Phnom Penh is Cambodia´s capital and largest city. Located at the point where the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers meet, Phnom Penh also represents the meeting point of Cambodia´s past and its present, its rich and its poor, and its culture and its commercialism.
Digital Nomads come here for its individuality, for its temples and museums, for the Royal Palace, and to discover the South East Asia they first heard of that made them want to jump on a plane in the first place. Phnom Penh is varied, inexpensive, chaotic and fun.
Things to see and do
Amble through the city on foot to fully appreciate its beauty and charm. Phnom Penh is a hectic sprawl of colonial buildings, temples, wide walkways, bustling markets and a beautiful riverfront walkway dotted with eateries and bars, popular with expats and tourists.
Phnom Penh is edgier than many South East Asian cities and the riverfront has developed something of a reputation as a tourist target for theft and attacks recently, but so far it has retained its popularity and is heavily populated by Cambodians too, especially at sunset when they flock here to enjoy the cool breeze and party atmosphere the area adopts.
There are a number of weekend trips from Phnom Penh that are worth considering. Further afield Sihanoukville, Battambang, Siem Reap and Angkor are all within a few hours´ reach and Kampot, Kep and Bokor National Park are other interesting options. The city also provides good access on to Vietnam via Chau Doc on the Vietnamese/Cambodian border.
Phnom Penh boasts an interesting, sophisticated and mouthwatering mix of Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Cambodian food with a few French bistros thrown in for good measure. This is a place to sit down and sample some culinary treats as well as backpacker staples. Most restaurants are located in the riverfront area and there are a number of stalls here too – though as always in Asia be selective when eating from these.
Nightlife is buzzing with plenty of bars and clubs, which are great fun despite their slight edge. There are also a good many hostess bars catering to foreigners but beware – around one in eight of Cambodia´s female sex workers is HIV positive and there are plenty of them working Phnom Penh.
Good to know
Accommodation here ranges from budget hostels right up to budget-busting 5-star luxury. Most have Wi-Fi and speed and reliability are about standard for South East Asia. If you prefer to get out and about to go online there are plenty of Internet cafés to choose from instead.
Bag snatching is on the rise and western women are a particular target. Best advice is if you don´t carry a bag it can´t be snatched and if you must, try to keep it out of sight and out of reach.