For those with more time
Published/Last edited or updated: 22nd January, 2019
If you’re all done with the top shelf sights and attractions in Phnom Penh but still have some time up your sleeve, then don’t fret, there is plenty to keep you busy for longer.
Phnom Penh gets hot, real hot and while not everyone has the budget for a hotel or guesthouse with a swimming pool, there are no shortage of places where you can cool off for as long as you want—in return for a fee or a minimum spend at the bar, cafe or restaurant. Most hotels will allow this, so take the following just as a sample and don’t be shy about wandering into a hotel and simply asking. Note many of the large chain hotels will let you in but their bar and restaurant prices may leave you weeping...
Two of the up on high pools we liked were the glass sided pool at Aquarius (non–guests $12) and The Patio (non–guests $10). The hotels share the same owners and the views from both are terrific. Aquarius has the added gimmick of part of the pool being glass sided so you can get a pretty special selfie here—the pool os also a good bit larger than the one at The Patio.
If you just want to get wet, Villa Borann on Street 19 charges just $10 for a dip, though the pool is quite small. Also in the northern reaches of BKK1, Home Chic Hotel offers access for a $5 minimum spend (get in early, there are not all that many deckchairs). For something more seductive, Villa Langka (near the same–named temple) offers access to its lovely and well shaded pool for a minimum spend at their restaurant. Another more sumptuous choice is a cabana at Blue Lime which you’ll find off of Street 19 behind the palace.
If you’d prefer a more dedicated splash zone, the DIB Club over on Koh Pich (a 5-10 minute tuk tuk ride from downtown Phnom Penh) offers access to the pool for a minimum spend of $5. It apparently gets packed on weekends, but was relaxed and sleepy on our midweek visit. Of all the pools, if you have kids in tow, this would be our first choice. Open from 09:00 daily.
Aquarius: 5 Street 240, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 972 088 http://www.aquariushotel.asia
Blue Lime: 42 Street 19z (off Street 19), Phnom Penh. (023) 222 260 https://maads.asia/bluelime
DIB Club: Koch Pich Street, Phnom Penh. T: (099) 997 740 https://www.darahotels.asia/dib-club/welcome
Home Chic Hotel: 17 Street 282, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 986 768 http://www.homechichotel.com/
The Patio: 134Z Street 51, Phnom Penh. T: (017) 999 979 http://www.patio-hotel.com/
Villa Borann: 235A Street 19, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 211 518 http://www.villa-borann.com/
Villa Langka: 14 Street 282, Phnom Penh. T: (012) 449 857 https://www.villalangka.com/
Want to take something home with you aside from a bunch of photos and memories? Why not try the Dance Workshop put on by Cambodian Living Arts at the National Museum? An artist will help you dress properly and then take you through the basics of Cambodian classic and folk dance. Other forms, including shadow puppets, traditional theatre and Cambodian music are available upon request. The dance class costs $15 for an adult and $8 for kids under 13 and runs from 15:00 to 16:30 at the National Museum. Even if you decide not to do a class, do be sure to see a performance.
Sticking with exercising your noodle rather than your breaststroke, Back Street Academy is a company which allows travellers to book classes with local people—be it cooking classes, fruit carving, food walks, drumming, fishing, massage, leather carving or a bunch of other distractions. Prices vary and the courses may take place outside of downtown. See the comprehensive Back Street Academy website for more information—they also offer activities in Siem Reap and a bunch of other destinations across Southeast Asia.
Back Street Academy: https://www.backstreetacademy.com/47920/things-to-do-in-phnom-penh
Cambodian Living Arts Dance Workshop: https://experience.cambodianlivingarts.org/dance-workshop/
Grasshopper Adventures run a range of half– and full–day cycling and/or walking tours around Phnom Penh. On a past visit to Phnom Penh we tried their “Islands of the Mekong” tour which took up to Koh Dach (Silk Island) and had a great time, though on our most recent visit we went by tuk tuk. The cycling tour costs US$45 per person and involves a roughly 25 km ride.
Grasshopper Adventures: https://www.grasshopperadventures.com/en/day-tours/islands-of-the-mekong.html
Kingdom Breweries is set just to the north of downtown Phnom Penh and it is possible to tour their brewery. While a brewery tour may not be the first thing that springs to mind when it comes to Phnom Penh, you’d be surprised just how interesting it is. Prices vary between $10 and $15 per person depending on what drinks package you opt for. Unscheduled tours run Mo–Sa: 13:00–19:00. They also have a TGIF event every first Friday of the month which includes all you can drink draft beer, along with burgers and fries. It runs 18:00–23:00 and costs $15 per person. See their website for more information.
Kingdom Breweries: 1748 National Road 5, Phnom Penh. T: (023) 430 180 http://www.kingdombreweries.com/
If it is all just a bit too much and you just want to curl up and watch a flick at the cinema, Phnom Penh can look after you well. The city boasts both modern mall–style cinemas as well as a couple of more art–house style offerings.
Legend Cinema and Major Cineplex are the big players in modern mall–style cinemas. See their websites for schedule details and what is showing. Expect a comfortable and chilly experience—the air–con is often seemingly at sub–zero.
Expat favourite The Flicks Community Movie House shows new and old English-language films including popular classics, documentaries and independent films. They have sessions for kids every weekend where they screen a children’s film and allow screaming and running around. The small theatre is air-conditioned and has couches and futons to relax on with a glass of wine or a soda. They also have a full menu delivered from some nearby restaurants, so you can dine during the movie, with pizza, pasta and salads.
Officially the movie is free, but visitors must pay for the air-con and to maintain the equipment. Tickets cost $3.50 for adults and $2 for children and are good for the entire day, so you can see more than one movie. The Flicks calls itself a community movie house and they’re not lying.
Meta House at the German Cambodian Cultural Centre offers free screenings of independent films and English-language documentaries at 19:00 every night of the week except Monday. They have a full bar and often follow screenings with talks or other opportunities to interact with other humans (if that’s your thing). They often show documentaries about Cambodia so it’s a great place to visit if you’re new in town or want to learn more about the country. The screen is on the building’s rooftop, so be sure to wear mozzie repellent.
Legend Cinema: City Mall, top floor, Monireth Blvd, Phnom Penh; http://www.legend.com.kh/
Major Cineplex: Aeon Mall, top floor, Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh; http://majorcineplex.com.kh.
The Flicks: 39B, Street 95, Phnom Penh; http://www.theflicks.asia/
Meta House: 37 Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh; T: (010) 312 333; http://www.meta-house.com/
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, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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