Phnom Penh is often only a whistle stop for many travelers but it is a city on the up. It is all about the atmosphere & the people. Take a break from the other Asian busy cities and enjoy walking around quiet and relaxing Phnom Penh.  There are not many museums or temples to see but there are enough to keep you busy for a long weekend. It’s one of the less developed capital cities in South East Asia and it’s changing fast. It’s also very cheap. Let’s be honest, it’s not the most beautiful or interesting city around (although there is obviously a lot to learn about the recent history of Cambodia and  its dark days with the Khmer Rouges. But it’s probably one  of the last capital cities around (with Yangon and Vientiane) to offer such a jump back in time.

How accessible is it from Singapore?

Singapore to Phnom Penh journey details

There are now direct flights on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon and evening. This means you can go visit Phnom Penh for a regular 2 day weekend.

The total door-to-door journey from (your home/office in) Singapore to your hotel in Phnom Penh will take you about 4 hours and 15 minutes. This estimate includes the flights and taxi transfers.

How much is this going to cost us?

Cambodia is a very cheap destination in terms of food (we’re talking USD 1 for a beer in a nice bar in the city center here), accommodation and activities. We’ve not so happy about the USD 30 visa per person but it’s not like we have a choice…

Transportation wise, the total return trip will cost about SGD 525 for 2 persons. This estimate includes flights and taxi transfers.
Accommodation wise, you will find a wide range of options: from cheap guesthouses (from SGD 20 a night) to very luxurious hotels (up to SGD 500 a night).

How remote and risky is it?

Cambodia is not very developed overall and the  medical infrastructure is not good and you would probably want to fly to Bangkok (frequent flights) or Singapore in case of  serious problems. Still it’s a capital city so you will find some medical infrastructure and there are international hospitals

What about the kids?

Cambodia is not a great place for kids as there are not many kids friendly activities. Visiting S21 or the Killing fields with young children is not the best idea (we think). The Royal Palace may keep children entertained for a while but other activities such as the markets may be a bit hardcore for young children. You can still take them and ours loved driving around the city in a Tuk Tuk but you might feel a bit limited in terms of activities.

When should we go?

The best period to visit Phnom Penh and avoid the rain season are the months of January, February, March, April, May, November and December. Refer to the chart in the sidebar for details about the monthly average rain volumes and rainy days.

Did you know?

The GDP per capita in Cambodia is about 50 times lesser than in Singapore. (USD 1,200 vs USD 52,000)

Connections from Phnom Penh

You can also combine this trip with a trip to Siem Reap (Angkor) by boat or bus, few days at the beach in Sihanoukville or Ho Chi Minh City (which is not very far from Phnom Penh).

Getting from Singapore to Phnom Penh airport

There are a few direct flights from Singapore (SIN) to Phnom Penh (PHN) airport

Getting there: Jetstar – Singapore to Phnom Penh – 7.35 PM – 8.40PM (2h05 flight)
Coming back: Jetstar – Phnom Penh to Singapore – 9.30 PM – 0.30 PM (or the earlier flight at 3.25 PM – 6.25PM)
Return ticket from SGD 220.

Get your ticket NOW to enjoy the best fares.



Phnom Penh airport offers limited facilities. Money change is  available.

Getting from Phnom Penh airport to the city

The airport is 9km from the center of Phnom Penh (30-50 minutes depending on traffic). At the arrival hall you can buy a coupon for transportation to the city.

  • Taxi: USD $12 (recommended as it is relatively long distance in tuk- tuk and road can be dusty (tuk- tuk don’t have windows, it is open air)
  • Tuk-tuk : USD $9 (if you want someone to wait for you at the airport, you can ask Pov who is a nice tuk tuk driver speaking english : +855 (0) 17828109 / penh_pov@ymail.com)

Where to stay in Phnom Penh

The best is to stay in the city center around Street 240 where you can easily find quiet boutique hotels with nice swimming pool at bargain rates. Being central, this area is ideal to walk to the main attractions of the city, have a walk on the Sisowath quay & enjoy nice Khmer cuisine restaurants. Have a look at the Agoda box below to book your hotel, selecting “Street 240 area”. Try Kabiki Hotel (kids friendly)  Villa Langka Hotel,  Blue Lime Hotel, or Pavillon Hotel…

If you prefer, you can also book with

To see & to do in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is a quiet capital though it starts to get busier. It is easy to walk in the center and to take a tuk tuk or a moto taxi (motodop) to discover the city or to go to the Mekong Island. You can also explore the surrounding countryside.

Tuk Tuk driver: Pov is a nice tuk tuk driver who can speak english and can bring you everywhere in and around the city, waiting for you while you visit a place or have lunch. +855 (0) 17828109 / penh_pov@ymail.com 1 day trip USD15–20 depending on how long the day is.

