Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city of Cambodia.

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Phnom Penh (/pəˈnɒm ˈpɛn/ or /ˈnɒm ˈpɛn/; Khmer: ភ្នំពេញ, Khmer pronunciation: [pnum pɨɲ]) is the capital and largest city of Cambodia. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Phnom Penh has been the national capital since the French colonized Cambodia, and has grown to become the nation's center of economic and industrial activities, as well as the center of security, politics, economics, cultural heritage, and diplomacy of Cambodia.

Once known as the “Pearl of Asia”, it was considered one of the loveliest French-built cities in Indochina[2] in the 1920s. Phnom Penh, along with Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, are significant global and domestic tourist destinations for Cambodia. Founded in 1434, the city is noted for its beautiful and historical architecture and attractions. There are a number of surviving French colonial buildings scattered along the grand boulevards.

Situated on the banks of the Tonlé Sap, Mekong and Bassac rivers, the Phnom Penh metropolitan area is home to about 2.2 million [1] of Cambodia’s population of over 14.5 million, up from about 1.9 million in 2008.[3] The city is the wealthiest and most populous city in Cambodia and is home to the country’s political hub.


Wat Phnom gave the city its name

Phnom Penh (literally, "Penh's Hill") takes its name from the present Wat Phnom (“Hill Temple”). Legend has it that in 1372, an old nun named Lady Penh went to fetch water in the Mekong and found a dead Koki tree floating down the stream. Inside a hole of the Koki tree were four bronze and one stone Buddha statues.

Daun (Grandma) Penh brought the statues ashore and ordered people to pile up earth northeast of her house; she then used the Koki trunks to build a temple on the hill to house the five Buddha statues, and then named the temple after herself as Wat Phnom Daun Penh, which is now known as Wat Phnom, a small hill of 27 metres (89 ft) in height.

Phnom Penh was also previously known as Krong Chaktomok (Khmer: ក្រុងចតុម្មុខ) meaning "City of Four Faces". This name refers to the junction where the Mekong, Bassac, and Tonle Sap rivers cross to form an “X” where the capital is situated. Krong Chaktomuk is an abbreviation of its ceremonial name which was given by King Ponhea Yat, which in full is Krong Chaktomuk Mongkol Sakal Kampuchea Thipadei Sereythor Inthabot Borei Roth Reach Seima Maha Nokor.

This ceremonial name is composed from Pali, and loosely translates as "The place of four rivers that gives the happiness and success of Khmer Kingdom, the highest leader as well as impregnable city of the God Indra of the great kingdom".[4]


Phnom Penh from east drawn in 1887.

Independence Monument

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Phnom Penh first became the capital of Cambodia after Ponhea Yat, king of the Khmer Empire, moved the capital from Angkor Thom after it was captured and destroyed by Siam a few years earlier. There is a stupa behind Wat Phnom that house the remains of Ponhea Yat and the royal family as well as the remaining Buddhist statues from the Angkorean era. In the 17th century by Japanese immigrants also settled around the area on the outskirts of present-day Phnom Penh.[5]

Phnom Penh remained the royal capital for 73 years-from 1432 to 1505. It was abandoned for 360 years-from 1505 to 1865-by subsequent kings due to internal fighting between the royal pretenders. Later kings moved the capital several times and established their royal capitals at various locations in Tuol Basan (Srey Santhor), Pursat, Longvek, Lavear Em and Udong.

It was not until 1866, under the reign of King Norodom I, that Phnom Penh became the permanent seat of government and capital of Cambodia, and also where the current Royal Palace was built. Beginning in 1870, the French Colonialists turned a riverside village into a city where they built hotels, schools, prisons, barracks, banks, public works offices, telegraph offices, law courts, and health services buildings. In 1872, the first glimpse of a modern city took shape when the colonial administration contracted a French contractor, Le Faucheur, to construct the first 300 concrete houses for sales and rentals to the Chinese traders.

