quinta-feira, 14 de junho de 2012

My Phnom Penh list

I'm soon hitting the last days of my stay in Cambodia and my departure day is getting close and closer. It's less than 1 month left. I will talk about my feelings about that later - but not that later . Now I'll list some 'valuable' information for all those who decide to come to Phnom Penh some day, especially expats.

This could be what I can call as a 'survivor' guide. You'll be far away from luxoury, but you will get value for your money, won't starve, won't be late, or have to hope for lucky.

Below is the summarized map with the places (zoom+ to the level of the city), all of it arround the downtown area, easily accessible by bicycle, tuk-tuk or on foot. All the places are explained below divided by category.

Lunch & Dinner

1. Old Place / Same Place 

Source: Constructing Cambodia,
The place is just after the traffic
light in the left after the end of the barrrier
This place without name, refference or fame among foreigners - even less in a Lonely Planet guide or something like that - is where I ate (almost) every day for lunch and some many other occasions for dinner. It's basically the front and the living room of a Khmer family house that serves $1 popular and typical dishes with plenty of rice and ice tea. They are very friendly and at night you can get closer and even play with their little son that I saw being nursed, starting to walk, growing his teeth and now walking and talking everywhere.

My company's staff is very loyal to this place and we had lunch there almost every day. Since we were always in groups of 8-12 people, we always got some free watermellon or banana. Right in front of it, every day during lunch time, an elder man comes with his motorbike stall selling ice-cream, juices and soft drinks. The cone is excellent, both the cone itself and the ice-cream (coconut, chocolate or jackfruit) e it costs only US$ 0.12. Do not expect to find any food after 8 pm.

Location: Mao Tse Toung Boulevard, in front of ACLEDA Bank

Recommended dishes: Chicken w/ ginger, Lok-Lak, Khmer style minced beef, Mung beans w/ toffu and fish blood, Chicken w/ vegetables and 'yellow' sauce, Khmer curry, Soup w/ lemongrass, Omelette, etc.

2. New Place / Saturday Place / Tchá Kadál Place

Other place unkonwn by foreigners, and just 20 m ahead from the previous place. As the name shows we've found it through an 'experience' when the previous one was closed. Since then we've always gone there on Saturdays.

The food in this restaurant is a little bit more sophisticated and generally much spicierthan the 'same place'. You must know how to play with the chilly otherwise you gonna face some stomach ache later. The dishes are varied, but the menu is written in Khmer so take a native with you. The price is US$ 1.25 and includes plenty of rice and ice tea. They don't serve the best dishes at night, just for lunch.

LocationMao Tse Toung Boulevard, 20 m ahead of place 1, next to the Vietnamese restaurant that sells Pho.

Recommended dishes: Tchá Kadál (the best Khmer dish in my opinion), Lok-Lak, Fish w/ pineapple, Chicken liver w/ vegetables, Omelette, etc.

3. BBQ Place

You know those places where the spider nets and the cooker's swept mixed together combine the finest flavours? haha Just kidding! It's not as bad as that but the facilities are pretty simple, some barbecue grills placed in the street and many low benches where people can face even lines to try this awesome barbecue. For sure the best spare ribs I ever tasted! Combined it with chilly sauce, lemon, sugar and black pepper and you will get the best taste! Just be careful with the amount of chilly otherwise expect some stomach ache later.

Me and Bart have the impression that we are always overcharged - and we really are. When we take natives with us we always pay less! It works only at night and if it rains - I asked what happens and I heard - you get wet, haha.

Location: St.55, between st 222 and  st 228, left side.

Recommend dishes: PORK SPARE RIBS! Beef and grilled snails.

4. Asian Spice

Source: Virtual Tourist
This place has all sort of costumers. During the week Westerners and natives at night. On Sundays, packed with Chinese. It's one of the best restaurants to tourists in cost-benefit terms. It's my real 'default' option every time I took Brazilians, foreigners or I was hungry and didn't know where to go.

The restaurant is managed by an expat from Singapore who has already lived in China and Australia and now settled a family in Cambodia. Many times you're going to see his daughter running arround and going to be served by his sisters in law. Upstairs there's an even better bar with music and a better environment to drink and meet friends. Most of the dishes cost from $2 to $2.20 and come in a good amount. You will also get plenty of ice tea. The draft beer costs US$ 0.80/mug. The kitchen closes at 8-9 pm.

Location: St. 111, close to Sihanouk Boulevard and in the same street I live.

