Chamkar Mon District, which means Mulberry Farm in Khmer is the southernmost district in central Phnom Penh. The district has an area of 10.56 km² and a population of 187,082.
Boeung Keng Kang 1 (BKK 1)
Boeung Keng Kang 1 or BKK 1 has been considered the city’s ‘foreigner quarter’ since the 1980s. Located in the central part of Chamkar Mon and Phnom Penh, just south of Duan Penh and Sihanouk Boulevard between Norodom Boulevard to the east and Monivong Boulevard to the west.
The area is the base for many of the cities NGOs, embassies, expatriate residences and hotels. BKK 1 is strewn with tourist-oriented shops, hotels, restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, travel agents and charity/NGO shops. Street 278 area is well worth a visit any time of the day, for lunch, or even better, in the early evening when the bars are at their liveliest.
Boeung Keng Kang 2 (BKK 2)
BKK 2 is rapidly becoming an extension of the more fashionable BKK 1 as the city expands outwards. You can find BKK 2 just south of BKK 1 between Streets 334 and Mao Tse Toung Boulevard. More local shops are changing into western apartments, hotels and amenities as Phnom Penh’s expat population increases.
Asides to the quiet, leafy lanes and tucked away bars and restaurants the main stop off for the visitor is Toul Sleng Museum. Tuol Sleng Museum was originally built as a secondary school called Tuol Svay Prey High School in 1960. The Khmer Rouge were responsible for turning it into a torture and interrogation centre for all who didn’t comply with their extreme ideology.
Most of the victims were women and children who were imprisoned with the husband/father who was suspected of plotting against the regime. Records show that over 17,000 persons were imprisoned there between 1975 and 1978, only seven of whom survived.
The museum opened in 1979, the Khmer Rouge, who recorded their atrocities with meticulous photography and drawings serve as a harrowing testimony to those who suffered and died in their hands. Undoubtedly a difficult and upsetting place for people to visit, Toul Sleng is an important reminder of the tragedies the Khmer people have overcome and gives the visitor a real appreciation of the Cambodian people today.
Just a few minutes walk east of BKK 1 and you will find yourself in the Tonle Bassac area. Little known to visitors to the city, Tonle Bassac is the place to be for expatriates and locals in the know.
The relatively new area in town has a bohemian type appeal with narrow winding streets lined with many independent bars and restaurants offering live music and all types of international cuisine. Well worth a visit in the evening time, especially on Friday and Saturday nights when the music and festivities are in full flow!
Tonle Bassac is also home to Phnom Penh’s Aeon mall. Aeon Mall is the biggest mall in the city and is an absolute must for any avid shoppers! The two-story, fully air-conditioned complex has everything from internationally recognised brands to locally produced products in addition to a well-stocked supermarket and international food hall.
Wat Langka is one of Phnom Penh’s five original wats or pagodas and was founded in 1422. The name itself comes from the fact that it has always been used as the official meeting place for the Cambodian and Sri Lankan monks. The pagoda stands on Sihanouk Boulevard close to the Independence monument on the border of Chamkar Mon and Duan Penh.
It was first established as a sanctuary for the Holy Writings and a meeting place for Cambodian and Sri Lankan monks, the Wat was named in honour of these meetings. Under Khmer Rouge rule, Wat Langka was used as a storehouse, therefore, escaping total destruction. Now fully renovated, this temple still plays an important place in Cambodian Buddhism.
The Russian market or Phsar Toul Tom Poung in Khmer is one of the best places in Phnom Penh for clothes and souvenir shopping. It is located in the south of Phnom Penh and Chamkar Mon at the corner of street 163 and 444. You will also find silk, jewellery, carvings in addition to several food and drink stands.