Our approach to finding accommodation in the early days of our travels was simply to turn up and hope for the best. Free spirited and bohemian as it may seem, it often led to hassle when we were at a loss for finding somewhere decent to stay.
That’s how it looked for us when we arrived in the Cambodian capital, fending off over zealous tuk tuk guys at the bus station and walking around aimlessly before realising we were a long way from any backpacker areas. So we settled for an upmarket eatery with WiFi so we could check online for places to stay in Phnom Penh and get our bearings.
We were a good few hours searching on the interweb as most decent looking places we found were booked up or too expensive. The situation was getting critical, the staff looked at us like we were taking the piss staying so long and buying so little and we were starting to bitch at each other. Then…salvation!
Emily came across a little place called Khmer Stay Guesthouse, which looked cosy, was close to the river (where we understood all the action to be), and was only US$9 for a double room per night (their website now says rooms start from US$15 but that’s definitely not the case from a quick look at booking sites). So we made reservations and hopped in a tuk tuk to our new lodgings.
It was a little hard to spot when we got to the street, as the guesthouse is nestled in a row of terraced buildings which all look the same. So here’s its location on a map and if you still get lost, it’s just across the street from the swanky and very noticeable Elite Boutique Hotel.
As you can see from the map, Khmer Stay is in a very convenient spot indeed. It is only a 10 minute walk north in a straight line to the Central Market and 10 minute walk east in a straight line to the bustling riverside and the Royal Palace (although we didn’t exactly fall in love with the Palace when we visited).
The first room we were given was a clean, decent sized double room on the second floor with a large bathroom. It wasn’t great though as it had no natural light, smelt slightly of damp and the Wifi didn’t work. A little dismayed and already planning our exit, I told the owner the issues and he at once said that he would change our room. He gave us one on the top floor with a little balcony overlooking the city (which we shared with the other guests on our floor, although no-one else used it save a girl we made friends with) and right beside the Wifi router for a great connection. All for the same price. The room and the bathroom were smaller than the first room and I think the bed was supposedly a single, but it was as big as many double beds back home and it was comfortable. Here’s a pic of Emily lazing on the bed (apologies for the mess!)…
Aside from the owner of the guesthouse who was there quite often and spoke very good English, he had three younger helpers. Two of whom helped with hotel type stuff and the other was the resident tuk tuk driver. We used the tuk tuk guy often, including to take us to the brilliant and eye opening Killing Fields, which we talked about in a recent post. The other two guys served food and drinks and did odd jobs. They both came in really handy when someone on our floor discovered that we could open each other’s doors with our respective keys (which apparently happens a lot in Cambodia!). So they set to work and changed the locks straight away.
The owner also arranged for our Cambodian visas to be extended an extra month for US$48 each and arranged our three month Vietnamese visas for US$107 each. Yes, we did pay extra than if we arranged those ourselves, but factoring in transport costs to and from the various government buildings and the obligatory brain melt of dealing with that stuff, I think we done OK. We got our passports back with the visas after 5 days and we had no problems when leaving Cambodia and entering Vietnam.
We didn’t try the food at the guesthouse as we usually ate at the riverside, although the beer was cheap, as it is everywhere in Cambodia! We had some good nights relaxing at Khmer Stay with a few drinks, new friends that we met there and chatting with the owner and the other staff who all knew a little English and were very friendly and accommodating.
So, if you’re in Phnom Penh and fancy a change from the usual backpacker hostels at maybe even cheaper prices, check out Khmer Stay.
Have you been to Khmer Stay? What did you think of it?