The capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh can be divided into 12 districts or khans in Khmer. The most popular districts with tourists are Duan Penh and Chamkar Mon, however, here is some information on Phnom Penh’s other 10 districts and the main attractions and areas of interest in each.
Prampir Meakkakra District
Prampir Meakkakra or 7 Makara district is the smallest district in Phnom Penh. The district name translates as 7th January in Khmer. The district is subdivided into 8 communes and 33 villages. The district has an area of 2.21 km2 and a population of 96,192.
The biggest attraction for visitors in Prampir Meakkakra is the Olympic Stadium.
The Olympic Stadium
Located very centrally in the city, The Olympic Stadium is one of the most famous designs of the renowned Cambodian architect, Vann Molyvann. Vann Molyvann was responsible for many of Phnom Penh’s landmarks including the Independence Monument, Chaktomuk Hall and the National Theatre.
The Olympic Stadium is classified as an outstanding example of the New Khmer movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. The movement focused on designing buildings that were specific to the needs of Cambodian people, climate and culture.
It was built in 1963-1964 and has hosted the GANEFO games, Cambodia national football team matches, international volleyball and many concerts and festivals.
A visit to the Olympic Stadium will not leave you out of pocket as it is free to get in unless the national football team is playing and then it may cost you 5000 riel ($1.25)! Once you are in you are free to roam around the 84,000 capacity outdoor stadium and the indoor sports hall.
There are many interesting angles and compositions for the photographer to contemplate in the different lights of the day. There are fantastic views of the city in addition to the unique triangular steps and roof peaks.
Another way to take in the Stadium is on one of the excellent Khmer Architecture Tours which will give you a whole new appreciation of this modern Khmer architectural masterpiece.
Other places of interest for the traveller in 7 Makara district include City Mall shopping centre and Orussey Market.
Toul Kork District
Tuol Kouk translates as “Ground Hill” in Khmer. The district is subdivided into 10 communes and 143 villages. The district has an area of 7.99 km² and a population of approximately 154,968. It is situated in the northern part of the city and is another popular district for expatriates residing in Phnom Penh, renowned for its large villas, condominiums and NGO offices.
Places of interest for the traveller include Toul Kork market and the many up and coming international restaurants and bars springing up in the area.
Dangkor District is a district in the western part of Phnom Penh and is the biggest district in the city. Dangkor District is subdivided into 13 communes and 83 villages. The district has an area of 197.89 km² and a population of 92,461.
The main point of interest in the Dangkor district for the visitor is the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, infamously known as the Killing Fields.
Choeung Ek Genocidal Center is situated 15km southwest of the city centre and is one of the main sites that Khmer Rouge used for mass executions. The exhumed skulls and remains of some 8,000 victims are arranged by gender and age and displayed behind glass in the Memorial Stupa, which was built in 1988.
In addition to those exhumed, another 43 pits have been left undisturbed and the final shocking total can only be guessed. The pleasant rural setting does little to relieve the pure horror of this grim sight. Sadly, Choeung Ek is just one of many recorded mass grave sites throughout Cambodia. On May 9th each year a memorial service is conducted at the stupa, in memory of the estimated 1.7 million people who died during the Cambodian genocide.
Like Toul Sleng prison, a visit to Choeng Ek is a harrowing and thought-provoking one and perhaps not the first choice for many visitors to Cambodia. However, also like the prison, a visit to Choeung Ek will give you a whole new appreciation of the place you are visiting and the local people you are meeting.
Understanding Cambodia’s history will give you a different insight and respect for the Cambodian people and their wonderful attitude to life, something we can all learn from.
Mean Chey District
Mean Chey District translates as “Victorious” in Khmer and is located in the south-eastern part of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The district has an area of 43.79 km² and a population of 157,112. Mean Chey is subdivided into 4 communes and 16 villages.
The area has no places of particular interest for the visitor as the district covers a large part of Phnom Penh’s suburbs and local residential areas.
It is interesting to note, however, that as the city quickly grows outwards many areas in the district are being purchased by foreign investors to build new housing developments, restaurants and amenities on. It surely will not be long until Mean Chey district feels more like central Phnom Penh than the suburbs!
