Phnom Penh: Practical Tips and Useful Information
A lively riverside, cosmopolitan dining and compelling day trips make Cambodia's capital a fantastic spot to spend a few days.
With genuine locals always ready to share a sincere smile, Cambodia will steal your heart and enrich your spirit. Below we give you a start with some helpful tips on how to prepare for your Phnom Penh visit.
Best time to go
If you are planning for a trip to Phnom Penh, it is wise to know about the weather and temperature in Phnom Penh so that you can plan your trip accordingly and make the best of your travel plans.
There are two basic seasons in Cambodia: rainy and dry – though these can be further divided into cool and hot. Annual average temperatures are around 28 to 33°C (82 to 91°F), so it is warm to hot all year round.
Dry Season - November to May
The dry season is when Phnom Penh experiences the least rainfall, and can be split into two sections – the cool season, which runs from November to January, and the hot season, which runs from February to May. Temperature in the cool season ranges from around 21 to 32°C (70 to 90°F), while the hot season sees temperature soaring to overbearing levels, reaching as high as 40°C (104°F) – which feels worse because the humidity is also high at this time of year.
The most popular and so the most crowded time to visit Phnom Penh is in December and January, when the temperature is at its most pleasant and rainfall is at its lowest.
Blue Skies Over The Royal Palace Are Most Common In Dry Season From November To May
Rainy Season - May to October
The rainy season brings short, sharp afternoon showers to Phnom Penh, which often result in flash floods and strong winds. Days of unending rain particularly are in May and September, but showers are more likely. Like the dry season, the rainy season sees two distinct temperature periods, with hot temperature up to September and cooler weather ranging from 23°C (73°F) to 30°C (86°F) leading into the dry season.
If you are keen on avoiding the crowds, the rainy season is a good time to visit Phnom Penh because there will be far fewer tourists around and the showers are mostly confined to the afternoons, so you can plan around them. It is worth noting that October sees the pagodas busier than usual due to the Pchum Ben festival, the second most important event of the year after New Year, which is when local families gather together to head to pagodas to dedicate offerings to their ancestors.
Money & Currency
Cambodia generally is an inexpensive place, so is Phnom Penh. There are three forms of currency in used: Cambodian riel, US dollar and Thai baht.
Be advised that drifting exchange rates can make things confusing, and scammers may try to capitalize on tourists' miscalculations when doling out change. Know the daily exchange rate between these three currencies and you will be immune to these tricks.
ATMs are much more common. The riverside quay is the best place both for ATM withdrawals and currency conversions. Banks, moneychangers and even a few merchants will be happy to exchange money, so shop around for the best rate.
ATM in Phnom Penh
How to travel to Phnom Penh
Phom Penh can be reached by either domestic flights, international flights or overland and speedboat from neighboring provinces.
There are direct international flights between Phnom Penh and most of East Asia big cities, including Bangkok, Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Incheon (Seoul), Kuala Lumpur, Nanning, Qatar, Singapore, Shanghai, Taipei and Vientiane.
Currently there are domestic flights between Phnom Penh and two cities: Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.
Mekong Express Bus
Tourists can travel to Phnom Penh from many main cities in Cambodia like Siem Reap, Battambang, Sihanoukville, Sisophon… and Poipet (Thailand). The bus station at the southwest corner of the Central Market is the base for buses run by Mekong Express, Phnom Penh Sorya Transport, Capitol Tours, Giant Ibis, and GST Express. The other bus station is next to the night market, at the Northern end of riverside road (Sisowath Quay).
+ River ferries connect Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, leave at 7:30 a.m. and usually take 6 hours; a ticket for foreigner costs USD 35. Ferries will arrive at the Phnom Penh Port on Sisowath Quay.
+ Fast boats leave every morning at around 8 a.m. from Chau Doc in Vietnam's Mekong Delta and take 5 hours to reach Phnom Penh. There are 3 choices of boat to Chau Doc: Hang Chau Speed Boat, Mekong Tour Slow Boat, and Cawaco hydrofoil from Can Tho.
Boat From Chau Doc To Phnom Penh
Local Markets Are Best Places To Experience Local Life
Phnom Penh may not have a lot to offer in the way of sightseeing, but there are more than made up for by a wealth of shopping opportunities. Stores, shops and markets purvey everything from handicrafts and homewares to sportswear and souvenirs. Shopping in Phnom Penh is a must indulge in activity as you get to interact with loads of locals (despite not being able to communicate with many of them it’s still fun to interact with them), shop for some innovative local stuffs and get to experience another aspect of this gorgeous and vibrant city.
