Whether you are a first time visitor to Phnom Penh or not, the area you select for your stay in Phnom Penh will have an effect on how well your holiday goes. You may read somewhere that the Riverside hotels are expensive. But are they too expensive? Consider this: hiring a tuk-tuk in Phnom Penh even for the shortest distance will set you back by at least 2 US Dollars, that is if you are not scammed by the tuk-tuk driver. Tuk-tuk drivers’ scams in Phnom Penh deserve a separate article and I will write that one soon. But for now, try to estimate how many dollars you will pay to tuk-tuk drivers in a day if the location of your hotel is not where you want to spend your day in Phnom Penh. Add that money to your hotel tariff and recalculate how much your “cheap” hotel is really costing you.
Stay Near The Riverside
Riverside or Sisowath Quay, is the entertainment center of Phnom Penh. There are excellent restaurants in this area that serve Khmer (local) and international food that can be Chinese, Japanse, Korean, Indian, western, or even junk food if you are looking for that. And then there are bars everywhere, regular or girlie. If you care for a massage, this area will have you spoilt for choice. Laundry shops in this area will wash your dirty clothes for a mere 1 USD per kg. You will see tuk-tuk drivers waiting for passengers on every street and at every corner in this area 24 hours a day. If you are looking for a bus to Siem Reap or even to Bangkok, you will not only find a booking office but also a boarding point nearby.
Another advantage of staying in the Riverside area is that the bars & restaurants, massage shops, and those girlie establishments here remain open till late at night. You can still grab a bite or get a massage after returning late from the NagaWorld casino. Oh yes, a tuk-tuk ride to NagaWorld from the Riverside will cost 2 USD. For coming back from NagaWorld, you will still pay 2 USD but you may need to show your hotel’s business card to the driver.
Suggested reading: Top 5 Tourist Attractions in Phnom Penh
Be Careful While Choosing Your Hotel
Staying at the Riverside means that you need to be within a walking distance from the major attractions in this area. You should be able to walk from your hotel to the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, National Museum, Wat Phnom, or the Tonle Sap for that evening walk. Just to be sure, while choosing a hotel, do look at the hotel’s location map. Some hotels claim to be in the Riverside area but are actually too far.