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History

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Official Romanization: Phnum Pénh; IPA: is the largest, most populous and capital city of Cambodia. It is also the capital of the Phnom Penh municipality.

Once known as the Pearl of Asia in the 1920s, Phnom Penh, along with Siem Reap, is a significant global and domestic tourist destination for Cambodia. Phnom Penh is known for its traditional Khmer and French influenced architecture. It is also the commercial, political and cultural hub of Cambodia and is home to more than 1 million of Cambodia's population of 13.8 million.

Phnom Penh did not begin life as a major settlement until after the Angkor period in which Angkor Wat and the surrounding cities rose to prominence. In the middle of the 15th century, then King Ponhea Yat fled a Siamese invasion in Angkor and settled in a part of what is today Phnom Penh, establishing a palace. Buddhist stupas were later added but the city was not made the official capital and seat of the monarchy until 1866 under King Norodom I.

Three years earlier, however, Cambodia had come under the protection of France and was soon a fully-fledged member of the French Indochina Empire that also included Vietnam and Laos. Under the full control of Paris, Phnom Penh prospered: previously little more than a village, the city was transformed as the French developed the waterfront.

Despite turmoil in many other parts of the country before and after WWII, Phnom Penh remained under the full control of France until 1953 when King Sihanouk negotiated independence in a wave of Khmer nationalism, returning to Phnom Penh triumphant. It did not take long for things to turn sour though. By the beginning of the 1970s, Phnom Penh was little more than an island of tranquillity in a Cambodian sea of war.

ViewIn 1975, the Communist guerrilla Khmer Rouge forces lead by Pol Pot took Phnom Penh to cheering crowds. A few days later they were packed off to the countryside as Phnom Penh was drained of two million inhabitants. For four years, it became the most desolate capital on the planet except for torture centres like S-21 and the few Khmer Rouge elite that lived there.

When the Khmer Rouge of Phnom Penh were pushed out in 1979, people slowly returned to a city in utter disrepair. As the full extent of what had happened emerged, the international community began to give aid and help rehabilitate the city as its population slowly increased. It was not until after the Paris Peace Accords in 1991 that full stability was restored to Cambodia.

In 1999, Cambodia joined the regional Southeast Asian grouping ASEAN, which further helped bolster foreign investment into Phnom Penh, beginning a new and positive chapter in the city’s recent history.

Cambodia’s first modern novel was written in Phnom Penh in 1938, during the waning days of French colonial rule in Indochina.

Rim Kin’s book, “Sophat,” did not feature the princes, high-ranking officials or mythical characters of traditional Khmer literature, said Khing Hoc Dy, a researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris. It was about a young man in search of the father who had abandoned his mother before he was born.

Rim Kin had to borrow to pay for the publication of “Sophat,” which was printed in Saigon. The 2,000 copies arrived in Phnom Penh in January 1942; they sold out within six months, which enabled the 30-year-old teacher to pay his debts and buy himself a bicycle, wrote Khing Hoc Dy in his 1993 book, “Writers and Literary Forms of Cambodia in the 20th Century.”

“Sophat” would set the tone for novels of the era that, unlike previous Khmer language works, would be written in prose rather than in verse, and feature city and village people, from farmers to public servants and market vendors.

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In the 1930s and 1940s, publications in Khmer were still rare, Khing Hoc Dy said.

Over the centuries, most writing was done for religious purposes on palm-tree leaves, and printing presses took a long time to arrive in the country, Khing Hoc Dy said.

“The French first brought them to Hanoi, then Saigon, and then Phnom Penh toward the end of the 19th century,” he said.

They served mainly to print official and administrative documents—not to publish literature, he said. The first Cambodian literary texts to be published in 1878 had to be lithographed.

The other difficulty with printing Khmer was using the characters of Khmer script, said Khing Hoc Dy.

“The French had suggested writing Khmer in Roman letters, but a very strong nationalist movement had risen to oppose this. [Giving up Khmer script] would be losing the Cambodian soul, because the writing is magic,” he said.

By 1954, only 80 Khmer novels had been published, compared to 524 that would be released between 1954 and 1969, a period during which then Prince Sihanouk led the country, said Khing Hoc Dy.

After independence, in 1953, authors of the mid-1950s would favor romance and historical themes, sometimes using historical or mythical characters to hide social and political criticisms that could not be openly expressed, he said.

“Authors of the 1940s did not express hate toward the French—they were just trying to awaken the national conscience of people,” said Khing Hoc Dy. “They were in search of their Cambodian identity, and advocated nationalism, but by legal means.”

Rim Kin was a teacher, he said. “He wrote in a simple way to reach ordinary people.” His goal was, above all, to educate, said Khing Hoc Dy.

Nou Hach, the other great novelist of the period prior to independence, was a humanist, he said. “He did not just want [Cambodia’s] independence, but also political awareness and some sort of social equality, which was very idealistic and unachievable at the time.”

Born in Battambang province—which was under Thai administration in the 19th century and for much of the first half of the 20th century—Nou Hach made his main character in “Mealea Duong Chet,” or “The Flower Garland,” vow not to marry the Thai woman he loves until Battambang is returned to Cambodia.

In the mid-1940s, both writers supported the Democratic Party of Prince Sisowath Yuthevong. Rim Kin wrote a play to promote the party during the country’s first national electoral campaign in 1946, and Nou Hach served as the prince’s secretary, said Khing Hoc Dy. Throughout novels of the time, Angkor Wat would appear as one of the main themes, said Khing Hoc Dy.

“It’s the eternal theme, used to remind Cambodians that we once were glorious and that we must aim to reach this level again.”

