Phnom Penh Area Guide: Everything You Need to Know


Phnom Penh, the bustling capital of Cambodia, is a vibrant and rapidly developing city with a rich history and cultural heritage. Located at the confluence of the Mekong, Bassac, and Tonle Sap rivers, this dynamic city offers a unique blend of traditional Khmer architecture, French colonial influences, and modern urban developments. 

With its lively street markets, grand palaces, ancient temples, and bustling restaurants, Phnom Penh can enhance one’s overall experience and appreciation of the city’s rich tapestry of history, culture, and modernity.

Districts in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is divided into 14 administrative districts, locally known as “khans.” Each district has its own unique features and characteristics, catering to a wide range of lifestyles and preferences.

  1. Chamkar Mon: Known for trendy cafes, upscale shopping, and a mix of traditional and modern architecture.
  2. Daun Penh: The historical heart of the city, featuring the Royal Palace, National Museum, and Central Market.
  3. Prampir Makara: Home to Olympic Stadium and popular shopping malls, with a mix of residential and commercial properties.
  4. Tuol Kouk: A primarily residential district with a blend of traditional and modern housing options.
  5. Sen Sok: Rapidly developing, offering affordable housing options and emerging shopping centers.
  6. Russei Keo: Featuring a mix of residential, commercial, and industrial areas, as well as several markets and temples.
  7. Porsenchey: Home to Phnom Penh International Airport and a variety of housing options.
  8. Meanchey: A combination of residential, commercial, and industrial areas known for its riverside views.
  9. Chroy Changvar: Situated on a peninsula, this district offers a mix of urban and rural lifestyles with a focus on eco-tourism.
  10. Chbar Ampov: A growing residential district with modern housing developments and a peaceful atmosphere.
  11. Boeng Keng Kang: Known for its expat community, international schools, and embassies, this city offers a mix of residential and commercial properties.
  12. Dangkao: Predominantly rural with agricultural lands and small villages.
  13. Kambol: Primarily industrial, home to the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone.
  14. Prek-Pnov: A mix of residential, commercial, and industrial areas, featuring numerous markets and temples.

Central Business District and Suburb Areas in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh Suburbs

The Central Business District (CBD) in Phnom Penh is primarily located within the Daun Penh and Chamkar Mon districts. Its boundaries are generally defined by the Mekong River to the east, Norodom Boulevard to the west, Sihanouk Boulevard to the south, and Wat Phnom to the north. 

The CBD is home to a variety of key businesses, including financial institutions, government offices, and multinational corporations. It also features numerous hotels, high-end shopping centers, and entertainment venues. Key attractions in the area include the Royal Palace, National Museum, Central Market, and several iconic pagodas.

Meanwhile, some of the most popular suburban districts in Phnom Penh include Sen Sok, Chroy Changvar, and Chbar Ampov. These areas are experiencing rapid growth as new housing developments, shopping centers, and other modern amenities emerge to cater to the city’s expanding population.

Living in the suburbs of Phnom Penh offers several advantages, such as:

  • More affordable housing options compared to the city center
  • Quieter and more peaceful living environments
  • Access to larger properties and green spaces
  • Community-oriented neighborhoods with local markets and shops
  • Proximity to international schools and healthcare facilities

Popular Areas for Expats

Some factors make certain areas in Phnom Penh popular among expats, such as the availability of services and amenities for their needs, different housing options and prices, safety, and a strong expat community.

Neighborhoods like BKK1, Tonle Bassac, and Toul Kork in Phnom Penh are expat-friendly, offering facilities like international schools, healthcare centers, supermarkets with imported products, and places for dining and entertainment.

The city has various housing options, from modern apartments និង quality condos to traditional villas and townhouses. While BKK1 and Tonle Bassac are more expensive due to their high-end amenities and central location, Toul Kork provides budget-friendly choices without sacrificing quality or convenience.

