Sisowath Quay is 3.7 km stretch of road which runs from the Samdech Chuon Nath Statue in the south of Phnom Penh City to the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Bridge to the north of Wat Phanom.
What is special about Sisowath Quay over other roads in Phnom Penh is that for most of the distance of the road it runs alongside the Tonle Sap River with a wide promenade which is one of the only pedestrianised areas in a city where its notoriously difficult to walk anyway on account of motorbike using the pavement to get around the traffic. People also use the pavement as a parking space for their cars and shop owners as an extension of their premises. Indeed, with the exception of Sisowath Quay in Phnom Penh the pavement gets used for everything except for walking dramatically undermining the accessibility of the city to tourists, of which there are relatively few.
About Sisowath Quay
Sisowath Quay is wonderful public space which the local people and visitors to the city make constant use of. The riverside walkway which runs along the road is a vibrant place, albeit with few shaded areas making it unusable during the midday heat.
The busiest part of Sisowath Quay is the area near to the Eastern Gate of the Royal Palace. Nearly opposite to the Royal Palace Park is the flower market. The location of the flower is no accident. Cambodia people buy the flowers to place at shrines and temples nearby. Caged birds are also sold here to be released. Some Buddhists believe that setting the birds free is a way of ‘making merit’ to atone for sins or bring them a better life in the future when they are reincarnated. People do the same thing in Bangkok buying fish to release in the city’s dirty canals.
A short way north of the flower market on Sisowath Quay is Preah Ang Dorngkeu Shrine. This small shrine is one of the most popular places in the city to come and make a prayer. The local belief is that making a prayer here can bring you good luck.
Travelling north along Sisowath Quay there are no shaded area or historical sites on the riverside itself but there are plenty of bars and restaurants. The Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) is just north of Preah Ang Dorngkeu Shrine. The FCC has been in existence since 1993 opening to provide food and drink, as well as place to socialise, for foreign visitors (particularly journalists) who started coming to the Phnom Penh after the country started to stabilise following the end of the fighting between the Khmer Rouge and the new Vietnamese backed government. Nowadays the FCC is no longer the central meeting point for the city’s few foreign residents or journalists, there are now lots of ex-pats in the city, but it is somewhere you go and eat great Western style food and cocktails with river views and Western style service (and prices).
Furher north along Sisowath Quay you will find some other newer bars and restaurants, some are popular, some are upmarket, others less so. The better known riverside establishments on Sisowath Quay include The Pizza Company, Le Moon Rooftop Lounge, Metro Hassakan, Riverhouse Restaurant and Lounge, Cadillac Bar & Manhattan Lounge, Tonlesap Restaurant & Night Club and Chinese House. Sisowath Quay is a good place to good out in the evening is you have some money to spend and you would like to get better food in more upmarket surroundings.
Location of Sisowath Quay
Sisowath Quay is 1.8 km by road from Phnom Penh Railway Station.