The first Khmer cultural publication, “Kambujasuriya,” appeared in 1926. Ten years later, Cambodia’s first Khmer language newspaper came out.

“Nagara Vatta,” which adopted a pro-Cambodian stance and did not hesitate to criticize the French administration, had a circulation of more than 5,000 by 1937, wrote historian David Chandler in the 1992 edition of “A History of Cambodia.”

Its readers tended to be young Cambodian men in lower echelons of the public service and based in Phnom Penh, he wrote. Editorials would gradually turn anti-Vietnamese, Chandler wrote.

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Rim Kin died in 1959, when he was 47-years-old. Nou Hach, whose last position was Cambodian ambassador to Indonesia, retired in 1972 at the age of 56. He disappeared in 1975, when the Khmer Rouge took over the country, Khing Hoc Dy said.

The History of Phnom Penh is as interesting as the place itself. The city has owes its name to the tall hill temple that was built in the 14th century to as the sacred abode of five statues of Buddha. Know more exciting details about the History of Phnom Penh in Cambodia before you pack your bags for your vacation. Who knows? They might be of great help during the tour!

Phnom Penh has been the capital of Cambodia ever since the time of Ponhea Yat. The ruins still exist to remind us of the days of the Khmer empire and the Angkorean Empire. Later, during the middle of 19th century, Phnom Penh became the center of Cambodian Government. The Royal palace was constructed and the whole place was soon transformed into a modern bustling city. Roads and railways were constructed and in 1920 the Pochentong Airport was built.

The Vietnam War has played a major role in the History of Phnom Penh of Cambodia. Thousands of refugees flooded into the city from all over the country to find a safe haven from the raging war and the population increased drastically. Later, when the city came under the control of the Khmer Rouge, the Phnom Penh History again took a major turn. Schools were transformed into prison houses and the Cambodians were kept as prisoners and ruthlessly tortured. Most of the residents of the city were used as manual labors in the farms and education was banned.

The supposed motive behind this sudden emphasis on agriculture was to purge the city of the evil of westernization. The Tuol Svay Prey High School that was used as a prison for the Cambodians has now been transmuted into a museum. The displays at this museum trace that gruesome part of the History of Phnom Penh. It was in 1979 that the Khmer Rouge ended and Phnom Penh was restored to its glory.

The History of Phnom Penh is a significant part of Phnom Penh Travel Guide. Know more about Phnom Penh to make your vacations successful!

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Museums

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Museums in Phnom Penh have always been popular tourist draws for all those coming to visit the city.

Museums in Phnom Penh cover the most controversial phases in history of Cambodia as they are the archives of the past containing those important articles which have very important links to the past. The three main museums are as follows:
National Museum in Phnom Penh

The Museums in Phnom Penh rank very high among the Phnom Penh Tourist Attractions and one should make it a point to visit all of them. National Museum is a particularly important museum. The museum is located very close to the Royal Palace. The National Museum is regarded as one of the best and probably the pioneer among all the historical and archeological museums. The museum is really popular as it happens to house some of the finest and rarest collections of the typically beautiful Khmer Art. The museum is actually a commemoration of the Khmer regime in Cambodia. The museum is really popular for the fine sense of architecture which seems to bear strong resemblances to the Khmer and French style of architecture.

Tuol Sleng Museum in Phnom Penh

The Tuol Sleng Museum is also known as the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. The museum was at first a high school and later transformed in to the prison during the Vietnamese war. The Tuol Sleng Museum is noted for the history attached to it. The prison had prisoners from all over the world captivated and kept as hostages under the accusation and charge of treason. The museum has become a special tourist destination as it reminds them of the horrific past of Cambodia.

Cheoung Ek Museum, Phnom Penh

Cheoung Ek Museum in Phnom Penh can also be regarded as one of the most important Museums at Phnom Penh. The museum is found on the famous Killing Fields in Cambodia and is regarded as one of the best Museums in Phnom Penh Cambodia. The museum consists of 5,000 skulls and human remains. The museum hosts almost 9,000 bodies and the point of attraction remains the stupa where the bones and skulls are kept for display. Phnom Penh Museums gives the tourists an opportunity to tour into the fascinating history of Cambodia.

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Climate

Phnom Penh is a hot and humid Asian capital. Unlike other areas of Southeast Asia, the monsoon season here kicks in very gradually around the beginning of April until September and October when it rains heavily before petering out again. At this time of year, foreign visitors will usually find themselves experiencing a humid dampness for much of the day, which is only alleviated by air-conditioning or a powerful fan. Wear light clothes accordingly.

The coolest time of year in the Cambodian capital is during December and January when temperatures usually stay around 25°C but drop lower at night. This is therefore the best time of year to make a visit to Phnom Penh. February remains fairly cool too by local standards but March and April can get unbearably hot, with highs of nearly 40°C sometimes.

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Culture Tradition

ViewPhnom Penh in Cambodia houses a number of entertainment and cultural centers that aim at preserving the dieing art forms of the country. Entertainment in Phnom Penh consists of a large number of music clubs and restaurants that provide a comfortable atmosphere for staying at the capital city of Cambodia. There are a number of music clubs and theatres in Phnom Penh that are independently run by organizations to preserve the classical dances of Cambodia and traditional art forms such as shadow puppetry and traditional music. Phnom Penh Cultural Center and the Sovanna Phum Theatre and Art Gallery in Phnom Penh are few of the best known cultural centers in the capital city of Cambodia.

Phnom Penh Cultural Center was previously known as the Chenla Theatre. The cultural center in Phnom Penh was built in the 1960's. It was renamed Phnom Penh Theater after the Pol Pot war in the late 1970's. Recently, the theater was renovated again and state-of the art facilities and equipments were added and after this renovation it was again renamed Phnom Penh Cultural Center.

