by Santorini Dave • Updated: May 21, 2018
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Phnom Penh Hotels – Tips and Advice
- The absolute best hotels in Phnom Penh are Raffles (most luxurious), Sofitel (best for families), La Rose Suites (local flair and free massage daily), and White Mansion (best spa).
- The best areas for travelers are Voat Phnum (with a 14th-century temple and French colonial architecture), Doun Penh (heart of the city, with the Royal Palace and Central Market), Riverfront (lively area with bars and restaurants), Boeung Keng Kang 1 (aka BKK1, charming area with upscale bars and restaurants, near embassies and NGOs), and Tonle Basak (aka New City, up-and-coming area with Aeon Mall, plus new luxury hotels and condos).
- The best restaurants are Malis (upscale Khmer food), Bistrot Langka (French fine dining), Happy Herb Pizza (order it extra happy, and they’ll put weed in it), Elephant Bar (swanky cocktails), and Friends (cheery tapas restaurant).
- The official Cambodian currency is the riel, but the unofficial currency is the US dollar. All ATMs dispense dollars; you’ll even pay for your visa at the airport in dollars. US coins are not in circulation, though, so change less than $1 will be given in riel. Plan on carrying small bills most of the time; it can be difficult to break notes larger than $10. Break large notes at your hotel. Also, vendors only accept dollars in good condition, meaning no rips, tears, or excessive wrinkles (though riel notes are often mangled!)
- Most streets are referred to by their number, not their names. Exceptions to the rule are Norodom Blvd, Mao Tse Tung Blvd, Monivong Blvd, and Sihanouk Blvd.
- Tuk tuks (motorcycles pulling carriages) are the best way to get around the city. A good rule of thumb is to pay around $1 per kilometer, though rates vary depending on the driver. Settle on a price before getting in the tuk tuk! The city is full of drivers, so if you can’t settle on a fair price with one, ask another. Be advised that many drivers need the fare, but may not actually know where your destination is; street names and numbers often change and new hotels pop up all the time. Show the driver on the map (they usually have one with them) where you need to go. Specify the street number and cross streets, and use landmarks as reference points.
- Carry tissue with you. Many public restrooms don’t have toilet paper.
- Smoking is still allowed in most hotels in Phnom Penh, though it is usually confined to bars and certain floors. Be sure to request a non-smoking room if you are sensitive to cigarette smoke and smells.
- The old temples in Phnom Penh are still active places of worship. Be respectful and dress modestly. This applies to both men and women! Tops need to cover shoulders, and bottoms need to cover the knees. Cambodian people are generally too polite to say anything directly, but they do consider it incredibly disrespectful when tourists tromp around their holy sites without proper attire. This dress code also applies when visiting the Royal Palace. Most temples in Phnom Penh don’t actively enforce the dress code, but the Palace doesn’t mess around and will deny admission to offenders.
The 15 Best Luxury Hotels in Phnom Penh
1. Raffles Hotel Le Royal – Wat Phnom
This stately, heritage hotel offers two pools, an indulgent spa, an iconic bar, and two phenomenal restaurants. Guests may choose generous rooms and suites in the modern wing or the colonial 1929 wing, all sumptuously appointed with deep soaking tubs and views of the city, garden, or pool. Their spa offers over-the-top treatments using 24 carat gold flakes, organic products, and Khmer techniques. Their signature restaurant serves Khmer and French dishes using recipes gifted to them by the Royal Palace, and their Elephant Bar is the best in the city. Traditional French-style butler service is offered complimentary with landmark rooms and all suites. Raffles is in the north end of town, walking distance to Wat Phnom, the Old Market, and Central Market, with plenty of street food in the area, too.
Hotel phone: +855 23 981 888
2. Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra – Tonle Basak
An elegant hotel with great family amenities, the Sofitel offers two pools, a playground, and a kids club, along with spacious suites and connecting rooms. Fusing classic French style with modern Khmer flair, expect an unparalleled experience in their decadent spa or in their signature restaurant, La Coupole. The hotel also boasts top tier Chinese, Japanese, and Italian restaurants and a French pastry café. The Sofitel sits in the south side of town, across the street from Aeon Mall, walking distance to Independence Monument and Wat Botom, and just a short tuk tuk ride to the Russian Market.
