Deciding where to stay in Phnom Penh is not as easy as it sounds. The first time we visited the city was 20 years ago. We’ve been back several times and seen it change tremendously. Phnom Penh today has fascinating neighborhoods, new boulevards, restaurants, shops, and hotels.
If you visited the city more than 5 years ago, you won’t recognize it. Tall contemporary towers dot the entire city! Fortunately, Phnom Penh decided to protect its heritage. Several historic buildings have been refurbished and revamped. In fact, Phnom Penh has some of the best hotels and restaurants in the region.
The one thing that hasn’t changed is the people. We fell in love with Cambodians on our first trip. Everyone is warm, welcoming, and very professional. What we did notice is that more and more Cambodians speak perfect English. Even if they don’t, they are the best hosts in the world!
The Best Areas to Stay in Phnom Penh
City Center and the Riverfront
The best place to stay in Phnom Penh is the city center, next to the riverfront. We mean the area west of Nordom Boulevard, north of Sumarit Boulevard, east of the Tonle Sap River, and south of Ang Duong Street. The city’s best attractions are here. Likewise, the best restaurants and bars.
The area looks beautiful. Locals flock to the recently refurbished parks and boulevards to socialize, eat, and drink. Most streets have new sidewalks, so it’s easy and safe to walk. Though there are a couple of new buildings, most buildings in the center are beautiful and old. You will love walking around searching for historic architecture.
Visit the Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda, and the National Museum of Cambodia. Walk along Preah Ang Boulevard admiring the river. Stop by Wat Ounalon Temple, Dorngkeu Shrine, and the Chanktomuk Conference Center. Our favorite park, Wat Botum, is next door. The area shines at night with families and friends strolling about and having fun.
We Recommend These Hotels in the Center:
The best hotel in Phnom Penh is the Pavilion. The lavish property is on a quiet street a couple of blocks away from the Royal Palace. It used to be the Queen’s home. The exquisitely decorated rooms face a splendid garden with a pool. Even if you don’t stay here, stop for dinner at one of the best restaurants in the city. We loved it here!
Hotel Le Botum offers great value for money. The hotel is the only tower next to the Royal Palace. You can see Botum Temple, the palace, the river, and beyond from its lovely rooftop pool. The best rooms have a balcony overlooking the city. Stop here at night for a cocktail with epic views.
Sangkat Voat Phnum
This area is north of Preah Ang Duong Street, east of the river, west of National Road 1, and south of Chivapol Street. The city’s grandest governmental buildings line the wide green boulevards. It’s full of bars and restaurants closer to the river. The riverside boulevard begins here.
We advise you to visit Wat Phnom in the morning and the afternoon. The incredible hill with shrines and temples offers breathtaking views. Remember that locals pray here. From there, walk along Daun Pehn Av. to the City Hall and Post Office. Moha Kossamak Boulevard is to the left.
You will find the night and old markets next to the river. Vans to Siem Reap leave from here. Cambodia’s Train station is to the west. Trains to Sihanoukville and the airport depart from here. The 1910 building is one of our favorites in the city. Though it can be crowded during the day, the area is quiet and fun at night.
We Recommend These Hotels in Sangkat Voat Phnum:
Raffles Hotel Le Royal
The Raffles Hotel Le Royal is one of the best luxury hotels in Phnom Penh and South East Asia. The superb property opened in 1929 and features a pool, spa, and wellness center. All rooms come with a balcony. Even if you don’t stay here, have a drink at any of the two bars.
If you are looking for family accommodation in Phnom Pehn, book an apartment at Central Mansions. It’s an elegant hotel with a garden, pool, Jacuzzi, kids room, gym, and onsite parking. Every unit has a balcony and a fully equipped kitchen. However, you can eat western and local food at their restaurant.
Sangkat Boeng Reang and the Central Market
This is the best central area with inexpensive accommodation to stay in Phnom Penh. Sangkat Boeng Rean is a small neighborhood west of Norodom Boulevard, south of Ang Duong Street, west of Monivong Boulevard, and north of Sihanouk Boulevard. Though hectic, it’s fun and safe. You can walk to most landmarks.
The first time we visited the city, the Central Market was crumbling down. Today, the gorgeous art deco building looks splendid! The country’s prettiest market attracts locals and tourists. You can buy fresh fish, clothe, jewelry, and just about anything. The Faculty of Medicine is nearby.
Walk around the Headquarters of the National Bank of Cambodia to see architecture from the 50s and 60s. Continue south to the area around the Ministry of Youth and Education. Locals favor this hip neighborhood. You will find all types of bars, coffee houses, and restaurants here.
We Recommend These Hotels in Sangkat Boeng Reang:
HM Grand Central Hotel
Every room at the HM Grand Central Hotel has city views. The tall crystal tower is in the heart of Sangkat Boeng. The views from the rooftop terrace will take your breath away. It also has a jacuzzi. The comfortable rooms are well isolated and clean. Great value for money.
Vacation Boutique Hotel
You won’t get a better room at this price than at the Vacation Boutique Hotel. The building is two blocks from the market. Thus, you can walk everywhere. The rooms are simple, spotless, well isolated, and big. You can eat good inexpensive food at the onsite restaurant.