Located at the Mao Tse Toung Blvd, the Phnom Penh Cultural Center also includes a multi function theatre which has an accommodation capacity of 600 people. The Phnom Penh Cultural Center in Phnom Penh is ideal to host business seminars and conferences. The elegant design of the Phnom Penh Cultural Center makes it an ideal option to host gatherings and social functions. The cultural center is spread over a total area of 10,800 square meters and boasts of equipments such as acoustics and air conditioning.

The premises of Phnom Penh Cultural Center also include a glass roofed Crystal Dome. This facility at the cultural center can be reserved for private wedding receptions and other social gatherings. A number of exhibitions and state fairs are held at the Phnom Penh Cultural Center at Phnom Penh.

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Festivals and Event

The festivals and events in Phnom Penh are an exciting conglomeration of the most ancient rituals of the region as well as the latest cultural attractions. This fascinating mix of the current and the contemporary makes the festivals and events of Phnom Penh a big draw among travelers visiting this exotic city from all over the world! So, here's a look at some of the top events and festivals that are an important part of the Phnom Penh Tourist Attractions: Bonn Chroat Preah Nongkoal in Phnom Penh

Held in May every year, the highlight of this traditional festival is the Royal Rice Ploughing Ceremony. The first of the agrarian festivals, it heralds the beginning of the ploughing season. Marked by symbolic overtones, this is one of the most popular of the festivals and events at Phnom Penh.

Water Festival on the Banks of the Mekong in Phnom Penh

One of the most ancient of the festivals and events in Phnom Penh, this is an annual celebration of the rivers of the city! Also called Bon Om Tuk, meaning Festival of the Reversing Current, the festival marks the beginning of the fishing season. Complete with an exciting cross nation boat race and fire works, this November festival always features at the top of every Phnom Penh Travel Guide!

Visual Arts Open in Phnom Penh

An exciting arts festival celebrating the works of the finest present day artists of Cambodia, this is one of the latest of the festivals and events at Phnom Penh in Cambodia. It is a December festival and promises to introduce the world to the best of contemporary Cambodian art.

Entry to these spectacular festivals is FREE for all! So, for an experience of a life time, why not be a part of the exciting festivals and events in Phnom Penh, this year?

Another popular festival of Phnom Penh is the Festival of the Reversing Current (Bon Om Tuk), Phnom Penh.

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Activities

ViewPhnom Penh Activities

Phnom Penh Activities . Traditional Cambodian ‘apsara’ dancing is very slow and graceful and the skills have been retained despite losing so many dancers during the Khmer Rouge years. There are performances of traditional dance, music and shadow puppetry most Friday and Saturday evenings at the Souvanna Phum Theater, 111 Street 360, corner Street 105 (tel: (023) 987 564). There are occasional performances of traditional music and dance at the Chatomuk Theater on Sisowath Quay (tel: (023) 725 119).

There are a few cinemas in the city but they show only Khmer language films. Le Cinema at the French Cultural
Center, 214 Street 184 (tel: (023) 721 383) shows current and classic French films, some with English subtitles, but check first. There are multiple daily showings of a 40-minute documentary of the history of the Khmer Rouge with historical footage at the Mekong River Event Movie, 1 Street 118, Corner of Sisowath Quay (tel: (023) 991 150). Movie Street Video Center at 116 Sihanouk Boulevard (tel: (012) 913 899) offers private viewings of the latest Hollywood and European films on large televisions.

Information on performances can be found in the Friday edition of the Cambodia Daily (website: www.cambodiadaily.com), The Phnom Penh Post (website: www.phnompenhpost.com), which comes out once a fortnight, and the irreverent monthly Bayon Pearnik (website: www.bayonpearnik.com).

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Phnom Penhn Food

Phnom Penh has many great restaurants and cafes to eat in. Here are some of the ones that I choose to eat in and why.

The Rising Sun - #20 Street 178 - Excellent value English style pub. The breakfast is consistantly one of the best in town and is a good standard to compare other breakfats by. Personally I have the 1/2 English breakfast with a pot of tea, at $3.75.

The Frog and Parrot - #273 Sisowath Quay - The original owner of this
bar liked The Rising Sun so much he copied the bar (and the menu) but failed to make it the success the Rising Sun is. Since Steve bought the bar it has improved substantially and is now a popular haunt for many expats and tourists. The fish and chips and recommended.

The Jungle Bar - #273 Sisowath Quay - Well it's next door to the Frog and Parrott so it's not really important what the number is. Jeff serves an excellent range of food in the $3-$5 range. My favourite here is the Mom's Spaghetti with extra noodles, I think the price is $3.50 add 50 cents if you want some meat in it. Lots of great food.

The Riverside Bistro - #276 Sisowath Quay - Next door to the Jungle bar the Riverside Bistro is a local institution. One of the biggest and longest running restaurants the menu is extensive. My personal favourites here are the Smoked Salmon Salad, The Vietnamese beef Stew, The Amok and some Swedish dish involving a creamy sauce, pork strips and a swiss potatoe cake. A little bit more expensive than the other restaurants/bars so far mentioned but a popular place. Andy spends a great deal of time with the decor of this bar and it's well worth a visit just that reason.

Kandal House - #239B Sisowath Quay - Great selection of home made pastas and pizzas. Very popular with the locals and toursists. Friendly and enjoyable atmosphere. Good selection of both Asian and Western food. They do take away and home delivery.

The Cantina - #347 Sisowath Quay - Located amongst about 1/2 dozen other budget tourist orientated restaurants the The Cantina offers excellent Mexican style food. The owner, a long time resident and photographer has a great display of photos from around Cambodia. I have yet to eat there but everyone I have talked to recommends it for mexcian food. If you have a slightly smaller budget then the Tex Mex (#115 Norodom just south of the Independance monument) offers some cheap eats.

