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Please click on the countries below to read more about your desired destinations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. These pages provide first-hand local travel information regarding transportation, accommodation, attractions, food & drink, entertainment ... together with some suggestions on ready-made tours to and from those places.
Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is frenetic Asian city of markets, street clogged with scooters, street side food stalls, as well as foreig…
The name Nha Trang is a Vietnamese pronunciation of a Cham word Eatran or Yjatan. Ea or Yja means river, and tran means reed. According to the loca…
This is one of the best laid-back getaways in Vietnam. The town of Phan Thiet itself is a bustling little fishing port -- quite picturesque and goo…
120km (75 miles) W (over sea) from Rach Gia (Rach Gia is 250km/155 miles S of Saigon by road). The same size as Singapore, the island of Phu Quoc l…
Hanoi is relatively small and runs at quite an unhurried pace for a capital city. Resting in the Red River delta region, the centre is a mixed of t…
Taking a cruise on Ha Long Bay -- or the Bay of the Descending Dragon -- for many represents the pinnacle of their experience in Vietnam. eas…
The ancient town of Hoi An is located 30 km south of Da Nang on the banks of the Thu Bon River. Occupied by early western traders, Hoi An was one o…
Siem Reap Siem Reap is a cluster of villages with a French colonial centre, and the gateway to the Temples of Angkor. These majestic temples in…
A small market town that has been a gathering spot for many local hilltribes for nearly 200 years. Hmong and Dao people, among others, still come h…
Vietiane With a troubled recent history, Laos has only recently openned to the outsite world and is one of the most untouched countries in Asi…
Set on the banks of the Perfume River, Hue was the capital of Vietnam between 1802 and 1945 under the Nguyen Emperors, and later French colon…
The fourth-largest city in Vietnam, is one of the most important seaports in the central region, and the current booming Vietnamese economy has see…
Located 173 kilometres from Saigon, Can Tho is considered as the heart of Vietnam's Mekong Delta. The city, regarded as "Western cap…
Known as "Le Petit Paris" by the early builders and residents of this hillside resort town, Dalat is still a luxury retreat for city dwel…
Quy Nhon was officially founded more than 100 years ago, although its origins stretch backs much further to the 11th-century Champa culture, the T&…
Luang Prabang Luang Prabang is regarded by many as the most attactive cities (or town would be more accurate description) in Asia, if not the …
Phom Penh Cambodia’s capital city is awakening from a turbulent recent past to become a busy and fernetic Asian city of Southeast Asia. …
Vung Tau is the tourist and commercial center of Bà RịVũng Tàu (an industrial province in Southeastern Vietnam). The whole city ar…
Sihanoukville is all about the ocean, located on the Gulf of Thailand. The pristine beaches, the sparkling clear water, the cooling sea breeze, the…
Cambodia’s capital city is awakening from a turbulent recent past to become a busy and fernetic Asian city of Southeast Asia. Situated on the confluence of three rivers, it is just jumble of colonial buildings, temples, markets and board avenues. The focal point of the city is the promenade on the banks of the river which come alive in the evening with its pavement cafes and strolling families.
For western visitors, Phnom Penh can be a rough change. The city is characterised by warmth and humidity, infrastructure is largely lacking, there are rubbish and dust in the streets, risky traffic, blocked sidewalks, harassment from tuk tuk and moto drivers, touts and beggars - and a permanent crime wave, which now includes unprovoked brick attacks against Westerners in the main tourist area. The Ministry of Land Management  still allows many architectural horrors to be built, though a determined group of Khmer architects is fighting the trend. Unhappily there are few green spaces.
All that said, the city is slowly gaining high rise buildings and traffic lights, while still retaining some of the beauty that made it a Paris of the East before 1970. The city's few French colonial buildings are beautiful: thus a handful of its streetscapes make for a pleasant walk. There are some beautiful wide boulevards, and a parklike riverfront with cafés and restaurants aplenty. The standard tourist sights are few. But as a place to relax, watch the streetlife and absorb local color, Phnom Penh is a worthwhile destination for those who enjoy an 'edge' experience and can brave the downsides.
