Central Lowland - Phnom Penh, Water & Coasts

Understanding the Lifeblood of Southwest Cambodia

Phnom Penh view at twilight (All Dreams Cambodia / Jeremie Montessuis)
Phnom Penh view at twilight (All Dreams Cambodia / Jeremie Montessuis)

A city born at the confluence of the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Bassac rivers, Phnom Penh is defined by the water. In fact, the rivers here are so unique that in the summer monsoon season the powerful Mekong swells so dramatically that it forces the Tonle Sap to flow backward instead of following its normal course. It’s no wonder, then, that the nourishing rivers have shaped this region — like the fishing villages that sprung up by the water. Autumn ushers in Bon Om Touk (Cambodian Water Festival) — a joyful festival taking place as the rains subside and the river returns to its original flow — featuring colourful boat races and waterside festivities.

Feel the rhythm of the water on a sunset cruise. Discover another perspective on Phnom Penh, watch over homes built on stilts and see local fishing villages that have emerged along the riverbanks. Get a glimpse of Koh Pich, also known as Diamond Island, a newly developed area at the river’s mouth where luxury living, golf and nightlife are on the rise.

Sunset cruise in Phnom Penh (All Dreams Cambodia/Kanika Boat)

Set aside time to visit Koh Dach (Silk Island), an island along the Mekong River that is just an hour-long ferry ride away. Views of riverfront villages will spark your curiosity about local living, which you can experience in depth as you explore the island by tuk-tuk. Visit silk farms and meet the weavers who craft everything from bed linens to silk gowns, see a variety of tropical fruit plantations and pay a visit to a local Buddhist temple.

As you venture off the chaotic roads to embark on a serene journey on the water, you’ll come closer to understanding the significance of the mighty rivers in this region of Cambodia.

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