Rendez-Vous - #127 Sisowath Quay - Comes highly recommended by several of my friends.

Punjab Surya - #16 St130 - Ok the name isn't quite right but it's close enough, next door to the Lemongrass restaurant. Probably the best value Indian restaurant in town. With complementary snacks and desert coupled with great Indian food this is a great place to eat if you like Indian food. The meals are in the $5-$10 range but are very large and could feed two people with normal appetites. For real cheap Indian food ($2 for the lot) go to Chi Cha Guesthouse at #27 Street 110. They offer 100% Halal food and have a cheap guesthouse as well.

Alley Cat Cafe - Not the easiest place to find as it's down a small alley it's opposite the entrance to the Art school on St19. Dallas cooks up some great American/Mexican style food. I've eaten there a few times and it's great value. Great specials on Sunday.

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Recreation

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For current events, showings, activities, parties, get-togethers, exhibitions and movie schedules check the back page of the Friday Cambodia Daily, the map page listings in the Phnom Penh Post and the monthly Bayon Pearnik.

Art Exhibitions
Several places in town put on exhibitions of contemporary art, photographs, handicrafts, and antiques. Java Cafe & Gallery (see Restaurant listings on page 83-101), the French Cultural Center (#218, Street 184) and Reyum Gallery (#47, Street 178) all offer regularly changing exhibitions. The award winning Reyum Gallery features offers some of the most interesting and important exhibitions in town, featuring the work of some of Cambodia’s best known and upcoming contemporary artists as well as cultural exhibitions. two fish gallery café, Scandinavia Hotel, Sala Art Space and Java Cafe & Gallery provide unique showcases featuring the works of contemporary artists. See the JavaArts website at www.javaarts.org for information on the Cambodian art scene and artists. Top end hotels such as InterContinental, Le Royal, Cambodiana and Sunway offer occasional exhibitions and the Foreign Correspondents Club often hosts photo exhibitions. Lastly, check out galleries such as Asasax Art Gallery, and New Art Gallery. Check the back page of the Friday Cambodia Daily and the ‘Listings’ section of the Phnom Penh Post for new exhibitions.

Go-Carting
Kambol Go-Karting offers go-carting fun for individuals and groups. Explorer, 6.5hp go-carts for rent. 990 meter track with 11 turns, a small hill and a 150 meter straight away. Open 9AM-6PM, 365 days a year. Located in Kambol Village, off Route #4, about 7km past the airport.

Cambodia Golf and Country Club

Cambodia’s first golf course, opened in 1996, and the most popular in the Phnom Penh area. 18 hole golf course spread over 120 acres, palm trees, several water features. Clubhouse, restaurant, swimming pool, tennis courts. Golf Course: Rte #4, 35km south of Phnom Penh

Horseback Riding
The Cambodian Equestrian Center is an international standard riding school and club offering riding lessons for adults and children, pony lead rides, club memberships and riding, jumping shows and exhibitions and even horse camp for kids. E-mail horsecambo@yahoo.com to get on the event mailing list.

Located at Northbridge at the southeast gate.

Gems carving

Movie Houses
There are now several big screens in town, but they feature only Khmer language films. Le Cinema at the French Cultural Centre (#214, Street 184 Tel: 023-721383) hosts French films at 6:30PM every few days. See the Phnom Penh Post for movie schedule.

Traditional Theater, Circus & Shows
Traditional performances are now available at a couple of venues in Phnom Penh. The Sovanna Phum Art Association hosts traditional performances every Friday and Saturday at 7:30PM - dance, shadow puppetry, circuses and music. #111 Street 360. 023-987564. The Apsara Arts Association hosts traditional performances every Saturday evening at 7:30PM - traditional dance and music. #71 Street 598. 023-990621.

The Phnom Penh Players, a group of expat thespians, present plays intermittently. Check the back page of the Friday Cambodia Daily and the listings in the Phnom Penh Post for current shows.

Scuba Diving
Scuba Nation conducts PADI certified dive courses in Phnom Penh and open water dives in the ocean off Sihanoukville. Scuba and island excursions. Offices in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. Phnom Penh Office: #20, Street 278. Tel: 012-715785. EcoSea conducts dive courses in Sihanoukville and also offers scuba and island excursions off Sihanoukville. Tel: 012-654104. See The Sihanoukville Visitors Guide.

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Visas and Passport

Passport/visa requirements: In order to visit Cambodia, a visa is required for most nationalities. A passport with at least six month validity is required. Philippine and Malaysian nationals do not require tourist visas for a stay up to 21 and 30 days respectively. Singaporean nationality is also exempt from the usual visa requirement. Visa on arrival is not permitted for holders of the following passports: Afghanistan; Algeria; Bangladesh; Iran; Iraq; Pakistan; Saudi Arabia; Sri Lanka; and Sudan. Holders of these passports must obtain a Cambodian visa before arriving in the country. Holders of these passports are also required to hold a sponsor letter or invitation from a company / organization / travel agent, and you are also advised to hold a valid return ticket.

Availability: Cambodian visas are available on arrival at all international airports in Cambodia (Phnom Penh and Siem Reap), at overseas Cambodian embassies , at most international border crossing checkpoints in Cambodia, and through the new online E-Visa procedure.

Issuance requirements and price: Issuance of a visa on arrival at the airports and international border crossings is relatively quick and easy, taking about 20-30 minutes. One 4x6 photo is required.

30-day tourist visa (Type ‘T’): US$20

Tourist visas can be extended for one month, but only one time.

