From monkeying around at the playground to catching the latest Hollywood blockbuster, ice skating up a storm or kicking back poolside while the kids make a splash, expatriate parents can take their pick of countless options in Phnom Penh.
Free outdoor playgrounds are scarce and strictly “at your own risk” due to poor maintenance and lighting. Wat Botum Park is the largest around and a favourite for square dancing, skateboarding, bicycle riding and more around its various monuments. Wat Phnom Children’s Park is reassuringly enclosed by fencing, but shade is scant so go early in the morning or evening. Koh Pich Children or “Dam Sen” Park/fairground has a range of cheap thrills by the river, each costing around 2,000 riel or $0.50 to ride.
A world away in Toul Kork is Urban Space Playground & Café (#19, St.287). Take a plush indoor playground, swimming pool, and multimedia suite, add studios for dance, Lego, arts and crafts, plus a shaded garden for alfresco dining and you’ve got an “oasis for kids and their favourite adults.” A team of qualified instructors are at your kids’ disposal, leaving you free to kick back with refreshments from the wholesome menu.
Have little ones that just want to jump around? Take them to Cambodia’s first trampoline park, Fly Phnom Penh, housed in co-working and entertainment complex, The Factory (#1159 on National Road 2).
Whatever the season, a refreshing dip is always welcome in Cambodia. Whether you want to dip your toes or take a dive from the top board, there’s a place to suit your every aquatic need.
Phnom Penh’s luxury hotels have the most to offer in terms of space to swim and lounge, asking $8+ for the privilege during the week. For those new to the water, the shallow kids pools at the Himawari Hotel Apartments and Hotel Cambodiana have you covered, alongside deeper adult pools. If you’re feeling lavish, indulge in Sunday brunch at the Sofitel and get free pool access. DIB Club on Koh Pich is worth a visit for the enormous pool and neighbouring golf driving range.
Other hotels, like family-friendly Villa Langka (St.282), and the Kabiki (St.242) offer all the tranquillity of a botanical garden just a stone’s throw from the city centre- ideals hubs to swim, lounge and even manage short excursions to hotspots like Wat Phnom and the Riverside.
If laps are your thing, the 50m pool at the Olympic Stadium won’t disappoint. It was restored, along with the 10m high diving board in 2017. The complex is worth checking out for the iconic New Khmer architecture alone, not to mention the basketball, badminton and volleyball courts, plus impeccably well kept football pitch.
Phnom Penh Sports Club (#245, St.464) has a generous 25m lap pool and kids pool complete with slide, plus large gym, sauna and steam rooms, table tennis, full-service restaurant, and massage services. Entrance is steep at $5 per adult and $4 per child, but a 10 time coupon brings it down to $3.50 per entry.
Football facilities are now in a league of their own thanks to 3G (crumb rubber) astroturf pitches, at various locations such as KB All Sport Club (National Assembly Street), available to book for private group sessions, including after dark under floodlighting. Football schools like Elite Soccer Asia run regular training courses and camps for kids.
For those with fighting spirit, there are also plenty of martial arts to choose from, including international favourites taekwondo, jiu jitsu, judo and karate, plus local disciplines such as Bokator and Yuthakun Khöm, with fighting gyms Prokout and Selapak (which also offers classical Khmer dance classes) leading the pack.
Dance schools are starting to spring up in town, with Dance Academy Cambodia and Central School of Ballet Phnom Penh offering classes for kids of all ages.
Red Hot & Rainy Day Activities
Phnom Penh has it all when it comes to the big screen these days, from cosy, independent theatres like The Flicks, Tarantino Movie House, The Empire and Meta House, to 3D and 4-D showings at Major Cineplex (Aeon Mall) complete with moving seats, bubble effects and smells ($3-15 for adults; off peak kids’ tickets from $2) – little ones can let off steam at the Blu-O Rhythm & Bowl(ing) alley next door after the show. Wherever you go for your movie fix be sure to bring a jacket, the air con is bound to be blasting.
Get your (roller) skates on at Sorya Mall, or put puzzling solving skills to the test at Escape60 Room (St.137), or Happy Damrei (St.174), where you can try 200+ board games from all over the world while tucking into sumptuous food and drink.
Out Of Town
Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre (National Road No 2, Takeo) operated by NGO Wildlife Alliance is the only ethical place in town to see wild animals, including tigers, leopards, and bears. For $5 you can wander the grounds, enjoy a picnic and feed the otters or book an exclusive behind the scenes tour to get up close and personal with (tame) elephants, monkeys and more, all in aide of efforts to rescue, rehabilitate and release animals back into the wild.
Nearby is Seametrey Leisure Centre (National Road 2, Tonle Bati Lake) where there’s fun for all the family: basketball, tennis, table tennis, badminton and volleyball courts, football pitches, plus a skateboarding rink, and three swimming pools- not to mention arts & crafts, cycling, trampolining, archery, chess, darts, French boules, stand up paddle boards and canoeing on the Tonle Bati lake- with a restaurant right over the water. Entry is $5 for adults and kids over 12, with proceeds supporting the early education Seametrey School.
At time of writing (December, 2018) all information was correct, but may have changed since. If there’s something you read here which you feel is incorrect or requires updating, please let us know.