Luxury holidays in Phnom Penh

Once known as the ‘Pearl of Asia’, Phnom Penh has worked hard to rise from the ashes of its troubled past, reinventing itself as a bustling cultural capital. Cleared by the Khmer Rouge in 1975, the city was abandoned and left to crumble – but that history has little to do with the newer generations, whose forward-thinking attitude has kept that chapter firmly in the past. Today, Phnom Penh is buzzing with energy: the majority of the action takes place in the Riverside district, where the mighty Mekong meets the Tonlé Sap river to form the Bassac. In this cosmopolitan area, traditional chophouses rub shoulders with French-style cafés and upscale restaurants putting Khmer cuisine back on the map. And if it’s tradition and gilded splendour you’re after, the nearby Royal Palace and its Silver Pagoda won’t disappoint. Inside the latter, you’ll find a floor of silver tiles and a golden buddha set with over 9,000 diamonds, proving Asia’s pearl still shines bright.

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When to go

November to January are usually the best time to visit, when the temperature bobs between 20 and 30 degrees and there’s comparatively little rain. Things get hot and sticky between February and May, and the monsoons hit from May to October.

Getting there

  • Planes

    Phnom Penh International Airport is the one to aim for; from the UK and the continent, most people fly via Bangkok, Hong Kong or Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Automobiles

    You could rent a car at the airport, but most people manage fine using taxis and tuk tuks, which are everywhere. If you do want to hire a car, the Smith24 team can arrange it.