Drinking and Dining
is published (about) six times a year and is available at most restaurants and guesthouses. It includes restaurant and bar listings as well as a series of accurate small maps amid plenty of advertising. Out and About includes shopping, leisure, travel, health, fitness and accommodation information. It includes tips about local markets, bargaining, and a glossary of common Khmer words that will help you as you shop. After Dark is a listing of local bars and pubs around the city, with information on drinks specials and theme nights and events. Door2Door is a listing of restaurants that deliver, complete with full menus and a map of restaurant locations.
With the arrival of ANZ Royal (and their ATMs) to Cambodia in 2005, accessing money in a bank abroad became a whole lot easier. ANZ had ATMs throughout Phnom Penh -- including several on the riverside -- that allow you to withdraw money using cards on the Maestro and Cirrus networks.www.nowwhere.com.au/ANZ/locatorINTL/default.aspx?countryorigin=AUST provides ATM locations.
If you need a cash advance from a credit card, most major banks will oblige. Another option for sending or receiving money is Western Union, which has many branches around the city.
Cheap SIM cards for GSM phones are available on almost any major street. A vendor should have an activated test card to be used to make sure your phone will operate on that network. Calls between mobile networks can be be spotty and Skype calls from abroad to mobiles in Cambodia are sometimes dropped, so be prepared to redial frequently.
It's now easier than ever to buy a sim card in Phnom Penh, just have your passport and expect to pay no more than $10. There are plenty of phone stalls around central market. Mobitel has the best coverage around the whole of Cambodia and seems to have cheaper calls. Be warned when sending and recieveing international SMS's and Calls as they only have about a 50% sucess rate of being recieved.
There is no shortage of Internet cafés in Phnom Penh. Most are in the 1,500 riel/hour bracket (a little under 50 US cents), but provide slow service, suffer occasional power outages and do not run firewalls or anti-virus programs.
Sunny Internet, 178 Street (opp Foreign Correspondents' Club), also Sisowath Quay (next to the Riverstreet restaurant). Provides a faster service at US$1/hour and is popular with tourists and expats.
Galaxy Web, Street 63, near Sihanouk Boulevard. Excellent service, popular with Westerners.
Wireless and wired connections for laptops are available at a number of outlets - most five-star hotels (which provide high-speed broadband access, but at a premium), and a number of cafés along Sisowath Quay including the Foreign Correspondents' Club (expensive), Fresco Café (under the FCC, also expensive), K-West Café (at the Amanjaya Hotel), the Jungle Bar and Grill, and Phnom Penh Café (near Paragon Hotel) and Metro Cafe (free).
A number of clinics in Phnom Penh are aimed at the tourist andexpatriate crowd but they are just clinics -- anything beyond basic diagnosis will require an emergency evacuation to Bangkok. This is not cheap and as such travelling in Cambodia without medical insurance isn't recommended.
International SOS Medical Clinic
#161 Street 51
(023) 216 911
www.internationalsos.com Hours: Open 08:00 - 17:30 weekdays, 08:00 to 12:00 Saturdays Popular with expats, this is one of the pricier clinics in Phnom Penh. If insurance is covering your visit, head straight here. Western and Khmer doctors are available.
#11 Street 254
(023) 211 300
www.nagaclinic.com Open 24 hours Also popular with expats, this French run clinic isn't as pricey as SOS.
3 Monivong Rd (023) 426 948;
Open 24 hours
This is the best Khmer hospital in Phnom Penh. Many people swear by it -- others say it is the place people go to die. Hopefully you have good health insurance and will never need to find out which one is true.
Stay safe in Phnom Penh
Crime-wise, Phnom Penh has a bad reputation. In terms of armed robbery you are safer now than in the 1990s - but not exactly safe. As population and incomes have grown, so has vehicle ownership - but not driving skills - meaning the city's roads are its most dangerous places. Augmenting that danger are the present waves of bag-snatching, and of brick-throwing at foreigners.
According to The Phnom Penh Post there has been a string of unprovoked brick attacks on foreigners along Riverside in 2010. The brick is generally aimed at the head, and is thrown from a moving SUV. The Post reports eight injuries to date, though the toll may be higher. Police have denied that these attacks are occurring.
In recent times Phnom Penh has endured a wave of bag-snatching. The Phnom Penh Post reports - and many foreign residents attest to - a large upsurge in this crime, both in broad daylight and at night; in crowded streets and deserted ones alike. The victims are almost entirely Western and Khmer women riding in tuk tuks or on motorbikes (either as passengers or drivers).
