The Phnom Penh Visitors Guide 62nd
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E X P E R I E N C E T H E C I T Y R E M E M B E R YO U R N I G H T
PHNOM PENH is a city in the midst of rapid change. But as skyscrapers rise and fast food restaurants multiply, the city still offers that traditional old 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, economic and political hub. Though seeing significant development over the last 20 years, as a travel destination the city still has an adventurous air - from the historic sites and architecture, to the boutiques and bistros dotting the side streets, and the city’s legendary dusk-to-dawn nightlife. Many of the tourist areas and sights are in the old central city near the river where you may notice classic French colonial buildings amongst the Southeast Asian shophouses, pagodas and markets. Sights in the area include the ornate Royal Palace, the nearby National Museum, which is the most significant public repository of Khmer artifacts in the country, and the riverfront dining and shopping district. Khmer Rouge historical sites include the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum and Choeung Ek Memorial outside the city. CONTENT Craft Beer Destinations Dining Essentials Hotels Kampot & Kep Maps Medical Nightlife Pepper See & Do Shopping Spas, Hair, Tattoos Real Estate Recreation Siem Reap Travel Coffee 44 86 22 72 82 90 47 70 37 94 9 58 66 46 68 95 74 43
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September September 27-29 Bonn Pchum Ben
VISA & ENTRY A passport with at least 6-month validity is required. A visa is required formost nationalities. one-month visas are AVAILABLE ON ARRIVAL at the airports in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, through Cambodian embassies and at most border crossings. Tourist visa(T): US$30. Business/Ordinary visa(E): US$35 Tourist visas can be extended for one month, but only one time. Business/Ordinary visas can be renewed for 1 month, 3 months, 6 months or 1 year. Renew visas through a travel agent or the Immigration office located opposite the airport. Tel: 012-581558 ARRIVAL Phnom Penh International Airport The Phnom Penh International Airport sits about 9km (40-60minutes) from city center. Transportation into the city can be hired just outside the lobby for set prices: Car Taxi: $9 to the nearby city; $12 for city center; $15 to distant parts of the city. Tuk-tuk (moto-remorque): $7-$9 into the city. Motorcycle taxi: Motodups can be found just outside of the airport and hired for $2-$5. Also available at arrival:dutyfree,currency exchange, international calling and inexpensive, ready-to-use SIM cards (see page 76 for more.). Arrival by Bus: There is currently no centralized bus station in Phnom Penh. Buses from different companies depart different stations, though there is a cluster of stations on the riverfront at Street 106, and another (Vietnam bound buses) on Sihanouk Blvd and Street 179. Tuk-tuks are always available. Phnom Penh Ferry Port: River ferries arriving from Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City dock at the Phnom Penh Port on Sisowath Quay (the riverfront road) near Street 82. Tuk-tuks are always available. Several restaurants and hotels are within easy walking distance. CLIMATE & WEATHER Practically speaking, Cambodia has four season: 1)November-February, cool/dry; 2) March-May, hot/dry, 3) June-August, hot/rainy; 4) September- October, cool/rainy. CURRENTLY... as we go to print in October, it is nearing the end of the monsoon season and the nicest weather of the year is just about to begin - the cool, dry season - 3-4 months of mild temperatures, light breezes, blue skies and rainless days stretching through January. These months are the most comfortable (and popular) time of the year to visit the country, ideal for touring Angkor Wat and serving up consistently excellent beach weather on the coast.
Pchum Ben generates an air of spiritual reverence and holiday expectation throughout the country. Along with Khmer New Year and Water Festival, Pchum Benh is one of the most important Khmer holidays of the year. It is a holiday to honor and care for the spirits and ancestors, said to return to earth during this period. People travel to pagodas to make offerings to help ease spirits’ burden. In addition to government offices, many businesses are closed. October October 15 Late King Norodom Sihanouk Commemoration Day October 23 Paris Peace Agreement October 29 Coronation Day Holiday honoring the coronation of King Sihamoni. The Palace is lighted at nights and always looking its best at this holiday. November November 09 Independence Day Colorful ceremonies held at the Independent Monument in the morning. Fireworks on the riverfront in the evening. November 10-12 Bonn Om Touk , also known as the Water Festival, celebrates the reversing of the current in the Tonle Sap River and marks the beginning of the fishing season. Traditional longboat races are sometimes held on the Tonle Sap River. Dozens of colorful dug-out row boats compete for prizes and honors. Fireworks and a waterborne paraded of lighted barges cap events in the evening. Riverfront restaurants with balconies such as K-West offer some of the best viewing. December December 10 Human Rights Day . Climate this time of year offers the very best weather of the year across the country - comfortably warm days, clear skies, no rain, light breeze, cool evenings.
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Prior to 1st century AD the Phnom Penh area was known as Chaktomuk - the 'Four Faces' - for its location at the four-branched confluence of the Mekong. The legend of the founding of Phnom Penh tells of Old Lady Penh in the late 14th century. She discovered four Buddha statues, and raised a hill with a shrine to house them, now known as Wat Phnom. The area became known after her and the hill - Phnom Penh. The Angkorian Khmer Empire centered near Siem Reap from the 9th-13th century. But by the 1st century the Empire was in decline and King Ponhea Yat decided to establish a new capital at Phnom Penh. During the first Royal occupation of Phnom Penh the king set the foundations of city that approximate the area and layout of modern central Phnom Penh. But before the century was out, the capital had been relocated to Longvek. The Portuguese and Spanish were the first Europeans to make contact with Cambodia. Arriving in the 1800s. Before the end of the century relations soured, ending violently in Phnom Penh.