By the 1920s, Phnom Penh was known as the Pearl of Asia, and over the next four decades Phnom Penh continued to experience rapid growth with the building of railways to Sihanoukville and the Pochentong International Airport (now Phnom Penh International Airport). Phnom Penh's infrastructure saw major modernisation under the rule of Sihanouk.[6]

During the Vietnam War, Cambodia was used as a base by the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong, and thousands of refugees from across the country flooded the city to escape the fighting between their own government troops, the NVA/NLF, the South Vietnamese and its allies, and the Khmer Rouge. By 1975, the population was 3 million, the bulk of whom were refugees from the fighting.[7] The city fell to the Khmer Rouge on April 17, 1975. All of its residents, including those who were wealthy and educated, were evacuated from the city and forced to do labour on rural farms as "new people".[8] Tuol Sleng High School was taken over by Pol Pot's forces and was turned into the S-21 prison camp, where people were detained and tortured. Pol Pot sought a return to an agrarian economy and therefore killed many people perceived as educated, "lazy", or political enemies. Many others starved to death as a result of failure of the agrarian society and the sale of Cambodia's rice to China in exchange for bullets and weaponry. The former high school is now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, where Khmer Rouge torture devices and photos of their victims are displayed. Choeung Ek (The Killing Fields), 15 kilometres (9 mi) away, where the Khmer Rouge marched prisoners from Tuol Sleng to be murdered and buried in shallow pits, is also now a memorial to those who were killed by the regime.

The Khmer Rouge were driven out of Phnom Penh by the Vietnamese in 1979,[9] and people began to return to the city. Vietnam is historically a state with which Cambodia has had many conflicts, therefore this liberation was and is viewed with mixed emotions by the Cambodians. A period of reconstruction began, spurred by the continuing stability of government, attracting new foreign investment and aid by countries including France, Australia, and Japan. Loans were made from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank to reinstate a clean water supply, roads and other infrastructure. The 1998 Census put Phnom Penh's population at 862,000;[10] and the 2008 census was 1.3 million.[11]


Boeng Kak Lake in the northern part of Phnom Penh

Kingfishers located at Boeng Kak Lake

Phnom Penh is located in the south-central region of Cambodia, and is fully surrounded by the Kandal Province. The municipality is situated on the banks of the Tonlé Sap, Mekong, and Bassac rivers. These rivers provide potential freshwater and other natural resources to the city. Phnom Penh and the surrounding areas consists of the typical wet plain area for Cambodia. Phnom Penh rises 11.89m or (39 ft) which causes problems for the city of potential flooding by the monsoon season which sometimes over flow the banks of the river.

The city, located at 11°33′00″N 104°55′00″E / 11.55°N 104.91667°E / 11.55; 104.91667 (11°33' North, 104°55' East,[12]), covers an area of 678.46 square kilometres (262 sq mi), with some 11,401 hectares (28,172 acres) in the municipality and 26,106 hectares (64,509 acres) of roads. The agricultural land in the municipality amounts to 34.685 square kilometres (13 sq mi) with some 1.476 square kilometres (365 acres) under irrigation.


Phnom Penh has a tropical wet and dry climate. The climate is hot year-round with only minor variations. City temperatures range from 22° to 35 °C (71.6° to 95 °F) and experiences tropical monsoons. Southwest monsoons blow inland bringing moisture-laden winds from the Gulf of Thailand and Indian Ocean from May to October. The northeast monsoon ushers in the dry season, which lasts from November to March. The city experiences the heaviest precipitation from September to October with the driest period occurring from January to February.

The city has two distinct seasons. The rainy season, which runs from May to October, which temperatures can rise up to 40 °C (104 °F) around April and is generally accompanied with high humidity. The dry season lasts from November to April when temperatures can drop to 22 °C (72 °F). The best months to visit the city are November to January when temperatures and humidity are lower.