Russey Keo District
Russey Keo translates as “Crystal Bamboo” in Khmer and is also commonly known as Russei Keo. This district is located in the northern and north-western outskirts of Phnom Penh, from the Dangkor District in the west to the Tonle Sap River in the east. It is the second-largest district of Phnom Penh and covers an area of 105.56 km² and has a population of 180,076.
Camko City is an urban housing and development area located in Russey Keo district. The investment into Camko City is estimated at over $2 billion and is a fantastic mix of commercial, residential, sports facilities, hospitals, schools and convention centres, ever popular with Phnom Penh’s expatriate population.
Sen Sok District
Sen Sok district sprawls from just northeast of Phnom Penh airport all the way to over 10 kilometres north of the city and is subdivided into 3 communes and 32 villages. It has a population of approximately 147,967 and formally belonged to the neighbouring Kandal province.
There are no places of interest in this district for the general traveller and is home to many of the local residents in the city.
Pou Senchey District
Pou Senchey district covers a large western area of the city and is subdivided into 11 communes and over 100 villages. The district is home to many local residents and also Phnom Penh International Airport.
Phnom Penh Airport
Phnom Penh International Airport is the largest airport in Cambodia containing a land area of approximately 400 hectares. It is located 10 kilometres west of Phnom Penh.
Cambodia Airports group have recently extended the Phnom Penh international airport passenger terminal building to cope with the sharply increasing rise in tourists to Phnom Penh internationally and domestically.
Chroy Changvar District
Chroy Changvar District covers the peninsular of land north of the city and Chroy Changvar City project being built. This is based on a similar urban development scheme as Camko City, with many high end residential and commercial units being sold to foreign and local investors.
Close to the Chroy Changvar bridge or Japanese friendship bridge is a fantastic attraction for any Phnom Penh tourist, Silk Island or Koh Dach. Chroy Changvar is subdivided into 5 communes and 22 villages.
Silk Island (Koh Dach)
Just a 20-minute tuk-tuk or taxi ride and a quick hop away from the centre of Phnom Penh’s Silk Island or Koh Dach. It offers the visitor a real slice of provincial Cambodia just a short journey away from the city. The island is famous for its silk and cotton weaving so it’s also a great chance to pick up some great souvenirs to take home with you.
Silk Island has a silk weaving centre where you can see the whole process from silkworm to beautifully finished hand woven silk products. As you drive through the one road on the island, a few kilometres out of the Koh Dach village you will see Koh Dach Pagoda.
Some of the island’s famous water festival dragon boats are stored here and the pagoda itself is decorated in stunning gold paints which contrast beautifully with the often bright blue sky above.
Continue around on the road and you will come to many small restaurants offering simple food and drinks but all with tranquil views of the river.
Also of note on Silk Island is Coconut School, a fantastic initiative by a local man to bring English and IT lessons to the children on Silk Island who otherwise would have no access to these subjects. The school is open to visitors all the time but there are lessons on the weekend, a stop here is highly recommended!
Preaek Pnov District
Preaek Pnov district occupies a relatively thin strip of land next to the Tonle Sap river just north of the Japanese Bridge in northern Phnom Penh. Preaek Pnov is subdivided into 5 communes and 59 villages.
The district is changing rapidly as more land is being purchased for new urban development schemes that have been so successful in other districts. There are no attractions in this district currently, however, in years to come this will doubtless be a busy riverside district.
Chbar Ampov District
Chbar Ampov District is a relatively large but sparsely populated district in South Eastern Phnom Penh. The district’s boundaries are the Mekong River to the north and the Bassac river to the west and south. Again, this area is being quickly developed as the city centre moves outwards and the amount of Cambodian middle classes and foreign expatriates increase daily.
There are no major attractions for tourists yet but the more adventurous traveller might want to explore Kien Svay, a small fishing town on the boundary of Chbar Ampov to the east. It is on the main highway next to the Mekong River, there are a few guest houses but the main thing to do here is go fishing on the river and the many outlying ponds and fisheries.
You even have a chance of landing the world’s biggest freshwater fish, a giant Mekong catfish that can grow up to nine feet long (2.7 meters) and weigh a whopping 646 pounds (293 kilograms)!