In the 17th century, Phnom Penh continued to prosper and the Dutch East India Company became the dominant European trading partner, but this relationship soon came to a dire end. European interest in Cambodia waned until the late 19th century. France gained colonial control of Cambodia in the 1863 under King Norodom, and the seat of government was moved from Oudong back to Phnom Penh in 1866. The first modern stone structure was the Royal Palace in 1870. Soon the first 'Chinese shophouse-style' buildings were constructed. By the 1880s colonial buildings clustered near Wat Phnom but most of the city was a swampy place. Fires periodically swept through town, capped by the Great Fire of May 1894. France remained in control most of the first half of the 20th century. By the 1930s the canals had been filled and turned into garden boulevards, the art deco 'Central Market' was built, and the 'cyclo' was introduced. This was the Phnom Penh reputed to be the Jewel of Indochina. Independence from France came in 1954, issuing in a period of considerable development and the
beginning of the distinctive 'New Khmer Architecture.' Hundreds of building were built. But in the 1970s Cambodia descended into war. The city fell to the Khmer Rouge on April 17, 1975 and was totally evacuated and empty for more than 3 years. In 1991 the United Nations began its 2 year administration of the country, leading to national elections in 1993. After years of isolation, Cambodia was suddenly open for business. International investment started to flow into the country and Cambodia was back the tourist map as the newest adventure destination. The city saw the beginning of a period of urban development that has continued to this day.
A BREATH OF FRESH AIR
In the middle of central PhnomPenh, the Institut français du Cambodge is a quiet, luxuriant French-Khmer cultural center with a bar-restaurant , a media library , an exhibition gallery and movie theater . Equipped with air-con and wifi, our public spaces are open to all and offer a welcome reprieve from the bubbling frenzy of the Cambodian capital.
#218 street 184 (Keo Chea), Phnom Penh fb.com/institutfrancais.ducambodge open Mon-Sat
SEE & DO
P hnom Penh’s points of interest are largely historical and cultural, but they are only part of exploring the city. Exotic shopping, dining, indulgent spas and a fair bit of nightlife complete the Phnom Penh experience. For sight- seeing set aside two or three days for the major points. Though it is possible to squeeze the most important sights into a single day, this leaves very little time at each location. Popular sights include the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, the Genocide Museum and the ‘Killing Fields,’ the National Museum,
the Russian Market, Central Market and Wat Phnom. Except for the ‘Killing Fields,’ which are about 16km from the city center, all of the major sights are inside the city within a ten-minute tuk-tuk ride of each other. Many people hire transportation (usually a tuk-tuk) for a half or full day at a time (pg 10.) There is also a ‘ Hop on-Hop off ’ a/c tour bus that circles past all of the major in-city attractions once per hour, allowing a flexible itinerary. $15/pax.
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Getting Around Town
Ravy Angkor Tours Cars, vans and buses with driver for rent. Fully insured. Full service travel agent. #3 Street 390, BKK3 Tel: 023-216618, 023-986772
Phnom Penh is a fairly easy city to get around. Tuk- tuks are the most popular form of transportation, with motodups and taxis also options. Though traffic is getting more congested you can usually travel the length of the city in less than 45 minutes and get between most tourist destinations in less than 15 minutes.
Grab & Passapp A welcome addition to Cambodia, these app based services, much like Uber, allow you to get to your destination without haggling with drivers over prices, or being overcharged. Highly recommended. Meter Taxis There are now several companies offering on-call 24/7 taxi service. Air-condition, comfortable, safe and not particularly expensive. Taxis often wait in tourist areas. Choice Taxi Tel: 023-888023, 010-888010 Global Taxi Tel: 011-311888, 092-889962 Great Wall Taxi Tel: 010-311666 Tour Guide and Vehicle Rental Cars, vans and buses with / without driver for rent. Tour guide. Airport shuttle and city tour. Tel: 012-894155, 097-8828155
Moto-remorque (Tuk-tuk) A covered trailer pulled by motorbike is the most popular form of transportation. Tuk- tuks are widely available and charge about $1-$2 for short trips, $2-$4 across town, $7-$9 to the airport and
$15-$20 for the whole day, maybe a little less near budget guesthouses. Keep your bag away from the edge to protect it against bag snatching. Motorcycle Taxi (Motodup) The ‘moto’ is the fastest and cheapest transportation. Motos cost from $1-$2 for a trip in-town and $10-$15 per day. Prices go up at night. To protect against bag snatching, keep your bag between you and the driver or in front of the driver. DO NOT carry your bag on your back! Cyclos The humble pedicab is a romantic form of transportation, especially if time is not a factor. Slow and relaxed, the shaded ride and front seating provide a leisurely view of the passing scene. Though an iconic fixture in the city, the cyclo is losing its place as traffic thickens and life hastens, becoming scarcer every year. A cyclo costs about the same as a moto. Tour Buses The ‘Hop on-Hop off’ a/c tour bus circles past all of the major in-city attractions once per hour, allowing a flexible itinerary. $15 for one day, $25 for two. The same outfit also offers twice daily buses to Toul Sleng and the Killing Fields. Book through your hotel or call 016-745880 Motorcycle Rental Visitors can rent and ride motorcycles. An international or Cambodian driving license is required for motorbikes about 125cc. Helmet laws are enforced. Dirtbikes (250cc) run $12-$15/day for older bikes and $20/day for a newish bike; mopeds run $4-$8/day. 250cc bikes are good for the countryside but are too much bike for in-city where mopeds are preferred. Chaotic traffic can make driving quite challenging, best reserved for experienced riders. Taxis & Cars Unmetered taxis can be arranged through your hotel or travel agent. Private car with driver costs around $35- $45/day. Cambodia Driver Private taxi with driver, long term or short jaunts. Airport
Museums & Monuments
សារមន្ ទី រជាតិ (Sarak Muntee) Street 13, next to the Royal Palace Hours: 8:00AM-5:00PM Admission: $10.00 Tel: 023-211753
The distinctive rust red National Museum in Phnom Penh is the most important repository of Khmer artifacts in the country.
