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Phnom Penh Guide
Know Before You Go
- You'll need American dollars for your trip to Cambodia. From paying for your visa at the airport to tours, meals and accommodation - dollars rule. Also, remember to keep your notes crisp as wrinkled USD 100 notes won't be accepted.
- Many children in Cambodia are kept out of school to sell souvenirs to tourists. It's advised not to buy books, bracelets or other trinkets from children as it prevents them from breaking the cycle of poverty by not getting an education.
- Before hopping into a tuk tuk, negotiate the price of your trip. Don't accept the first number they give you as it's often inflated. If you are unsure, ask the locals working at your hotel or hostel what price you should be aiming for.
- The most expensive accommodation in Phnom Penh is by the river. If you are on a budget, rather choose a place in the centre of town or further south.
- It's cheaper to book tours and day trips as a group. If you are travelling alone, speak to the other travellers at your hostel and see if anyone wants to join you on the same tour.
Getting Around Phnom Penh
- Tuk tuks around Phnom Penh are cheap and easy to find throughout the city. A trip to the Killing Fields and back should cost you around USD 15, while a drive in the city is around USD 2 to USD 5. If you want to save money, try to share your ride with other people or use the same driver throughout your trip.
- If you have a helmet, a cheap way to get around is with a moto taxi. Prices within the city are usually USD 0.50, with fares increasing at night or if there is more than one passenger. While it is possible to catch a ride without a helmet, if the transport police see you, you'll have to cough up a fine.
- A new edition to the city's public transport system is its air conditioned buses. Three routes run along the city and cost USD 0.35 for a one-way trip. The buses stop at many of Phnom Penh's biggest attractions like the Killing Fields, making it a more comfortable way for travellers to get around in the city's stifling heat.
- Bicycles are another popular way to explore the city. You won't need to deal with tuk tuk drivers, and you have a higher degree of independence. Rentals start at USD 1 to USD 3 per day, or you can buy your own bike for USD 30.
- If you don't want to brave Phnom Penh's notorious traffic jams, but want the luxury of your own car, it's possible to hire a driver for as little as USD 32 per day.
When is The Best Time to Visit Phnom Penh?
The best time to visit Phnom Penh is from November to January. Temperatures are cool, and rainfall is at its lowest. However, the favourable weather conditions, attract busloads of tourists. Hotel rates and flights will be more expensive during this time, so book a few months in advance to lock in more reasonable prices.
If you don't mind temperatures reaching highs of 40°C, February to May is a good time to visit to avoid the rainfall and save money. Hotel rates will be lower, but make sure you stay hydrated if you do venture outside into the heat.
May to October is Phnom Penh's rainy season. The short afternoon showers tend to keep the throngs of tourists away, making it one of the best times to visit if you want to avoid the crowds. Hotel rates will also be at their lowest, and you'll be able to find great deals on accommodation.
Despite the threat of rain, the showers tend to be confined to the afternoons, so you'll be able to plan around the downpours. If you are looking for cooler weather during the rainy season, visit in October. Temperatures will start tapering off for the dry season and days are a comfortable 23°C . Just bear in mind that in October, prices will spike during the Pchum Ben festival. But if you don't mind paying a little bit extra, it's a great cultural event to witness.
Airports in Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh International Airport
Phnom Penh is the largest airport in Cambodia and is 10 km from the city centre. It's a hub for Cambodia Angkor Air, Cambodia Bayon Airlines, JC International Airlines and Bassaka Air.
Getting To and From Phnom Penh International Airport
The cheapest way to get into the city is on the bus. A single trip costs USD 0.37, but you will need small change as the driver can't change bills larger than USD 1. The buses run every 15 minutes from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and terminates at the Night Market on the Riverside.
If you are in a rush or have a lot of baggage, taxis are the fastest way to get from the airport into the city. Most of the drivers at the airport speak English, making it easy to get to your final destination without a language barrier. You'll find the fleet of cabs waiting outside the arrival hall, and the ride will cost between USD 12 to USD 18.
Another option, if you aren't on a tight budget, is a private taxi. You can book your ride in advance, the cars all have air conditioning and cost USD 17 one-way.
There are also taxi apps that are cheaper than finding a ride at the airport. You'll be able to get into Phnom Penh for less than USD 10 and drivers will either meet you at the arrivals parking lot or outside the gate.
Tuk tuks are also available at the airport for USD 9. But if you walk outside the airport gates, you can negotiate a ride for as little as USD 6 or USD 7.
If you decide to take a moto taxi, you can find them outside the airport gates. A one-way ride into Phnom Penh will cost USD 2 or USD 3.