Admittedly to say there is a “Street Art Scene” brimming with insta-worthy Urban Art would be a stretch too far, however there is at least one street where you can find some pretty murals.
Street 93 in the Boeung Kak Area known by many as “Lakeside”, is where you will find a collection of walls painted to brighten up a once derelict area.
But for now, until more murals are painted, let me show you what we uncovered when looking for street art in Phnom Penh.
Some restaurants, bars and hotels are recruiting artists to brighten up their drab walls, giving a touch of colour to an otherwise dull section of whitewashing. In the future, hopefully Phnom Penh will see more shifts in attitude towards Cambodia’s art scene.
The street isn’t very big so it won’t take you long to walk and down, seek out and admire the art that is around here. Look behind bins and down a little alleyway, you will be surprised to find art here and it can feel like a bit of a treasure hunt.
In an alleyway off Street 240 you should find a mural of a large face on a red background. An ocean scene was on the wall at Dib Club on Koh Pich, there was more street art on the corners of Kakada Yi and Ket Monnyreak, and one at the Canadian International School.
The next Cambodian Urban Art is 13 – 16 December 2018. They are always looking for sponsors and walls for decorating. Email email@example.com or check out their Facebook Page.
Learn the lingo
Learning just a few words of the local Khmer language will bring a smile to locals’ faces, and make you feel part of their culture instead of just another tourist.
Hello - Susadei (soos-a-day) NB: informal
How are you/I am fine - Soksaby (soks-a-bye) NB: The same word used for both
Goodbye - Lee hi – Goodbye NB: informal
Thank you - Arkun
No - Ot The (ot-tei) – (you will need this for the persistent tuk tuk drivers!)
Travel and Visa information
- A 30 day tourist Visa (cost is $30) can be obtained on arrival at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports. It’s the quickest, most efficient visa application we have experienced.
Note: You may have to show an onward flight. We flew Singapore to Phnom Penh with Jetstar. At the document check counter in Singapore, we were asked to show our flight out of Cambodia. This is the first we had heard about having to provide proof of an onward journey, but thankfully we had a ticket. I am unsure if other airlines ask for this, whether the man was having a bad day, or if it’s required at border crossings by land, but I thought it’s worth a mention.
- Official currency – Cambodia uses two currencies; Cambodian Riel and US Dollars. Most prices are quoted in US$ but you can pay with a mixture of both currencies. Change will often be given the same way. Eg: A $2 taxi ride can be paid with $1 and 4,000 riel.
4,000 riel = $1.
5,282 riel = £1
4,764 reil = 1 Euro
- Driving – right hand side of the road.
- Tipping – Not compulsory or expected, however a few tuk-tuks drivers asked us for one or asked to keep the change. If tipping is your country’s custom, or you feel you had a nice tuk tuk driver, good tour guide or tasty meal, then by all means feel free to tip, or tell them to keep the change.
- Data – Buy a Smart sim card for $3 then buy which lasts for 1 month. At the airport, we saw a sign for 26G data for $6, in town we bought 4G for $5. Download the Smart App to monitor data allowance, or dial *087*888# from your phone.
Getting from Phnom Penh Airport & Travelling around the City
At Phnom Phen Airport there are taxi and tuk-tuk stands, they will approach you. Prices are displayed; tuk-tuks are $7-$9, taxis $10-$15.
There is no public transport system and it’s a big City. There are three different modes of transport you can use; car taxi, rickshaw or khmer tuk-tuk. Download the Grab App for cheaper transport, or the local Pass App.
We stayed in SLA Boutique Hostel which is more like a hotel than a hostel, seriously the best hostel we have ever stayed in. I honestly believe that our experience in Phnom Penh was increased because we stayed here.
We had a private room with shared bathroom, but they also have dorm beds in single sex or co-ed dormitories. Beds have a large metal frame for you to hang your clothes or for us, to padlock our pacsafe.
In our room we had a safe, TV, aircon, towels can be rented for $1. Breakfast of eggs on toast was included, free water refills, plus they run daily activities such as movie nights, cooking class and one free beer every Friday. Nearby is a mini-mart, ATM, SIM card seller, plus plenty of restaurants for local and international food.
We initially booked two nights, but this hostel is so quiet and relaxed, we extended our stay.
Cost: $18 per night for a double room
Beware of the snatch-and-grab thieves
In advance of visiting Phnom Phenh we had heard about the high crime-rate of motorbike bag snatching. Many decent hotels/hostels will warn you of bag-snatchers and tell you to be careful, because locals are against this growing crime scene.
Determined lads on motorbikes drive by and snatch mobiles out of your hand, or bags from your body. We read that even wearing a bag across your body doesn't help as they have a lot more to lose than you, and I read that people can be knocked to the ground as they snatch and drive away. I still carried a cross-body bag which I clipped through the loop of my walking trousers, and held onto my bag wherever I walked.
We also both wore walking shorts (trousers with zipped off legs), and placed our wallet/phone in the leg zip pockets. Yes we became paranoid but in truth, we never felt threatened, maybe this was because we were sensible and protective.
Also be careful of your backpack at the airport and in an open rickshaw or tuk-tuk. Never let it out of your sight and when in a vehicle, don't keep your bag on the side of traffic and if you do, loop your legs through the arms. Alternatively, sit your bag on your lap and hold it close to you.
As long as you stay alert and make eye contact with any motorcyclist driving in your tuk-tuk's blind spot. Remember that thieves target unsuspecting tourists, staying alert will stop you being a victim.
Have you visited Phnom Penh? Did you know about the street art? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.
These products were worth their weight in gold for our piece of mind in Phnom Penh! We are so glad we had purchased them in advance, they are used regularly on our world wide travels.
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