Over 5000 objects are on display including Angkorian era statues, lingas and other artifacts, most notably the legendary statue of the ‘Leper King’ from Siem Reap and an enormous 11th century bronze Vishnu. Though the emphasis is on Angkorian artifacts, there is also a good collection of pieces from later periods, including an exhibition of post-Angkorian Buddha figures. Even the museum building itself is of historical interest, an architectural hybrid of sorts, bearing both traditional Cambodian and western design elements. Visiting the museum after rather than before a trip to the Angkor in Siem Reap helps lend context to the Angkorian artifacts.
pick-up, tours, monthly rates. Tel: 016-639852, 012-778368 www.cambodiadriver.com
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Cambodian Living Arts stages Traditional Cambodian Performances in the garden of the National Museum on Monday - Saturday at 7:00PM. See page 15 for details. Multi-lingual tour guides are available. Souvenirs and books available including guidebook. Photography is limited. www.cambodiamuseum.info Map Area H-11
the horrific remnants of the regime can be seen at the Choeung Ek Memorial (the ‘Killing Fields’) and the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. Prior to 1975, Toul Sleng was a high school - a set of classroom buildings in a walled compound. When the Khmer Rouge came to power they converted into the S-21 prison and interrogation facility, administered by Kaing Guek Eav, a.k.a. ‘Duch.’ Inmates at the prison were held in tiny brick cubicles and systematically tortured, sometimes over a period of months, to extract the desired ‘confessions,’ after which the victim was almost invariably executed at the killing field of Choeung Ek just outside the city. S-21 processed over 17,000 people. The Toul Sleng compound now serves as a museum, a memorial and a testament to the madness of the regime. Much has been left in the state it was in when the Khmer Rouge abandoned it in January 1979. The prison kept extensive records, leaving thousands of photos of their Paintings of torture at the prison by Vann Nath, a survivor of Toul Sleng, are also exhibited. Map Area L-8
Wat Phnom វត្ភ្នំ (Wat Phnom) North end of Norodom Blvd Hours: 7:00AM-6:00PM Admission: $1.00/person
This small hillock, the only one in the city, is crowned by an active Buddhist wat and marks the legendary founding place of Phnom Penh. The hill is the site of constant activity with a steady stream of the faithful trekking to the pagoda, shrines and fortune tellers at the top. The legend of the founding of Wat Phnom is tied to the birth of the city itself. Story has it that in 1372 Lady Penh (Yea Penh) fished a floating Koki tree out of the river. Inside the tree were four Buddha statues. To house the Buddhas, she built a hill (‘phnom’ means ‘hill’) and a small temple (wat) at this site. Later, the surrounding area became known after the hill (Phnom) and its creator (Penh), hence the name of the city ‘Phnom Penh.’ The current temple was last rebuilt in 1926. The towering stupa contains the remains of King Ponhea Yat (1405- 1467) who moved the Khmer capital from Angkor to Phnom Penh the early 15th century. Look for the altar of Lady Penh between the great stupa and the main temple. She is said to be of particular help to women.
Choeung ek Memorial (‘The Killing Field’) 15 km southwest of Phnom Penh - Take Monireth 8.5 km past the bridge at Street 271 (30 minutes from town center) Hours: 7:30AM - 5:30PM Admission: $10 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. The ‘killing fields’ were ad hoc places of execution and dumping grounds for bodies. 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. 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 suffered through interrogation, torture and deprivation in the S-21 Prison (now the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum) in Phnom Penh. The Choeung Ek Memorial is now a group of mass graves, killing areas and a memorial stupa containing thousands of human skulls and bones. The memorial is about a 30-45 minute drive from the center of Phnom Penh. For sake of historical context, combine your visit to Toul Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh. See David Chandler’s book, ‘Voices of S-21’ for the most systematic and complete account to date of the history and operation of the S-21 Prison.
Map Area E-9/10
Toul Sleng Genocide Museum North end of Norodom Blvd Hours: 7:00AM-6:00PM Admission: $10 /person From April 17, 1975 until January 7, 1979, the brutal, Khmer Rouge (KR) regime controlled Cambodia, then known as 'Democratic Kampuchea.' The Khmer Rouge was headed by
Saloth Sar, whose nom de guerre was Pol Pot. During their short reign between one and two and a half million Cambodians perished, some killed outright, others dying from disease, malnutrition and mistreatment. Some of
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Architecture of Phnom Penh
A rchitecturally speaking, Phnom Penh is a comparatively new city. Prior to the late 19th century the city was but a few pagodas and clusters of wooden structures along the riverfront.
