The city of Phnom Penh was apparently founded by an old woman named Penh.
The legend speaks of the old woman discovering four images of the Buddha which had come to rest on the banks of the Mekong river. Penh then collected the four Buddha’s and placed them on a nearby hill over time the area around the hill grew into a town and eventually became the city of Phnom Penh.
Approximately 2,009,264 people (as of 2008) Over the years the population of Phnom Penh has changed dramatically in 1970 it was reported at around 500,000 it then increased to approximately 2 million in early 1975 up until the start of the Khmer Rouge regime and then decreased to a tiny figure of about 50,000 during their rule. The re-population of Phnom Penh started again in 1979 when the Vietnamese arrived and has increased to over 2 million people today. The population growth rate is around 3.9%.
The total land area of Phnom Penh city is around 670 km sq.
The people of Cambodia are made up of several different ethnic groups. Ethnic Khmer’s (Cambodians) make up the vast majority of the country’s population (Approx 95%) while the next largest group are ethnic Vietnamese. After these are Ethnic Chinese, Cham Muslims and the minority groups known as the Khmer Loeu residing in the North Eastern area of the country.
The majority of People in Cambodia practice Theravada Buddhism this accounts for about 96% of the population. Other types of religions practiced in the country are Islam, Animism, Caodaism and Christianity.
The currency of Cambodia is Riel however in Phnom Penh along with many other areas of the country US dollars are used commonly. Areas around the border regions of Thailand also use Baht the currency of Thailand. Thai Baht can also be used in Phnom Penh although not as many people accept it as they prefer either Riel or American dollars.
Cambodia is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
The voltage in Phnom Penh is 220V, 50Hz electrical outlets (power sockets) are mainly round two-pin type.
The airport in Phnom Penh (Pochentong) is located about a 20 min drive from the city center. A taxi to or from the airport will cost you about $10US and a motorcycle taxi (motodop) will cost between $2 – $4 US.
The temperature in Phnom Penh fluctuates between 40°C in April, being the hottest of the months and Mid / High 20’s in January which is the coolest month. Between November and February, little rain arrives with the cool, dry, north-eastern monsoon, then from May to October the south-western monsoon arrives carrying with it strong winds and heavy rains. The rains during this time almost follow a regular routine and usually turn up every afternoon with downpours lasting anywhere between 1-3 hours.
Holidays & Festivals
Cambodia enjoys a large serving of public holiday with over 25 holidays annually. The dates for festivals in Cambodia will vary from year to year as they are based on the lunar calendar. Below are some of the more common holidays.
Bon Om Tuk is one of Phnom Penh’s most important festivals of the year, it is held early in the month of November and celebrates the reversal of water in the Tonle Sap river. The water that is backed up in the Tonle Sap lake from the rain falls off the wet season empties back into the Mekong river. Boat races are held on the Tonle Sap river to celebrate this event.
Chaul Chnam is the celebration of the Khmer New Year it is held in the middle of April and takes place over three days. It is similar to Thailand’s Songkran festival with lots of water throwing. Being the hottest month of the year it makes a very refreshing time for a few days.
Chat Preah Nengkal is a yearly agricultural festival and is held in early May. The Royal Ploughing ritual is led by the royal family and takes place near the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.
- King’s Birthday is held from the 30th October to the 1st of November.
- Independence Day is held on the 9th November.
- International Worker’s Day is held on the 1st of May.
- P’chum Ben this is referred to as the All Souls Day it is held in late September and people make offerings at Wats and pay their respect to the dead.
The cost of a tourist visa is $30 US and a Business visa is $35 US. Two passport size photos are required for both and application forms can be obtained on all inbound flights to Cambodia. Most nationalities entering the country will require a visa. Visas can also be obtained at the Koh Kong, Poipet and O’Samach Thai/Cambodian border crossings and should cost the same however Koh Kong is notorious for overcharging visitors at the border usually between 1600 baht and up. Extensions on tourist visas can only be made once for a 1-month extension. Business visas can be renewed indefinitely.
- Police Hotline: 117, 012 999 999
- Tourist Police Phnom Penh: 012-942 484, 023 724 793
- Emergency Ambulance service: 119, 023 723 840, 023 426948, 012 808915
- Emergency Fire service: 118, 012 786 693
The general emergency contact numbers for Ambulance, Fire and Police are
- Ambulance: (119) 023 723 840
- Fire: (118) 023 723 555
- Police: (117)
- SOS International Medical Centre is located at # 161, Street 51 Tel 023-216911
Tropical & Travelers Medical Centre Tel 015 912 100, 012 898 981