Sometimes these incidents are violent, with women dragged off moving motorbikes and thrown to the road. In November 2007, a 28-year-old French woman named Aurelia Lacroix was killed in one of these attacks - though Aurelia's death may just be the tip of the iceberg. When targeting pedestrians, thieves grab bags, or snatch mobile phones and purses out of hands.
If you must carry a bag - and preferably don't - when using motodops put it between you and the driver. In tuk-tuks put it under your seat. Apart from their appalling road safety record, motorbikes do not allow you to protect your bag as well as you can in a four-wheel vehicle.
Bag-snatching happens all over Phnom Penh, including outside popular expat hang-outs (e.g. Elsewhere). Some moto drivers may be in league with the thieves.
There are dozens of girlie bars catering to foreigners in the cross-streets going back off the river. Freelance girls are picked up at establishments like Heart of Darkness, Sharkys Bar, Riverhouse Lounge and Martini Bar.
Thus another Phnom Penh danger is HIV, which surveys reveal is carried by about one in eight of Cambodia's female sex workers.
Additionally, certain high-risk sexual behaviours are emerging in recent Cambodian population studies: nearly 100% of men who have sex with men (MSM) also have sex with women; a new class of 'hidden' sex workers, such as beer girls and park-based prostitutes, is often out of reach of educators; there is very low condom-use among 'sweethearts', and many Cambodians have multiple sweethearts in one year; male clients persuade or force prostitutes not to wear condoms. (This happens to 67% of Cambodian prostitutes every week!)
On top of this, as of the first half of 2008 - according to interviewees in The Phnom Penh Post - the police have begun closing down brothels and beating up and raping prostitutes. This in turn is driving the trade underground, and thus into more dangerous waters where educators cannot reach.
NGOs have got the HIV rate down from around 2% to around 1% over the past decade. But it's possible these emerging behaviours will cause that to reverse.
The worst area is the tourist strip along the river - where some Phnom Penh residents won't venture, for that reason. Here drivers tout not only rides, but massage, sex and drugs. A polite refusal will generally guarantee being left alone (though tourists not accepting rides are sometimes abused outside the Foreign Correspondents Club). Older or disabled beggars in the market or other places will be happy to accept half or a quarter dollar (2000/1000 riel), and some older people might even invoke a blessing on you for your gift. Younger kids with modern needs may want a dollar, or to sell you a (pirated) book for around five dollars. A bit more worryingly, gangs of Vietnamese boys in this area sometimes cause trouble by pickpocketing and physically abusing tourists.
Some foreign visitors have cut short their stays in Phnom Penh after a day or two of such harassment. The DRP ('Don't Reward the Pests') movement is growing among Phnom Penh residents: adherents do not engage touts and drivers who harass them, but seek out those who wait to be approached.
Having said all that, the greatest danger in Phnom Penh is none of the above: it is getting hit by a motorbike - or thrown off one - in the city's unpredictable traffic.
Cambodia has arguably the worst drivers in Asia. Although traffic tends to be slower than Bangkok's and less dense than Saigon's, it is literally all over the road: two streams going in each direction at any one time; plus endless switching from one stream to the other. Crossing the road in this city requires constant 360 degree vigilance.
Using motorbike taxis, or riding your own motorbike, in the stead of tuk tuks, will save you a few dollars a week. However an airlift to a Bangkok hospital will quickly make that seem like a false economy. Tuk Tuks, however, can often give a false sense of security. They are usually very cheap motorbikes with substandard brakes pulling incredibly high loads, and if they need to stop quickly, it will often not be possible. Minimise the risk by choosing sober drivers, vehicles in good condition, and not overloading.
Places to see
This Art Deco (called Psar Thmei in Khmer) behemoth, built in 1937, is a city landmark and, on any given day, a veritable anthill of activity. The building is a towering cruciform rotunda with four wings. The eastern entrance is the best spot to find T-shirts, hats, and all manner of trinkets and souvenirs, as well as photocopied bootlegs of popular novels and books on Cambodia. Goldsmiths and watch-repair and -sales counters predominate in the main rotunda, and you can find some good deals. Spend some time wandering the nooks and crannies, though, and you're sure to come across something that strikes your fancy, whether that's a chaotic hardware shop, a cobbler hard at work with an awl, or just the cacophony and carnival-barker shouts of salesmen and haggling shoppers.