Cambodia is a Theravada Buddhist country, and in Phnom Penh you are never far from a Buddhist pagoda (wat.) Dozens of wats dot the city with at least one located in almost every neighborhood. Though many of the wats are comparatively modern, Phnom Penh’s original five wats were established in the 15th century and all are still functioning. Pagoda grounds are colorful and photogenic places and most are open and welcoming to the general public. But if you visit a pagoda please be respectful of the place and people. Dress conservatively, remove your hat on pagoda grounds, remove your shoes before entering the vihear (main temple) and respect the privacy of monks and worshippers. The following short list of pagodas include some of the city’s more historic and photogenic wats, as well as being in areas popular with visitors. See Ray Zepp’s book ‘A Field Guide to Cambodia Pagodas’ for a more complete list and description of Phnom Penh’s pagodas. Wat Ounalom Corner of Street 154 on Sothearos Blvd, riverfront This sprawling pagoda in the heart of the riverfront district is as impressive from across the street as the interior - its golden temples and towering stupas defining the streetscape. It is also particularly accustomed to receiving walk-in visitors. Wat Ounalom is the home to the Buddhist patriarch and is reputedly the oldest Buddhist foundation in the city, probably predating the abandonment of Angkor in the 15th century. Map Area G-11 Wat Botum Street 7, 100 meters from the Royal Palace Wat Botum is a colorful, photogenic wat, the Wat Ounalom
Post Office and Old Central Police Station, constructed circa 1890s
Almost every currently existing structure was built after the beginning of the French colonial period in 1863. ‘Chinese shophouse’ style buildings dominate the city, characterized by deep narrow apartments composed of a combined ground-floor businessfront and upstairs residence. Standing in distinctive difference, European influenced colonial period structures are interspersed through the central city. At the height of the colonial period Phnom Penh was reputed to be the most beautiful city in French Indochina - recalling Paris in its manicured parks and picturesque boulevards lined with ornate villas. Though sometimes difficult to see through the grime and disrepair of years of hardship and neglect, much of that beauty still exists. Sites of Architectural Interest The historical architecture of the city may be divided into three broad categories: 1) The ubiquitous ‘Chinese shopho-use-style structures, some as old as the late 19th century but most later - from the 1900s through the 1960s. 2) Late-19th/early-20th century French Colonial buildings encompassing a range of influences and styles. Early villa-style residences and public buildings display an eclectic mix of European influences. Slightly later structures such as Phsar Thmei reflect the Art Deco movement and other western styles of the period. Also of this period, ‘Colonial Traditional’ style buildings such as the National Museum that draw heavily on traditional Cambodian themes. Most of Phnom Penh’s colonial-era highlights are located within the city center with clusters near the Royal Palace, around Post Office Square and Wat Phnom, and dotting Norodom Blvd from Sihanouk to Wat Phnom. 3) ‘New Khmer Architecture’ of the late-1950s/60s, such as the Chaktomuk Theatre and Independence Monument, built in the post-Independence ‘Golden-era’ and displaying a modern but distinctively Cambodian direction. Few examples exist in the city center. See the city center map on page 48-49 for sites of architectural interest and a walking tour. The route passes many of the better French colonial buildings as well as examples of later architecture. The whole route takes about 4 hours on foot. Faster by cyclo or motodup. For more on the architecture of Phnom Penh check out the books: ‘Phnom Penh Then and Now,’ ‘Cultures of Independence’ and ‘Building Cambodia: New Khmer Architecture 1953-1970.’
compound crowded with ornate stupas, including the towering ‘Buddha’s Relic Stupa.’ Though Wat Botum took its present structure in 1937 it is one of the city’s original wats, possibly founded by King Ponhea Yat in the 15th century, the first
king to rule from Phnom Penh. Map Area I-12
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Wat Langka Sihanoukville Blvd, near Norodom Blvd (BKK1)
In Boeung Keng Kang (BKK1) near the Independence Monument. Repu-tedly one of Phnom Penh’s original wats (1422). Estab-lished as a sanctuary for the Holy Writings and a meeting place for Khmer and Sri Lankan monks, and named in honor of the meetings.
Map Area J-11
Short river cruises along the Tonle Sap River and Phnom Penh riverfront are becoming more popular every year. A few boat companies offer regularly scheduled daily cruises of various sorts out of the Phnom Penh Floating Port area and near the tourist information center. A number of independent charter boats also cluster just upriver. Popular cruises and destinations include short cruises along the picturesque riverfront and nearby villages (any time of day), evening cocktail and dinner cruises, and half day cruises to Mekong Island and Silk Island to see a traditional weaving village (see page 21.) The easiest way to arrange a cruise is through a tour agent or book with one of the regularly scheduled boats. Most offer a variety of cruises including nightly dinner cruises, lunch cruises and trips to Silk Island (sometimes including an island tour.) Cambo Cruise Regularly scheduled daily river cruises and excursions on a well outfitted cruise boat with full bar, live traditional music, free filtered water and excellent service. The Silk Island Lunch Cruise departs at noon and returns at 4:00PM. $38 with lunch buffet, $28 without the buffet. A 2-hour Sunset Dinner Cruise departs at 5:00PM daily and return at 7:00PM. $25 with dinner buffet, $16 without the buffet. Departs the in front of Yi Sang Riverside / Tourist information Center. Tel 092-290077 www.CamboCruise.com
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Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda Preah Reach Veang: ព្រះរាជវាង Sothearos Blvd. between Streets 240 & 184 Hours 8:00-11:00 / 2:00-5:00, daily Admission: 40,000R ($10)/person Map Area H-12 The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda compounds sit together behind the crenellated yellow walls of the royal compound on the riverfront, and are usually seen in a combined visit. Set aside 1-2 hours to see both. Tour guides are available at the gate, and though they charge a fee, are still recommended. As most of the buildings face east, the best light for photos is in the morning hours. Within the Palace grounds street sounds are silenced and Royal buildings sit like ornate islands rising from the manicured gardens. The Palace serves as the King’s residence, a venue for court ceremony and as a symbol of the Kingdom. It was established at this location when the capital was moved to Phnom Penh in 1866. Khmer and European elements as well as echoes of the palace in Bangkok are present in the design of the buildings. Attached to the Palace compound, Wat Preah Keo Morokat (the 'Silver Pagoda') is unique amongst pagodas. So named for its silver tiled floor, it is where the King meets with monks, Royal ceremonies are performed and it houses a collection of priceless Buddhist and historical objects including the 'Emerald Buddha.' The temple building, library and galleries were first constructed between 1892 and 1902.
