Our Phnom Penh backpacking guide is packed with useful tips and advice about travelling in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Discover the must visit sites, travelling safely in Phnom Penh, great places to eat, getting around on a budget and more. Written by fellow travellers, our Phnom Penh backpacking guides will help you make the most out of your time away.
Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s capital and largest city, located at the intersection of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap rivers towards the southern part of Cambodia. Once called the “Pearl of Asia”, Phnom Penh’s former splendour was ravaged during the Khmer Rouge regime, but the city has seen an explosion of development in recent years to make up for lost time. Backpackers to Phnom Penh will find a multitude of hip bars, cosmopolitan eateries and cute coffee shops that have sprung up to cater both to foreign travellers and well-to-do Cambodians, making it an increasingly attractive destination on the South-East Asian circuit. Backpackers in Phnom Penh will find a range of affordable eating options ideal for the budget traveller as well as a selection of hostels; the highest concentration of these can be found in the area near the Independence Monument (BKK1).
To the east of BKK1 is the up-and-coming Tonle Bassac district which has some excellent restaurants and lively bars where there are sometimes arts events or live music performances. There’s also the flashy (but pricey) Aeon Mall which has a large cinema showing English-language movies. Further south is the Russian Market area which is an ideal place to grab some cheap clothes, bags or gifts, either in the market itself or in the outlet stores that surround it. Finally there is the Riverside, which offers opportunities for sightseeing and enjoying a cheap and cheerful meal while watching the world go by.
Overall, Phnom Penh is a city of many contrasts. Shiny new condominiums tower over dusty pagodas, and motorbikes laden with vegetables weave between blacked-out Lexuses. While Western culture has a heavy influence here, and the pace of life may look frantic, Phnom Penh is a shining example of the indomitable Cambodian spirit.
If you are planning a trip through Cambodia, read more about backpacking in Siem Reap for more about this popular destination.