Recommended dishes: Beef w/ vegetables and black pepper, Lok-Lak, Beef or Chicken Burger, Sweet and sour prok, Chicken curry, Chicken sathay, etc.

5. Sinh Foo

Source: Trip Advisor
When I arrived in Phnom Penh, we always went on Saturdays to drink and eat at the Riverside. You can pay, for the same mug of beer, between US$ 0.50 to US$ 1.50. Thinking on that I've found with some expats of that time this place that first attracted us for its US$ 0.50/mug price.

I think that literally everyone I took in some restaurant in Phnom Penh paid a visit to Sin Fooh. Besides the cheap beer, the food price varies between US$ 3.50-4, which is quite reasonable in this area. Due to our friendship and loyalty we've been granted with unlimited supply of peanuts, fan, table in the upper floor with views to the river, etc. There are love declarations by the clients hanged all over the wall and we also left ours. Expect to spend around US$ 5 for each visit.

Location: Riverside beginning close to FCC, next to Tutti-Frutti

Recommended dishes: Pizza, Burger, Seafood w/ black-pepper (from Kampot), Beef w/ vegetables and green pepper, etc.

Brazilians must be asking me about Brazilian food, or at least Latin, right? Under a reasonable range of prices I've found only this place. The owner, Chilean, is very friendly and if the restaurant is empty he will probably come to chat with you. I always ordered the small taco, of US$ 3.50, and that was enough for me. Very good. The draft costs US$ 0.75/mug. Apparently they have too many waitress that are quite anxious to have action, so if it looks like you've finished your dish but you still going to eat something watch out cause your it can be returned to the kitchen very quickly.

Location: St. 282, # 13, next to the Independence Monument

Recommended dishes: Taco! I also saw a burrito - or giant burrito - which is expensive, arround US$ 10, but probably could cover breakfast, lunch and dinner.

7. Chinese Noodle Restaurant

Source: Travelfish
This restaurant is managed by a Chinese family and it's very famous in the expat comunity. The options go from noodle soup to the traditional fried rice. However the dish that bring the best price with very good taste are the dumplings. For only US$ 1.50 you can get 12 pieces of it, which can be served fried or boiled (I prefer), and plenty of ice tea.

Location: Monivong Boulevard, next to the Bayon bakery. 


1. Street stall

For almost 1 year I've bought almost every day my breakfast with this family. It's a sort of bread - maybe a distant cousin to the dumpling - which comes with meat, vegetables and 1/4 egg. It costs US$ 0.50 and meantime the price remained the same.

Location: Monivong Boulvard, next to St. 360

Source: The Travelling Feet
This is an ice cream-bakery-restaurant-coffe shop very nice, especially for foreigners with the modern look, sofa, everything white and clean. It was founded by a French couple with only one store initially in Siem Reap. Now there are many units throughout Cambodia and expansion plans to go into Vietnam. In my opinion an awesome marketing bet.

You can have dinner, a juice, coffe, etc. However, I think that the most interesting option is a Sunday breakfast with the restaurant quite empty. For US$ 3.50 you can get a combination of juice, coffee, bread, etc.

Location: Riverside area, next to St. 144 corner.

Recommended dishes: Breakfast sets.


Lucky Burger

Source: Asia Web
If Lucky Burger's burger it's not big deal - and it really isn't - the ice-cream options are worth it. In some of their restaurants you gonna find the ice-cream place in the entrance. Everyone who knows me heard about the Bacio flavour, and yes, for me it's the world's best ice-cream. 1 ball for just US$ 1.

Location: Sihanouk Boulevard, 20 m after Lucky Market.

Recommend flavour: BACIO!!!

Barber shop

Street stall

Maybe none - or almost - of the tourists will care about that when they are enjoying their holiday. However for expats after 1 or 2 months you start remembering that the soap and the  toothpaste run out, etc., and also that your hair grows and you don't have your well-known barber around here.

At first I didn't know what to do and I started asking to our staff where and how they used to do it. Many of them told me that having a haircut in the streets should cost between US$ 0.50-1. Then you find how cheap is labor here. After looking at some places in the region I've found this one that charges US$ 1. Since I liked very much of his services and I'd pay much more for the same in Brazil, I always paid him US$ 2.

Location: in the end of St. 105, almost in the crossing w/ Sihanouk Boulevard, right side.


Source: Travelfish,
Another well-know place for expats for having all kinds of stuff they 'cannot live without it'. Supermarkets are a luxoury item in Cambodia and everything is more expensive. It's so much more expensive that unless you really care about cooking yourself everyday it will be far cheaper to eat in a cheap restaurant. Thus, I'm not a good customer of the supermarkets here and I haven't bought much stuff there since.