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La Rose Boat Traverse the Tonle Sap on the colorful two-floor La Rose Riverboat. Enjoy a sunset cruise along the Mekong, or go on a day trip to Silk Island for just $12.50, including lunch. La Rose Riverboat is also available for unique private parties, corporate events, or charter tours with a river cruise on Phnom Penh's fabled waterways. The boat features seating for 70 people and full catering is available. Call for reservations and event planning. Tel 088-8884900, 023-991938 If you prefer to do it yourself, independent cruise boats can be chartered from among dozens of cruise boats that cluster a couple of hundred meters upriver from the Port near Street 90. Just stop at the riverside and the touts will come to you. Prices are quite flexible. Generally speaking boats run around $20-$25/hour, depending on the duration and number of passengers. And you must be very specific about what exactly you want on the boat, where you want to go and for how long. Things like food, drink and tour services are not available unless specifically requested. Phsar 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 Phsar Thmey (Central Market.) Both offer curios, souvenirs and a cultural shopping adventure. Other traditional markets have fewer items for tourists but can still be culturally and photographically interesting. The markets open and close with the sun. Traditional Markets
Central Market Phsar Thmey: ផ្សារថ្ មី Street 130 / Street 63 This distinctive building is a city landmark a unique Art Deco interpretation of a traditional market. Four
arms of the market converge in a soaring dome at the hub, perhaps reflecting the four arms of the chaktomuk (the confluence of the Mekong River.) Prior to 1935 the area was a swampy lake known as Beng Decho that received the runoff during the monsoons. The lake was drained and the market constructed in 1935-37 during the colonial period, and originally dubbed the ‘Grand Market.’ The central section of the market building displays an amazing collection of gems and jewelry. Souvenir vendors along the central entrance walk offer curios, statuary, handicrafts, silks, t-shirts, etc. (‘Phsar Thmey’ is properly translated ‘New Market’, but ‘Central Market’ has caught on in English.) Map Area G-9
Phsar Kandal Street 13, between Street 144 and 154
A typical, sprawling,low- slung local market similar to Phsar Chas. Meat, vegetables, fruits and tailors fill the north half while jewelers and
electronics stalls are located in the building next door. It’s a very local scene but as the market is only a couple of blocks off the riverfront tourists occasionally find their way to the coffee stalls and noodle shops. There is a comparatively large Vietnamese population in the area reflected in the character of the market. Map Area G-11
Russian Market Phsar Toul Tom Poung
south sides, but the rest of the market is well worth exploring. Don’t miss local food, drink and coffee stands in the middle of the market. Map Area N-7
Street 450, between 155 and 163 The Russian Market became the foreigner’s market in the 1980’s when most of the foreigners in Cambodia were Russians, hence the name. Unlike the Central Market this is a classic traditional market - a sprawling, single level collection of stalls - offering a larger, more varied selection of souvenirs, curios and silks. It is also one of the best markets for fabrics and has the largest selection of DVDs of all the markets. Most of the visitor oriented places are on the
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Performances every Friday and Saturday, 7:30PM. Admission: Adult : $10; Children: $5 #166 Street 99 Tel: 012-837056, 012-846020 www.sovannaphumtheatre.com Map Area P-9
Old Market Phsar Chas: ផ្សារចាស់ Street 13, between Streets 108 and 110
Phsar Chas is a typical traditional market geared to the locals, carrying fruits and vegetables, meat, hardware, clothes, and auto parts. During the late afternoon shopping hour along Streets 110 and 108 the streets are lined with produce and meat vendors, live fish and prepared foods stalls, all making for a confusing, colorful, photogenic scene. There has been a market near this site since at the earliest days of the French colonial period when it sat next to a now reclaimed river inlet. Map Area F-10
Classes Cooking Classes The Cambodia Cooking Class
Running since 2005. The class begins with a trip to the local market then back to the restaurant to prepare several dishes, everything from scratch with fresh ingredients. Classes every day on a rooftop terrace. Book through frizz restaurant. #67 Street 240 (frizz restaurant) Tel: 012-524801 www.cambodia-cooking-class.com Map Area I-11 Khmer cooking classing by experienced Cambodian cooking teachers. Featuring a trip to a traditional market to shop for ingredients. In class, individual cooking stations. Also offering Evening Street Food Tours. #79 Street 136 (Feel Good Cafe) Tel: 098-252533 Map Area G-11 La Table Khmere Well-reviewed Cambodian cooking classes in Boeung Keng Kang 1 (BKK1) at La Table Khmere restaurant. Daily, half-day classes, morning and afternoon, including a trip to the market and hands-on preparation in a modern kitchen environment. #11A Street 278, BKK1 (La Table Khmere restaurant) Tel: 012-238068 www.phnompenh-cooking-class.com Map Area J-10 Feel Good Cooking School / Street Food Tours
Performances Cambodia has a long and rich history of classical dance, shadow puppetry and circus, and it has also become tradition for visitors to Cambodia to attend at least one traditional performance, most often an‘Apsara Dance Performance.’ Dozens of restaurants in Siem Reap host nightly performances,but there are only a few places in Phnom Penh offering regularly scheduled shows, and for that reason the shows that are available often offer something a bit unique Traditional Dance Show