Hotel phone: +855 23 999 200
3. La Rose Suites – Tonle Basak
Rich in local tradition, this five-star boutique offers a free one-hour massage to each guest every day of their stay and features a superb Khmer restaurant, traditional apsara dancing nightly, a lush garden pool, and a violinist on request. Experience-based and celebrating Cambodian culture, La Rose also offers classes in Khmer massage and cooking. Expect outstanding and friendly service from start to finish. Located two blocks east of the Independence Monument, walking distance to the Royal Palace, National Museum, and three of the city’s oldest temples: Wat Botum, Wat Langka, and Wat Ounalom.
Hotel phone: +855 23 222 254
4. White Mansion – Doun Penh
This handsome boutique hotel houses the city’s best spa, featuring a global treatment menu, along with a French bakery, 24 hour pool, and poolside cocktails. The hotel was originally the residence of U.S. embassy staff, and its design blends White House-styled elements with traditional Khmer-inspired furnishings. Rooms are amply sized, many with balconies and dual vanities. Centrally located, near Independence Monument, and walking distance to the National Museum, Royal Palace, and the Riverfront.
Hotel phone: +855 89 372 700
5. Pavilion Hotel – Doun Penh
In the former residence of Queen Kossamak, this adults-only boutique offers polished accommodations, two pools, a massage spa, and two casual poolside lounges. The Pavilion hotel offers several types of rooms, large suites, and bungalows, some with private plunge pools or Jacuzzis. All guests receive a complimentary 25-minute welcome massage. The Pavilion is on the safest street in the city, almost right next door to the Prime Minister’s home, and for security this street is generally closed to vehicular traffic. In between the Royal Palace and Independence Monument, walking distance to the Riverfront, Central Market, temples, and street food hawker stalls.
Hotel phone: +855 23 222 280
6. InterContinental Phnom Penh – Tumnob Tuek
The InterContinental was the first five-star, international hotel built in Cambodia. Since 1996, the hotel has offered a tranquil spa, fantastic restaurants, and a stunning pool designed after the Angkor temples. Several room options are available, including classic and club level rooms, suites, and serviced apartments. Set midway between downtown and the airport, the InterContinental is just a short tuk tuk trip from the Russian Market, Tuol Sleng, and bars and restaurants in BKK1.
Hotel phone: +855 23 424 888
7. iRoHa Garden Hotel & Resort – Tonle Basak
This boutique resort in a post-colonial building boasts a secluded pool, peaceful garden, cozy spa, bar, and restaurant. This hotel is best known for its attentive service; the owners are on site daily to personally assist guests, making customized suggestions for memorable stays in the city. Room rates include daily breakfast, with a choice of Khmer or Western set meals. The staff here is the friendliest bunch in the city. iRoHa is on the south side of town, next to the Vietnamese embassy and several others, walking distance to the Russian Market, Aeon Mall, and just a short tuk tuk ride to Toul Sleng, downtown, or the Riverfront.
Hotel phone: +855 11 775 752
8. The Governors House – BKK1
With a pool, bar, and exciting dining options, The Governors House mixes dramatic colonial architecture and rich antique décor with contemporary, urban amenities. Its Argentinian restaurant, Iguazu, specializes in churrasco, while The Grand serves both Khmer and Western dishes. The pool bar mixes strong drinks, and poolside guests are encouraged to pick their own fresh mangoes from the surrounding trees. Though amenities are similar across all room categories, Landmark Rooms and above are more spacious and well-appointed. Located on the edge of BKK1, near Tonle Basak. Walking distance to Aeon Mall, Russian Market, Wat Langka, and the Independence Monument.
Hotel phone: +855 23 987 025
9. Plantation Urban Resort & Spa – Doun Penh
This chic boutique in is popular with locals and expats for its fashion shows, art gallery (new exhibits every six weeks) and rooftop restaurant, La Pergola (French-Khmer fusion). This 1930’s heritage property also houses two pools, a stylish lounge, and a massage spa. Airy rooms and suites feature canopy beds and balconies or terraces; the largest one, at 200 square meters, has three terraces, a private Jacuzzi, a bar, and a barbecue area. Located right behind the Royal Palace grounds, walking distance to the National Museum, temples, and Central Market.