- Russian Market (Phsar Toul Tom Poung): West of Street 155, between Street 440 and Street 450
- Central Market (Phsar Thmei): Street 128, Daun Penh District
- Night Market (Phsar Reatrey): opens in Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 17:00 to midnight, in the area of Sisowath Quay between Street 106 and Street 108
- Lucky Supermarket: 160E, Sihanouk Boulevard
- Sorya Shopping Center: Street 63, one block south of the Central Market
- AEON Mall: 132,Street Samdach Sothearos, Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Khan Chamkarmon
- Bliss Boutique and Spa: 29, Street 240 (silks, bags, jewelry, and home decorative accessories)
Bliss – A Gorgeous Shop And Spa
- DAH Export: 87 Sihanouk Boulevard at Street 274 (export fashion)
- The Closeout Factory Store: Street 315
- Chez Artisan: 42D, Street 178 (silk, interior decorative items)
- SONG: 75, Street 250 (raw materials)
- Friends n Stuff: 215, Street 13 (next to the Friends the Restaurant)
- Kashaya Silk: 55 Eo Street 240 (original and exclusive hand-woven silk creations)
- Kravan House: 13, Street 178 (silk clothing, accessories, and souvenirs)
- Mulberry Boutique: 9, Street 51 (high quality silk products)
- Rehab Craft Cambodia: 10A, Street 322 (silk products, clothes, soft furnishings, silver jewelry and handicrafts)
- Tabitha Cambodia: 239, Street 51 (silk and handicrafts)
- Vun Sreang Antiques: genuine Khmer antiques (7, Street 450, just east of the Russian Market)
- Water Lily: 37, Street 240 (fashion accessories)
Street Food In Phnom Penh
At present, there are many excellent dining venues to satisfy all tastes and budgets. You can definitely eat well and cheaply in Phnom Penh. Food carts line the streets, and you could spend all day simply on snacking on streets. Of course, the majority of restaurants in Phnom Penh are Khmer, and most all other restaurants have some Khmer food on the menu. Khmer food is not very well known outside of Cambodia, but it is definitely worth trying. You can also find most of world cuisine here, including American, Mexican, Italian, German, Greek, English, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Malay, Indonesian and Thai, just to name a few.
- Romdeng: No.74, Street 174
- Malis: No.136, Norodom Boulevard (Street 41)
- The Sugar Palm: No.19, Street 240
- Friends the Restaurant: No.215, Street 13
- 54 Langeach Sros: No. 15A, Street 178
- Topaz: No.100, Sothearos Boulevard
- River House: No.6, Street 110
- Van’s Restaurant: No. 5, Street 102
- Le Saint Malo: No.19, Street 5
- Tepui at Chinese House: No.45, Sisowath Quay riverside street (near the shipping yards at the far end of the quay)
- Dim Sum Emperors: Corner of Street 130 and Street 53, next to Central Market
- Man Hao Ji Noodle Shop: No.39, Street 118 (at Street 17)
- Ngon: No.60, Sihanouk Boulevard
- Lucky Pho: No.11, Street 178
- Yumi: No.29A, Street 288
- Kanji: No.128F, Sothearos Boulevard (next to the Almond Hotel)
- Sushi Bar: No.20, Street 302
-Alma Cafe: No.43A, Street 123 (at the corner of Street 454)
- Pacharan: No.389, Sisowath Quay riverside street
- La Plaza: No.22B, Street 278
- Quitapenas: No.14B, Street 264
- Taste Budz: No.13E, Street 282
- Sesame Noodle Bar (Chinese, Japanese, and American cuisine): No.9, Street 460
- Khmer Surin Restaurant (Khmer & Thai): No.9, Street 57
- L’Orchidee Restaurant (Khmer, French): No.82, Street 464
- Deco (European cuisine): No.46, Street 352
- Backyard Cafe: No.11B, Street 246
- Sesame Noodle Bar(Japanese, Chinese & American): No.9, Street 460 (between 135 and 155 streets)
- Java Cafe and Gallery: No.56, Sihanouk Boulevard
Java Cafe and Gallery
- Feel Good: No.79, Street 136 & No.11B, Street 29
Feeling more adventurous? Try the fried insects! Although its appearance may be a little bit thrilling, insects are nutritious, eco-friendly and abundant. They can be sold in markets, pushed through the streets on carts or even offered in hotel and restaurants as specialty dishes of Cambodia. Of course, all of them are edible, non-toxic: tarantula, black beetles, cockroaches, grasshoppers, locusts, bamboo worms, water bugs... Customers often like to eat fried insects while drinking beer, as a healthy and exotic replacement for popcorn or peanuts.
Insects Are Non Toxic And Nutritious!
Phnom Penh is a city on the trend of development. Not just the sights though, it is all about the people, the atmosphere and pace of life. If you visit Cambodia, come and explore Phnom Penh for at least a few days. Slow down, take a walk, get lost and explore the jewel of South East Asia.
Image Sources: Internet