The beautiful gardens of the National Museum are the setting for each 60-minute choreographed performance, including several different traditional classical and folk dances. Discover the diversity of Cambodian culture and traditional arts through original and enjoyable pieces. Performances (October - March): Mon - Sat, 7:00PM Admission: $15 Located in the garden of the National Museum Tel: 017-998570 www.cambodianlivingarts.org Map Area H-11 Sovanna Phum Art Association Striving to revive and promote Cambodian culture. Classical, Folk and Contemporary dance, Shadow theatre, Circus and Music are performed for local and international audiences. Also active in promoting interperformnces cultural exchanges by interacting with artists from other countries as well as working with NGO/ IOs on different educational and awareness projects. Also available for private and commercial events.
Dance and Puppetry Classes Sovanna Phum Art Association
Workshops in traditional Khmer arts such as performance, classical & folk dance and traditional music instruments. Private classes in the art of shadow puppet making. Open Monday-Saturday. #166 Street 99 Tel: 012-837056 www.sovannaphumtheatre.com 012-846020 Map Area P-9
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War & Khmer Rouge
There are one or two ranges past the airport, but most tourists go to the range near the ‘Killing Fields’ in order to combine the two destinations in one tuktuk trip, though not without some irony.
Khmer style boxing - Kbach Kun Boran Khmer Pradal Serey or ‘Kun Khmer’ - is similar to the world famous Muay Thai boxing, but is uniquely Cambodian and probably long predates Muay Thai. Sundays you will often find local coffee shops packed and people clustered around the TVs watching Khmer boxing. Regularly scheduled bouts are held at several nearby TV station areas, usually Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with match sets scheduled at 2:00PM and 4:00PM. Admission is free and if you go with a tuk-tuk he will often join you to show you around. Make arrangements through your guesthouse, tour operator or tuk-tuk driver. Some of the horrific remnants of the Khmer Rouge regime can be seen at the Choeung Ek Memorial (the 'Killing Fields') and the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. Though the Khmer Rouge were driven from power in 1979, they retreated to the mountains and border areas, persisting until their final defeat and dissolution in 1998. Surviving KR leaders are only now facing the court. Kaing Guek Eav, a.k.a 'Duch', director of the infamous S-21 prison was found guilty in 2010. Noun Chea and Khieu Samphan were convicted in 2014. Pol Pot died in 1998, never having faced justice. Controversial and definitely not for everybody, but gun ranges still operate on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, offering tourists the opportunity to shoot all manner of military small arm - pistols, rifles, sub machine guns, machine guns, grenades, grenade launchers and RPGs, but it is not for the faint of wallet. A single 30-shot clip for an AK-47 begins at $40-$60 and rockets for an RPG are upwards of $250. Boxing - Kun Khmer Shooting Range From April 17, 1975 until January 7, 1979, the brutal, ultra-Communist Khmer Rouge regime(i.e the Red Khmer) controlled the whole of Cambodia, then known as "Democratic Kampuchea." The Khmer Rouge was headed by Saloth Sar, nom de guerre Pol Pot. During their short reign between one and two and half million Cambodians perished, some killed outright, others dying from disease, malnutrition and mistreatment.
Kingdom Breweries Kingdom Breweries, brewers of Kingdom Pilsner and Dark Lager, offers regular guided tours of their brewery. For a tour drop by the brewery Monday-Friday 1:00PM-5:00PM, Saturday 2:00PM-5:00PM. Admission $7.00. After the tour there is the traditional stop at the brewery bar, the Taproom, to sample the product. #1748 National Route #5, Russei Keo district Tel: 023-430180-2 For a more intimate experience of Phnom Penh consider touring the city center by cyclo or even foot. The city center within a kilometer of the river is the oldest part of town, densely populated and abuzz with activity. The tour path marked on the Sights Map (next ) is designed to take in some the highlights and offer a look at Phnom Penh off the beaten path, not the prettiest (or the cleanest) streets, but the living city - busy street life, local shops and cafés, typical Phnom Penh architecture, colorful pagodas and pungent traditional markets. As you tour, take time to explore the pagodas and markets and stop for a coffee or a snack at a local cafe. Touring by cyclo is the easier than foot and even a romantic means of seeing the city. Walking the tour provides a more intimate, interactive experience but can also be a bit daunting. People are friendly and security is good (during the day) but the chaotic traffic and clogged sidewalks can be challenging and at times a bit frustrating, so not only bring your camera but a sense of adventure. Tips: When walking, keep an eye on traffic (it does not yield to pedestrians,) walk on the shady side of the street and, for sake of security, carry your bag/camera on the inside shoulder away from the street. If you tire you can pick up a motodup or tuktuk anywhere along the route. Walking
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T here is a lot of Cambodian history within a daytrip’s distance of Phnom Penh. Silk Island, just an hour’s boat ride away, offers a
unique opportunity to see a traditional, working silk weaving village. An hour or two south of Phnom Penh, the Angkorian ruins of Takeo province, though not as impressive as the ruins near Siem Reap, still rank amongst the most important in Cambodia. And an hour west of the city, the picturesque 17th-19th century remains of the royal city of Oudong allow you to explore the period of Cambodian history between Angkor and the colonial period that is neglected inmost tours. And just the process of getting to these sites provides a good glimpse of Cambodian rural life - scenic rice paddies, stilted villages and countryside pagodas. Most of the places listed are too far for a tuk-tuk. It is easiest to arrange a tour or transportation through a travel agent or your hotel, usually adaily tourist van. DIY options include chartering a taxi, renting a motorcycle or for the hard core do-it- your-selfer, taking a public bus to the nearby city and ask to be let off at the site or turn-off.
