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Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh Destination Guide

Exclusively Elegant Travel Since 1988

For more information, please call our Luxury Travel Specialists on:01244 897 551

Your guide from the Luxury Travel Specialists

Welcome to the Elegant Resorts Destination Guide for Phnom Penh, created to help make your choice of luxury holiday as easy as possible. Here, you will find more detailed factual information about the destination you have selected.

If you require further information, not featured on this page, please call one of our Luxury Travel Specialists.


Language Khmer
Time Difference 7 hours
Currency Cambodian Riel
Voltage 230 V

Once hailed as the ‘Pearl of Asia’, Phnom Penh has risen from the ashes of war and revolution to become a bustling and exciting city. Set on a confluence of three of Asia’s most important waterways - the Bassac, Tonle Sap and mighty Mekong River - the city contrasts golden palaces and temples with industrial cranes and a vibrant nightlife. Initially founded in the 14th century as a Buddhist temple village, today motorbikes whiz through laneways amid a busy capital city.
A city with a turbulent past, Phnom Penh is defined by its legacy of courage and the damage of the Khmer Rouge - considered by many to be essential to understand the city today. As important, the monumental Angkorian sites and temples celebrating Cambodia’s artistic history. Delve into the rich culture at the many bustling markets, enjoying fantastic street food and the unique ambience of the nightlife in chic bars. A dynamic modern city, Phnom Penh has designed itself as unique and enchanting for the 21st century.

Royal Palace

A striking structure near the river, the Royal Palace is vast and once dominated the skyline of Phnom Penh. With classic Khmer roofs and ornate gilding, the palace remains the official residence of Cambodia’s King Sihamoni. Tourists can visit the magnificent Throne Hall and a handful of surrounding buildings, which are still used in official celebrations and ceremonies. Head to the south of the complex to visit the Silver Pagoda. Named for its floor, covered in five tonnes of silver tiles, the pagoda is full of lavish and beautiful Buddha statues, including a life-sized, solid gold Buddha, adorned with 2,086 diamonds. One of the few remaining places where objects embodying the brilliance of the Khmer civilisation can still be seen, a trip to the Royal Palace is simply a must.

Tuol Sleng and Choeung-Ek Killing Fields

In 1975, a former high school was taken over by Pol Pot’s forces and turned into a prison known as S-21. A testament to the crimes of the Khmer Rouge, this is a harrowing experience with instruments of torture displayed in former classrooms, alongside photographs of the 18,000 people who were held here. Serving as a place of reflection and to preserve the evidence of the crimes here, the museum aims to keep alive the memory of those killed and to encourage a message of peace. From here, take the journey to the Choeung Ek Killing Fields, where the prisoners of S-21 were taken to be murdered. Once an orchard, it is now a series of 129 exhumed mass graves, used as a memorial marked by a Buddhist Stupa, and is considered a place of reflection of the brutal history Cambodia has faced.

National Museum of Cambodia

Home to more than a millennia's-worth of masterful Khmer artistry, the museum is a graceful homage to traditional design, boasting a terracotta structure and a tranquil courtyard garden. Promoting awareness and an appreciation of Cambodia’s rich heritage, stroll through the pavilions and courtyards to view the 5000 artefacts over a chronological direction, from pre-Angkorian periods to more recent works. Perhaps the most impressive sculpture is an eight armed statue of Vishnu dating to the sixth century. English speaking guides, leaflets and audio-guides are available, inviting you to truly delve into the incredible history of Cambodia.

Koh Dach Island

A picturesque island on the banks of the Mekong River, Koh Dach feels far from the hustle of the vibrant city. Minutes from Phnom Penh on the ferry, the island is secluded and sleepy, inhabited mostly by silk weavers and farmers. Thatched huts line the beach and local workshops sell traditional handicrafts, ensuring a day trip here offers a taste of authentic Cambodia. Bicycles are available to hire to explore the island, so get set to pass villages, pagodas, paddies and farms in tranquillity. Visit the Silk Weaving Centre, where the traditional methods are still used and demonstrated, ideal for discovering the history of this beautiful region.

Wat Ounalom

Founded in 1443, this temple is the headquarters of Cambodian Buddhism and the residence of its patriarch. Located on the Tonle Sap riverfront, the wat is made up of 44 structures and is considered the most important in Cambodia. Known as the ‘eyebrow temple’, the original shrine was built to protect an eyebrow hair of Buddha, still located behind the main temple. Severely damaged during the Pol Pot era, much has been done to restore the beautiful complex to its former glory, housing repaired statues of Buddha.


Phnom Penh has a tropical monsoon climate, with summers much rainier than the winters. There are hot temperatures throughout the year and it is slightly cooler during the dry season. The most desirable times to visit are from December to April, when there is little rain and the temperatures are more comfortable.

Temperature Guide

These figures show monthly average maximum temperatures and monthly average rainfall for Phnom Penh.

  Temp °C Rain mm

Getting There+

To reach Phnom Penh, fly from London Heathrow to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (approx. 11 hours, 30 minutes), followed by a flight to Phnom Penh Airport (approx. 75 minutes) with Thai Airways. Other routes and airlines are available. Speak to your Luxury Travel Specialist for the best travel arrangements for your bespoke itinerary.

Travel Documentation+

Travelling With Children or Without an Adult

Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.

Visa and Advance Passenger Information

All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.

Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.

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Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit Insect and tick bite avoidance. In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations i.e, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling. Visit the FCDO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: Foreign Travel Advice. Additional sources of information include: Public Health England, The National Travel Health And Network Centre, Foreign And Commonwealth Office and your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.

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