Sisowath Quay aka Riverside.
an attractive boulevard running along the banks of the Mekong and Tonle Sap. Until recently it was fronted by a pleasant park, but authorities have now cut down all the trees and it is now hot and unattractive. The built-up side of the street is home to cafés and shops and the better class of bar, and is popular with tourists and expat Westerners prepared to run its gauntlet of touts selling drugs, girls and tuk tuk rides. Unfortunately the riverfront (once seen as Phnom Penh's 'safe' area) is no longer entirely safe for tourists. Tourist police are supposedly present in plainclothes, but sadly they have had no effect on the wave of brick attacks on foreigners that has marked 2010. The esplanade along the river is also popular with Cambodians, who come here in the cool of the evening to enjoy the quasi-carnival atmosphere. It begins at the riverfront park opposite the Royal Palace, and is perhaps best experienced in the early evening. In addition to the recent brick attacks on foreigners, there are child gangs and pickpockets - so extra caution is warranted.
Tuol Sleng Prison
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21 Prison), Street 113, Boeng Keng Kang 3, Chamkar Morn). A school converted into Cambodia's most important prison in 1975. More than 14,000 people were tortured here before being killed at the Killing Fields; only 8 prisoners made it out alive. The museum is easily accessible and a must-see for everyone interested in Cambodia's horrific recent past. The infamous "skull map" has been dismantled, although there are still skulls stacked in cabinets, implements of torture and disturbing photographs of people dying. For a introduction and further reading, try David Chandler's "Voices from S-21" (ISBN 0520222474).
Just a warning to those who patronise the souvenir shop here. Don't get conned into buying some vintage Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega watches. They are fakes and are worthless. The lady owner is very convincing and she will tell you that it is a collection from her husband.
The Killing Fields
The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, (About 17 km south of Phnom Penh, 40 minutes by taxi). A former Chinese cemetery, this is where the Khmer Rouge killed many thousands of their victims during their four-year reign of terror. Today the site is marked by a Buddhist stupa packed full of human skulls - the sides are made of glass so the visitors can see them up close. There are also pits in the area where mass graves were unearthed, with ominous scraps of clothing still to be found here and there. It is a serene yet somber place. Regularly throughout the day, a small museum screens a documentary with gruesome video images of human remains that were unearthed when the mass graves were found in 1979. Recommended to visit after learning more about the Khmer Rouge terror at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, however, like the Genocide Museum, this place is not for the squeamish. As millions were killed during the traumatic genocidal regime of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, as a sign of respect - it would be good to wear respectable clothing such as long pants and no sleeveless shirts or tops. Flowers and incense can be bought in front of the stupa.
The Royal Palace (7:30am-11:00 & 2:30pm-5:00pm) Including the two magnificent pagodas in the Palace Grounds, the Silver Pagoda and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, are among the few public buildings in Phnom Penh really worth seeing. They were built in the 19th century with French technology and Cambodian designs, and have survived the traumas of the 20th century amazingly intact. See them early in the day before it gets too hot. No photography is allowed inside the Silver Pagoda and some of the Palace buildings.
The National Museum of Cambodia (Street 13, Sangkat Chey Chumneas, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh - opposite the Royal Palace), last admission 16.30. Contains an excellent collection of art from Cambodia's "golden age" of Angkor, and a lovely courtyard at the center. A main attraction is the statue of King Jayavarman VII (1181-1219) in mediation pose; other exhibits worth seeing include graceful statues of Hindu gods, ancient stelae (tablets) inscribed in Sanskrit and Old Khmer, and artefacts from a prehistoric burial site. Unfortunately, no photos may be taken inside the museum, although photography is allowed in the central courtyard upon payment of a small fee (cameras: US$1, videocameras: US$3). In the middle of the courtyard is the original statue of the "Leper King" (actually Yama, the Hindu god of death) from the Terrace of the Leper King in Angkor Archaeological Park. The pleasant little park in front of the Museum is the site of the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony, at which the success or otherwise of the coming harvest is determined.