You can rent a moto at Lucky Lucky 413 Monivong Bd ( USD10 / day a moto). Make sure you have a passport with you and than you lock your moto when you park. Lucky Lucky can also arrange visas to neighboring countries.

The Royal Palace & The Silver Pagoda

The Royal Palace is the home of His Majesty Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia. The grounds are opened to public, you’ll see the coronation hall, the Napoleon III pavilion (a gift from France to Cambodia), the house of the white elephant used for special occasions, etc. The Silver Pagoda, located within the Royal Palace has a floor made of silver tiles, hence the name.
Open everyday: 7.30 AM-11AM / 2PM- 5PM. Entrance fees: US $3/pax, US $2/camera, US $5/video camera.

If you get to the Royal Palace during lunch time when it is closed have a walk to either the Sisowath quay or to the Pagoda located opposite 227, Street 19 (you will discover how the Buddhist monks leave – it is not a museum so be respectful while crossing this Pagoda).

National Museum

The National Museum is next to the Royal Palace and is a good example of Cambodian architecture style. Inside, you can learn about the history of Cambodia and see many sculptures / pieces of works of art dating back from the Angkor period. You’ll also be able to rest for a while in the peaceful courtyard surrounded by palm and lotus ponds. Open every day 8AM  -5PM. Entrance fee: US $3/pax.

The tragic history of Cambodia

If you want to better understand Cambodia we highly recommend you to visit at least the Prison S-21.

  • Visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, former school which became the Prison S-21. It is a memorial and testament to the horrors perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge killing machine from 1975 to 1979. Be prepared, the visit will be depressing, but being part of recent Cambodian history you cannot miss it. Open every day 8AM-5PM. Entrance fees: USD $3/pax.
  • If you have more time, you can visit the Choeung Ek killing field, where the 17000 Cambodians were executed by the Khmer Rouge. It’s located 14 km southwest from city center – 25 min ride in tuk-tuk or motorbike. Open every day, 8AM-5PM . Entrance fee: US $2/pax.

Wat Phnom

Wat Phnom – is the tallest and most important temple in Phnom Penh. The garden around offers a green spots where monkeys enjoy the shade and where you can go for an elephant ride.Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office before walking up the hill to the temple. US $1/ pax

Local Markets

  • The Phnom Penh Central Market, Phsar Thmey, is housed in a colonial-style building in the heart of the Cambodian capital. You can find everything, from roasted spiders to jewelry, from electrical pieces to dry fish, etc. It’s also a real olfactory trip.
    Open daily 5AM – 5PM.
  • The Russian Market (Phsar Toul Tom Poung) is of far less architectural interest than the Central Market but has a larger, more varied selection of souvenirs, curiosity and silks. It is one of the best markets in town to buy fabric or T-Shirts. It’s a bit more touristy.
    Open daily 7AM – 5PM

Koh Dach Island (Mekong Island)

Enjoy a day trip from Phnom Penh to an oasis of tranquility. Only 15 km northeast of Phnom Penh, the small rural island is renowned for its silk weavers and its beach (in dry season – but not sure it is recommended to swim in the Mekong river…). To get there you can take a tuk tuk for a full day ( ~ US 15/day – 4 adults max) or rent a moto (see getting around below).

Miscellaneous

  • Have a look to the artifacts boutiques in Street 178.
  • Enjoy a sunset drink at terrace of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC), colonial building with view on the Tonle Sap and the Sisowath quay.

More info to prepare your trip

Wifi is now available in most of the hotels, bars & restaurants.

What to pack for Phnom Penh

Your main bag

That’s the one you leave at the hotel. Ideally you want to avoid checking in your luggage when flying. So check the weight and dimensions for hand carry luggage with your airlines (some airlines will allow only 7kg, some will allow up to 10kg). From head to toes.

