Where to Stay in Phnom Penh? Check below our guide featuring the best areas to stay in Phnom Penh, the thriving and exotic capital of Cambodia
If you are looking for an exotic travel in Southeast Asia you should definitely check Cambodia. In this post we will go through the best areas to stay in Cambodia, one of the most affordable capitals among the ASEAN countries.
Tourism in Cambodia: Overview
Most people remember Cambodia because of its majestic Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World heritage site. However, one should know that there is more to the country than ruins and temples. This ‘Kingdom of Wonder’ is surprising in many aspects including unique tourism destinations, their local cuisines, the beautiful Khmer language and of course great places to stay.
Cambodia, a landlocked country bordering Vietnam to the east, Laos to the north and Thailand to the west, has been better days in the last decade. Its robust tourism industry is attracting more and more visitors year after year. So far, it is becoming one of South East Asia’s most fascinating and rewarding tourist destinations. Such progress can be attributed to the people’s ability to keep their Khmer culture rather intact. The modern day capital of the country is Phnom Penh.
Getting to Phnom is quite easy. Whether you are coming by land (deluxe buses are available) from neighboring Asian countries: Laos, Vietnam and Thailand or you are flying in, Cambodia welcomes you with a smile and wonder.
Flying to Phnom Penh is easy and has become relatively cheap (if you are coming from Asia). There are three major airports in the country: Siem Reap, Shihanoukville and Phnom Penh.
The capital was at one point known as Krong Chaktomuk, which means City of Four Faces in Khmer, the country’s national language. And why not, seeing new faces in no longer new in this bustling capital.
Best Areas to Stay in Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is divided into several districts, among them: the riverside district, the business district and the emerging outskirts or districts. The most central district where tourists will really enjoy themselves is the Riverside district. The country’s main river, the winding Mekong, provides a spectacular view of Phnom Penh especially at night.
The Riverside area is definitely one of the best places to stay in Cambodia, and it is also one of the most central. It offers accommodations ranging from ultra low budget to luxurious hotels.
At the center of the grand riverside spectacle is the King’s Palace, which is also open to tourists for a minimal fee. A relaxing afternoon can be a stroll by the river, a river cruise or just a quiet evening at one of the bars facing the Mekong. Being the most popular tourist destination in Phnom Penh, you will find specialty shops and pubs catering to Western tourists.
BKK1 (Boueng Keng Kang)
Locally known as Boueng Keng Kang (BKK1), the place is known as the home to the more affluent people of the city. Upscale boutique places and restaurants are continuously popping up all over the three BKK districts. The most prominent tourists destinations in this beautiful spot are the independent museums and temples.
The long stretch of accommodations along Street 278 caters to long-term stayers. Yes, anyone can apply for a business visa upon entry in Cambodia. Such visa allows foreigners to extend it for a few more months or even a year with a minimal fee.
In terms of charm, BKK will perhaps win the prize, outranking the famous Russian Market and Riverside and is definitely one of the best places to stay in Phnom Penh.
The Russian Market (Toul Tum Poung Market)
No one visits Phnom Penh without a trip to this string of sweltering bazaars – a gem for bargain shoppers, food enthusiasts and culture fanatics. Located in the Southern part of the capital, Toul Tum Poung district, the Russian Market houses the most authentic of cuisines and cheapest of food and shopping hence the area is peppered with restaurants, pubs, massage and spa and hotels from budget to mid-range ones.
The place was called such because it used to be the place frequented by Russian guests in the late 80’s – the name stayed. Still, the market has more western shoppers than local ones.
Budget Accommodation in Phnom Penh – $
Top Banana Guesthouse & Rooftop Bar – an affordable option to stay in the BKK 1 district.
Regal Home Guesthouse – a great option with easy access to the Russian Market.
Reasonably Priced Accommodation in Phnom Penh – $$
Feliz Urban Hotel – an excellent hotel in the BKK 1 district of Phnom Penh.
TAO Riverside Residence – a great hotel in one of the best areas to stay in Phnom Penh, on the Riverside.
Luxurious Hotels in Phnom Penh– $$$
Rosewood Phnom Penh – a luxurious hotel in one of the best areas to stay in Phnom Penh.
Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra – one of the most luxurious hotels in Phnom Penh.
Cost of Travel in Phnom Penh
Prices in Cambodia are among the cheapest in Asia. Clothes can be as low as $3 at the Russian Market while western full course meal can be less than $20 at high-end restaurants. Regular western cuisine dishes are from $3.50 to $7. Tight budget? A $1.50 can get you a meal. The US dollar is widely used everywhere in the country but small change (less than one dollar) may be given back in Riel, the country’s local currency. Cambodia does not use coins.
Best Time to Visit Phnom Penh
Cambodia celebrates many festivals forcing people to take a break and go visit their families in the provinces. These are probably the best time to enjoy the charm of quiet Phnom Penh. You will have more serene time at the temple, a quiet sit by the river or just a good time with fellow tourist. The Pchum Ben holiday happens in early October.
A great, noisy and colorful festival will be the Cambodian water festival (Bon Om Tuk) happening during the third week of November. It celebrates the reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap River, a sacred observance in Cambodia. It also commemorates the end of the rainy season. While it’s the whole country celebrates the festival, the highlight is the colorful boat racing in Phnom Penh.
Other Resources for Traveling in Cambodia
If you are traveling to Phnom Penh you might want to check some of our other guides to the region. Check how to travel from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville and how to get from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City. Finally, take a look on the average and minimum salary in Phnom Penh.
Are you already in Cambodia or planning to arrive soon? Leave your thoughts in the comment box below.