Location: Sihanouk Boulevard, close to Golden Tower construction and the Monivong Boulevard crossing.



During my stay in Cambodia I've always avoided to take tuk-tuk's because I prefer to do things on my own in an independently manner and having a bicycle makes transportation costs much lower. However, you may need to get back late from somewhere or going or coming back from the airport. In that case it's nice to have a trusted driver because there are many stories about people being overcharged, or even worse with non-returned lost cellphones  (my experience) or the customer being robbed.

Almost in front of my building Savin always parks his tuk-tuk. He can speak English very well, he's very honest, charge normal prices and can schedule his services through email (24h in advance) or cellphone. One-way from the city to the airport should cost US$ 6.


Any person who's going to stay more than 1 month in Phnom Penh is a serious candidate to buy a bycicle. It's the cheapest, most efficient and practical way to move around the city. Having a car in PP is asking for trouble and a motorbike will cost you much more than a bycicle.

Bart and Sahej bought their bicycles in this place between US$ 35-45 for a basic second hand Japanese bycicle with gears - that's what you really need. I followed their purchasing process and the 'technical assistance' after and I think it's good enough to be recommended.

Location: "Bycicle Street", or Sok Hok street, next to Orussey Market.

Source: Travelpod
Any trip in Cambodia will require you to look for a bus company sooner or later. Although there have been cases of accidents within buses with deaths it's still more dangerous to travel within vans, taxis and solo drivers who overpack their cars and are focused in making the largest number of trips within 1 day.

This company usually has small delays and make business in a more responsible manner even being among the cheapest ones.

Location: next to the access to the Central Market coming from Monivong Boulevard.

Travelling, visas, etc.

AHT - International Travel

In general I've always bought my tickets on my own, however applying for visas on your own in Asia is quite a hassle. The cost could be only a little bit lower and you'd have to spend sometimes a morning or the whole day making your way through the embassies bureaucracy.

I left this travel agent crazy asking them a thousand times for flights quotations - which in fact mostly I didn't purchase. However I always applied and renewed visas through them besides our Myanmar trip tickets. The prices are reasonable and they can deal with tight schedules and urgencies.

Location: Parkway Square, at Mao Tse Tung Boulevard, next to Spark Club.

Digital Cameras and Accessories


I didn't find this store on my own and had already found many posts in the internet recommending them. I bought a DSLR camera, Canon - 600D, 55-135 mm there. The price was US$ 918 which was cheap even compared to Amazon. So far I haven't had any problems and my camera is taking care of my trips. I came back there to buy accessories and always got nice discounts.

Location: a store in the Monivong Boulevard next to the access to the Central Market and other in front of the Central Market.

Sports Bar

Score! Sports Bar

Source: Travelandleisure
This bar is one of those places that in the moment you've stepped in you'd forget that you're in Cambodia and think that you've been transportated to Vila Madalena (bar neighborhood in Brazil) or some place in the US (but the owner is actually Canadian, haha). Lots of LCD screens around, a huge screen worth of Brazil x Argentina final, covering all sort of championships and sports you can imagine. It's possible to go to the toilet without loosing any moment - there's a black window at your eyes height that allows you to track every moment of the game while you are "busy". This structure has a cost and the draft price goes up to US$ 1.50/mug. But still is a good deal when compared with what we have to pay for the same standard in Brazil.

Location: close to La Cita, and Independence Monument.

Night life

I've always been a much more 'bar and barbecue person' rather than clubber. So I haven't been to many places to recommend. However, there are some nice places to catch some shows.

1. Velkomen Guesthouse

Source: TripAdvisor
I don't know anything about their accomodation or other services but I knew through the shows of small bands that they used to host on Saturday night. Two times I've been there it was the same band playing classic rock. The beer costs US$ 1 and they play from 8 pm to midnight. I liked very much.

Location: from The Blue Pumpkin in Riverside, turn left and walk 1 and half block, it's on st 144.

2. Equinox

Source: TripAdvisor
This place is located in a very cool neighborhood, packed with restaurants around. They host varied shows, musicians meetings, pool and even some weird things like groups meeting to discuss about maps and Cambodian demographics. On Fridays usually there are the best shows. The draft is half-price until 8 pm and after that the cheapest becomes US$ 1.50

Location: Next to the Independence Monument, st. 278, one block behind Sihanouk Boulevard.

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