Expat Community and Networking Opportunities

The presence of a strong expat community in Phnom Penh allows for networking opportunities and support through various clubs, associations, and social events. These gatherings often take place in expat-friendly neighborhoods, making it easier for newcomers to integrate and establish connections with fellow expats. 

Additionally, online forums and social media groups provide a platform for expats to exchange information, ask questions, and share experiences related to living in the city.

Cost of Living in Phnom Penh

By understanding the costs associated with living in Phnom Penh, expats can better plan their budget and make the most of their time in this vibrant city.

  • Housing costs: Housing prices in Phnom Penh vary depending on factors such as location, type, and size. Central neighborhoods like BKK1 and Tonle Bassac tend to be more expensive, while areas like Toul Kork offer more affordable options.
  • Transportation costs: Public transportation in Phnom Penh is limited, with many expats relying on tuk-tuks, taxis, or motorbikes. Costs can range from $1 to $5 for short trips, while monthly motorbike rentals average around $50 to $70.
  • Food and dining expenses: Local markets offer affordable fresh produce, while supermarkets carry imported goods at higher prices. Dining out can range from inexpensive street food to high-end restaurants, where the cost will vary significantly.
  • Utilities and other miscellaneous expenses: Utility costs, such as electricity, water, and internet, are generally affordable but can vary depending on usage and provider. Other expenses to consider include healthcare, education, and leisure activities.

Comparison of Living Costs Between Districts

Living costs can vary between districts in Phnom Penh, with more central locations typically having higher expenses. BKK1 and Tonle Bassac offer upscale amenities but come with higher housing and dining costs. In contrast, Toul Kork provides more budget-friendly alternatives without sacrificing convenience.

Tips for Saving Money and Living Affordably

Discover how to make smart choices and enjoy a comfortable life in Phnom Penh without stretching your budget too thin with these tips:

  1. Choose housing wisely: Opt for more affordable neighborhoods or share accommodations with roommates to split costs.
  2. Utilize local markets: Shop for fresh produce at local markets to save on groceries.
  3. Use cost-effective transportation: Consider renting a motorcycle or using shared rides to cut down on transportation expenses.
  4. Dine at local eateries: Enjoy local cuisine at street food stalls or smaller restaurants to save on dining costs.
  5. Limit consumption of imported goods: Imported products tend to be pricier, so focus on locally available options when possible.
  6. Take advantage of free or low-cost leisure activities: Explore the city’s parks, museums, and cultural events without breaking the bank.

Nightlife in Phnom Penh

Whether you prefer a lively night out, an authentic Cambodian experience, or an evening immersed in culture, the table below offers a glimpse into what Phnom Penh city has to offer at night.

Nightlife CategoryDescriptionPopular Locations
Bars and clubsA lively scene with a variety of bars and clubs catering to different tastes; a mix of local and international establishmentsBassac Lane, Street 308, Riverside
Night markets and food stallsAuthentic Cambodian experiences with bustling hubs offering food stalls, handicrafts, and clothing at affordable pricesPhnom Penh Night Market, Central Market
Entertainment venues and cultural eventsNumerous venues showcase traditional and contemporary Cambodian performing arts, cultural events, and performancesRoyal University of Fine Arts, Chaktomuk Theatre

Safety and Security During Nighttime

As with any big city, it’s essential to be cautious and aware of your surroundings in Phnom Penh after dark. Stick to well-lit, busy areas and avoid venturing into unfamiliar neighborhoods alone. Keep your belongings secure and be mindful of pickpockets in crowded places.


Phnom Penh, a vibrant and dynamic city, offers a vast range of attractions and experiences for visitors. With so many unique areas and experiences to choose from, we encourage you to explore Phnom Penh and discover the perfect spots that cater to your preferences and needs. 

Whether you’re seeking a night of excitement, cultural immersion, or delicious local cuisine, the city’s diverse offerings are sure to leave a lasting impression. 

So, venture out into the captivating streets of Phnom Penh and create unforgettable memories in this enchanting city.

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