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Phnom Penh Travel Guide

About Phnom Penh

Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, is a quintessential Southeast Asian city: a buzzing whirl of saffron robes, heaving markets and golden spires.

The hectic flurry of motorbikes and street life, however, is counteracted by Phnom Penh’s focal points - from the peaceful grandeur of the Silver Pagoda to the broad waters of the Mekong. While the city might be overshadowed by the temples at Angkor, after time it’s hard not to be won over by the sheer energy of Phnom Penh.

Even now, some four decades after the murderous Khmer Rouge era began, the country’s modern history is hard to ignore. Most visitors still take the time to visit the harrowing Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, set in a former prison. Many also head out to the area known as the Killing Fields, on the city outskirts.

As much as anything, visiting these sites gives a fresh admiration for the spirited attitude that today’s Cambodia has become renowned for, but a trip to Phnom Penh is about much more than the horrors of the past.

This is a seriously lively, even hip, city - a status shown by its array of nightlife options and restaurants, including some great rooftop bars. On a related note, the city’s often mouth-watering food scene is one of the most under-rated in Southeast Asia. Try the fresh curries and noodles at Phsar Thmey (the Central Market), where food stalls share space with textile vendors and spice sellers.

Long before Pol Pot, the Khmer Empire was a proud and powerful realm, and its history can be explored at the Royal Palace complex – home to the city’s single most impressive attraction, the Silver Pagoda. Take a trip to the National Museum too, to admire the art and relics of times gone by.

Set-piece sights aside, Phnom Penh is at its most captivating along the riverside. Its waterfront promenade, with its entertainers and food hawkers, is the best place to enjoy the balmy, Cambodian evenings.

Key facts

Population:
1502000 (2012)
Latitude:
11.557929
Longitude:
104.921647

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Featured Hotels

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InterContinental Hotel

Located in the new business centre of the city, the InterContinental is the first 5-star business hotel in Phnom Penh. With 346 rooms, it's the ideal place for those visiting for work as it has a range of meeting rooms. Its good selection of restaurants offer pan-Asian, Western and Chinese cuisine as well as a popular patisserie.

La Maison D’Ambre

With a superb location on the corner of Sisowath Quay, La Maison D'Ambre has quickly become one of Cambodia's hottest hotels, especially thanks to its river views. Its 10 luxury rooms are individually decorated, while the rooftop bar, Fifth Element, is a huge draw for those after a cool drink at the end of a day. A tree-lined pool and private dining terrace round out a compelling package.

Cozyna Hotel

It's the location of this hotel that makes it such a winner. Right on the main quay, with great access to sights and the city's best nightlife, it's perfect for those on a tight budget. The rooms are simple, but clean, and the staff friendly.

Sunway Hotel

A longstanding favourite, the Sunway Hotel has an excellent location in an upmarket part of Phnom Penh, close to Wat Phnom. The 138 rooms are all large and stylish, some with balconies. The restaurant serves local and international cuisine with special themed nights and there is a patisserie in the lobby. With its own fitness centre and spa, this hotel remains popular.

Raffles Hotel Le Royal

This is a beautifully restored French colonial hotel featuring a blend of Khmer, art deco and French styles. Established in 1929, it boasted an impressive guest list in its heyday including Charlie Chaplin and Jacqueline Kennedy. This sophisticated Phnom Penh hotel has 208 rooms, five restaurants and bars, a pool and spa. The Raffles high standards of service are combined with modern comforts throughout.

Villa Langka Hotel

This good value boutique hotel sits in lush tropical gardens in central Phnom Penh. Close to the Independence Monument, and overlooking Wat Langka, the hotel is spread over two converted houses. All 43 rooms are spacious and colonial in style. The hotel's restaurant offers local and international cuisine using the freshest ingredients and meals are either served on the terrace or indoors.