Phnom Penh is a city with different personalities where urban cool meets colonial grandeur in diverse neighbourhoods. Find the perfect location for your stay with our guide to the best areas of Phnom Penh.

By: Mark | Last Updated: 23 May 2024 | Jump to Comments & Questions

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Phnom Penh is a somewhat underrated destination in southeast Asia.

As a royal capital, it has regal architecture, world-class museums and exhibitions dedicated to the tragic history of the nation.

But it also has vibrant local markets, trendy rooftop bars, great street food and an atmosphere that’s decidedly Asian, yet lacking in the sheer craziness overloading some of the other big cities in the region.  

Phnom Penh is made up of several distinct neighbourhoods each offering something different.

We cover all the best places to stay in Phnom Penh and why you should stay there, along with hotel recommendations at various budget points.  

TOP HOTELS IN PHNOM PENH

Before we explore the different areas of Phnom Penh, here are our top hotel recommendations:

patio urban hotel phnom penh
PATIO URBAN HOTEL

MAP – BEST AREAS IN PHNOM PENH

There are 5 main areas of Phnom Penh, each with its best things to do. Journey time between the different areas is 5-20 minutes via tuk tuk ($2-$4), so you don’t need to worry about basing yourself near a specific attraction.

To learn more about getting around and the best time to visit, read our Cambodia travel tips.

HOTEL COSTS

For each hostel, guesthouse, or hotel we have indicated a rough budget level.

  • Budget – $ – up to $40
  • Midmarket – $$ – $40 to $120
  • Luxury – $$$ – $120 and above

Hotels in Phnom Penh can be very good value and midmarket hotels will often be lovingly designed with stylish rooftop pools. If you ever want to treat yourself to an upmarket hotel, Phnom Penh is a good place to do it.

1. RIVERSIDE

The main attractions of Phnom Penh are located in the Riverside district.

Here you’ll find grand palaces, historic museums, and ornate temples surrounded by gardens. With open spaces, wide roads and a riverside promenade, this part of Phnom Penh feels a little less hectic.  

There are plenty of great places to eat and drink, with several along Sisowath Quay overlooking the river.  

Riverside is more expensive and more touristy than other areas, but the range of hotels is excellent.

It’s a great choice for first-time visitors.

royal palace phnom penh
ROYAL PALACE

WHAT’S IN RIVERSIDE?

  • The Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda.
  • River Cruises depart from Sisowath Quay.
  • The Cambodian National Museum.
  • The Sisowath Quay riverside promenade.

WHERE TO STAY

  • Penh House Hotel ($$) – Stunning rooftop pool and bar in an urban chic hotel in a great location.
  • Hotel Emion ($$) – Modern stylish apartments just a stone’s throw from the river with great views from the infinity pool.  
  • Hotel Kvl ($$) – Winner of Best City Hotel in 2023 in a stunning location on the river front near the Grand Palace.
  • The Pavilion ($$) – Beautiful old colonial house with an oasis-style courtyard. A relaxing adult-only escape.
  • Hyatt Regency ($$$) – Stylish bars and restaurants evoke memories of colonial Singapore in this upmarket resort.

2. SANGKAT VOAT PHNUM

Sangkat Voat Phnum is a small neighbourhood just north of Riverside.

It is dominated by Wat Phnom, a beautiful temple on a small hill, which comes alive with locals on public holidays. Just around the corner, the Night Market is our favourite place to eat in Phnom Penh and the new Sosoro Museum is an excellent education in power and money.

Strangely, the Sangkat Voat Phnum neighbourhood has the pick of the best 5-star hotels in Phnom Penh, and many of the best budget options.

It’s a central location and it’s easy to walk into Riverside.

wat phnom
WAT PHNOM

WHAT’S IN SANGKAT VOAT PHNUM?

  • The lively Phnom Penh Night Market.
  • Hilltop Wat Phnom.
  • The new Sosoro Museum.
  • Stylish Sora Sky Bar.

WHERE TO STAY

  • Onederz ($) – Excellent hostel with a mix of dormitories and private rooms right next to the Night Market with a rooftop pool.
  • M9 Kirirom Hotel ($/$$) – Excellent value hotel on the riverfront with clean, modern rooms and a very handy mini mart.
  • Tribe Phnom Penh ($$/$$$) – Uber modern hotel between Wat Phnom and the river with a pool, gym, and spa.
  • Raffles Hotel Le Royal ($$$) – Modern luxury with classic elegance in a stunning old French colonial building.
  • Rosewood Phnom Penh ($$$) – Upmarket hotel with the Sora Sky Bar on the 37th floor to take in wonderful views with their extensive whiskey list.

