2006 Top guesthouses in Phnom Penh
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.
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.
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.
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.
Related readingPhnom Tamao Wildlife Refuge
A Cambodian Eco-lodge
PEPY:Sustainable Cambodian tourism
Five special hotels in Cambodia
Crossing the Cambodia Laos border
Kompong Cham escape
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