Boeung Keng Kang Muoy (BKK1)
Big mansions and tall towers line the streets of Beoung Keng Kang Muoy. Locals call it BKK1. The area is south of the Independence Monument, west of Norodom Boulevard, and east of National Road 1. There are several big embassies. You will also find a lot of Korean and Japanese restaurants and shops.
Walk from the statue of King Father to the Independence Monument. The memorial is for King Sihanouk, who died in 2012. The giant stupa was built in the 60s to commemorate the country’s independence from France in 1958. People from all over the country visit the park to take pictures.
A block to the south is the Anglican Church, and further west, the Catholic Church. Both are contemporary temples used by local ex-pat communities. Some of the best art galleries in Phnom Penh dot the streets of BKK1. Visit at night if you are into wine. The best wineries in the city are around Street 294.
We Recommend These Hotels in BKK1:
Baitong Hotel & Resort
The Baitong Hotel & Resort is a sleek contemporary building one block from the Independence Monument. It’s got a lovely garden with tall trees, a pool, gym, and wellness center. The best rooms have a balcony and a plunge pool! The complimentary breakfast is delicious.
Patio Hotel & Urban Resort
You will love the pool at the Patio Hotel. Since it’s on the top of the sleek tower, it offers memorable views of the entire city. The rooftop bar has a wide selection of cocktails. All of the rooms are big and have a balcony with views. Parking is free.
Phnom Penh has a new area where to stay in fancy hotels. Tonle Bassac is to the south of the historic center. The area begins south of Samdech Chuon Statue and crosses the Bassac River into the Discovery island in front. The city’s fanciest mall is south of the Russian Embassy. Everybody who’s somebody visits Aeon.
From the statue walk to the National Assembly and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Go back to Samdech Park and cross the river. The white building you can see from the island is the Ministry of the Environment. The two super-tall towers to the south are The Peak, the most glamorous address in the city.
The area’s nicest parks are Diamond and Treelion. Koh Pich (Diamond Island) City Hall presides over Diamond Park. Treelion is the one next to the Bassac river. A new artsy area opened south. Aquation has offices, art galleries, and a couple of coffee shops. New buildings keep mushrooming all over the place.
We Recommend These Hotels in Tonle Bassac:
Sofitel Phnom Penh
One of the best luxury hotels in Phnom Penh riverfront, the Sofitel has it all. The hotel tower is on top of a colonial-inspired building. The garden next to the river is massive. The rooms on the top floors are huge, luxurious, and offer memorable views. You have 5 restaurants to choose from!
Casa Meridian Residence
The tall crystal tower Casa Meridian is in the center of Discovery Island. All of the massive units come with a fully equipped kitchen and a seating area. The 1 bedroom apartments on the top floors are the best in the city. You will never forget the views from the rooftop pool.
Near the Airport
If you are in a hurry, stay in one of the hotels in Phonm Penh that are near the airport. Note that the airport is only a 30 minute drive from the center. However, due to international or local connections, sometimes you may need to stay here.
It’s easier to go to Oudong from here too. You can avoid the city and head north directly. The same applies if you are going south to Sihanoukville. It’s an area with several universities and educational institutions. The nicest is the Royal University of Phnom Penh.
The area is known in the city for its sports clubs and fields. The most famous one is the Cambodian Country Club. Today, visitors from all over the country and abroad visit the area to shop wholesale or at any outlet mall. You will see lots of commercial offices.
We Recommend These Hotels near the Airport:
Cambodian Country Club
The Cambodian Country Club is a classic amongst the city’s posh crowd. It’s the only hotel in Phnom Penh with a semi-Olympic pool and tennis, basketball, badminton, and sand volleyball courts. Let’s not forget the horseback riding. The clubhouse is beautiful. You have to book a recently refurbished superior room.
Le Kree Downtown Hotel
The best hotel near the airport is Le Kree. It’s a new building with modern-day conveniences. Everything is clean and in great shape. The hotel has a gym, garden, restaurant, and bar. You won’t get bigger rooms at this price. Finally, the service is impeccable.
How Long to Stay in Phnom Penh
The last time we visited Cambodia, we spent over a week in the city and had a fantastic time! Still, we felt we could have stayed longer. However, we all have time constraints and wonder how many days are needed in Phnom Penh to cover the basics.
We believe that you should stay at least 3 nights in the city. Though rushing, you will get to see the best attractions. However, to feel the city and enjoy its many wonders you need at least 5 days. Phnom Penh is very atmospheric. Take your time to discover its relaxed vibe.
Today, the city offers some of the best hotels and restaurants in the region. Book a room at a fancy hotel and enjoy world-class service with a warm local touch. That’s why we recommend the Pavilion Hotel so much. The chic hotel has captured the essence of the city.
The best way to move around the city is by walking. Most of the attractions are in the city center, close to each other. You can also walk along the river and to the central market. You’ve got nothing to worry about. However, though there are new sidewalks everywhere, be cautious when crossing the street!
The city is safe, so we advise you to get lost discovering new streets. Whenever you are tired and want to go back, hop on an inexpensive tuk-tuk. We love them! Due to their design, the old ones offer better views. Tuk-tuk drivers know the entire city by hand, are professional, and have great tips!
You need to take a tuk-tuk to go to the Genocide Memorial. Take another one to cross the river and tour the islands in front. We took one to go to Udong. You don’t want to miss this unique heritage site. Go in the afternoon to enjoy a killer sunset.