30-day business visa (Type ‘E’): US$25

Business visas can be renewed indefinitely, one month, three months, six months or one year at a time.

Diplomatic, Official, Courtesy, and Special (Cambodian) visas are issued free of charge.

At overland international border checkpoints with Thailand, visa prices are often set in Thai baht making them significantly more expensive than the official visa price in US dollars. See below.

E-Visa: The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs now offers 'e-visa' - visas available online through the Ministry's website. Scan of passport and passport size photo required. Payment by credit card. US$25 for a 30 day visa (three month validity.) Processing time: 3 days. Issued by email and print from from your computer. The Ministry recently announced that e-visa entry points now include Siem Reap International Airport, Phnom Penh International Airport, the Bavet/Moc Bai border crossing, the Poipet/Aranyaprathet border crossing and the Koh Kong/Had Lek border crossing. To order an E-visa see the following website:

http://evisa.mfaic.gov.kh/index.php?version=eng

Visa Renewal: Renew visas through a travel agent or the ‘Department for Foreigners’ on Confederation de Russie (‘Airport Road’), located opposite Phnom Penh International Airport. Tel: 012-581558. Fax: 023-890380. E-mail: visa_info@online.com.kh. Renew Diplomatic, Courtesy and Official visas at the Consular section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Visas at Overland Border Crossings
Border crossing with Laos: Border policies are not stable. Travelers report that Cambodian visas are available at the border but Laotian visas are not available at the border.

Border crossings with Vietnam: Cambodian visas are available at the Moc Bai/Bavet and 'Chau Doc' border crossings. Vietnamese visas are not available at any overland border crossing.

Border crossings with Thailand: Cambodian visas and 30-day Thai transit visas are available at all Thai/Cambodian border crossings. Thai transit visas are free of charge. Other types of Thai visas are not available. At the Poipet and Koh Kong crossings, Cambodian immigration usually charges 1000-1200 baht for a tourist visa and 1500-1600 baht for a business visa. Unlike the rest of the country, they usually refuse dollars. At current exchange rates, the price in baht is significantly more expensive than the official prices of $20 and $25. Some people have had some success paying the official price in dollars by being politely insistent.

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Sightseeing

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Set aside two or three days to visit the major points of interest in Phnom Penh. It is possible to squeeze the most important points into a single day, but this leaves very little time at each site. Except for the ‘Killing Fields’ which are about 16km away, all of the other major points of interest are inside the city within a five or ten minute car/moto ride of each other. There are several Angkorian-era ruins and other historic sites 20-60km (45 minute - 1.5 hours travel) from Phnom Penh.

ViewThe Sights

Independence Monument 
(At the intersection of Norodom and Sihanouk) 
The Independence Monument (Vimean Ekareach) was inaugurated in November 9, 1962 to celebrate Cambodia’s independence from foreign rule. Renowned Cambodian architect, Vann Molyvann was the architect of the monument. The Independence Monument now also serves as a monument to Cambodia’s war dead. It is the site of colorful celebrations and services on holidays such as Independence Day and Constitution Day. 

ViewNational Museum
(Street 178 & Street 13, next to the Royal Palace - $3.00 - 8:00-5:00, open everyday)

The distinctive rust-red National Museum next to the Royal Palace was dedicated by King Sisowath in 1920. Over 5000 objects are on display including Angkorian era statues, lingas and other artifacts, most notably the legendary statue of the ‘Leper King.’ Though the emphasis is on Angkorian artifacts, there is also a good collection of pieces from later periods, including a special exhibition of post-Angkorian Buddha figures. Visiting the museum after rather than before a trip to the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap helps lend context to the Angkorian artifacts. Multi-lingual tour guides are available. Souvenirs and books available. Photography is limited. The museum borders Street 178, aka ‘Artist’s Street’ which is lined with local art galleries and souvenir shops. The Reyum Gallery on Street 178 is of particular note, exhibiting the works of contemporary Cambodian artists.

ViewWat Phnom
(Intersection of Street 96 and Norodom Blvd. - $1/person)
A small hill crowned by an active wat (pagoda) marks the legendary founding place of the Phnom Penh. The hill is the site of constant activity, with a steady stream of the faithful trekking to the vihear, shrines and fortune tellers on top, and a constellation of vendors, visitors and motodups at the bottom. Elephant rides available. The legend of the founding of Wat Phnom is tied to the beginnings of Phnom Penh. Legend 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. She built a hill (‘phnom’ means ‘hill’) and a small temple (wat) at what is now the site of what is now known as Wat Phnom. Later, the surrounding area became known after the hill (Phnom) and its creator (Penh), hence ‘Phnom Penh.’ The current temple was last rebuilt in 1926. The large stupa contains the remains of King Ponhea Yat (1405-1467) who moved the Khmer capital from Angkor to Phnom Penh in 1422. Look for the altar of Lady Penh between the large stupa and the vihear. She is said to be of particular help to women. Wat Phnom is the busiest pagoda in town the night of Chinese/Vietnamese New Year’s Eve.