Climate data for Phnom Penh
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 36
Average high °C (°F) 31.5
Daily mean °C (°F) 26.7
Average low °C (°F) 21.9
Record low °C (°F) 12
Precipitation mm (inches) 25.5
% humidity 68 66 64 66 74 76 77 79 82 80 76 72 73.3
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 2.8 2.4 5.2 8.6 16.4 16.6 19.6 21.4 19.8 24.0 11.8 4.8 153.4
Mean monthly sunshine hours 279 252 248 240 217 180 155 155 150 186 240 279 2,581
Source #1: Hong Kong Observatory.[13]
Source #2: Weatherbase (record highs, lows, and humidity ) [14]


The National Assembly building of Cambodia

Chaktomuk Hall

Phnom Penh is a municipality standing at 678.46 square kilometres (261.95 sq mi) and is governed with a status that is equal to provinces of Cambodia. As such, it has a similar political structure to its provinces. The municipality is subdivided into nine administrative divisions called Khans (districts) and of the nine Khans, Dangkao, Meanchey, Porsenchey, Sen Sok and Russei Keo are considered the outskirts of the city. All Khans are under the governance of the Phnom Penh Municipality. The Khans are further subdivided into 76 Sangkats (communes), and 637 Kroms.

The municipality is governed by the Governor who acts as the top executive of the city and manages the general affairs as well as overlooking the Municipal Military Police, Municipal Police and Bureau of Urban Affairs. Below the Governor is the First Vice Governor and 5 Vice Governors. The Chief of Cabinet who holds the same status as the Vice Governors, heads the Cabinet that consists of 8 Deputy Chiefs of Cabinet which in turn are in charge of the 27 Administrative Departments. Every khan (district) also has a head Chief. [5]

List of Phnom Penh Administrative Districts
Name of district (khan) Number of communes (sangkat) Number of villages (phum) Population as of 2008
Chamkarmon 12 sangkats 95 kroms 182,004
Dangkao 15 sangkats 143 kroms 257,724
Daun Penh 11 sangkats 134 kroms 126,550
Meanchey 8 sangkats 30 kroms 327,801
Prampi Makara 8 sangkats 33 kroms 91,895
Russey Keo 12 sangkats 59 kroms 196,684
Sen Sok 3 sangkats 147,967
Tuol Kork 10 sangkats 143 kroms 171,200
Porsenchey new district new district new district


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1950 334,000
1960 398,000 +19.2%
1970 457,000 +14.8%
1975 370,000 −19.0%
1978 32,000 −91.4%
1980 189,000 +490.6%
1985 351,000 +85.7%
1990 634,000 +80.6%
1995 925,000 +45.9%
2000 1,284,000 +38.8%
2005 1,677,000 +30.6%
2010 2,101,725 +25.3%

As of 2008, Phnom Penh had a population of 2,009,264 people, with a total population density of 5,358 inhabitants per square kilometre (13,877/sq mi) in a 375 km2 (145 sq mi) city area. The population growth in the city is 3.92%. The city area had multiplied by 4 since 1979, and will continue enlarge the metro area in order to support the growing population and economy in the city.

Phnom Penh is mostly inhabited by Cambodians (or Khmers) – they represent 90% of the population of the city. There are large minorities of Chinese, Vietnamese, and other small ethnic groups who are Thai, Budong, Mnong Preh, Kuy, Chong, and Chams. The state religion is Theravada Buddhism, more than 90% of the people in Phnom Penh are Buddhists with the Chams practicing Islam over the years since 1993, there has also been an increase in the practice of Christianity which was practically wiped out after 1975 when the Khmer Rouge took over. English and French are widely used in the city, but the official language is Khmer.

The city have the highest Human development index in the whole country, with a HDI of 0.936 in average compare to the worst HDI indicator of 0.220 in Mondulkiri-where most hill tribes and aborigines inhabited.[15]


Sorya Shopping Center

Phnom Penh's is Cambodia's economic centre as it accounts for a large portion of the Cambodian economy. Double-digit economic growth rates in recent years have triggered an economic boom in Phnom Penh, with new hotels, restaurants, bars, high rises and residential buildings springing up around the city.