Wat Phnom, (on a hill at the center of a small park near Sisowath Quay, on St. 94). Name means "Hill Temple". The temple itself is notable more for its historic importance than physical structure, but the park is a pleasant green space and a popular gathering place for locals.
Independence and Liberation memorials.
Impressive Buddhist-style Independence Memorial, commemorating the departure of the French in 1953, dominates the centre of the city. Nearby is the Stalin-style Liberation Memorial, marking the Vietnamese capture of the city in 1979. The area is especially popular on weekend nights with locals when the multi-colored fountains are activated and communal music is played. .
Near the river
Staying on the banks of the Tonle Sap River in Phnom Penh is highly recommended if it's within your budget. Although generally more expensive than elsewhere in the city, it is a pleasant, albeit touristy, area to stay. Late afternoon strolling along the promenade or relaxing in one of the many bars or cafes -- or on your hotel or guesthouse veranda -- is a great way to finish the day.
This is the backpacker quarter of Phnom Penh, easily the cheapest part of town, but really not the best. The lake is totally toxic and no matter how many beers you've drunk or spliffs you've smoked (a major pastime here) nothing will protect you from the water. Opinions are mixed on this area. There's certainly nothing Cambodian about it, but people keep coming here for the cheap rooms and the relaxed, laid-back scene. We have to admit a Sunday afternoon spent on Lazy Fish's veranda is a very nice way to waste half a day, but there are better areas in town to stay. In 2008, the shortsighted Cambodian government agreed to sell the lake and the area around it to a local developer, who plans to fill in the lake and build expensive condos and a shopping centre. Hello rainy season floods! On any given day, a giant pipe can be seen pumping out sand-filled water from the quickly receding lake. As of early 2009, most guesthouse owners bordering the lake estimated they had between seven months and two years before they would be forced to close, while those away from the lake think they have from one to five years before the developer, with the help of government forces, will kick them out.
Away from the river
Stretching from Phsar Thmei in the north to the Russian Market (Phsar Tuol Tom Poung) in the south, this area basically covers everything that isn't by the lake or on the river. A few gems are scattered across this area, which is popular with those who want to throw themselves headlong into the real Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh's main streets are in good shape; however smaller streets and footpaths are often rutted and pot-holed, clogged with garbage, stagnant water, parked motos, sleeping people, livestock, and building materials. Many smaller streets either lack signage or bear misleading signs, however, Phnom Penh is logically laid out and navigating the city is not difficult if you know where you're going.
Motorbikes: (but not self-drive cars) are available for rent, however Phnom Penh traffic is chaotic and dangerous even by Asian standards: public transport (other than motorbike taxis) is safer.
Motorbike-taxis: (motodops, motodups or simply motos in local parlance) are ubiquitous and will take you anywhere for a small fare. A trip from Sisowath Quay to Central Market costs about 2,000 riel (50 US cents). Fares are higher at night and with more than one passenger.
Taxis: are available at a few locations - most notably outside the Foreign Correspondents' Club on Sisowath Quay. Most taxis do not have meters, and fares must be agreed in advance. Fares vary, due to fluctuating fuel prices; ask hotel/guesthouse staff for assistance (hotels and guesthouses will organise taxis on request). There are a few metered-taxi companies emerging in Phnom Penh. They are very reasonably priced and in high demand. Be prepared to wait for their service, and plan accordingly.
Tuk-tuks: The Cambodian vehicle consisting of a motorcycle with a cabin for the passengers hitched to the back. They are cheaper than taxis and offer a scenic experience of the city. Their clientele is almost exclusively tourists, and most drivers in tourist areas speak some English.
Cyclos: The three-wheeled cycle-rickshaws. Considerably slower then a motodop, and gradually becoming less common in the city, they are still popular with locals and foreigners alike. The nature of the seat lends itself to a quick and easy way to transport all manner of goods from one place to another, even other cyclos and the occasional motorbike as well.
Walking can be a challenge, as cars and motos sometimes do not stop for pedestrians. To cross safely, judge gaps in the traffic and proceed with care - give oncoming vehicles ample time to see and avoid you, or try to cross with the brightly coloured and revered monks. On larger roads, two streams of traffic travel in each direction, totalling four streams of traffic you have to watch for: thus constant 360 surveillance is required when crossing roads. There is almost no street lighting off the major boulevards, and walking there at night is not recommended.
