Phnom Penh City Overview

Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, sits between the Bassac, Mekong and Sap rivers. The city is home to almost 1.5 million people, and it is changing quickly! Gleaming high-rises now find their place alongside rows of shophouses and villas.

The city comprises 14 districts, which are subdivided by commune. CIS campuses are located in Tonle Bassac and Veal Vong.

With several rivers running through the city, it is no surprise that bridges are a key feature of the skyline. Koh Pich (Diamond Island), home to CIS’s main campus, is linked to Phnom Penh by three bridges: Rainbow, Swan and Naga.

In Phnom Penh, families are able to peruse outdoor markets, visit international eateries, and enjoy recreational activities within view of landmark buildings and the riverside promenade. It is truly a youthful city steeped in history. We hope you’ll join us!

Photo: Marcin Konsek / Wikimedia Commons

Popular Neighborhoods in Phnom Penh

Choosing a neighbourhood can be a daunting prospect when moving to a new city, especially when relocating with children. Learn more about our campuses and the residential neighbourhoods nearby.

Tonle Bassac

Leafy and quiet, Tonle Bassac offers single-family homes and plenty of modern apartments. Aeon Mall 1 and the restaurants of BKK1 are within walking distance. Independence Monument, a popular place for evening exercise, is found here, as is Kapko fresh food market. CIS families in Tonle Bassac enjoy a 5-minute commute to our Koh Pich campus and Bassac Garden Preschool. Our Olympia City Preschool is 15 minutes away.


Adjacent to Tonle Bassac is Boeung Keng Kang 1 (BKK1). This neighbourhood is home to a multitude of restaurants and a growing number of apartments and condominiums. Thai Huot and Super Duper have small supermarket outlets here. BKK fresh food market is found further south. CIS families in BKK1 are able to commute to each campus in 15 minutes.

Toul Tom Poung

Toul Tom Poung (Russian Market) offers single-family homes, quiet side streets, and plenty of apartments. The market, from which the neighbourhood derives its name, sells all manner of fresh food and dry goods. CIS families living in Toul Tom Poung are able to commute to each campus in 20 minutes.

Toul Kork

Toul Kork (TK) boasts wide streets, plenty of trees and single-family homes. Residents of TK enjoy easy access to Aeon Mall 2 and TK Avenue. Nearby soccer fields and swimming pools are attractive to many families. As TK is just outside the city centre, CIS families will have a slightly longer communte–20 minutes to our Olympia City Preschool and 40 minutes to our Koh Pich campus and Bassac Garden Preschool.

Learn more about our school bus service.

Getting Around the City

As cities go, central Phnom Penh is quite compact and easy to navigate. Look out for key landmarks and master the street numbering system, and you’ll be on your way.

CIS campuses are located near two main arterial roads offering direct routes through the city: Norodom Blvd. and Charles De Gaulle Blvd. Remember that traffic increases substantially during rush hour.

Families have several modes of transportation to choose from. Local tuk-tuks and remorques are a popular way of getting around the city and can be hailed streetside. Similar to Uber, the PassAll and Grab apps are an affordable way to order cars, tuk-tuks, or remorques for transport. 

Families may also choose to buy or lease a vehicle. Parking for private vehicles is usually only available at major shopping centres and outside places of business. 

An iconic Phnom Penh Tuk Tuk

The iconic Tuk Tuk ferries tourists and locals alike around the bustling streets of Phnom Penh
Photo: Marcin Konsek / Wikimedia Commons

Many families choose to buy or lease a vehicle. Parking for private vehicles is usually available at major shopping centres and outside places of business.

Health and Fitness

Finding a family doctor and staying healthy in a new locale are top priorities for families touching down in Phnom Penh. There are several internationally run clinics and hospitals in the city. A list of service providers can often be acquired from one’s embassy or consulate.

Families wishing to stay active will be pleased to find gyms, racket sport facilities and swimming pools peppered throughout the city. Roller skating and indoor rock climbing centres cater to those wishing to keep fit and have fun in air-conditioned comfort. Yoga studios abound! At CIS, students may register for school-organized extracurricular activities, which include a variety of sports.

Parent networks

Many families seek to make connections quickly when they arrive in Phnom Penh. Finding children’s playgroups or getting a head start on childcare arrangements can make all the difference. Fortunately, there are numerous local parent networks to tap into. The CIS Parent Organization (CISPO) organizes social events and evening classes for parents. Join us for good company and a warm welcome!

Grocery Shopping

Managing your food budget in Cambodia is easy, markets such as Central market (biggest market in Phnom Penh) can provide all the high quality fruit and vegetables needed for the week. Typically, a family of four can eat well on a budget $30-$50USD, although the cost can quickly rise with the addition of western foods and luxury items from the many international supermarkets throughout the city. Few additional expenses you can include for other things (Baby’s milk, toiletries, gas etc). New expats are often amazed to find almost all kinds of vegetables and fruits on offer in the local markets and groceries.