The Phnom Penh City Guide

The Phnom Penh City Guide
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Phnom Penh Travel Guide – For the First Time Traveller


Phnom Penh is one of the main cities in Cambodia in terms of the tourist inflow and the level of modernisation in the city.Its also a great place to start your Trip to Cambodia according to this 7 Day Cambodia Travel Itinerary. Everyone who plans a trip to Vietnam or Thailand, makes it a point to include Cambodia in the itinerary, primarily for Angkor Wat. If one comes from Vietnam, one can easily take a bus to Phnom Penh which costs around 18 USD per head. The border crossing via land is pretty easy, and one can easily get the Cambodia Visa on Arrival. Alternatively, to avoid big and dangerous airports, you can always go for private jet charters. Check out for the best ones around.

Phnom Penh is a city in the midst of rapid change. But as skyscrapers rise and the number of food outlets increase exponentially, the city still offers that traditional of mixture of Cambodian Hospitality and Indochinese charm.




Set at the confluence of three great rivers – the Chaktomuk or ‘four faces’ of the Mekong River – Phnom Penh is a city of more than 2 million people and the country’s commercial, economical and political hub.


Many of the tourist areas are in the old central city near the river where one may notice classic French colonial buildings amongst the Southeast Asian shop houses, pagodas and markets. Some of the sights one can find in the area include the ornate Royal Palace, National Museum – which is the most significant public repository of Khmer artefacts in the country, and the riverfront dining and shopping district. Khmer Rouge historical sites include the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (S 21 Prison) and Choeung Ek Memorial (Killing Fields) outside the city.


In case you are wondering what the transportation scene is like in Phnom Penh, look no further and head over to this complete Guide To Transport in Phnom Penh By Road, Rail and River. You can thank us in the comments 😜



Where to Stay in Phnom Penh?

The Pavilion by MAADS

This Heritage Oasis Hotel, located a few steps from the Royal Palace and the Wat Botum (Royal Pagoda) was our first destination in Cambodia. After a 6-hour bus journey from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam we reached The Pavilion somewhere after lunch time. After a smooth check in, we proceeded to our own private bungalow, which was a Sprawling Jacuzzi Bungalow.


Our Abode at the Pavilions Phnom Penh Cambodia MAADS
Our Abode at the Pavilion Phnom Penh


Surrounded by trees all around, there was a spacious Jacuzzi sitting right in the middle, which literally made my heart glow. Without thinking twice, we quickly kept our stuff in the king-sized bedroom, and relaxed in the Jacuzzi over the next hour. It was undoubtedly the best thing that I could have expected that day.

This collection of four period buildings, including Queen Kossamak’s former residence, gives out a sense of timeless tranquility among exuberant flora. Two large swimming pools and private plunge pools contribute to the oasis feel of a place where each and every one of the accommodations keeps its own character and atmosphere.

All 36 rooms and suites retain a distinctive character. There are rooms fitting all kind of budgets and comforts. And the hotel has a strict policy of only 16 + aged guests, which kind of makes the whole atmosphere romantic and relaxing.


The King Sized Bungalow at The Pavilions Phnom Penh Cambodia MAADS
The King Sized Bungalow at The Pavilion Phnom Penh


One can choose from either of the below mentioned rooms:

  • Suites (90 – 120 sq.m + terrace / balcony)
  • Studios (23-55 sq.m + terrace/balcony)
  • Private Pool Rooms (20 sq.m + outdoor private area with 6*3 m plunge pool)
  • Jacuzzi Bungalow (25 sq.m + large outdoor area with Jacuzzi)
  • Deluxe Double (28 – 32 sq.m + 10 – 20 sq.m private balcony)
  • Superior Double (20-30 sq.m with balcony/patio)
  • Twin (20-30 sq.m)
  • Double (15 – 23 sq.m)


The Pavilion offers 2 spacious pools, each one with its own atmosphere and set up in a distinct part of the property.


The Lush Pool at The Pavilions Phnom Penh
The Lush Pool at The Pavilion Phnom Penh


The one overlooking the reception is called Lush Pool, an expanse of vegetation and translucent waters. At the back of the hotel, one can find the Sun Pool, which boasts a vast sunbathing area.

The rates of the room include complimentary breakfast, which is served in the lounge / restaurant / bar area overlooking the lush pool. One can enjoy a vast spread of Continental and local Khmer dishes for breakfast, and cocktails and drinks during the day, coupled with Khmer and Western light meals.The Pavilion also serves complimentary coffee, fruit juices and cakes all day long at the Sun Pool Bar.


