What You Need To Know
Phnom Penh, formerly known as Chaktomuk is the capital and most populous city of Cambodia. Located on the banks of the Tonlé Sap and Mekong River, Phnom Penh has been the national capital since French colonization of Cambodia, and has grown to become the nation’s center of economic and industrial activities, as well as the center of security, politics, 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 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 1.5 million of Cambodia’s population of over 14.8 million.
Area: 678.5 km²
Population: Estimate 1.8 Million
The Cambodian riel is the Official Currency.
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, colourful 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.
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.
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, with rapidly increasing real estate prices. 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 made up 17.5 percent (US$2,053 million) of Cambodia’s GDP in 2009 and accounts for 13.7 percent of total employment. 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. 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.
The health system in Cambodia has undergone several periods of changes. After independence in 1953, the number of health services and facilities rose three-fold. The 1980s saw a period of reconstruction and rehabilitation of the health system following the Khmer Rouge regime, with a special effort on training a new generation of health professionals. In 1993 the first Royal Government took office and began to develop health service infrastructure and established a Ministry of Health (MOH). Private providers and international NGOs have also contributed to strengthening services. The use of traditional medicine is strong in Cambodia, with a culture of robust traditional medicine centered on the Kru Khmer, the traditional healers who are found all throughout the country.
Khmer is the Official Language.
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. 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.Budget flights from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh are operated by AirAsia, a regional low-cost carrier. Other budget carriers include Jetstar Asia Airways with daily flights to Singapore. Air France used to serve Phnom Penh from Paris-Charles de Gaulle but this service has since stopped. Qatar Airways now flies to and from Phnom Penh, via Ho Chi Minh. 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. There are numerous bus companies, including Phnom Penh Public Transport and GST Express, running services to most provincial capitals, including Sihanoukville, Kampong Chhnang, Oudong and Takéo. Phnom Penh Sorya Transport Co. offers bus service to several provincial destinations along the National Routes and to Ho Chi Minh City. Giant Ibis is another bus company based in Phnom Penh, which travels to Sihanoukville, Kampot, Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh, and has free wifi, air conditioning and modest pricing. 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, and it is linked to the South China Sea via a channel of the Mekong delta in Vietnam.
Phnom Penh has a tropical wet and dry climate (Köppen climate classification Aw). The climate is hot year-round with only minor variations. Temperatures typically range from 22 to 35 °C (72 to 95 °F) and weather is subject to the tropical monsoons. The southwest monsoon blows 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 in January and February. The city has two distinct seasons. The rainy season, which runs from May to October, sees high temperatures accompanied by high humidity. The dry season lasts from November to April when temperatures can drop to 22 °C (72 °F). But temperatures can approach 40 °C (104 °F) in April.