The main economy is based on commercial interests such as garments, trading, and small and medium enterprises. In the past few years the property business has been booming as real estate is now getting very expensive in the city. Tourism is also a major contributor in the capital as more shopping and commercial centres open, making Phnom Penh one of the major tourist destinations in the country along with Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism in Cambodia made up 17.5 percent (US$2,053 million) of Cambodia’s GDP in 2009 and account for 13.7 percent of total employment.[16] One of the most popular areas in Phnom Penh for tourists is Sisowath Quay, alongside the Tonle Sap River. Sisowath Quay is a 3-mile strip of road that includes restaurants, bars, and hotels.[17]

OCIC Tower, is the first skyscraper in the city

The US$2.6 billion new urban development, Camko City, is meant to bolster the city landscape. The Bureau of Urban Affairs of Phnom Penh Municipality has plans to expand and construct new infrastructure to accommodate the growing population and economy. High rise buildings will be constructed at the entrance of the city and near the lakes and riverbanks. Furthermore, new roads, canals, and a railway system will be used to connect Camko City and Phnom Penh.[18]

Other projects include:

  • Grand Phnom Penh International City (under construction)
  • De Castle Royal Condominium[19] (Under construction)
  • International Finance Complex (Under construction)
  • Gold Tower 42 (On hold 32 floors)
  • OCIC Tower (Completed)
  • River Palace[20] (Under construction)
  • Vattanac Capital Tower (Under construction)

With booming economic growth seen since the 1990s, new shops have opened as well as western-style malls such as Sorya Shopping Center and the new Sovanna Shopping Center. Two international franchises have also opened up in Phnom Penh. Dairy Queen has already opened up inside Phnom Penh International Airport and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has opened up a restaurant on Monivong Boulevard and plans to open more soon.[21] The same company that opened up KFC in Cambodia has now obtained franchise rights to open Pizza Hut in the country.[22] In addition, Swensen's ice cream restaurants was also opened in Sorya Shopping Center.

Current tallest skyscraper in Phnom Penh is Vattanac Capital Tower[23] standing in almost 200m height it sure to dominate Phnom Penh's skyline with its next door skyscaper-Canadia Tower(OCIC Tower). The tower are topped out in May 2012 and estimate to be complete in late 2012.

The Central market Phsar Thmei is a major tourist hot spot. The four wings of the yellow colored market are teeming with numerous stalls selling gold and silver jewellery, antique coins, clothing, clocks, flowers, food, fabrics and shoes. Phsar Thmei is also going under a major renovation project, with fresh paint on the exterior and interior, and the creation of newer stalls.

Cambodia Angkor Air has its head office in Phnom Penh.[24]


Buddhist Institute

Ecole Royale d'Aministration (ERA) or school of administration.

The Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) or L'université Royale de Phnom Penh (URPP) is the oldest and largest institution of higher education in Cambodia. As of 2008, the university has over 10,000 students across three campuses, and offers a wide range of high-quality courses within the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, and the Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL). There are about fifty higher institutions in Cambodia, most of which have no small campuses. Several international charities, like A New Day Cambodia, operate independent educational facilities in addition to public schools for students.

The Royal University of Law and Economic Science (RULE) or L'université Royale de Droit et Science Economique (URDSE)

The Royal University of Fine Art (RUFA) or L'université Royale des Beaux Art (URBA)

The Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) or L'université Royale d'Agriculutre )(URA)

The National University of Management (NUM)

The Institut de technologie du Cambodge (ITC)

The Buddhist Institute was founded on May 12, 1930 and is the principal state Buddhist institution in Cambodia.


Statue of Lady Penh

Phnom Penh is notable for Ka tieu Phnom Penh, its variation on rice-noodle soup. Phnom Penh also has its own dialect of Khmer. Speakers of the Phnom Penh dialect often elide syllables, which has earned it the reputation for being lazy speech. Phnom Penh is also known for its influence on New Khmer Architecture. The city is the most modern of Cambodian cities. It is both the economic and cultural center of Cambodia.