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#CambodiaDiaries . Someone has rightly said that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. . And @pavilionphnompenh made sure to hit the right nail with it's sumptuous breakfast options. . Though there is no buffet system, but you can always build your own plate or have their pre set combinations. . The watermelon juice is way too refreshing, while the chicken porridge is just what you need to kick start the day. . As we head out to @soksanbeachresort in the morning, I sit here overlooking the Pvt jacuzzi, I can't thank @pavilionphnompenh for hosting me and letting me experience their lovely hospitality. . . . . #EatTravelLiveRepeat #cambodiaWithETLR #beautifulcambodia #phnompenh #tombraider #southeastasia #goodtimes #visitcambodia #TheETLRblog #cambodia2017 #foodtrailwithetlr #phnompenhlife #reflection #resort365 #resortlife #hotellife #luxurylife

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The Pavilion makes it a point that all the guests are looked for and pampered. And what better place to get pampered than the Spa! Located in the building adjacent to the reception, the spa offers a gentle environment for massages or relaxation treatments after an intense day in the city.

For those of you, who like to keep yourself fit on the move, there’s a Gym in the property as well.

The location of The Pavilion is a huge plus point, as its walking distance from the riverfront, where one can find a plethora of options to dine. There are few supermarkets as well, in the vicinity where you can get the fix of practically anything.

A few blocks from the most visited areas in Phnom Penh, however complete quietness is guaranteed here. Add to it the gratifying harmony of French-Khmer historic architecture, the friendliness and dedication of its staff, and you have a home away from home, where every moment is lived effortlessly, where the traveler feels like a special guest in a private abode.


Book your escapade at The Pavilions here.


Related : Sun Island Resort and Spa – Maldives, A paradise in true sense



The Floating Bungalow – Flotation Phnom Penh by MAADS

If you are really looking for some unique experience, then a stay in the Floating Bungalow by Flotation Phnom Penh, should be on the top of your list.


Welcome to The Floating Bungalow by Mekong Getaways MAADS Cambodia
Welcome to The Floating Bungalow by Mekong Getaways


A Le Tonle boat will pick you up from the Phnom Penh Jetty, around 5 PM, and then for the next 15 minutes, the boat will take you to your destination overlooking the Phnom Penh skyline. While you are in the boat, do have a bottle of chilled beer.


Our Transport on water - the luxurious Le Tonle boat Mekong Cambodia MAADS
Our Transport on water – the luxurious Le Tonle boat


Your destination is none other than a luxurious bungalow floating over the Mekong River. The bungalow complex comprises of a bar, restaurant and of course a king size bedroom, overlooking the Phnom Penh skyline. If you are lucky, and get a cloudless sky, you are in for a memorable sunset.

The River Suite comes with a lounging terrace, a large and stylish double bedroom with king size bed and sofas, a bathroom and separate toilets. Screen windows open to the majestic Mekong and magical views over the city, so close and yet so far away.


Our Bungalow on Water Mekong Cambodia MAADS
Our Bungalow on Water


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While the Le Tonle boat to reach @floatationphnompenh was an experience in itself. . There was nothing to beat the experience of having a private luxury floating suite on the Mekong river, all to yourself. . A private bedroom with an amazing view, a fully equipped bar and restaurant serving yummy food and drinks, which we thoroughly enjoyed overlooking the Phnom Penh skyline. . Witnessing first the sunset, then the skyline all lit up to seeing the ball of fire rise up behind the skyline in the morning. An experience, which can't be expressed in mere words. . . . #CambodiaDiaries with @the_vagabong . . . . #EatTravelLiveRepeat #TravelThrowback #beautifulcambodia #luxurygetaway #luxurytravel #maads #cambodia #travelwithETLR #travelwithvagabong #theETLRblog #thevagabong #ETLRWithArnav #goodtimes #phnompenh #phnompenhcity #phnompenhlife #floatingbungalows #luxurylife #instatravel #southeastasia #beautifuldestinations

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Our Private Bar and Cafe, just a bridge away ! Mekong Cambodia MAADS
Our Private Bar and Cafe, just a bridge away !


As the sun goes down, the skyline in front of you lit’s up, creating a memorable and romantic environment.


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Major missing happening. A huge throwback to the one of the most memorable evenings I've had till now with @the_vagabong . All this was made possible by @maadshotels @floatationphnompenh who hosted us and let us experience something which I could never have imagined. . Having a king sized bedroom coupled with a bar, all to ourselves and that too floating on the Mekong River, overlooking the Phnom Penh skyline. . Each moment spent here was special to another level all together. . . . Keep tuned, new blog post coming up in a couple of hours. . . . . . #EatTravelLiveRepeat #traveldiaries2017 #cambodia #maads #mekonggetaways #ETLRtraveldiaries2017 #theETLRblog #cambodia2017 #experience #thevagabong #trip #tripadvisor #addictedtotravel #nomadiclife #throwback #wednesdaywisdom #instagood #doyouremember #sunset

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Related : South East Asia Packing List


What more can one ask for? When the cook puts up some delicious dishes in front of you, paired with a bottle of wine or a glass of cocktail, overlooking the Phnom Penh skyline and some nice soft songs playing through the Bluetooth speaker in the room which ensures that you can play your own songs to enhance the romantic setting.


