Phnom Penh Accommodation

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Exploring Phnom Penh

The capital and the biggest city in Cambodia is Phnom Penh. This huge, steamy metropolis along the banks of the Mekong River is many things to many people, but is rarely dull. Before the destruction of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, the city was called the Paris of the East. It may be hard at times to find remnants of this poetic ambience today, but a stroll along its breezy waterfront strip reveals plenty of interesting options to eat, shop, and have a drink in the evening.

With Phnom Penh being the capital of Cambodia, there are a number of worthwhile cultural attractions to seek out. The Royal Palace is home to two of the nation’s finest Buddhist temples: the Silver Pagoda and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The National Museum of Cambodia is another great venue, if you have an interest in ancient Khmer heritage. When it’s time to eat or drink, the best spot is Sisowath Quay along the Mekong River. This is the hub of local expat life, with loads of affordable hotels like the Pacific Hotel side by side with high-end accommodation such as the Raffles Hotel Le Royal.

Sights nearby

There is actually a lot to see in Phnom Penh, but it takes a bit of time to get around this sprawling city. Along the waterfront you can visit the Royal Palace grounds and the National Museum in between stops at traveller-friendly cafés.

Royal Palace
The Royal Palace resides along the riverfront district and serves as a reminder that Cambodia has the potential to be grand and regal. The grounds are not as impressive as those in the Thai capital of Bangkok, but are still an impressive collection of French-Khmer inspired architecture and design. Within the palace grounds are the Silver Pagoda and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, two of the most spectacular attractions in the country.

Sisowath Quay
This wide-open promenade along the Mekong River provides the best place in the capital for a peaceful walk and a cool breeze. Watch the boats ply the lazy waters of the river and the swarm of motorbikes and rickshaws jockeying along the riverfront street. It’s the liveliest part of Phnom Penh, with side streets packed with little cafés, bars, shops, and hotels. Most travellers stay around here, in one of the budget hotels like the River 108 Boutique Hotel.

National Museum of Cambodia
Whether or not you make it to Angkor Wat, this impressive museum in the riverside district offers an excellent look at the art, design, and imperialism of Cambodia’s ancient Khmer civilisation. The golden age of Angkor is on full display here in the form of statues, inscribed panels, and other pieces of stunning stonework. It won’t take long to see the entire museum, so plan to incorporate it into an outing with the Royal Palace.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

The hub of Phnom Penh’s action is centred around Sisowath Quay, along the Mekong River. Nearly everyone stays at one of the dozens of budget hotels here, such as the Quay Boutique Hotel or the Bougainvillea Hotel. You can (and should) walk everywhere in this riverside district. There are countless options for eating out, having a drink, or shopping for local souvenirs. At the other end of the spectrum are the massive Central Market and the Russian Market where stalls sell all kinds of goods, including street food.

Public transport

With no public transportation to speak of, the best way to get around Phnom Penh is by motorised rickshaw. There are also regular taxis if you prefer, and once you reach any district in the capital, it’s worthwhile walking around to get a sense of the street life. One thing you won’t need in Phnom Penh is a car. Traffic is notoriously congested and the driving here is a challenge for even the most skilled drivers.

Phnom Penh travel guides

Phnom Penh travel guides