ViewChoeung Ek Memorial (The Killing Fields)
(15 km southwest of Phnom Penh - Take Monireth 8.5 km past the bridge at Street 271) From April 17, 1975 until January 7, 1979, the ultra-Communist Khmer Rouge (i.e. Red Khmer) regime, led by Pol Pot, controlled the whole of Cambodia. Under the Khmer Rouge regime the country was known as ‘Democratic Kampuchea.’ During the short reign of the Khmer Rouge, between one million and two and a half million Cambodians perished, some killed outright, others dying from disease, malnutrition, neglect and mistreatment. Many of the dead ended up in various ‘killing fields’ that can be found scattered across the country. The killing fields were essentially ad hoc places of execution and dumping grounds for dead bodies. The memorial at Choeung Ek just outside Phnom Penh was an orchard and a Chinese cemetery prior to 1975. During the Khmer Rouge regime it became one of the killing fields - this particular killing field is the site of the brutal executions of more than 17,000 men, women and children, most of whom first suffered through interrogation, torture and deprivation in the S-21 Prison (Toul Sleng) in Phnom Penh. Choeung Ek is now a group of mass graves and a memorial stupa containing thousands of skulls. It’s about a 20-40 minute drive from the center of Phnom Penh. There are guides available at the site, and a small souvenir shop. For sake of historical context, combine your trip to Choeung Ek with a visit to Toul Sleng Genocide Museum.

ViewToul Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21)
(Corner of Street 113 & Street 350 - $2.00 - Open everyday, including holidays, 8AM-5PM - Closed for lunch)
Prior to 1975, Toul Sleng was a high school. When the Khmer Rouge came to power it was converted into the S-21 prison and interrogation facility. Inmates were systematically tortured, sometimes over a period of months, to extract confessions, after which they were executed at the killing fields of Choeung Ek. S-21 processed over 17,000 people, seven of whom survived. The building now serves as a museum, a memorial and a testament to the madness of the Khmer Rouge regime. Much has been left in the state it was when the Khmer Rouge abandoned it in January 1979. The prison kept extensive records, leaving thousands of photos of their victims, many of which are on display. Paintings of torture at the prison by Vann Nath, a survivor of Toul Sleng, are also on display. The museum’s famous and controversial ‘skull map’ is no longer on display.

River Cruise
Short river cruises and dinner cruises along the Phnom Penh riverfront are becoming more popular. A short cruise typically takes about 1-1/2 - 2 hours and runs up the Tonle Sap River along the central riverfront area providing a picturesque view of the Royal Palace, National Museum, parks and Phnom Penh skyline, and then across the Tonle Sap and up the Mekong River to view floating fishing villages. (Photography note: Best lighting in the early morning as the low eastern sun illuminates the front of the Palace.)

Tourist boats of varying size and quality wait along the riverfront between Street 178 and Street 130 (look for their small riverfront signs) and at the Passenger Port near Street 104. For a short riverfront cruise, just contact one of the tourist boats. Prices start at about $10/hour. The unique Kanika catamaran is docked opposite Street 136 - a spacious, modern boat offering a 'High-Tea' cruise from 4PM-6PM and dinner from 6PM-9PM. Private parties, charter cruises. Proceeds go to the Seametrey NGO educational and environmental projects. Tel: 012-848802 (See Restaurant listings for more.) Chenla Luxury Boat Restaurant & Bar runs lunch and dinner cruises by reservation on a deluxe river boat.

ViewThe River Front
Some of Phnom Penh's most important cultural sites as well as dozens of pubs, restaurants and shops sit along the picturesque park-lined riverfront overlooking the chaktomuk - the confluence of the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Bassac Rivers. The Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda and the National Museum are clustered together between Street 178 and 240 and restaurants and pubs line the riverfront road Sisowath Quay, stretching north from the Royal Palace area all the way to Street 104 near Wat Phnom. Visit the Royal Palace and National Museum and stroll up the riverfront for a drink or a meal or to do some shopping. Just off the riverfront, Street 240 behind the Royal Palace harbors several restaurants and high-quality boutiques and Street 178 next to the National Museum is known as 'Art Street' and is dotted with interesting little art galleries and silk shops. Early risers, check out the spectacular sunrise over the river in front of the Royal Palace area.

Traditional Markets

In Cambodia it is the women who take charge of trade, Market is held everyday from six o'clock, they display their goods on matting spread upon the ground. Each has an allotted place...excerpt from The Customs of Cambodia. by Zhou Daguan circa 1300AD.

A trip to at least one traditional market (phsar) is a must. If you visit only one or two markets, begin with the Russian Market and the Central Market. Both offer curios, souvenirs and a cultural shopping adventure. Other markets such as the Old Market (Phsar Chas) have far fewer items for tourists but can still be photographically intriguing. The markets open and close with the sun but are fairly sleepy between 11:30AM and 2:00PM.

ViewCentral Market (Psah Thmei)
This unique, art-deco building is a Phnom Penh landmark. Prior to 1935 the area was a swamp/lake that received the runoff during the rainy season. The lake was drained and the market constructed in 1935-37. Wet season flooding in the area around the market of the market is a vestige of the old lake. The entrance to the market is lined with souvenir merchants hawking everything from T-shirts and postcards to silver curios and kramas. Inside is a dazzling display of jewels and gold. Electronic goods, stationery, secondhand clothes and flowers are also in ample supply. (Phsar Thmei means ‘New Market’, but ‘Central Market’ has caught on in English.)

ViewRussian Market (Psah Toul Tom Poung)
This market is of far less architectural interest but has a larger and more varied selection of souvenirs, curios and silks than the Central Market. Like the Central Market, it has a good selection of silver, gold and jewels, but also carries huge selection of curios, silks, carvings, etc. The Russian Market offers the largest selection of bootlegged VCDs, DVDs and CDs of all of the traditional markets. Most of the CD vendors are located on the south side near the southeast corner of the market. It’s also a good place to buy fabric for business and casual cloths to take to the tailor. Most of what the visitor might want is in the same general area on the south side but the rest of the market is well worth exploring. Food and drink stands in the middle of the market for hygienically adventurous visitors.

