2006 Top guesthouses in Phnom Penh

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First published 9th May, 2006

There are many great places to stay in Phnom Penh -- whether your budget is a couple or a couple of hundred dollars a night -- and, with a bit of diligence, you should have no problem finding a place that meets your needs. You can stay on the shores of Boeng Kak Lake, near the river, or in the heart of the city -- each location with its advantages and disadvantages.


Before deciding where to stay, consider your budget and what you plan to do when you're in town. If you're going to be out all day seeing the sites in a tuk tuk, it may not matter if you're staying far away from the hangouts along the river. If you're out to explore the Phnom Penh nightlife, you may want a guesthouse closer to the action. If you desire to experience Phnom Penh's backpacker scene, check out the lake. While US$4 rooms are available, they're pretty bleak -- however, if you can shell out US$7-10 a night, there are many nice places to stay throughout Phnom Penh.

Backpackers
While there are no hostels or dorms per se in Phnom Penh, you can easily find accommodation for under $5 a night here. One option is to stay on Boeng Kak Lake. It's not the cleanest lake you've ever seen -- in fact, it's better not to look in the lake, but rather over it, at the lovely sunrise or sunset -- your choice. There are plenty of guesthouses on (or just off) Street 93, which runs along the east side of the lake, and most of them have patios and rooms with a view. Due to the cheap accommodation available, this area attracts its fair share of budget backpackers -- it also attracts its fair share of dodgier types. However, if you want a cheap room, a lake view, and many fellow travelers to share stories with, Boeng Kak Lake is a fine option.

The best place to stay is Cafe Freedom (from US$4) -- follow Street 93 all the way to the end, turn right, and you're there. An equally popular spot is Number 9 Sister Guesthouse (from US$3). Grand View Guesthouse (from US$3) is a third option, which, though it isn't right on the lake, has rooms that overlook the lake, and a rooftop patio restaurant. Be warned: this area is in a state of constant flux, so guesthouses come and go regularly -- it's best to check out your room before committing to spending the night.

If the lake isn't your scene, for US$4 and up you can stay at the Chi Cha Restaurant and Guest House or the Angkorchey Guest House -- both are near the river, and, though by no means glamourous, they will do the trick.

Flashpackers
If you want to stay at the lake, and have a roomier budget, stay at Simon's Chi Cha Cafe and Guesthouse 2, (US$15 with a lake view) a converted residence with spacious air-con rooms, some overlooking the lake. Another option in this price range is the Mekong Tours and Guesthouse (US$12) on Street 86, though there is no view of the lake.

Near the river, there are plenty of fine guesthouses and hotels in the $10 to $20 a night range. If you want to overlook the river, you're going to have to shell out US$20, and you can choose between the Indochine Hotel or the Sunshine Hotel -- either is adequate but nothing special. Just off the river is the Bright Lotus 1 Guesthouse (from US$15) on Street 178. Near the south end of Sisowath is another solid option -- The Okay Guesthouse (from US$10) which has welcoming staff and well cared for rooms.

A bit further away from the river (though only a short moto ride) there are some nice hotels. Check out the Sakura (from US$14) or Flamingos (from US$20) -- both fine choices and popular with tourists. If you're looking for a guesthouse, The Boddhi Tree (from US$12) is opposite Tuol Sleng (S-21) and has a beautiful garden restaurant. Del Gusto (from US$12) also provides some solitude a bit off the beaten path. The Kambuja Inn (from US$20) is a great family option because of its spacious rooms and location on a quiet street just off Norodom Blvd.

Mid-range
Right on Sisowath Quay, the Tonle Hotel is a beautiful spot with large rooms with balconies that overlook the river as cheap as US$35 a night. The Riverside Hotel (from US$30) is on the north end of Sisowath, further away from the action. It has well equipped rooms that also have a view of the Tonle Sap, though they lack the balcony many riverfront hotels boast. If a guesthouse is more your style, check out Manor House (from US$25) on Street 278 -- near the Independence Monument.

Top-end and business travellers
If you're not limited by budget, there are many beautiful spots from which to choose. Tucked in behind Olympic Stadium is the Juliana Hotel (From US$60) with large, tastefully decorated rooms and a lovely pool area. If you want to be right on the river, check out the Amanjaya Pancam Hotel (from US$115) for beautiful, panoramic views of the river. North-west of Wat Phnom is the Phnom Penh Hotel (from US$96.) It is beautifully decorated and rooms are very well equipped -- this is where you'll find the only whirlpool tubs in Phnom Penh.