1. As a huge number of scarred or maimed locals can attest, motorbikes are the least safe alternative. On a motorbike you are exposed to the worst consequences of the city's bad drivers and appalling accident rate.
2. To avoid later disagreements, bargain a fare before you leave. Starting to walk away is the best way to produce a reasonable fare.
3. Sometimes the only English a driver knows is something like "Yes, no problem" - leading you to believe he knows where he is going when he does not. Most tuk tuk and moto drivers in Phnom Penh come from rural villages. Incredibly, some cannot find Sisowath Quay or Sihanouk Boulevard. Make sure the driver knows where he is going before getting in/on.
4. Don't leave bags, phones, etc exposed to snatchers: such thefts from tuk tuks and motorbikes are epidemic in Phnom Penh.
5. The tuk tuk drivers outside the Foreign Correspondent's Club are notoriously pushy and aggressive. They may be best avoided: walk half a block and hire someone else.
Popular tourist buys include Cambodian silk, local silverware, traditional handicrafts and curios (including Buddha figures), and made-to-order clothes (these are often of good quality, unlike electronic goods). If you want to support businesses that are noted for supporting Cambodia's or the shopper, it is best to enter Cambodia with the phrase 'caveat emptor' ('let the buyer beware') ringing in one's ears.
Most manufactured goods you buy in Cambodia will be of dubious quality: this especially applies to electronic goods of any kind. At least a third of anything electronic will cease to work within days, if it ever does. Handmade goods (shoes and silks for example) are generally of good quality.
culture and heritage, look for the Heritage Friendly Business Logo from Heritage Watch, an organization that is promoting the preservation of Cambodia's cultural legacy.
Central Market (in Cambodian called Psar Thmei - "New Market") is a 1930s Art Deco covered market near the Riverfront (Sisowath Quay) district. The market is well set out, and sells everything from flowers to video games. As of August 2009, two arms of the building were undergoing renovations and one more was largely empty. However, the central dome and the last arm were open and busy, as were the temporary markets around them.
Sorya Mall, currently Phnom Penh's main Western-style mall, is nearby - less colorful than the traditional markets, but it is air-conditioned and contains a range of cheap fast-food outlets as well as a well-stocked supermarket named Lucky Supermarket. If looking for Sorya, go SOUTH of the Central Market. It's on a north-south street on the west side. Asking anyone in the Central Market will be futile, however they DO understand "Sorya". (NB: Don't leave a moto with the Sorya parking people, who are well-known for stealing helmets, and doubling the parking charges on a whim.) On the south-west edge of town is the even newer Sovanna mall. Freezing aircon and modern shops make this popular too.
City Mall was opened in September 2009, making it the newest and biggest western-style mall in Phnom Penh. It can be found on Monireth Boulevard near the Olympic Stadium. The mall contains a large branch of Lucky Supermarket, as well as many fast-food outlets and modern shops, mainly catering to Phnom Penh's growing middle-class population.
Russian Market (Cambodian "Psar Toul Tom Poung" - it gained the "Russian Market" moniker following the Vietnamese occupation of the city in the 1980s, but many motodops are not familiar with the name) offers the opportunity to buy real designer clothes at a huge discount price. A lot of the factories for Levi's, CK, Ralph Lauren and many other brands are in Phnom Pehn, however a lot of the clothes sold here are deemed unfit to be shipped abroad due to very small fault in the clothing which a majority of people wouldn't even notice, therefore they are sold at the Russian market. You can also purchase fake Swiss watches and pirated software at low prices. It also has the best ice coffee in the city. Russian Market is located away from normal tourist areas, but motodop drivers who cater to tourists will know it.
Street 178, just north of the National Museum, is known as Artist Street and has many interesting boutiques.
Colors of Cambodia, 373 Sisowath Quay. Handicrafts from around the country.
Kravan House, #13 St. 178. Has a wide range of Cambodian silk products, including a wide range of ladies' handbags at a fraction of the price you would pay in a hotel gift shop.
Stef's Happy Painting, Sisowath Quay (near St. 178, directly under FCC), . Features brightly-colored fun and funky paintings of Cambodian life - a welcome relief after visiting some of Cambodia's more heart-breaking attractions.