Old Market (Psah Chas)
A truly local market offering goods such as fruits and vegetables, second hand clothes, hardware and religious articles. In the late afternoon food vendors and fruit sellers spread their mats and set up their stalls in and along street 13 in preparation for an evening market. The dinner rush makes for a confusing, pungent, dirty, potentially photogenic scene.

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Accommodations

Hotels and Guesthouses in Phnom Penh... Mid-range hotels run $15 - $75 with the average mid-range room including air-conditioning, cable TV, small fridge, en suite bathroom with hot water and other amenities. Some of the more popular mid-ranges places include Scandinavia, Boddhi Tree, California 2, Billabong, and Walkabout among others. There are a limited but sufficient number of international standard hotels in town including the Amanjaya, Sunway, Le Royal, Cambodiana and Juliana.

These hotels start at around $110-$220. Le Royal and InterContinental both offer suites in the $1500-plus range. Colonial Mansion amongst other places offers international standard suite-apartments for long term stays. At the other end of the spectrum, some of the best-known budget places in town include Last Home, Bright Lotus, Frog & Parrot, Relax, Spring and Capitol guesthouses. The Boeung Kak Lake area south of the mosque on is the backpacker center of Phnom Penh with dozens of cheap restaurants, bars, internet shops and guesthouses strung along Street 93 and on the lake side.

Phnom Penh has many great hotels and guesthouses some of which are well known are some not so well known. Some of the lesser known hotels offer better value than the more established names.

Those hotels that have star ratings are grouped together to make it easy for you to select a hotel level you are comfortable with.

Guesthouses offer excellent value and often blur the line between hotels and bed & breakfast establishments.

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Entertainment

blissWhen one visits the various cities for leisure then one of the criteria of traveling to the place is the various entertainment centers that the city houses. And whether you are culturally inclined or a party lover, one can find a perfect blend of entertainment centers at Phnom Penh. The Cambodian city of Phnom Penh boasts of a large selection of entertainment facilities across the city. Entertainment in Phnom Penh includes a wide selection of nightclubs, theatres and restaurants that makes the trip to Phnom Penh more pleasurable.

Entertainment in Phnom Penh can vary from cultural to sporting entertainment. If one is an avid art and theatre lover then one can book a ticket and visit the various music clubs and theatres in Phnom Penh. Travelers can also visit the Sovanna Phum Theatre and Art Gallery in Phnom Penh where one can watch theatrical performances and Khmer shadow puppet performance.

But for the more modern crowds there are a large number of bars and pubs in Phnom Penh which have a live music for the crowd. Sundays are a jam day at most nightclubs in Phnom Penh and most of the local musicians perform live for the crowds. Tourists can opt to visit the many nightclubs and bars clustered at the Street 184. A popular haunt of the local youth, one can to the Heart of Darkness in Phnom Penh. Another leisure activity at Phnom Penh is visiting the outdoor beer stalls and karaoke halls where one can enjoy live music throughout the night.

For avid sport lovers while on a visit to Phnom Penh, one can also book tickets for the National Soccer League matches. Another mode of entertainment in Phnom Penh is watching kickboxing, which seems to have originated here in Cambodia. Big crowds gather to witness the fight and the travelers should not miss the opportunity to watch this kind of combat. Sports and Recreation in Phnom Penh is a favorite mode of entertainment in the capital city of Cambodia.

Entertainment in Phnom Penh also include go carting at the Kambol F1 course or bowling at Phnom Penh Bowling Club. One can also opt to take a river cruise ride offered at the riverfront. One of the best options for river cruises at Phnom Penh is the Le Deauville II that also makes stopovers at the weaving villages which allows the travelers to explore the rural villages of Phnom Penh.

If relaxation is what one is seeking and one need not want worry about What/Where to eat in Phnom Penh as the many tourists can visit the many restaurants that are nestled in the city. The restaurants vary from Continental, Asian to French Restaurants in Phnom Penh.

With such diverse options for Entertainment at Phnom Penh, boredom is not an option while at Cambodia.

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Emergency Numbers

The city of Phnom Penh at the confluence of three rivers is the capital city of the Asian country of Cambodia. Today, it is the most visited Cambodian City and with time there is more awareness about the culture and traditions of the city. If one wants to experience the Cambodian way of living then one need to visit the city of Phnom Penh and stay here for a couple of days and feel the pulse of the city. But while staying at the city one needs to be aware of the Phnom Penh Emergency Numbers.

One should keep these Emergency Numbers in Phnom Penh while sightseeing at the city. Phnom Penh Emergency Numbers are pretty useful incase of any accident or any kind of mishap that occurs while visiting this South Asian city.

Few of the Emergency Numbers of Phnom Penh that are of utmost importance for the tourists are the 119 or 023-724891 for calling an Ambulance, 117 for Local Police and 012-942484 for getting connected to Tourist Police.

The other Phnom Penh Emergency Numbers are listed below:

Child Abuse/Exploitation Police Hotline: 023-720555
Fire: 118 or 012-786693

Hospitals

American Medical Center: 023-991863, 012-891613
Calmette Hospital: 023-426948
International SOS Medical and Dental Clinic: 023-216911, 012-816911
Naga Clinic: 011-811175
Tropical and Travellers Medical Clinic: 023-366802, 012-898981
International SOS Medical and Dental Clinic: 023-216911
Blood Transfusion Center: 023 251949

Pharmacies

Naga Pharmacy; 023-212324
Pharmacie De La Gare: 023-430205
U-Care: 023-222399

Public Utilities:

Electricity: 023 723871
Phnom Penh Airport: 023 890 520

Directory Assistance

Inquiries: 1202
Directory Assistance: 1203
Operator Assisted Calls: 1205

Emergency numbers at Phnom Penh is required at every stage of your journey. To have an enjoyable tour, one should always have the Emergency Numbers that enables immediate help when required.

