can get a medium quality custom made shirt for USD12, or a high quality custom made shirt for USD15. Definitely worth the purchase, as you'll never have a more perfect fit.
- Beautiful Shoes, 138 St 143, Boeung Keng Kong 3 (One street behind the Genocide Museum and about 10 min from Riverside). They will make you an excellent pair of custom men's business shoes. USD35–60.
- Apple Computers. Cambodia is a cheap place to buy a MacBook, iPad, or iPod. Prices are in US dollars at same rates as in the USA but there is no added tax. iPhones are available here only by special import and from licensed Apple agents, therefore they are not so cheap here. By far the most expert Mac retailer and repairer is Uniyang near the Central Market.
- Huawei Phones (Monivong Blvd). Cheap, but decent, Chinese Android phones and Bluetooth speakers.
- Samsung Phones. Cambodia is a cheap place to buy Samsung phones as there is no sales tax, but it's best to buy from one of only two authorised dealers in Phnom Penh. One near Central Market and the other on Monivong Blvd. Note that Samsung one year guarantees are only good in the country where you buy, unlike Apple that honours warranties worldwide.
St 178, just north of the National Museum, is known as Artist Street and has many interesting boutiques.
- Cambodian Handicraft Association (CHA), 54 & 56, St 113 (Across from the Genocide Museum). Handmade silk goods, jewellery, accessories and clothing made by women disabled from polio and land mines. If you ask, you will also be able to tour the shop, meeting the female workers and seeing where they study English. The products are absolutely beautiful and the majority of the silk is sourced from a local village, where it is all hand woven. The costs of running the project are covered by selling the artists' work in the shop. They receive no grants or aid.
- 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). Features brightly-colored fun and funky paintings of Cambodian life - a welcome relief after visiting some of Cambodia's more heart-breaking attractions.
- Central Market (Psar Thmei). The "New Market" is a 1930s art Deco covered market near the Riverfront (Sisowath Quay) district. The market is well laid out, and sells everything from flowers to video games. It has recently been beautifully renovated and its architecture alone is worth admiring.
- Night Market (Between St 106 and St 108, riverside). F-Sa nights. Good for cheap local food, many food stalls here. Usually some live entertainment, but primarily for the locals.
- City Mall, Monireth Blvd (Near Olympic Stadium). The newest and biggest Western-style mall in Phnom Penh. The mall contains a large branch of Lucky Supermarket, as well as many fast food outlets and modern shops, mainly catering to Phnom Penh's growing middle-class population.
- Olympic Market (Psar Olympic). Olympic Market was built in 1994 and is a local favourite with shoppers looking for wholesale fabrics, everyday wear, religious paraphernalia, and traditional Khmer dresses. Buyers can look forward to big discounts in this market especially if they are buying in bulk. The market is well laid out and is one of the more modern multi-story market complexes. Buyers should definitely give this market a visit.
- Russian Market (Psar Toul Tom Poung). The Russian Market moniker dates to the Vietnamese occupation of the city in the 1980s. Real designer clothes at discount prices. A lot of the factories for Levis, CK, Ralph Lauren and many other brands are in Phnom Penh, however a lot of the clothes sold here are deemed unfit to be shipped abroad due to very small faults, 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 iced coffee in the city. Russian Market is located away from normal tourist areas, but motodop drivers who cater to tourists will know it.
- Sorya Shopping Center, St 63 (between St 154 and St 142 near Central Market). Phnom Penh's main Western-style mall, is nearby. Sorya is rather drab by Western standards, and is crowded with stalls (like a traditional market, a strange juxtaposition). But it is air conditioned and contains a range of cheap fast food outlets as well as the well-stocked Lucky Supermarket. Don't leave a motorbike with the Sorya parking people, who are known to steal helmets, and double the parking charges on a whim.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Phnom Penh on Wikivoyage.