Dinner Time over looking the Phnom Penh skyline Cambodia MAADS
Dinner Time over looking the Phnom Penh skyline


Going to sleep, in a floating bungalow overlooking the Phnom Penh skyline was definitely one of the highlights of our Trip to Phnom Penh.


The Phnom Penh skyline at night Cambodia MAADS Mekong
The Phnom Penh skyline at night


Don’t forget to wake up early next morning, to capture a glorious sunrise, and enjoy a hearty breakfast, overlooking the Phnom Penh Skyline; either in the restaurant or on the Le Tonle boat, which takes you back to the jetty.


The Morning sky from our Floating Bungalow Cambodia Mekong MAADS
The Morning sky from our Floating Bungalow


Related :  Templation by MAADS – Property Review


Travelling to Cambodia for the first time?

If that be so, then you should definitely know these Things Before Travelling to Cambodia



Top Things To Do In Phnom Penh


If you are wondering what to do in Phnom Penh, heres your answer:


A Day Trip to the Killing fields and S 21 Prison

Many of those who perished under the Khmer Rouge regime ended up in one of the dozens of ‘killing fields’ that can be found scattered across the country. These killing fields were ad hoc places of execution and dumping grounds for bodies.


Choeung Ek Memorial Phnom Penh Cambodia
Choeung Ek Memorial


Prior to 1975, Choeung Ek near Phnom Penh was a orchard and a Chinese cemetery. But under the Khmer Rouge the area became one of the infamous killing fields. This particular killing field is the site of the brutal executions of approximately 17,000 men, women and children, most of whom had first been through interrogation, torture and deprivation in the S-21 Prison (now the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum) in Phnom Penh.


Choeung Ek Memorial Phnom Penh Cambodia
Choeung Ek Memorial


After the fall of the regime, memorials were set up at many of the sites, some containing the bones and remnants of victims gathered from the area.



The memorial is about a 45-minute drive from Phnom Penh. For the sake of historical context, combine the visit of both the S-21 Prison and The Killing Fields.


S 21 Prison Phnom Penh Cambodia
S 21 Prison 


In case you are wondering where to head next after Phnom Penh on your Trip To Cambodia, this 10 Day Cambodia Guide might turn out to be a great asset.



Take a stroll along the Mekong River

The riverfront area from Street 104 to the Royal Palace is popular with the locals and tourists alike. In addition to harboring several of city’s most popular sights including the Royal Palace and the National museum, the riverfront road Sisowath Quay is lined with restaurants and bars, souvenir shops, travel agents and more.

The riverfront is a sought-after destination once the sun goes down, as it’s an amazing feeling to take a stroll sometime around sunset. Having a drink and some yummy food, relaxing at a street side cafe, overlooking the Mekong River, is one of the must have experiences in Phnom Penh.

The best shopping streets adjoining the riverfront are street 240 and street 178, on either side of the Royal Palace and National Museum.



Go on a shopping spree at the various markets

Phsar in Khmer means ‘Market’, and a visit to at least one traditional phsar is a must. A typical traditional market is a sprawling ground level affair, open air but covered, crowded with rows of booths and stalls. If you visit only one or two markets in Phnom Penh, begin with the Phsar Tuol Thom Poung (Russian Market) and the Phsar They (Central Market). Both offer souvenirs and a cultural shopping experience. These markets open and close with the sun. But worry not, once the sun goes down, one can head out to the Night Market for some delicious food and cheap shopping.


Variety of clothes on sale at the Russian Market Phnom Penh Cambodia
Variety of clothes on sale at the Russian Market 






Tantalise your food buds by gorging on street food


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The way to a man's heart is through his stomach – and it was literally a riot of flavours in Phnom Penh. . While our stay was taken care by @thepavilionphnompenh , the location of #thepavilionphnompenh was such that it was just a 10 min walk from the night market. . When the sun went down, me and @the_vagabong took off to explore the night market. . The moment we entered, I saw stalls lined up selling yummy food and I just couldn't resist myself from satisfying my taste buds. . We tried some squids, frogs, fresh spring rolls , noodles, and what not. . And it was literally a night to remember. . . . . . #EatTravelLiveRepeat #cambodia2017 #phnompenhlife #foodtrailwithetlr #food #foodporn #goodtimes #tripotofeaturedtraveller #TravelWithETLR #ETLRTravelDiaries2017 #TravelDiaries2017 #picoftheday

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Related : One Week Cambodia Itinerary – The Best You Can Get


Already been to Phnom Penh, Cambodia? Share your tips and suggestions in comments .