Hotel phone: +855 23 215 151
10. La Maison d’Ambre – Voat Phnum
This fashion-forward, all-suite hotel offers a breezy rooftop restaurant and eight spacious suites, all inspired by classic Hollywood films. Each unique suite ranges from 60 to 120 square meters with one or two bedrooms, all with full kitchens, some with soaking tubs or balconies. Their rooftop restaurant offers fantastic sunset views and has a bright, retro-‘70s lounge vibe, with casual French foods and great cocktails. The hotel is walking distance to the Old Market, Central Market, the Royal Palace, and most of the city’s 14th-century temples.
Hotel phone: +855 23 222 780
11. Blue Lime – Doun Penh
This adults-only boutique features a courtyard, salt water pool, a restaurant specializing in elevated versions of local street food, and a lounge run by the nation’s top bartender. This is a popular spot with locals for happy hour; ask for the signature Kiwi Cooler! Rooms feature canopy beds, some with balconies, and four with private plunge pools. The Blue Lime sits behind the Royal Palace, walking distance to Central Market, Riverfront, and Wat Langka.
Hotel phone: +855 23 222 260
12. Casa Villa Independence – BKK1
Offering spacious rooms, suites, and one-of-a-kind apartments, the charming Casa Villa features fantastic amenities, including a garden pool, all-day poolside bar, and complimentary breakfast. Spacious accommodations show off French-Khmer design elements, such as hundred-year old salvaged floor tiles from Siem Reap and bespoke, contoured rattan bed, each handmade by one family over the course of two months. Many have full kitchens. The staff is hands-on, giving personalized service and recommendations. Located two blocks south of Wat Langka and the Independence Monument, walking distance to the National Museum, Riverfront, and Aeon Mall.
Hotel phone: +855 23 211 729
13. Anik Boutique Hotel & Spa on Norodom Boulevard – Tonle Basak
An independent hotel, the Anik houses a pool and spa, along with great dining and drinks. Their spa is massage-focused, using Khmer techniques and aromatherapy, with two Jacuzzis (one hot, one cold), plus steam and sauna rooms. Room and suite options are varied. Some have full kitchens or soaking tubs, and all but three rooms have balconies. The hotel sits on the south end of town, near Aeon Mall, walking distance to the Independence Monument, and a short tuk tuk ride to the Russian Market.
Hotel phone: +855 23 222 507
14. Queen Grand Boutique Hotel and Spa – Riverfront
This delightful hotel boasts a cozy massage spa, Western and Khmer restaurant, plus a rooftop Skybar and plunge pool with panoramic views of the city and glimpses of the Mekong River. Rooms are large and sunny with Cambodian-themed art, many with balconies. Located near Wat Botum Park, just a short walk to the night market and the bars, restaurants, and nightlife that line the riverbank.
Hotel phone: +855 23 219 621
15. River Home Hotel – Riverfront
A low-key hotel in the lively Riverfront area, walking distance to tons of bars, restaurants, and a night market. The hotel’s rooftop pool and bar offer views of the Mekong River. Downstairs is a cheery, all-day, Eastern and Western restaurant. Rooms and suites here include rainfall showers, some with tubs or balconies. The hotel is near Wat Botum and the Independence Monument, south of the Royal Palace and National Museum.
Hotel phone: +855 23 221 992
Staying in Voat Phnum
Also spelled Wat Phnom, after its fourteenth-century temple. This northern neighborhood is the oldest part of the city, where a woman named Penh is said to have built the temple on top of hill, thereby founding the city. The hill is the city’s highest point, and Wat Phnom is the city’s tallest temple. The temple grounds include a park with lots of macaque monkeys (these little guys aren’t always friendly to tourists, so interact at your own risk!) Visit in mid-April or late September/early October to experience the temple’s annual celebrations of Khmer New Year and Ancestors’ Day.
To the east of the temple grounds, visitors will find the old French Quarter, with gorgeous colonial mansions, Art Deco buildings, and tree-lined streets. This area is home to several galleries, upscale bistros, and swanky bars, plus Democracy Park and the Old Market.
Best Hotels in Voat Phnum
- Raffles • Reviews • Hotel phone: +855 23 981 888
- La Maison d’Ambre • Reviews • Hotel phone: +855 23 222 780
Best Restaurants in Voat Phnum
Staying in Doun Penh
Though Voat Phnum just north is considered the city center, Doun Penh is where most of the city’s attractions are. This is considered the commercial hub of the city, with plenty of markets, including the popular Sorya Shopping Center. The Art Deco landmark Central Market is here, too, with endless stalls selling everything from t-shirts to jewelry and from trinkets to produce. There are plenty of cheap and delicious local food stalls here and just south of the main market. This area also includes the Royal Palace, the historic temples Wat Koh and Wat Botum, and the Independence Monument. Street 240 is lined with charming restaurants and bars.