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Oudong Route 5, 1 hour west of the city The abandoned royal city of Oudong sits amongst the hills west of Phnom Penh. Oudong was the capital city of Cambodia from the 17th century until 1866 when the capital was moved to Phnom Penh. The remnants of the old Oudong include several active temples,
Tonle Bati / Ta Prohm Off Route #2, 1 hour south of Phnom Penh Tonle Bati is a small lake and popular picnic spot - bamboo picnic stands and mats by the water. On the road to Tonle Bati there are two Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm and Yeay Peau. Both temples were built under Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century during the same period Phnom Da and Angkor Borei Takeo Province, 2-hours south of Phnom Penh Angkor Borei is a small town in the area of several ruins and archaeological digs. The area has been continuously inhabited for at least 2500 years and has yielded artifacts dating from the Neolithic period, the Funan period (4th/5th
stupas and other structures covering three hills. The walk up the main hill provides an excellent countryside view. The hill is crowned with stupas containing the remains of several Cambodian kings including King Monivong (1927-1941) and King Ang Duong (1845-1859). The earliest structure is from the 13th century.
that Bayon in Siem Reap. Ta Prohm is the more extensive and impressive of the two, displaying a number of very well-preserved carvings. Yeay Peau is a single sandstone tower situated next to an active pagoda. The area has been occupied since the pre-Angkorian Funan period.
Phnom Chisor Takeo Province, off Rte 2, 2 hours south of Phnom Penh At the top of Phnom Chisor sit some very nicely preserved 10th/11thcenturyADAngkorianera ruins. The temple was constructed under King Suryavarman I during a period when the Angkorian-era
Khmer Empire was nearing its apex. As most Angkorian temples of the period, this temple is Hindu, dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. The 503 steps to the temple on top of the hill make for a fairly rigorous climb but the quality of the ruins and the amazing view of the countryside make the effort well worth it. Prasat Neang Khmau
century AD) and Chenla (8th century AD) as well as the later Angkorian period (9th-15th century AD.) There are no significant temple ruins at Angkor Borei but there is a very interesting little museum displaying artifacts from the area and providing information on recent archaeological digs. The hill, Phnom Da, sits about 20km from Angkor Borei and is crowned by an impressive 11th century Angkorian- era prasat (tower) displaying some carvings in pretty good condition. The temple was constructed under King Rudravarman and dedicated to Shiva. Further down the hill is the unique little temple ruin Ashram Maha Rosei, quite unlike other Khmer monuments in both design and adornment. Constructed in the late 7th-early 8th century, during the pre-Angkorian Chenla period, under King Bahavavarman. The temple shows signs of non-Khmer influence and has unusual
Takeo Province, off Rte 2, 1.5 hours south of Phnom Penh Standing next to an active pagoda, consisting of two deteriorating brick prasats built in the 10th century A.D. under King Jayavarman IV. There was probably at least one more ancient prasat where the modern pagoda
now sits. Originally dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The temple complex is named after Neang Khmau, ‘Black Lady,’ a modern statue located in front of the temples.
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north-facing entrance. The design is reminiscent of Prasat Ashram Isay in the Sambor Prey Kuk group in Kampong Thom. Getting there: During the dry season, Phnom Da can be reached by road or boat. In the wet season, it can only be reached by boat. By road: Take the Takeo bound bus (NR2) to the Phnom Chisor turnoff (52km from Phnom Penh.) Take a motodup or taxi to Phnom Chisor and then on to Phnom Da. By boat, take the bus to Takeo town. Pick up a boat to Angkor Borei and Phnom Da. During the dry season you will stop well short of the hill and will have to hike a ways.
River Cruise to Silk Island (Koh Dach) Located on the Mekong River about 1-hour boat ride from Phnom Penh. See page 11. Admission: None For those with an interest in Cambodian silks and silk weaving, set aside a half-day for a boat trip to a rural weaving village on Koh Dach (aka ‘Silk Weaving Island,’) a
nearby island up the Mekong River. The weaving village is a typical rural Cambodian village, dedicated almost entirely to silk weaving - people operating hand looms under many of the houses, others dying and spinning silk on spinning wheels made of bicycle parts. The area does not receive a lot of tourists. Wander the village to observe the activities, and expect silk sellers to try to hawk their wares. Arrange a visit through your guesthouse, travel agent or see page 13 for boat operators. Cambo Cruise (www.CamboCruise.com, 092-290077) offers regularly scheduled daily cruise & tours to the island for $28-$38 inclusive. If you want to do it yourself, boats can be chartered for around $20-$25/hour and take about 2-3 hours round trip plus the time you want to spend there. The boat may stop at ‘Mekong Island.’ Make sure that the boat operator understands that you want to go all the way to the silk village on Koh Dach.