The Phnom Penh City Guide by theETLRblog
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Disclaimer : No compensation was received for this article, however The Pavilion Phnom Penh by MAADS and Flotation Phnom Penh offered my stay complimentary. As always, the opinions on are (and always will be) my own!


27 thoughts on “The Phnom Penh City Guide”

  • The primary thing to do in Cambodia is to immerse yourself with the distinction of its history and heritage. I haven’t been to the country (but I plan to come next year!) yet but it already fascinates me. I look forward to discovering more things about the temples. I love ancient stuff!

  • Hey Arnav, thanks for bringing back nice memory of mine about Cambodia. You ever thought of coming to Vietnam? I live in the city of Hue and would love to host you for a local tour.

  • Quite a useful guide of the place. Among the places to stay I like the floating hotel. Gives you a different experience in the city. The prison looks like a very poignant visit though I am all for it. I love the colorful markets that you have described and shown. Good to get a flavor of the local life.

  • That is a well-written, informative guide. I must say you have jotted everything perfectly about Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We haven’t been to the country yet and it is high on our list, so going to refer your this guide for sure. Pictures are absolutely stunning. thanks for sharing

  • Thanks for the great guide! The Pavilion by MAADS looks absolutely fantastic. I’d go to the city just for an opportunity to stay there, but the view of the city from the bungalow might be better! I don’t know if I would be able to choose between the two! Thanks for the great guide!

  • I’ve been to Cambodia, but I only passed by Phnom Penh on my way to Siem Reap (yeah, I know, too bad). I didn’t have a good impression of it; the tuktuk drivers were very pushy and it seemed to be polluted. However, based on your photos, it seems there have been some changes? I wouldn’t mind staying in the floating bungalow!

  • I still can’t believe I stopped at Siem Reap and never made it to Phnom Penh. This place really does look great. I’d certainly love to stay in those floating bungalows. And that food…!! I’m sure I’ll make it back to SE Asia next year, and I’ll be sure to keep your suggestions in mind.

  • The S-21 and Killing Fields tour seems very somber. I think Europeans and Americans are often unaware of the atrocities that happen to non-European peoples. The brutality is so real and far reaching in the society that it shouldn’t just disappear as a footnote in history. Good to know that these places are here paying remembrance. I hope the tourists treat the area with respect and don’t take selfies doing yoga in the Killing Fields.

  • This is so different than the Phnom Penh I visited over 15 years ago, a lot more upscale than the dusty and dirt roads around the capital. Things look so much nicer and luxe

  • Thanks for a great post. It was really thought out and well executed. I’m dying to spend time at the Pavilion. It’s officially on my bucket list.

  • I haven’t been to Cambodia or Phnom Penh, but it’s on my travel list. Both of those hotels look amazing, but I’d love to stay at that floating bungalow. It looks like it’s worth a splurge to spend a night there.

  • I’m yet to explore the Far Eastern countries. I’m thinking of exploring them in 2019. So thanks for this extensive guide. The Heritage Oasis hotel looks stunning. I’d totally love to stay here but the disadvantage would be I’d hardly be motivated to get out of such a gorgeous resort. The private pool would be sooooo inviting!!! The food looks veggie? Is it?

  • Hi Arnav,

    Super PP guide.

    We did most of these things during our stay in Phnom Penh in 2013 for a month.

    We loved chilling on the waterfront, grabbing dinner then strolling by the river as locals did all forms of cardio; dancing, working out on exercise equipment, the whole 9 yards.

    S-21 is moving. Only place I visited during my world tour where tears streamed from my eyes. Seeing the black and white photos of many prisoners and the look of death and hopelessness in their eyes haunted me, as did the unsanitized rooms of the school/prison, with rusty-looking blood stains still on the floors.

    Thanks for sharing Arnav.


  • Oh my ! I also stayed at MAADS while in Cambodia! I loved the Tea House in Phnom Pehn and Templation in Siem Reap. I truly love their properties and philosophy! Love your guide too.

  • Cambodia houses such a lovely place as Phnom Penh, I’d not have known. I like the Floating Bungalow. I am excited to know what it feels like living on water. So cute. The landscape of Phnom Penh is remarkable and your photography skills is just too good.

  • I like the idea of the $18 bus from Vietnam with easy border crossing. The The Pavilion looks like the perfect place to stay, it looks very luxurious and the prices very low for this luxury! I would find a killing fields tour very interesting, the history is so cruel in Cambodia.

  • Your post has made me want to visit Phnom Penh now! I loved both the accommodation you stayed in, just incredible and so romantic; I’d love to be on that floating bungalow with my love! I’d also love to take a stroll along the Mekong River and stop by the night market 🙂

  • When I thought I have seen it all, and here is Phnom Penh which exudes beautiful landscape and culinary. I love the pictures you used in this post, look at the market!!! It’s awesome. I wonder why some places are overly rated when places like Phnom Penh can just replace them.

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