Best Hotels in Doun Penh
- White Mansion • Reviews • Hotel phone: +855 89 372 700
- Pavilion Hotel • Reviews • Hotel phone: +855 23 222 280
- Plantation Urban Resort & Spa • Reviews • Hotel phone: +855 23 215 151
- Blue Lime • Reviews • Hotel phone: +855 23 222 260
Best restaurants in Doun Penh
- Romdeng • $$-$$$ • Inspired and traditional Khmer food, from flavorful amok to wild fried tarantulas! In addition to being one of the city’s top restaurants, this is also a training center for former street kids.
- Cousin’s Burger & Coffee • $ • French gourmet fast food.
- Khema • $$$$ • French fine dining. Reservations recommended.
Staying in Riverfront
Phnom Penh’s Riverfront is a vibrant and bustling area near the meeting of the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers. The main drag, Sisowath Quay, is the city’s nightlife hub, brimming with shops (check out Trunkh), galleries, restaurants, and bars, anchored by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, aka the FCC. This pub and hotel in a French colonial three-story is a popular spot for expats to gather for beers with a Mekong view. Two night markets bookend the neighborhood, whose attractions include the National Museum and Wat Ounalom. This area is also popular with locals, who tend to gather toward the south end, especially at the park across from the Royal Palace, where open air aerobics classes are held in the mornings and evenings.
Best Hotels on the Riverfront
- Queen Grand Boutique Hotel and Spa • Reviews • Hotel phone: +855 23 219 621
- River Home Hotel • Reviews • Hotel phone: +855 23 221 992
Best Restaurants on the Riverfront
- Friends • $$-$$$ • Khmer and international tapas. Sister restaurant to Romdeng, this is another training restaurant.
- Happy Herb’s Pizza • $ • Great pizza! Available “happy” (with weed) or just regular.
- Kabbas • $ • Excellent, affordable local-style food and drinks.
- FCC • $$-$$$ • Gorgeous Mekong views and cheap, strong drinks.
Staying in BKK1
Boeung Keng Kang 1 is bordered by Sihanouk, Norodom, Mao Tse Tung, and Monivong Boulevards, southwest of the Independence Monument and including Wat Langka. Known as the “foreigners’ quarter,” this area is home to most of the embassies, NGO offices, and lots of expats. Street 278 is lined with Western-style restaurants and bars, popular for lunch but liveliest in the early evening around dinner. Street 51 is the nightlife spot, with several hostess bars operating into the wee hours or even until sunrise.
Best Hotels in BKK1
- The Governors House • Reviews • Hotel phone: +855 23 987 025
- Casa Villa Independence • Reviews • Hotel phone: +855 23 211 729
Best Restaurants in BKK1
- Bistrot Langka • $$-$$$ • Excellent French restaurants, top restaurant in Phnom Penh. The entrance is hard to find, down and alley and around a curve.
- Mok Mony • $ • Authentic, no frills, Khmer cuisine.
- Casablanca • $$-$$$ • Upscale Moroccan fare.
- Andart Rorm Seafood Restaurant • $$-$$$ • small, local chain for casual Khmer seafood.
Staying in Tonle Basak
Sometimes called New City, because of the recent building boom here. Among the new developments are Aeon Mall, the largest mall in the city, and the flashy NagaWorld Casino. Long a cultural hub, Tonle Basak is fighting hard to retain its character with its boutique art galleries, like Nowhere, Java Café and Gallery, and Meta House, and its performance spaces, such as Cambodian Living Arts and Amrita Performing Arts. Like neighboring BKK1, this area includes lots of embassies and NGOs, plus trendy restaurants and creative hotels.
Best Hotels in Tonle Basak
- Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra • Reviews • Hotel phone: +855 23 999 200
- La Rose Suites • Reviews • Hotel phone: +855 23 222 254
- iRoHa Garden Hotel & Resort • Reviews • Hotel phone: +855 11 775 752
- Anik Boutique Hotel & Spa • Reviews • Hotel phone: +855 23 222 507
Best Restaurants in Tonle Basak