Tour Operators Cambodia Motorcycle Adventures One day tours out of Phnom Penh. Multi-day Angkor and full country tours. Tel: 017-768624 www.cambodiamotorcycleadventures.com Dancing Roads Specializing in dirt bike tours. Explore coast, jungle, temple ruins. Custom tours. Good reviews. www.dancingroads.com Adventure Travel Co. Super helpful,friendly, and knowledgeable. Tel: 096 427 5133 www.adventuretravelco.asia
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P hnom Penh offers the best dining in Cambodia, with choice, depth and authenticity exceeding the tourist towns. The Cambodian food is made-for-the-locals authentic whether street food or 5-star dining, and most western and Asian cuisines as well as contemporary dining are well represented. Given Cambodia’s long relationship with France, it is no surprise the French food is also of particular note in Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh is great place to experience a bit of real Cambodia, have a couple of Cambodian meals and maybe try some street food, explore the French bistros and the city’s developing coffee culture, and know that you can always find a taste of home too.
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Buffets Several of the upscale hotels serve international buffet dinners. The Sunway Hotel puts on a good quality midrange dinner buffet, perfect for the family. The Juliana Hotel also does a mid-range buffet with a Thai flavor. Raffles Hotel Le Royal does one of the finest dinner buffets in town, including an excellent seafood Friday. Very popular with the locals and a great place for a family dinner, the cook-it-yourself suki/bbq buffet restaurants are fun and reasonably priced.
Freebird Bar & Grill “Comfortable neighborhood bar” #69 Street 240 Tel: 023-224712 / Open: 7:00AM - 11:00PM
Long-running neighborhood bar sporting a beautiful wooden bar, extra comfy seating, friendly efficient staff, a fully stocked bar, an American ambiance and wide ranging western menu, including lots of American and Mexican favorites burgers, pizzas, good steaks, chilli, apple pie and more. Home delivery: 023-224712 Map Area I-11 $$ Hard Rock Cafe “American food in a rock-and-roll atmosphere” Exchange Square, Street 102 Tel: 081-631111 / Open daily from 11:00AM - Late Travelers and expats hungry for a taste of home - or anyone looking for a hearty and fail-safe meal - will find Western go-tos, like ribs, cheeseburgers, fajitas, salads and steaks. The portions are generous, the servers are attentive, parking is ample and air con is plentiful. Great for families and rockers alike. Map Area F-9 $$$
Hagar Catering & Restaurant “Super popular weekend buffet” #44 Street 310, just off Street 63, BKK1 Tel: 092-333095 / Open: Saturday & Sunday, 11:30AM - 2:00PM
Khmer specialties on an international barbecue lunch buffet for $8.50 on weekends (reservations required for weekdays and dinner). The social enterprise hires vulnerable women and men and teaches them hospitality
skills. Air con. Visa/MC www.hagarcatering.com Map Area K-9
Lone Pine Cafe “Down home American cooking” #14E Street 51, Pasteur, (look for the neon sign) Tel: 078-949398, 095-949398 Open: 11:30AM - 2:00PM / 6:00PM - 10:00PM
Sou Sou Buffet Suki Soup “Barbeque, soup and conveyors” Near the Swan Bridge to Koh Pich Tel: 077-999168 / Open: 6:00AM - 10:00PM
The Pangea “Where East Meet West” NagaWorld, Hun Sen Park at the end of Sihanouk Blvd 6:00AM - 10:30PM Boasting a myriad of cuisines brought under one roof by world-class chefs. 24/7 service by a dynamic and friendly staff. A very popular dinner buffet. Visa/MC Home delivery: 078-949398 Map Area J-13 $$½ ViNi Garden Soup & BBQ “Value-priced family dining Phnom Penh style” #108 Street 55, just off Sihanouk Blvd. Dinner Very popular local restaurant, drawing but a few foreigners. Select meats and vegetables from a large buffet and grill-it-yourself at the table. Value priced. Perfect for the family. Visa/MC Map Area J-10 $$ Another of the very popular soup & bbq, all-you-can-eat places. Choose from foods on a passing conveyor and cook it yourself on your bbq/suki table. Expansive and packed full at dinner. The foods here, particularly the seafoods, are notably fresh. $13-$16/pax. Map Area K-14 $$
The focus is on American food, the classics and southern dishes including Memphis-style ribs, Gumbo, pulled pork, a big selection of burgers and sandwiches including a choice of ‘po boys.’ Full bar, cold beer including some
unique imported choices. Home delivery: 078-949398 Map Area J-10
British Harry's Bar Bassac Lane, Street 308 Tel: 017-309 365 / Open: 11:00AM - 12:00AM
Irish sports bar on the riverfront with indoor and sidewalk seating and a great view of the riverfront scene. Full bar and restaurant serving a wide selection of western and Irish favorites, and some Cambodian choices as well. All the big sporting events on TV. Check the website for sports and events scehdules. $$ Map Area K-11
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