Phnom Penh has a rich and interesting history and must be one the longest names for a city anywhere in the world when using the full name given by King Ponhea Yat. The full name for Phnom Penh loosely translates to "The place of four rivers that gives the happiness and success of Khmer Kingdom, the highest leader as well as unimpregnable city of the God Indra of the great kingdom".
Thankfully, the shorter version of Phnom Penh is used, which means ‘City of Four Faces’ and is a lot easier to remember.
Phnom Penh, as the capital city of Cambodia, accounts for a large portion of the Cambodian economy and many new hotels, restaurants, bars, apartment blocks and other residential buildings have sprung up across the city in recent years.
The city has a population of close to 3 million people and this is set to increase further in the coming years. Phnom Penh has benefited a great deal from tourism, much like Siem Reap and people continue to flock to Phnom Penh for golf and other activities.
Geography and Travel
Phnom Penh is in the south-central region of Cambodia and is surrounded by the Kandal Province. The city sits on the banks of the Tonle Sap, Mekong, and Bassac rivers with many rice fields and other agricultural plantations situated throughout the province.
The three rivers cross paths where Phnom Penh is located and provide water and other resources to the city. In total, the city of Phnom Penh covers 375 square kilometres and 90% of the population are Cambodian with Chinese, Vietnamese, and other small ethnic groups also living in the city.
Travelling to Phnom Penh will require a stop-over for those from western Europe and the United States. The main airport in Phnom Penh is known simply as Phnom Penh International Airport and this airport accepts flight from Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, China and Singapore. So, if you are planning a Phnom Penh golf holiday, why not consider one of these other countries as a place to spend a few days and enjoy a bonus round of golf?
There is a new and modern terminal inside Phnom Penh International Airport to greet international visitors.
Air-conditioned public city buses are available to take passengers into Phnom Penh from the airport but if you want private transport, which may be a good option if you have golf clubs, taxis are cheap and reliable if taken from the official stand outside the airport.
Where to Stay
Deciding where to stay is an important part of booking a Phnom Penh golf holiday and you should not leave this to the last minute. While it may be possible to find accommodation on arrival, it is much easier to book something in advance.
If you would like to stay in the busiest area of the city, Riverside or Sisowath Quay is the best area of Phnom Penh to look for accommodation. Here you will find a large array of bars, restaurants, hotels, shops, landmarks, markets and museums. The evening is the busiest time and visitors and locals can be seen enjoying a walk along the river. Top hotel choices include Aruneas Hotel, The Pavilion, White Mansion and La Masion d’Ambre.
The city centre is in the northern section of Phnom Penh and there is a wide choice of accommodation here with many attractions including the Central Market, Wat Phnom Pagoda, Freedom Park, French colonial buildings and five-star hotels. It’s easy to reach other parts of the city from this area and hotels include New York Hotel, Aquarius Hotel and Urban Resort plus the G Mekong Hotel.
Southern Phnom Penh is known for foreign embassies, UN offices and international schools and universities. Close to the Independence Monument, there are many cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs to enjoy and hotels include Pandan Boutique Hotel, La Rose Suites, Villa Sovanna Boutique Hotel and Phnom Penh Katari Hotel.
Weather and Best Time to Travel
Phnom Penh enjoys warm, tropical weather throughout the year and this makes it a great destination for golf. There are two seasons and the best for golf in Phnom Penh is the dry season which is usually between December and April.
If you want the best chance of perfect weather for a golf holiday in Phnom Penh, December and January are the best months to visit. This is when the weather is cool and dry and makes playing golf a pleasure plus it is winter in the United States and Europe, so what better time to get away?
March and April are the hottest months in Phnom Penh and if you wish to avoid the worst of the wet weather, it is best to avoid the months between May and November. However, the rain during this period tends to fall as short, intense showers and it is still possible to enjoy a fantastic Phnom Penh holiday, without the crowds of the main tourist months.
Things to Do Away from the Golf Course
Phnom Penh is a great location, not only for a golf holiday but also to see some of the fantastic treasures in Cambodia.
The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda is a great place to start some sightseeing in Phnom Penh and is the King’s residence. The palace is a special place for the Cambodian people and guests can walk through the gardens, temples, libraries and galleries inside the palace grounds.