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Health

Health: There are a number of health risks associated with travel to Cambodia and travellers are advised to seek the latest medical advice on vaccinations and precautions especially regarding typhoid, cholera, malaria, hepatitis B and polio, at least three weeks before travelling.

Malaria prophylaxis is recommended for all areas except Phnom Penh, around Lake Tonle Sap and the Angkor temple complex. Dengue fever, transmitted by mosquitoes, is prevalent especially in heavily populated areas.

Diarrhoea is the number one ailment afflicting travellers. Visitors should assume that the water is not safe to drink; bottled water is widely available. Avoid uncooked meat, unpeeled fruit, salads and food sold by street vendors.

Phnom Penh is not really the place you'd want to get sick or hospitalised so make sure you have good medical insurance that includes a flight to Bangkok if you can afford it. Having said that there are some excellent doctors, dentists and eye care specialists here that provide excellent service.

ICE: When in the major cities you needn't worry about the ice, there are two types the eating and the cooling ice. The eating ice is usually cylindrical with a hole in the middle. The large block ice is used for cooling but is also used by the locals as drinking ice. Try to avoid the block ice but don't worry to much.

Having used these two services I can recommend them. The Tropical and Travellers Medical Clinic and the IMI dental clinic.

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Getting There

Cambodia's climate, like that of the rest of Southeast Asia, is dominated by the monsoon, which are known as tropical wet and dry because of the distinctly marked The uniqueness of Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia is a traveler's paradise with traditional Khmer and French architectural patterns. Phnom Penh, fondly called the 'pearl city of Asia' is the cultural, political, economic and tourism hub of Cambodia. Travelers faced no difficulty in how to get there to Phnom Penh.

By air:
Most of the easiest and convenient way especially for foreigners to reached capital city is through air. Most of the flights to the country passed through the airport of Phnom Penh. Many international as well as regional airlines operate daily fight service to the city.

By Bus:
One can reached city by bus also as there are bus services that operates between Phnom Penh and Poipet, a border city of Thailand and from Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam).

By ferry:
Getting to Phnom Penh by ferry is another option of getting there. Though the way is little time consuming.

The majority of visitors to Cambodia arrive by air at the international airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. See flight international flight schedule page for detailed international and domestic flight information and a list of airlines that service Phnom Penh and Cambodia. For international overland travel from surrounding countries (Thailand, Vietnam, Laos) see the international border crossing/overland travel page. Cambodian visas are available on arrival at both airports and most international border checkpoints. The crossings at Bavet/Moc Bai and Chau Doc Vietnam are the closest to Phnom Penh.

Transport From the Airport
Phnom Penh International Airport
On arrival, taxis and motorcycle taxis (motodups) can be hired just outside the arrival lobby. There are no meter taxis. Taxis cost $7.00 for the 30-50 minute ride into the city center. Cheaper, slower and less comfortable, motorcycle taxis can be hired for $2.00 into town. A taxi to the airport from town costs $5 - $7. Shared taxi for $2/person.

Getting Around Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is a fairly easy city to get around. Though traffic is getting more congested by the day, you can still travel the length of the city in less than 30 minutes. Due to rising fuel costs, transportation prices are in flux. See page 7 for transport from airport.

Motorcycle Taxi (Motodup)
The omnipresent ‘moto’ is the most common and fastest form of public transportation, but not necessarily the safest. They are more prone to accidents and robberies than cars. Motos can be found virtually everywhere in town, just step to the curb and they will find you. Motos cost from 1500R-4000R for a trip in town and $6-$8 per day. Prices go up at night and for multiple passengers.

Motorcycle trailers (‘Tuk-tuks’)
Motorcycle trailers and cabs (‘tuk-tuks,’ moto-romauks) have become quite popular. They are more comfortable than motodups and are covered, offering some protection from the sun and rain. Unlike the noisy, two-stroke namesakes common to Bangkok, the Cambodian ‘tuk-tuks’ offer a quieter, more pleasant ride. Moto-romauks for hire gather in popular tourist areas such as the riverfront and in front of tourist hotels. $1-$2 for short trips and $10-$15 for the whole day. Prices vary depending on the number of passengers and where you pick up the tuk-tuk.

Public Taxis and Car Rental
There are a couple of small on-call taxi services. Taxi Vantha (012-855000, www.taxivantha.com ) is reliable and available 24 hours. More common are unmetered, unmarked taxis, which can be arranged through your hotel or travel agent. A car with driver costs $25-$35/day. Shorter jaunts run a minimum $2-$3.

All Destinations offers car and 4WD rental, with driver. Bodyguards available.

Tel: +(855) (0)16-779901.

Cambodia Driver offers cars/vans with driver for short hops around town or long term rental. Airport pickup, city tours, travel to the provinces.

Tel: +(855) (0)16-639852

Website: www.cambodiadriver.com

Cyclos
The humble cyclo can be a romantic and practical form of transport though not as safe as a car or fast as a moto. Cyclos are easier on the nerves than motos and during a rain they offer a drier ride. Curiously, cyclos often charge twice as much as a motodup.

Buses
There is no regular in-city bus system in Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh Sorya Transport Co. offers bus service to several provincial destinations along the National Routes as well as Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City.

Motorcycle Rental
Motorcycles (100cc-250cc) can be rented for $5 - $9/day. Tourists often rent 250cc dirt bikes, though they are a bit too much bike for the slow city traffic. For in-city driving, 100cc is recommended. Chaotic traffic makes cycling in the city challenging in the extreme. Roads outside the city vary in condition. If you do decide to ride, drive slowly, stay right, wear a helmet and remember that medical services are limited.

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Map of Phnom Penh

map

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