  • Short sleeves tops: your main outfit. Everybody will see them on all your pictures. You really want to take that old Mickey Mouse T-shirt? Be mindful that you will be in a different environment so it might be a good idea to adjust your wardrobe.
  • Long sleeves tops: to protect yourself from the sun (if you’ve stayed for 5 hours on a motorbike with short sleeves you know what I mean) or to enter religious buildings or to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evening.
  • Pullover. Yes I know, you’re going to a country where the temperature never goes down below 25 degrees and you need to pack a pullover? You will thank us when you’re back. Remember that flight during which  you were freezing? Or this museum where the aircon is set to the “polar bear” temperature?
  • Short/skirt (you should be able to chose the appropriate one by yourself).
  • Trousers for the same reasons you need to take long sleeves tops. Jeans are usually not a good option. They are heavy and keep you too warm.
  • Underwear: well, you know. If you plan to walk or ride motorbikes for long hours, take something comfortable as the combination heat + friction can make you regret this sophisticated silk underwear. Cotton is good.
  • Shoes: one pair of flip flap and one pair of confortable shoes. Remember that you are going to spend most of the time on your feet. Forget about high heels and leave your Westons at home.
  • Swimsuit: even if you don’t plan to go to the beach, you never know. A nice river, a swimming pool, a heavy rain? Always have one with you.
  • Raincoat and protection for your bag. Even if you are visiting the country during the “best season”, you never know what the sky will be like.
  • Torch: take a pocket torch with you if you visit countries where the power is not reliable… Can come very handy when stuck in the dark in your room.
  • Toilet bag: Shampoo, soap, toothbrush & toothpath, deodorant, sun screen, tiger balm. Ideally, all these in miniature formats.
  • Sleeping bag liner (if you plan to stay in very cheap or dirty places, not required if you are staying in a 5-star hotel…)
  • Your IT stuff: iPad, eBook, laptop, chargers, memory card, batteries, etc.
  • Dryer sheets: they will help keep a fresh smell in your bag.

Your small bag

That’s the one you keep with you, all the time. Hence, a backpack is the best option.

  • Your passportcashcredit cards and other life saving items like your insurance card with emergency contact details. Not a bad idea to put them in a zip-lock bag  in case it rains. It will keep your documents dry.
  • Your driver’s licence if you plan to rent a car or a motorbike (some countries are quite particular about this so take it with you in case you are not sure, even for a motorbike rental).
  • Your emergency medical kit: painkillers, mosquitoes repellent, dressing/plaster, disinfectant, anti diarrhea, eyewash
  • Tissues and toilet paper (you will thank me later). Remember that in a lot of countries, you will not be provided napkins when having a meal.
  • Water – plastic bottles are a good option as they are lighter than a gourd/flask.
  • Biscuits (always buy some before you go when you are not sure what you will find. Always have “emergency” biscuit  and water in case you cannot find food around and need to recharge batteries)
  • Sunglasses: you’ll need them. Take them even if it’s raining. Weather can change very fast in the region.
  • Scarf (krama, or any kind of fabric that you can use to put around your neck, put on your head to protect it from the sun, cover your shoulders in temples, dry your sweat, etc). Can come very handy in some situation. It will not stay clean for long so it’s wise to pick a dark color…
  • Camera and its protection.

Cambodia

Cambodia

  • Language: Khmer
  • Time zone: Cambodia GMT + 7 , 1h ahead of Singapore
  • Currency: Both Khmer Riels  (KHR) and US Dollars (USD). USD for most expenses, restaurants, shopping, entrance to museum, etc. Khmer Riels are used for small purchases and street stalls.
  • Phone: + 855
  • Electricity: 220V 50 Hz

Immigration and airport taxes on arrival

Visa on Arrival can be obtained for most of the nationalities (check at the Cambodian embassy in your country) at the Visa Counter upon arrival at the airport.

Entry Visa requirements for a Tourist visa (30 days for single entry):

  • Passport valid for at least 4 months from the expiry date
  • A recent photograph (4 x 6) or pay USD 2 per person
  • Visa fee payment – USD 30 per person (children included) (USD bank notes only).

Visa exemption for tourists holding passports from Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

National Public Holidays in Cambodia

2015

Day Date Holiday
Thursday January 01 International New Year Day
Wednesday January 07 Victory over Genocide Day
Tuesday February 03 Meak Bochea Day
Monday March 09 International Woman’s Day (observed)
Tuesday April 14 Khmer New Year Day
Wednesday April 15 Khmer New Year Holiday
Thursday April 16 Khmer New Year Holiday
Friday May 01 International Labour Day
Sunday May 03 Visak Bochea Day
Monday May 04 Visak Bochea Holiday
Thursday May 07 Royal Plowing Ceremony
Wednesday May 13 King’s Birthday
Thursday May 14 King’s Birthday Holiday
Friday May 15 King’s Birthday Holiday
Monday June 01 Children’s Day
Thursday June 18 Kings Mother Birthday
Thursday September 24 Constitutional Day
Monday September 28 Ancestors Day
Tuesday September 29 Ancestors Day Holiday
Thursday October 15 Commemoration Day of King’s Father
Friday October 23 Paris Peace Agreements Day
Thursday October 29 King’s Coronation Day
Monday November 09 Independence Day
Tuesday November 24 Water Festival Ceremony
Wednesday November 25 Water Festival Ceremony Holiday
Thursday November 26 Water Festival Ceremony Holiday
Thursday December 10 International Human Rights Day

* Check the exact date as it varies from one year to another – check on this website. When Public Holidays falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday will be Public Holiday.