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Cruises to Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh (Photo:Dmitry Rukhlenko/Shitterstock)

About Phnom Penh

The capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh overlooks three bustling rivers -- the Mekong, Tonle Sap and the Bassac -- which boast crowded riverfronts that beckon with street food vendors lining the parks, selling everything from spiced curries to noodle bowls.

Time seems to have passed Phnom Penh by. Visitors will see colonial French architecture untouched by modern-day life, beautifully wrought pagodas with sparkling ornamentals and staggering monument complexes that have forever made Cambodia famous.

Your first few moments in the city will be an onslaught to the senses with the sounds of motorbikes darting through traffic, the smells of different street food stalls hanging in the air and the ever-changing buzz of monks in orange robes passing by as locals push past you to get to the market or work. It can be overwhelming, but once you get a handle on the city's gritty, pulsating heartbeat, it's nearly impossible to not fall in love with the old-style charm and fortitude of Phnom Penh.

Unlike that of Siem Reap, the allure of Phnom Penh lies in the city's resilience, rather than its temples. Shattered by war and revolution, the city has spent the better part of 30 years trying to rebuild.

Although the city and its people have fought to shed the demons of their past, stark memorials to the reign of Pol Pot are all over the city, and sadness hangs over every monumental landmark, from the Killing Fields to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Visiting these places is crucial to understanding the horrifying history that still plagues so many Cambodians -- lessons often overlooked in Western history.

  • More about Phnom Penh

  • Why go to Phnom Penh?

  • Phnom Penh Cruise Port Facilities?

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Avalon Saigon
Avalon Saigon (Photo: Avalon Waterways)

15 Night
Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia & The Mekong River W...Details

Leaving:Ho Chi Minh City
Cruise Line:Avalon Waterways
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Avalon Saigon
Avalon Saigon (Photo: Avalon Waterways)

7 Night
Mekong DiscoveryDetails

Cruise Line:Avalon Waterways
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Scenic Spirit
Scenic Spirit

10 Night
Luxury Mekong And Temple Discovery Cruise - 7 Nigh...Details

72 Reviews
Cruise Line:Scenic
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Scenic Spirit
Scenic Spirit

10 Night
Luxury Mekong And Temple Discovery Cruise - 7 Nigh...Details

72 Reviews
Cruise Line:Scenic
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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9 Night
Meandering Along The MekongDetails

72 Reviews
Cruise Line:Scenic
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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9 Night
Meandering Along The MekongDetails

72 Reviews
Cruise Line:Scenic
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

12 Night
Temple Discovery And Meandering Along The Mekong C...Details

72 Reviews
Leaving:Siem Reap
Cruise Line:Scenic
Aug 2, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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12 Night
Temple Discovery And Meandering Along The Mekong C...Details

72 Reviews
Leaving:Siem Reap
Cruise Line:Scenic
Jul 15, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

12 Night
Temple Discovery And Meandering Along The Mekong C...Details

72 Reviews
Leaving:Siem Reap
Cruise Line:Scenic
Dec 26, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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14 Night
Treasures Of The Mekong Meandering Cruise - 9 Nigh...Details

72 Reviews
Leaving:Siem Reap
Cruise Line:Scenic
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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14 Night
Treasures Of The Mekong Meandering Cruise - 9 Nigh...Details

72 Reviews
Leaving:Siem Reap
Cruise Line:Scenic
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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14 Night
Treasures Of The Mekong Meandering Cruise - 9 Nigh...Details

72 Reviews
Leaving:Siem Reap
Cruise Line:Scenic
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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12 Night
Treasures Of The Mekong - 7 Night CruiseDetails

72 Reviews
Leaving:Siem Reap
Cruise Line:Scenic
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Luxury MekongDetails

72 Reviews
Cruise Line:Scenic
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Luxury MekongDetails

72 Reviews
Cruise Line:Scenic
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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More about Phnom Penh

Why go to Phnom Penh?