The two most visited museums in the city are the National Museum, which is the country's leading historical and archaeological museum, and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former Khmer Rouge prison.

Chaul Chnam Thmey April 13–15

Phnom Penh gets lively for Cambodian New Year, with increasing numbers of tourists getting in on the action. This is usually the warmest part of the year, water gets thrown around adding to the party atmosphere along with dancing and music. The date changes year-by-year but this holiday always lasts three days or often stretches into the weekend. This festival marks the turn of the year based on the ancient Khmer calendar and also marks the end of the harvest done during the year

The Silver Pagoda houses the Emerald Buddha

Water Festival November

The largest annual festival in Phnom Penh, this lively gathering celebrates the reversing of the flow of the Tonlé Sap river. The holiday lasts three days as people flood into the city to enjoy the fireworks, colorful boat races, live concerts, eating and partying. The boat racing dates back to ancient times marking the strengths of the Khmer marine forces during the Khmer Empire.

On November 22, 2010 at least 348 people were crushed to death in a bridge stampede at the festival.[25]

Pchum Ben October 11–15 (2012)

Pchum Ben is a very important aspect of Cambodian culture. It may be translated as "gathering together" to make offerings and is a time of reunion, commemoration, express love and appreciation for one's ancestors. By offering food and good karma to those possibly trapped in the spirit world, living relatives help assuage their misery and guide them back into the cycle of reincarnation

Visak Bochea May

Vesākha is an annual holiday observed traditionally by Buddhists in Cambodia. Sometimes informally called "Buddha's Birthday", it actually encompasses the birth, enlightenment (nirvāṇa), and passing away (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha.

Cityscape and architecture

Statue of Decho Yod and Decho Meas in Phnom Penh.

The oldest structure is the Wat Phnom from the founding days of the city, constructed in 1373. The main tourist attractions are the Royal Palace with the Silver Pagoda, the National Museum, constructed during the French colonial era in the late 19th century in the classical Khmer style hosts a vast collection of Khmer antiquities; the Independence Monument (Khmer: Vimean Akareach), although modern from the 1950s, is also constructed in the ancient Khmer style.

The French, who were the colonial masters from the 19th century to the 1940s, also left their mark, with various colonial villas, French churches, boulevards, and the Art deco market Phsar Thom Thmei. A notable landmark of the colonial era is the Hotel Le Royal.

Starting with independence from the French in the 1950s and lasting until the era of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, Phnom Penh underwent tremendous growth as the capital city of a newly independent country. King Sihanouk was eager to present a new style of architecture and thus invigorate the process of nation building. A new golden era of architecture took off, with various projects and young Khmer architects, often educated in France, given opportunities to design and construct. This new movement was called "New Khmer Architecture" and was often characterised by a fusion of Bauhaus, European post-modern architecture, and traditional elements from Angkor. The most prominent architect was Vann Molyvann, who was nominated chief national architect by the king himself in 1956. Molyvann created landmark buildings such as the Preah Suramarit National Theatre and the Council of Ministers building, other architects helped construct the newly founded Royal Khmer University, the Institute of Foreign Languages and the National Sports Centre. With the growth of the upper and entrepreneurial middle class, new suburbs were built in the 1950s and 60s.

Although these buildings survived the Khmer Rouge era and the civil war, today they are under threat due to economic development and financial speculation. Villas and gardens from that era are being destroyed and redeveloped to make place for bigger structures. The landmark National Theatre by Molyvann was ripped down in 2008.[26] A movement is rising in Cambodia to preserve this modernist heritage. Old villas are sometimes being converted into boutique hotels, such as the Knai Bang Chatt.

Monuments and memorials to the genocide during the Khmer Rouge era in the 1970s are the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (a former high school used as a concentration camp) and on the outskirt of the city the Choeung Ek Genocide Center. The Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Monument was commissioned by the Vietnamese communists as symbol of Khmer-Vietnamese "friendship" during the late 1970s following the liberation of Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge.