Food and drinks
Friends on Street 13, part of the Mith Samlanh NGO, trains and employs former street youth and serves up a delicious array of drinks and tapas. The food is healthy and varied, the drinks refreshing -- try anything with soursop -- and prices slightly upmarket but not beyond most backpackers' reach. The fun, colourful atmosphere and amiable staff make this spot worth going out of your way for, and of course, when you get the bill, just think of the children. It's very close to the National Museum, so you could tie in a visit to a rejuvenating break here.
Also part of Mith Samlanh, Romdeng on Street 278 just near the Independence Monument also trains former street youth and serves up traditional Khmer cuisine from the provinces. The menu features almost 40 dishes and the portions are generous. Pleasant staff serve tables inside and out, where plenty of fans make eating comfortable.
Le Rits, on Street 310 just off Norodom Boulevard has both outdoor garden and indoor air-con seating. The food is a good mix of European and Asian, with a reasonable value set menu for lunch. Service is prompt and friendly. An attached store sells everything from organza curtains to jewellery made by women trained by the NGO NYEMO, which also runs the restaurant. NYEMO offers services to about 800 'at-risk' women every year, teaching them various skills and they also take care of about 700 orphaned or abandoned children every year.
The Lazy Gecko on Street 93 is one of the most well-established lakeside restaurants and offers a large selection of tasty, reasonably-priced Western dishes served in a comfortable environment. In addition to offering general travel advice, they run a bus to a local orphanage for those who want to give back to Phnom Penh's poor without being taken advantage of. They also provide tours to Phnom Tamao, a local wildlife refuge. Definitely stop in here if you're staying lakeside.
Khmer Surin is generally the first Khmer place to be recommended to visitors, hence the touristy feel to the place. The restaurant doubled in size in late 2008, and you can now enter via the original restaurant or at the "South Gate." They claim authentic Khmer cuisine and their menu is exhaustive, though leaves out market standards. The ambience resembles that of a high-class restaurant, but the prices are budget, with most mains costing about $3.50. The upstairs area features soft cushions on the floor for the comfort of Western bums. Service can be a little indifferent (when we visited, our meal came in reverse order: main, appetizer, then drinks), but if you're wary of street meat, it's a safe place to sample Khmer cuisine.
Good for lunch or dinner, Khmer Kitchen is a similar setup to Khmer Surin with reasonably priced Thai and Khmer food. The restaurants are owned by the same couple: The wife works for the World Health Organization and the husband does environmental research. The food is slightly more authentic than Khmer Surin's, and the ambience a bit more casual. The restaurant relocated to another, strikingly similar building down the street from the original in early 2009. You can eat inside or out and it's a comfortable spot - we prefer it for lunch over dinner. Service can be sleepy. Free delivery.
The Boengkak Lake area has half a dozen Indian restaurants, most of which are holes-in-the-wall, but don't let the ambience put you off -- several of them offer all-you-can-eat thali feasts for about US$2, which are consistently filling and delicious. We tried out South India Restaurant and Bar and weren't disappointed.
For more fair prices, head to Sher-e-punjab Indian Restaurant. The Tandoori BBQ dishes are some of the best Indian we've tasted, and everything else is reliably top-notch, especially for the low price tag. The restaurant now has a second location on Sothearos.
In a class all by itself is Le Seoul Korean Restaurant, located between Le Royal and the Phnom Penh Hotel, and it's probably only in your price range if you can afford to stay at the former. The interior is exquisite and prices high -- you'll easily pay US$50 per person to enjoy a meal here. But it does seem to offer authentic Korean kalbi and other traditional favourites. The extensive French wine list partly explains the 'Le' in 'Le Seoul.'
Nighlife and entertainment
Places to hang out after dark include Street 104, Street 278, and Street 108 around the Street 51 corner, which all feature restaurant bars, hostess bars, and guesthouses.
69 Bar ,  Popular dance orientated hostess bar, bar top and balcony dancing.
Barbados, south of Street 104 near the river, is a hostess bar. Buy 5 beers and get 1 free.
Blue Cat, just off the riverside on street 110, classy bar, friendly staff, fun popular place with free pool and a night club upstairs. cheap cocktails.
Caress Bar  is where the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Tonle Basac rivers meet each other. Cruise the Mekong with style.
