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About Phnom Penh
From the National Museum of Cambodia to the Wat Phnom temple, Phnom Penh is a city brimming with history. It's renowned for its French colonial architecture, vibrant Art Deco Central Market and – perhaps most famously – the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. The bustling streets of the Cambodian capital are a sharp contrast to the surrounding rice fields, dotted with peaceful water buffalo.
Phnom Penh hostels are mostly grouped together on the western bank of the Mekong river, near to Phsar Thmei, the Central Market. You can stay in a traditional Cambodian-style villa or a lakeside hostel set in an oasis of lush gardens. Choose a Phnom Penh hostel with a swimming pool to cool off in after a day's exploring, or with a rooftop terrace to get views over the city. Most hostels in Phnom Penh have kitchens, bars and communal areas for socialising, and some have bonuses – like free beer – if you stay for two nights or more.
The area surrounding Wat Phnom, Sangkat Voat Phnum, is renowned for its French colonial buildings and fancy restaurants. Boeung Keng Kang 1 (BKK1) has a similarly upmarket vibe. For something more authentically Khmer, head to Tuol Tom Poung. This lively area is famed for its Russian Market, filled with street-food vendors and stalls selling colourful wares like fabrics and lamps. The Central District is the place to go for night markets, while Sangkat Tonle Basak is known for its microbars.
For an insight into Cambodia's complex history, most visitors to Phnom Penh go to the hard-hitting Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the grand buildings of the Royal Palace compound. Koh Dach, also known as Silk Island, sits in the middle of the Mekong, just upstream from Phnom Penh. Here, you can see traditional handicrafts like silk weaving and wood carving taking place in small workshops. The city's newly thriving street-art scene can be found on Street 93 and you can take a stroll along the waterfront at Sisowath Quay.
Phnom Penh International Airport is about 10km from the city centre. The most common way to travel is by remork-moto (a motorcycle and trailer) or taxi, which have set fares from the airport. Public transport in Phnom Penh is relatively limited, but there are city buses. You can hop on a moto (where you travel as a passenger on a motorbike) for short journeys or order a taxi for longer trips.