View of the National Museum, built in the early 1920s by George Groslier. View of the Royal Throne Hall, constructed in the 1860s under King Norodom I. Façade of the Hotel Le Royal, first established in 1929 under the reign of King Sisowath Monivong. View of a Colonial villa in Phnom Penh.

Newspapers and magazines

Vimean Santepheap (Peace Palace)

Council of Ministers building.



  • Sralagn' Khmer
  • Chakraval Daily
  • Kampuchea Thmei Daily
  • Kampuchea Thnai Nes (Cambodia Today)
  • Kanychok Sangkhum
  • Koh Santepheap (Island of Peace)
  • Moneaksekar Khmer (Khmer Conscience) – Published by the Sam Rainsy Party.
  • Rasmei Kampuchea (Light of Kampuchea) – Cambodia's largest daily, it circulates about 18,000 copies.
  • Samleng Yuvachun (Voice of Khmer Youth)
  • Udomkate Khmer (Khmer Ideal)
  • Wat Phnom Daily


  • Phnom Penh Post, a daily English-language newspaper published in Phnom Penh.
  • The Cambodia Daily, an English-language daily newspaper.


  • 《柬華日報》(Jianhua Daily), a daily Chinese-language newspaper published in Phnom Penh.
  • 《星洲日報》(Sinchew Daily), a Chinese-language daily newspaper.
  • 《華商日報》(Huashang Daily), a Chinese-language daily newspaper.
  • 《新柬埔寨》(New Cambodia), a Chinese-language daily newspaper.


  • AsiaLIFE Guide Phnom Penh, a monthly English-language lifestyle magazine published in Phnom Penh.
  • Pocket Guide Cambodia publishes four separate guides aimed at English-speaking residents and visitors. Titles include Drinking & Dining, Out & About, After Dark, Door 2 Door as well as one Khmer-language guide called Sabay Sabay targeting the emerging young professional marketplace
  • Ladies Magazine, fashion and lifestyle magazine since 2006.
  • F Magazine, the first fashion-forward magazine in Cambodia. Bi-lingual, written in English and Khmer.
  • SOVRIN Magazine, is the premium fashion magazine in Cambodia which written in khmer language.


Phnom Penh National Olympic Stadium

The martial arts of Bokator, Pradal Serey (Khmer kick boxing) and Khmer traditional wrestling have venues in Phnom Penh watched by dedicated spectators. Cambodia has increasingly become involved in modern sports over the last 30 years. As with the rest of the country, football and the martial arts are particularly popular.

The most prominent of venues in the city is the Phnom Penh National Olympic Stadium with a capacity of 50,000. Built in 1964, it is home to the Cambodian national football team, although the country never hosted the Olympic Games. Noted clubs include Phnom Penh Empire, Khemara Keila FC and Military Police. After completion in 1964, Phnom Penh National Olympic Stadium was one of the largest in Asia. Today it is the 6th largest stadium in Southeast Asia.

Olympic Stadium is the largest sports center in the Phnom Penh District. Volleyball, basketball, and Tai-Kwon-Do games are often hosted at the stadium. The National Sports Centre of Cambodia is famous for hosting swimming, boxing, and volleyball competitions.


Phnom Penh International Airport

Phnom Penh International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in Cambodia. It is located 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) west of central Phnom Penh. Taxis, pick-ups, and minibuses leave the city for destinations all over the country, but are fast losing ground to cheaper and more comfortable buses. Phnom Penh also has a rail service.

Cambodia's national flag carrier, Cambodia Angkor Air, launched in 2009, is headquartered in Phnom Penh and has its main hub there, with an additional hub at the Angkor International Airport.[24] Budget flights from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Phnom Penh are operated by AirAsia, a regional low-cost carrier. Other budget flights include Jetstar Asia Airways (a subsidiary of QANTAS) who provide daily flights from Singapore.