If you are willing to make short trip outside Phnom Penh you will be rewarded with a visit to Koh Dach, known as the silk island and here you can learn about Cambodian silk weaving by visiting the weaving villages. The workers use traditional handlooms to spin the silk and it is like stepping back in time.
For something a little more sombre but a place every visitor to Phnom Penh must see, a visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum should be at the top of your list of things to do away from the golf course.
The museum is in the centre of Phnom Penh and was once a high school before being transformed into a politcal prisoners’ camp known as Security Prison 21 during the Khmer Rouge reign. Much of the museum has been left as a prison following liberation in 1979 and the whole place has a haunting feel which gives an insight into what it was like to be a prisoner during this awful period in Cambodia’s history.
Finally, and on a lighter note, you cannot leave Phnom Penh without doing some shopping in the central market. As a visitor, just being a part of the bustling crowd is an exciting place to be but there are many interesting items for sale including clothing, flowers, jewellery, shoes, local handicrafts and fresh produce. The indoor market was the largest in Asia when built in 1937 and will have you reaching for your camera.
Top Golf Courses
Cambodia Golf and Country Club
Phnom Penh’s oldest golf course may not have the history of some of the major British links courses but having opened in December 1996, Cambodia Golf and Country Club was the first to welcome golfers in the country.
This 18-hole golf course is only one hour north of Phnom Penh and plays to just over 7,000 yards from the back tees. Sugar palm trees, native fruit and evergreen plants surround the course, which was designed by Japanese and Taiwanese designers. The front nine holes are flat, with wide fairways and you will be tempted to go for the driver regularly, just be careful of the bunkers which are plentiful throughout the course.
The back nine is more challenging, with slight changes in elevation, longer fairways and smaller greens. Water also comes into play on the back nine holes and visitors usually find it tougher to score low on this section of the golf course.
The French style clubhouse with a good restaurant, tennis courts and a swimming pool, is a good placed to relax following a round of golf.
Garden City Golf Club
From the oldest to arguably the best golf courses in Phnom Penh and you cannot leave the city without having played a round at Garden City Golf Club.
Situated just 15 kilometres Northeast of Phnom Penh, Garden City Golf Club was established in 2013 and the course conditioning is excellent, mainly thanks to the management of the Seashore Paspalum turf by IMG.
The land was once rice paddies but has been transformed into a true test of golf for players of all abilities. There are water hazards on many of the holes and these combine with the large greens to make good club selection very important. The course measures 7,361 yards from the championship tees and the fairway offers little roll. So, unless you are a big hitter, Garden City Golf Club can seem brutal at times.
One of the best holes at Garden City Golf Club is the par-3 15th and this features a double green and the first person to tee off can select which pin is in play. Whichever is chosen, the tee shot remains tough with the putting surface protected by sand and water on three sides.
The modern clubhouse is a good place for a meal and something to drink after a round and the hospitality is excellent making Garden City Golf Club a must in any Phnom Penh golf package.
Grand Phnom Penh Golf Club
A golf holiday in Asia would not be the same without visiting a golf course designed by one of he great names in the sport and Phnom Penh does not disappoint thanks to the Grand Phnom Penh Golf Club.
Located just 20 minutes from the city centre and 15 minutes from the airport, Grand Phnom Penh Golf Club is ideally situated for a round of golf at any time during your visit to the Cambodian capital.
There is little development in this area of Phnom Penh and the climate tends to be a little fresher and this makes for the perfect round of golf. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, this golf course is well kept and plays to a massive 7,914 yards. Both the fairways and greens are in superb condition and despite the generous width of the fairways, the wind often picks up late in the day and makes the course tough.
There are two large bodies of water on the course and these come into play regularly meaning you must to be both accurate and long with the driver to score low Grand Phnom Penh Golf Club. The great condition of the course is matched by the quality of the off-course facilities, with first class service, spa, sauna, international restaurant plus a two-story golf driving range and academy.
Grand Phnom Penh Golf Club is one of the best golf courses in Phnom Penh and should make the itinerary of every Phnom Penh golf package.
In addition to the three golf clubs highlighted above, there are other options when staying in Phnom Penh and these include Royal Cambodia Phnom Penh Golf Club and Vattanac Golf Club. If you have time to fit in another round during your stay, we recommend the latter, which is designed by Nick Faldo and will be open in the future.
Until then, there are many fantastic golf courses to enjoy in and around Phnom Penh and you are sure to have a great time playing golf in the Cambodian capital.