Cambodia's capital on the Mekong River is often overlooked by travelers in favor of the more exciting Siem Reap and the Angkor Wat Temples. However, this bustling Cambodian city, with its French influence, is definitely worth a visit.

On one side, there are so many fun things to do and discover, from visiting night markets and temples to exploring the Royal Palace. On the other side, Phnom Penh offers a chance to learn about Cambodia's dark past, with sites like the S21 prison and the Killing Fields.

Phnom Penh, being the capital city, has a variety of different areas and neighborhoods to explore, each with its own unique charm.

Having recently visited Phnom Penh, I am excited to share with you my favorite neighborhoods and areas, making it a little easier for you to decide where to stay in Phnom Penh.

Best areas to stay in Phnom Penh

If you're a first-time visitor to Phnom Penh, I highly recommend staying in Daun Penh, also known as the Riverfront District. It's right in the city center, close to plenty of restaurants, markets, and famous landmarks.

A little further away from the river, but even more popular among locals, is BKK1. This area is perfect for grabbing a nice dinner, enjoying some beers, or having a fun night out. It's also where many expats in Phnom Penh live.

For all budget travelers and backpackers, I recommend Boeng Reang as the place to be. You'll find plenty of great street food options and the best hostels in the city.

If you're traveling with kids and prefer to stay a bit away from the hustle and bustle, but still close enough to the city center, Tuol Kouk is the perfect choice.

And last but not least, the coolest area to visit in Phnom Penh, right by the river, is definitely Tonle Basak. It's home to some of my favorite cafes and pubs.

1. Where to stay in Phnom Penh for the first time: Daun Penh (Riverfront District)

Where to stay in Phnom Penh - Riverfront

In Daun Penh, you'll find everything you need for your first visit to Cambodia's capital. This area is the most central in Phnom Penh, making it the perfect base to explore the entire city.

You'll discover a wide array of accommodation choices, ranging from luxury resorts to welcoming backpacker hostels. Additionally, you'll be spoiled for choice with an abundance of superb dining options, convenient supermarkets, and plenty of shopping opportunities.

Daun Penh is also home to remarkable landmarks and sights, including the Royal Palace, Wat Phnom, and the National Museum. 

Best area for:

  • First-timers

  • Sightseeing

  • Central location

Things to do in Daun Penh

If you're staying in the city center, sightseeing is definitely a must! Make sure to visit the Royal Palace of Phnom Penh. This palace, built in 1860, still serves as the residence of the Cambodian royal family.

You also shouldn't miss out on the Temple of Wat Phnom and the National Museum. They're incredible spots to dive into Cambodian history and culture.

Oh, and for all you foodies out there, here's a little tip: after a long day of sightseeing, satisfy your hunger at Davids Restaurant. Trust me, they have the best homemade noodles in town!

If you're craving street food and shopping, Central Market is the perfect spot for you. The pyramid-shaped market building offers plenty of shopping opportunities and delicious snacks at every corner.

Best hotels to stay in Daun Penh

($$$) Raffles Hotel Le Royal

One of the most luxurious Phnom Penh hotels is Raffles Hotel Le Royal. This iconic hotel, dating back to 1929, is located right in the heart of Phnom Penh. It offers spacious and elegant suites and rooms with all the modern amenities you can think of.

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($$) Rosewood Phnom Penh

If you are looking for another luxury option, then Rosewood Phnom Penh is the place to be. Located within walking distance of the royal palace, the Rosewood Phnom Penh Hotel in central Phnom Penh is one of my favorite luxury hotels.

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($) Onederz Hostel Phnom Penh

Much more affordable than the first two options, Onederz Hostel is the perfect place to stay for budget travelers. Located in the city center, this hostel offers comfy beds, great facilities, and friendly staff. The hostel even offers a laundry and massage service.

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2. Where to stay in Phnom Penh for nightlife & expats: BKK1

Where to stay in Phnom Penh - BKK1

BKK1 is such an interesting mix of different worlds. It's the home to many expats, embassies, and charming European-style houses. 

But that's not all – it's also one of the go-to spots for an amazing night out! You'll find some of the best bars, restaurants, and clubs right here.

So if you're down for a good time, this is definitely the place to be!

Best area for:

  • Nightlife

  • Expats

  • Sightseeing

Things to do in BKK1

BKK1 is like a home away from home for many Western immigrants in Phnom Penh. The restaurant and bar scene here is buzzing, almost like being in the US or Australia. Narrowing down my favorite spots is a tough task because there are so many great options. But if you're craving a delicious burger with fries, you can't go wrong with Farm to Table and Dighby's! And if you're in the mood for a world-class cocktail, you have to check out my favorite speakeasy, Battbong.