Air France announced October 20, 2010, that it will begin to serve Phnom Penh from Paris-Charles de Gaulle starting March 27, 2011.[27]

There are numerous bus companies, including Phnom Penh Public Transport and GST Express, running services to most provincial capitals, including Sihanoukville, Kampong Chhnang, Udong and Takéo. Phnom Penh Sorya Transport Co. offers bus travel to several provincial destinations along the National Routes and to Ho Chi Minh City. Motorcycles and bicycles are popular forms of travel in the city.

Although the city is 290 kilometres (180 mi) from the sea, it is home to Cambodia's main freshwater port, a major port on the Mekong River valley, and it is linked to the South China Sea via a channel of the Mekong delta in Vietnam.

Common motorcycle traffic in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh does not currently have any mass public transport, although the Japanese government attempted to develop a Phnom Penh shuttle bus service in 2001. An update of the JICA urban transport masterplan for Phnom Penh is due for completion in 2014, and may not be implemented until 2035.[28] Local means of public transportation within the city include the cycle rickshaw, known in Khmer as "cyclo", the motorcycle taxi known in Khmer as "moto", the auto rickshaw known locally as "tuk-tuk", the trailer attached to a motorcycle taxi known in Khmer as "remorque", and the standard automobile taxicab known in Khmer as "taxi".[29] Private forms of transportation include bicycles, motorbikes and automobiles.


As the capital of Cambodia, a number of National Highways connect the city with various parts of the country:

National Highway Code Length Origin Terminal
National Highway 1 10001 167.10 km 103.83 mi Phnom Penh Vietnamese Border
National Highway 2 10002 120.60 km 74.94 mi Phnom Penh Vietnamese Border
National Highway 3 10003 202.00 km 125.52 mi Phnom Penh Veal Rinh
National Highway 4 10004 226.00 km 140.43 mi Phnom Penh Sihanoukville
National Highway 5 10005 407.45 km 253.18 mi Phnom Penh Thai Border
National Highway 6 10006 416.00 km 258.49 mi Phnom Penh Banteay Meanchey
National Highway 7 10007 509.17 km 316.38 mi Phnom Penh Lao Border

Water supply

Water supply in Phnom Penh has improved dramatically in terms of access, service quality, efficiency, cost recovery and governance between 1993 and 2006. The number of customers was multiplied by nine, service quality improved from intermittent to continuous supply, water losses were cut dramatically and the city’s water utility went from being bankrupt to making a modest profit.[30] These achievements were recognized through international awards such as the 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Award and the 2010 Stockholm Industry Water Award.[31] The city's water utility is the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA). Its main water sources are the Mekong River, the Tonle Sap Lake and groundwater.

International relations

Twin towns and sister cities

Phnom Penh is twinned with:[32]

  • Long Beach, California, United States
  • Lowell, Massachusetts, United States
  • Providence, Rhode Island, United States
  • Cleveland, Tennessee, United States[33]
  • Savannakhet, Laos
  • Vientiane, Laos
  • Mandalay, Myanmar
  • Iloilo City, Philippines
  • Busan, South Korea
  • Incheon, South Korea
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Cần Thơ, Vietnam
  • Lam Dong, Vietnam
  • Shanghai, China
  • Tianjin, China
  • Kunming, China
  • Changsha, China
  • Bristol, England


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  • Igout, Michel; Dubuisson, Serge (1993). Phnom Penh Then and Now. Bangkok: White Lotus. ISBN 978-974-8495-84-2. OCLC 29795478.
  • LeBoutillier, Kris; Ariff, Shahida (2004). Journey Through Phnom Penh: A Pictorial Guide to the Jewel of Cambodia. Singapore: Times Editions. ISBN 978-981-232-596-9. OCLC 55501046.
  • Leroy, Joakim; Hoskin, John (2005). AZU's Dreams of Cambodia. Phnom Penh. Hong Kong: AZU Editions Ltd. ISBN 978-988-98140-2-1. OCLC 62328690.
  • In Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne novel series, David Webb is a young officer posted in Phnom Penh with his wife and his two children.