Pros:

Cultural experiences are everywhere, from temples to street food.

Cons:

Traffic congestion and poverty can be overwhelming for westerners.

Bottom Line:

Phnom Penh is a vibrant, friendly and affordable stop on Mekong river cruise itineraries.

Phnom Penh Cruise Port Facilities?

There are two main ports in Phnom Penh -- the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port and port 2. Most river cruise ships dock at Autonomous Port, which sits just a short eight- to 10-minute tuk tuk ride from the center of the city. In addition, you can walk to the Central Market, the main pagoda or the gold leaf-decorated Royal Palace in just 20 minutes.

An ATM sits right outside of the port, making it easy to withdraw money as soon as the ship docks. In addition to tuk tuks, taxis are always plentiful in and around the port to transfer you anywhere you'd like to go. Note: The port does lock the main gate at 11 p.m. If you feel like walking, the area around the port boasts plenty of street carts serving Cambodian specialties (think grilled chicken feet), small shops offering some authentic (and some rather kitschy) souvenirs, trendy bars and some of the city's most famous sights, like the Silver Pagoda.

Good to Know?

Like many Southeast Asian capitals, motorbikes and mopeds are everywhere, traversing the roads with reckless abandon. It might seem like there's no rhyme or reason to the motorbike traffic, but they've got it down to a science. To cross the street, start walking across slowly when there's a break in traffic. Drivers will slow down or go around you. Don't dart across, or you're likely to cause an accident.

Getting Around?

On Foot: The great thing about many of Phnom Penh's main sights are that they are all within walking distance of each other. If you're up for it, depart the port and walk for 20 to 30 minutes to get to the Central Market and waterfront park, 15 minutes to get to the Silver Pagoda and around 20 minutes to reach the Royal Palace. In addition, a walk to and from the Raffles Hotel (a popular spot for sipping cocktails) is only about 20 minutes from where ships dock.

By Tuk Tuk: One of the easiest and most affordable ways to get around Phnom Penh is on a motorized tuk tuk, which comfortably sits two to four people. In addition to affordability, these are the most reliable and safest modes of transport in the city, and plenty can be found around the main port, near the markets and around main sights like the Royal Palace or the Silver Pagoda.

Have your ship guide or concierge call a tuk tuk so you can ensure you're getting the best rate. (Most will negotiate on your behalf so you're not swindled.) In addition, many tuk tuk drivers will only charge around $10 or so for a two-hour tour of the city, which can help orient you to where the dock is and where the main sights of the city are located.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Cambodia's currency is the riel. However, most vendors, restaurants, hotels and even the temple complexes take (and prefer) U.S. dollars. It's advisable to carry ample small bills, which come in handy for tipping, buying water and paying for tuk tuk or taxi rides. It's also advised to bring enough money to get you through your stay ahead of time, as ATMs are often out of order or not government regulated.

Language?

The traditional dialect of Phnom Penh (and most of Cambodia) is Khmer, an interesting language that blends the influence of Sanskrit and Pali, as well as dialects from the neighboring countries of Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. Although most tour guides, hotel employees and temple workers do speak conversational English, it's best to learn a few key words and phrases in Khmer.


Phnom Penh Cruise Reviews
We visited one of the 400 mass grave sites known in Cambodia, with an ossuary of 1000s of skulls and the depressions in the ground where the massed graves were discovered, then a visit to the torture and interrogatioRead More
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Andrejs
Phnom Penh is a small capital with a few interesting landmarks and parks but is not outstanding. There are some central markets and night markets that are also not outstanding for variety and quality. There is a sky Read More
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jazzramgolf
Out before sunrise to take photos and then see the "bat" tree was fun. The market was bustling. Learned a lot about the fruits and other foods. Read More
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Sharon Bonita
We were here for two days and had several outings on our own included a dinner in town. Riding the tuk-tuk at night was an experience all on its own!Read More
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Buffyr

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