Now, I know BKK1 is famous for its nightlife, but there's one museum nearby that I personally think is an absolute must-visit. It's the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21 Prison). This place sheds light on Cambodia's dark Khmer Rouge past in a direct and eye-opening way. It's not for everyone, but it's definitely worth a visit.

While we're talking about Cambodia's dark past, this is also a great opportunity for you to visit the Killing Fields (Choeung Ek). Here, you'll be walking in the footsteps of a very dark past, prepare yourself for some intense emotions.

Best hotels to stay in BKK1

($$$) Baitong Hotel & Resort Phnom Penh

My absolute favorite boutique hotel in BKK1 is the cozy and luxurious Baitong Hotel & Resort Phnom Penh. This hotel offers super modern rooms and a relaxing garden and pool area, making it a great escape from the busy city center.

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($$) Duong Chan Hotel

The best mid-range option in BKK1 is the Duong Chan Hotel. This hotel offers comfortable rooms, a nice rooftop swimming pool, and friendly staff. Plus, it's just a few steps away from all the amazing restaurants and bar options.

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($) Nangkol Village

Last but not least, for all budget travelers, the Nangkol Village Hostel. This hostel offers basic amenities and comfy beds at a very affordable price. Plus, it's located on a quiet side street near the buzzing restaurants and bars of BKK1. 

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3. Where to stay in Phon Penh for budget travelers & backpackers: Sangkat Boeng Reang

Where to stay in Phnom Penh - Sangkat Boeng Reang

Of course, I also have great suggestions if you're a budget traveler or backpacker. Boeng Reang is the perfect place to stay for those who are traveling on a tighter budget.

Here, you'll find some of the cheapest accommodations in Phnom Penh, along with plenty of street food and supermarkets. It's also home to many locals, making it the perfect spot to get a real taste of everyday Cambodian life. 

The best part is that you're right next to Daun Penh, so major sights like the Royal Palace are still within walking distance.

Best area for:

  • Budget travelers

  • Backpackers

Things to do in Boeng Reang

One of the biggest sights in this area is definitely the Independence Monument, standing tall and proudly representing Cambodia's independence. 

If you're a foodie who doesn't want to break the bank, Boeng Reang is also the perfect spot. I highly recommend checking out Pu Rock Cafe for a great coffee and a cozy place to work.

Oh, and if you haven't tried hotpot yet, you've got to give it a go! The best place for that in the area is definitely Little Sheep Hot Pot.

Best hotels to stay in Boeng Reang

($$$) White Mansion

One of the more upscale Phnom Penh hotels but definitely one of the most affordable is the White Mansion. Located in Boeng Reang, this hotel offers spacious and elegant suites and a super cool 25 m-long outdoor swimming pool. It's definitely one of the best Phnom Penh accommodation!

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($$) Aquarius Hotel and Urban Resort

This modern hotel is the perfect mid-range option for budget travelers. Offering spacious and comfortable rooms, as well as a relaxing rooftop pool and garden area, it's definitely a great choice for those who want to stay on a budget but still enjoy luxury amenities. 

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($) Mad Monkey Hostel Phnom Penh

My favorite hostel in Boeng Reang has to be the Mad Monkey Hostel. With comfy beds, great facilities, and friendly staff, this hostel is a great choice for budget travelers who want comfort without breaking the bank.

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4. Where to stay in Phnom Penh for families: Khan Tuol Kouk

Where to stay in Phnom Penh - Khan Tuol Kouk

One of the best areas for you, especially if you're traveling with kids, is Tuol Kouk. This upcoming suburb, located further west from the Riverside, used to be overlooked by many tourists. 

However, today it's bustling with shopping malls, restaurants, and cinemas. You'll also find the university in this area. If you're up for a walk, the riverside is just 45 minutes away. But don't worry, there are also plenty of buses and taxis available to take you to the city center. 

Moreover, this area is conveniently the closest to the Phnom Penh International Airport out of all my picks!

Best area for

  • Families

  • Relaxation

Things to do in Khan Tuol Kouk

Tuol Kouk is a great place to go shopping in one of the many shopping malls. TK Avenue is my absolute favorite with a fantastic selection of shops and restaurants. Another option is the fun mall, which is smaller but has a quirky vibe.

When you're looking for a wonderful dinner spot for the whole family, One More Restaurant is a fantastic choice for some delicious traditional or Thai food.

And if the weather is good, Deja Vu Garden Pub is definitely one of my favorite spots in Phnom Penh. They have a lovely beer garden with live music and a wide selection of traditional beers and dishes.

