Guide to Phnom Penh: The most stylish places to eat & explore
Tourists in Phnom Penh often (and quite rightly) head straight to the Killing Fields, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Royal Palace as the first stops in the one-time Pearl of Asia, but as our guide to Phnom Penh will show, once you've immersed yourself in the country's poignant past, you should take some time to explore the cool and more contemporary side of Cambodia's up and coming capital city.
1. Eat - Romdeng
Despite being a fashionable and sophisticated restaurant on one of Phnom Penh's backstreets, this is one of the best places in town to indulge in some of Cambodia's signature insect-eating - including deep fried tarantulas.
The squeamish can choose from a full menu of more commonly-found meat and seafood such as beautifully prepared king prawns washed down with perfectly blended jackfruit and lime daiquiris, then follow up with dessert at under $5.
Any money you feel you've saved is swiftly dispatched in the on-site shop, profits from which go to the charity behind the restaurant, Tree(which stands for Training Restaurants for Employment and Entrepreneurship).
As part of Tree, Romdeng joins a collection of socially responsible restaurants with branches throughout Cambodia who train staff from difficult backgrounds, so you can enjoy an alfresco evening on the stunning terrace here in a quiet part of the city without feeling you're forgetting Cambodia's poignant past.
2. Explore - Street 240
Just a hop, skip and a short walk from the Royal Palace, is Street 240, the chi-chi place to hang out in Phnom Penh with a selection of make-you-feel-at-home shops and cafes which are the most stylish spots in the city.
The best of these is The Shop a bakery, chocolatier and purveyor of croissants, quiches and sandwiches which will satisfy your craving for a European style lunch experience in a relaxed setting within a colonial style villa, complete with relaxing outdoor patio.
The 240 Café
One of the only places in Phnom Penh specialising in natural and organic foods as well as toiletries and beauty products, The 240 Café serves a welcome selection of salads and veggie staples, desserts, juices and smoothies, and is also one of the few places in the city you can find almond and soya milk.
The setting is contemporary and stylish and there's outdoor seating as well as a comfy air-conditioned interior, making it a great place to get your guide to Phnom Penh out and plan your next move.
Binky Higgins Boutique
Formerly known as Wanderlust, Binky Higgins is a well-known Phnom Penh fashion boutique with a team of 10 women producing exclusive local designs. Here you'll find everything from floaty beachwear to more structured clothing all sold in this cool and airy shop with friendly and helpful service.
Street 240 and a half
This quaintly-named alley just off Street 240 is home to more stylish finds such as the restaurant Public House and its sister establishment BarSITO, a cool urban-style cocktail lounge. There's also a funky vegan café, ARTillery which has a second branch on Street 278.
3. Stay - Frangipani Royal Palace Hotel
Overlooking the most stunning site in the city, The Royal Palace, this beautifully designed hotel has more going for it than its fabulous location - though being in the centre of town near the river and art district with its many boutiques means there are always plenty tuk-tuks to take you anywhere, though you can walk to many of the city's best spots.
Like many places in Cambodia the Frangipani Royal Palace Hotel has an active interest in environmental and social responsibility; all staff come from the hotel's in house vocational training program, and the hotel is heavily involved in local charity work, plus all of the hot water onsite is generated by solar water systems.
Whether you splash out on one of the Royal Garden Suites which have decadent outdoor bathtubs and jacuzzis or go for one of the hotel's spacious and comfy yet chic and minimalist standard rooms, this makes a great base from which to get out your guide to Phnom Penh and explore the stylish side of the city.
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