3. CENTRAL

Central Phnom Penh doesn’t have any big sights, so it feels a lot less touristy than other areas. With two of the city’s best markets, Central Market and Orussey Market, it has a vibrant, atmosphere but can feel very busy.

One of the best reasons to pick central, however, is the location. Nothing is more than a 5–10-minute tuk-tuk ride away, so you can easily get to Phnom Penh’s best attractions.

The lack of big sights means you can sometimes pick up an accommodation bargain.

diner in orussey market phnom penh area
ORUSSEY MARKET

WHAT’S IN CENTRAL?

  • Excellent food stalls in Central Market.
  • Local atmosphere in Orussey Market.
  • A more local and busy atmosphere.

WHERE TO STAY

  • Mad Monkey ($) – A lively and social hostel between Central & BKK1 with a choice of dorms and rooms. They have a great outdoor pool.  
  • Plantation Urban Resort & Spa ($$/$$$) – Beautiful colonial-styled hotel in a very central location with spacious modern rooms and a large pool.
  • White Mansion ($$/$$$) – A boutique hotel in the former American Consulate with outdoor dining, a lap pool, and gardens.

4. BKK1 & BASSAC

BKK1 & Bassac are two adjoining neighbourhoods and the centre of Phnom Penh’s expat community.

The area doesn’t have many sights, instead you’ll find speciality coffee shops, western restaurants, spas, and yoga studios.

It is also the best place to stay in Phnom Penh for nightlife. Tiny Langka Lane has smart restaurants and hidden bars while nearby Bassac Lane has great food, live music and a buzzing atmosphere.  

The hotels here are slightly better value than at Riverside (just a $2 tuk-tuk ride away), but they’re possibly not quite as smart.

restaurants on bassac lane phnom penh
BASSAC LANE

WHAT’S IN BKK1 & BASSAC?

  • Specialty coffee, try Temple Coffee St51.
  • Excellent dumplings at Mama Wong’s.
  • Swish cocktail bars on Langka Lane.
  • Outdoor dining on Bassac Lane.

WHERE TO STAY

  • Khmer Surin Boutique Guesthouse ($/$$) – Good value guesthouse with well-appointed rooms and a small rooftop pool. The restaurant has some of the best Khmer food in Phnom Penh.
  • Patio Hotel & Urban Resort ($$) – Smart boutique hotel with a rooftop pool, well-appointed rooms and a great location on Langka Lane.
  • Rambutan ($$) – A gay-friendly, revamped 1960’s villa with a casual ambience, salt-water pool, tropical garden, and spa.

5. TUOL TOMPOUNG

Tuol Tompoung is a local neighbourhood, southwest of the city centre.

The Russian Market is the epicentre of the area where you can find everything from pigs’ trotters to wicker baskets, exhaust pipes to silverware. Around the edge of the market, cocktail bars, coffee shops and cool restaurants, peer over the excitement.

It’s slightly outside the centre of Phnom Penh and around 20 minutes by tuk-tuk (about $4-$5) to the main sights in Riverside.

But this increasingly bohemian part of the city has great value accommodation with a vibe that can be relaxed, getting more frenetic the closer you navigate to the market.

Tuol Tompoung is good vibes at good prices.

russian market
RUSSIAN MARKET

WHAT’S IN TUOL TOMPOUNG?

  • The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.
  • The Russian Market.
  • Excellent cafes, try Lot 369 overlooking the market.
  • Cool vibes and views at Sundown Social Club.

WHERE TO STAY

  • Dutch Hosted B&B ($) – Tucked down a backstreet, this little B&B is like an oasis in a slightly less salubrious part of town. The friendly hosts will help you make the most of your stay.
  • La Chronique Hotel ($/$$) – This modern hotel has a cool French vibe in a vibrant part of the city just a short walk from the Russian Market.
  • Parc 21 Luxury Boutique ($/$$) – Modern apartments with kitchenettes and laundry facilities, and a rooftop pool. Each room has a balcony overlooking the city.

MORE TRAVEL TIPS FOR CAMBODIA

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