Best hotels to stay in Khan Tuol Kouk

($$$) AMATA Residence

This apartment hotel is perfect for families who are looking for a luxurious stay in Tuol Kouk. The rooms are modern, spacious, and fully equipped with a kitchen and a living room. Plus, there's also a great outdoor swimming pool and garden area.

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($$) SSB Residence

This modern apartment hotel is a great mid-range option for families. They offer comfortably furnished rooms with kitchenettes, as well as an outdoor swimming pool and garden area. Plus, all the apartments come with a sofa bed, ideal for bigger families.

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($) City View Apartment

If your family is on a tight budget, City View Apartment Hotel is the absolute best choice. Not only are they incredibly affordable, but they also offer cozy rooms with all the necessary amenities. And the best part, especially for the kids, is the fabulous rooftop pool of the apartment building.

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5. Where to stay in Phnom Penh for the coolest vibes: Sangkat Tonle Basak

Where to stay in Phnom Penh - Sangkat Tonle Basak

When you're visiting Phnom Penh and looking for a cool and authentic vibe of the city, Tonle Basak is the place to be. It's not necessarily where all the other tourists stay, but that's what makes it special.

This area is getting more popular among younger travelers and those seeking something different from the rest of the city.

While Tonle Basak may not have many landmarks and sights, it more than makes up for it with an incredible food scene. Plus, it's still within walking distance to popular areas like Riverside, so you can always explore if you feel like it!

Best area for

  • Authentic atmosphere

  • Cool vibes

  • Great food

Things to do in Sangkat Tonle Basak

As I've already mentioned, the food scene in Tonle Basak is what sets it apart from the rest of the city. There are plenty of amazing street food stalls and restaurants in this area, serving up delicious local dishes. 

I especially love Shangri for a cozy dinner spot with all the traditional Japanese sushi and noodles. If you want to experience the local nightlife, there are also plenty of cool bars and pubs like Darlin Darlin Music Lounge.

Best hotels to stay in Sangkat Tonle Basak

($$$) Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra

One of the most luxurious hotels in Phnom Penh is definitely the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra. Located in Tonle Basak, the Sofitel has five different dining options and a massive sports center, including a tennis court, a gym, and a squash court. It's the perfect Phnom Penh hotel!

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($$) Glow Park Hotel Grand Royal Palace

This fantastic four-star property is the ideal choice for a wonderful stay in Tonle Basak. With all the necessary amenities, including an inviting outdoor swimming pool and a cozy restaurant serving international and traditional dishes.

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($) House Boutique Eco Hotel

For anyone who doesn't want to break the bank while still enjoying a luxurious break, House Boutique Eco Hotel is the place to be. This cozy boutique hotel is my favorite budget hotel in Phnom Penh. It's definitely the best when it comes to value for money.

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Where to stay in Phnom Penh – Frequently Asked Questions

Is Phnom Penh worth visiting?

Yes! Phnom Penh is an incredible city with a lot to offer. From delicious food and wonderful nightlife to some of the most interesting museums and historical sites.

What is there to do in Phnom Penh?

There are plenty of activities to enjoy in Phnom Penh. You can visit Phnom Penh's Royal Palace and some of the city's many museums and art galleries. Shopping is also a great way to explore this incredible city, with tons of amazing night markets and malls to browse through. 

📍 What is the best area to stay in Phnom Penh?

It depends on what you're looking for. If you want to be close to Phnom Penh's city centre, Daun Penh is the perfect area. For a more relaxed atmosphere for the family, Khan Tuol Kouk is great. And if you're after a cool and authentic atmosphere with amazing food, Sangkat Tonle Basak is the place to stay

🏨 What is the best hotel in Phnom Penh?

Some of my favorite hotels which I have already listed here are the Rosewood Phnom Penh and the Sofitel Phokeethra. Both are luxurious five-star properties, with wonderful amenities and great service. But even if you have a limited budget, there are plenty of fantastic hotels to choose from as well. Other great options are the Palace Gate Hotel and the Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh!

Where to stay in Phnom Penh – Final Words

Phnom Penh definitely surprised me as an exciting and affordable city in Southeast Asia. Whether you're seeking luxury or a laid-back experience, this city has something for everyone.

Personally, I really enjoyed the rich history and culture, influenced by the French and the deep lessons to be learned from Cambodia's Khmer Rouge past. There's so much to explore and discover here, I can't recommend it enough.

I hope my guide to my favorite neighborhoods and areas sheds some light on Cambodia's capital, helping you decide where to stay in Phnom Penh.

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