For a longer stay, a fine option overlooking the river is the Himawari Hotel Apartments (from US$110) with large rooms including kitchenettes. At the top end sits Raffles Hotel Le Royal (from US$143) which dates back to 1929 -- it was renovated in 1997 after things settled down in Phnom Penh, but retains its colonial charm.

Phnom Penh abounds with guesthouses and hotels -- if one disappoints, you need only to look as far as down the block for a suitable replacement. Phnom Penh hoteliers are still learning about western style customer service, and at times this can be frustrating -- however, be patient, and remember you're paying a fraction of what you would in other countries for your room. So take a deep breath (hopefully you're not near a Cintri bin) and appreciate the slower pace of life in Phnom Penh.


About the author:
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton and he spends most of his time in Bali, Indonesia.


Read 13 comment(s)

  • We were in Phnom Penh for 3 days when we met Alex, a tuk tuk driver who was the most responsible, kind, knowledgeable man who went out of his way to ensure that we had a good experience. He spoke excellent English. We hired him for 3 days at $15 a day and he took us everywhere in the city. He also met us at the bus when we returned from Siem Reap. I highly recommend Alex. He can be reached at tel: 092 96 80 96; overseas; (855) 92 96 80 96; email: alexcambo0209@yahoo.com.

    Posted by Pamela Chestnut on 18th February, 2009

  • The Boddhi Three Umma is definitely recommended. I stayed there for 2 nights and it was good choice. At night it can be scary though thanks to Tuol Sleng just across the road. But overall it was great, good food, clean and beautiful room and friendly staff. The price is higher than published in the story above, I think I paid around $35 a night...

    Posted by olen81 on 13th May, 2009

  • The Pavilion Guest House is at a good point halfway between an upmarket hotel and a friendly guesthouse.

    Posted by Sam Clark on 11th June, 2009

  • Does anyone know if the Boeng Kak Lake guesthouses are still open 2009? I read that the lake was being filled w/ sand to make room for condos. Thanks.

    Posted by cagriffi on 3rd July, 2009

  • There's an updated version of this story here:
    http://www.travelfish.org/feature/143

    cagriffi - yes they're still there -- for now!

    Posted by somtam2000 on 3rd July, 2009

  • I stayed at the Bright Lotus Guesthouse #1 in 2007 and 2008 and recommend it. Only a block off the river. It is right accross the street from the National Library with a wonderful view - the higher the better, I think 6 floors. Nice staff and convenient cafe - restaurant downstairs. Clean rooms with AC and bathroom, about $14 - $17. I will stay there again in December. I was able to get a reservation and prompt confirmation via e-mail.

    Posted by Katmanpu on 15th September, 2009

  • #10 Guest House is the best in Phnom Penh.

    Posted by Phanna on 16th September, 2009

  • can anyone recommend a good and clean guesthouse in the Russian Market area? budget is about USD 7-8 per night. need to stay for 3 months.

    thanks!

    Posted by Carrie on 2nd October, 2009

  • welcoming staff in OKAY GUESTHOUSE? Smiling is connatural to Cambodian people, but the guy I met at Okay Guesthouse reception was not friendly at all and little helpful. I asked them help to solve a misunderestanding a in a shop nearby. Other member of the staff did not want to walk five meters. I have not seen such a lack of interest in a long time. And I have been around South East Asia for three years. The guesthouse has become too popular, being advertised in the main travel guides, and it seems the staff do not worry anymore to give a good service. Thank you.

    Posted by Gaspar on 25th July, 2010

  • i had my first visit to cambodia and stayed at The Lazy Gecko the room rate was reasonable in the room you had a comfortable bed, fan some rooms had air con and tv. the staff there were very good and the food in the Lazy Gecko cafe next door was fantastic and very well priced. i know that when i return i will be staying there again. Plus the owners who are from australia look after there staff and the surrounding community well done guys i think the address is 258 street not far from riverside great location

    Posted by keith on 6th January, 2011

  • They're are filling in the lake for a resort to be built and have evacuated/removed almost all the residents. There's only a few hangers on left and its pretty grim. Really really sad.

    Posted by Taj on 28th September, 2011

  • I live here now and yr right Steven, the death rattle is a sounding, but theres a couple of restaurants there that haven't quite found the coin to move out and the government isnt compensating them. Be good to pop there for a meal and help the poor buggers out. Its a shitty corrupt deal they've been screwed in.

    Posted by Taj on 1st December, 2011

  • The problem is the tragic death of Phnom Penh's Lake.. Boeng Kak Lake become a new zone for real estate. :(

    Posted by i survived in Cambodia on 20th July, 2012

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