Elephant Bar, Raffles Le Royal. The classy bar at the classiest hotel in town, with frescos on the ceiling and live piano in the evenings. Try the Femme Fatale, a mix of cognac and champagne dreamed up for Jacqui Kennedy in 1967. Expensive.
Equinox  on Street 278 (near Street 51) is a cocktail bar featuring paintings by local artist Soumey and photo exhibits by Isabelle Lesser, gaming room with a pool table and the unique bonzini foosball table of Phnom Penh, cool tunes, good food. Increasingly popular with expats.
Green Vespa at 95 Sisowath Quay (near street 102). Open from 6AM - late. Friendly pub and great single malt collection.
Heart of Darkness has long been the most infamous nightclub in Phnom Penh, closed in August 2005 after a patron was shot to death but is now back in business. Some seating is reserved for well-heeled (gangster elite) Phnom Penh local youth, so move if you are asked. While certainly not the safest place in the world, more nights go by without incident than not. A number of expats avoid it now, however. Saturday nights are always packed.
Martini Pub & Disco on Street 95 (one block off Monivong Blvd, across from the Total Gas Station) is an infamous girlie bar. Two full bars, food US$2-6, burgers & fries, pizza, Asian dishes, gaming room, disco, outdoor big-screen showing movies or sports. There some copycat Martini bars in other places like Sihanoukeville and Siem Reap, but this is the original. A place for single men and loose ladies.
One3Six Bar Located on Street 136. A popular hostess bar.Great range of drinks plus they keep their 42 Below and Grey Goose Vodka in the freezer, so the shots are real smooth.
Sharky's Bar & Restaurant, #126 Street 130, Phnom Penh  Since its opening in 1995, Sharky's has been rocking & rolling. Located upstairs on the first floor above street level, Sharky's has a large space, huge center bar, outside balcony, and plenty of available seating. Most moto taxis will understand "Shockeee Bah". It's about three 1/2 blocks from the "Psar Thmei" (new market).
Sugar Shack  on Sothearos (the street in front of the National Museum and Palace) is a classy little hostess bar featuring a nice selection of wines, champagnes and single malts.
Walkabout on Street 51 has food and good pool tables. Many freelance girls congregate here. Popular after hours bar, also has rooms available. Open 24 hours.
Zapata Bar on Street 108 next to VooDoo Lounge is a stylish air-con hostess bar with a good range of drinks, and no pool table or food to distract you from the lovely ladies.
Security warning (Superficial security)
Most of the time, Phnom Penh bars and clubs are safe enough and a lot of fun - however, some of the more "hip" places are popular with the notorious local "elite" youth (and their minders) who carry firearms and other weapons, and who are allowed to pass through so-called "security" checks without being searched.
What is the Climate, Average Temperature/ Weather in Phnom Penh?
Whether you wish to travel to Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Latitude & Longitude: see map search field. Altitude: 10 m or 33 ft) on holiday, business or vacation, are interested in buying property there or are looking to migrate the following Phnom Penh climate, temperature and weather information should prove helpful:
The average temperature in Phnom Penh, Cambodia is 27.7 °C (82 °F).
- The average temperature range is 3.5 °C.
- The highest monthly average high temperature is 35 °C (95 °F) in April.
- The lowest monthly average low temperature is 21 °C (70 °F) in January.
- Phnom Penh's climate receives an average of 1407 mm (55.4 in) of rainfall per year, or 117 mm (4.6 in) per month.
- On average there are 121 days per year with more than 0.1 mm (0.004 in) of rainfall (precipitation) or 10 days with a quantity of rain, sleet, snow etc. per month.
- The driest weather is in January when an average of 7 mm (0.3 in) of rainfall (precipitation) occurrs across 1 days.
- The wettest weather is in October when an average of 257 mm (10.1 in) of rainfall (precipitation) occurrs across 17 days.
- The average annual relative humidity is 78.0% and average monthly relative humidity ranges from 70% in March to 85% in September.
- Average sunlight hours in Phnom Penh range between 4.3 hours per day in September and 8.6 hours per day in March.
- There are an average of 2490 hours of sunlight per year with an average of 6.8 hours of sunlight per day.
There are an average of 0 days per year with frost in Phnom Penh and in January there are an average of 0 days with frost.