Wat Phnom Neighborhood Guide

  • Handmade lacquerware by Artisans d'Angkor.

    Handmade lacquerware by Artisans d'Angkor.

  • Silk krama weaving by a Artisan d'Angkor craftsman.

    Silk krama weaving by a Artisan d'Angkor craftsman.

  • Artisan's silk threads.

    Artisan's silk threads.

  • The art-infused interiors of Doors.

    The art-infused interiors of Doors.

  • A live performance at Doors.

    A live performance at Doors.

  • Suckling pig and apple sauce at Doors.

    Suckling pig and apple sauce at Doors.

  • The Landmark Room where Charlie Chaplin once laid his head.

    The Landmark Room where Charlie Chaplin once laid his head.

  • The lobby of the historic Raffles Hotel Le Royal.

    The lobby of the historic Raffles Hotel Le Royal.

  • The grand entrance of Raffles Hotel Le Royal.

    The grand entrance of Raffles Hotel Le Royal.

  • Tepui's opium den-esque dining room. Photo by Conor Wall

    Tepui's opium den-esque dining room. Photo by Conor Wall

  • Homemade corn cakes with braised pork at Tepui. Photo by Mona Simon

    Homemade corn cakes with braised pork at Tepui. Photo by Mona Simon

  • The tepui mojito. Photo by Mona Simon

    The tepui mojito. Photo by Mona Simon

  • Chicken liver mousse with crunchy crisps drizzled in port and grapes at Van's.

    Chicken liver mousse with crunchy crisps drizzled in port and grapes at Van's.

  • The restored facade of Van's restaurant.

    The restored facade of Van's restaurant.

  • The chef's signature beef rib with parsnip puree.

    The chef's signature beef rib with parsnip puree.

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In Phnom Penh’s former French quarter elegant eateries and stylish bars abound

By Claire Knox

Find the sleek Cambodian sangkat or suburb of Wat Phnom surrounding its namesake ash-white spired temple. Perched atop the only hill in the city, fringed with palms and gilded spirit houses, the temple rises gloriously above faded French colonial mansions, historic embassies, Chinese villas, and the milky Tonle Sap river. Escape the sweltering midday heat of heady Phnom Penh in a shady picnic spot amid Wat Phnom’s resident gaggle of monkeys, or arrive in the dewy mornings with a warm baguette to watch locals make ancestral offerings with piles of fruit and wands of incense. Along Wat Phnom’s wide tree-lined boulevards and smaller streets, the French-colonial architecture sets the area apart—it is also perhaps what has inspired some of the city’s most innovative entrepreneurs to create a growing clutch of art-infused cafés, French bistros, luxurious heritage hotels, and wine bars in the stylish district. This pocket of the city is steeped in history, renowned for its lavish colonial structures and Art Deco buildings, but now blooms with the contemporary passion projects of transplants and locals alike.

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