Phnom Penh offers a range of options for taking a dip. Most hotels welcome day guests, though rates and amenities vary. The spread of fitness clubs is adding options and increasing opportunities for mingling with city residents. Several pools are designed for children, and others are strictly for adults. For those who prefer a slowly moving river, what Cambodians call the dry season opens up a sandbar on the tip of Mekong Island where you can either take dip your toes or take a plunge. Lifeguards, however, are scarce.
Phnom Penh Sport Club: The Phnom Penh Sport Club offers two pools. The children’s pool slopes from 0.5 to 1.7 over its 22 meter length. The adult pool is longer, 25, meters and has no shallow end. It also has three lanes, making it easier to prevent those doing laps from crashing into each other.
Both pools are open daily from 6am till 9pm with daily admission at US$5 per person. Guests can remain as long as they want. Manager Seng Leap said the pools attract both Khmer and expat swimmers, with weekends being busiest. Private lockers are available. A day pass also allows free use of the gym.
Address: No. 245, St. 271
Phnom Penh Water Park: The Water Park was made for children, but includes a second pool for adults. The children’s pool is also a playground with slides. Both pools are outdoors, with plenty of seating nearby. The park is open daily from 8am to 5pm. Admission is $3 per person on weekdays and $4 on Saturday or Sunday. There are no private lockers, but security guards will store belongings. A canteen serves soft drinks and juice.
Address: No. 50, Russian Blvd
Manor House: The 15-metre swimming pool at this boutique guesthouse is open from 8am till 6pm daily. This is an adults’ only venue, offering poolside amenities like Wi-Fi, lounge chairs, a restaurant and bar in a garden-like environment. Admission is $5, which includes a free soft drink or juice. Day passes also include a towel and private locker. The clientele is a mix of tourists, and Khmer and expat residents.
Address: No 21, St 262
Long Beach Plaza: The fee for using this pool, $1, has not changed in a decade. It is 39 metres in length and 19 metres wide, sloping to a 1.8-metre depth. It is open daily from 7.30am to 7pm. It has change rooms but no private lockers. During the week its clientele is mixed but on weekends it is mainly Khmer, about 70 per cent children. The plaza also offers a wading pool for young children.
Address: No 03, St 289
National Olympic Stadium: The least expensive pools in the capital, 2,000 riel (about 50 US cents) per person are at Olympic Stadium. This is where the national swimming team trains and competes, so the pools are sometimes closed to the public for competitive events. One pool has a diving board There are two pooling, with the diving board and none. The smaller of the two pools has a diving board, while the larger (50 metres long and 25 metres wide) does not. Alongside the pool are steps for seating. There are changing rooms, but no lockers.
Address: National Olympic Stadium
Himawari Hotel: The pool at this hotel offers views of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers. A half-metre deep wading pool for children is also available. The main pool is 25 metres long, 10 metres wide and 1.4 metres deep. The pool is more popular with expats than Khmers. It costs $7 for a day pass on weekdays and $8 on weekends, which includes a towel and a locker. Poolside drinks and food are also available.
Address: 313 Sisowath Quay
Koh Dach: If you want to dip your feet in the Mekong, or even take a plunge, Koh Dach resort at the tip of what expats call Mekong Island is the place. During the dry season an expansive stretch of sand spreads out. Local residents rent out small huts on stilts and serve meals and drinks.
The current is slow enough for swimming, and the river is shallow enough that you can walk for 20 metres without going more than waist deep. Local vendors say the area is attracting more expats, who arrive by bicycle, motodops or Tuk Tuks. Khmers tend to seek the shade, while expats like to sunbathe. Business begins at about 11am, and about 100 people arrive a day. On the weekend this surges fivefold, and on public holidays the beach is packed. Food served is Khmer, as is the beer.
Address: Follow National Road No 6 for about 20 kilometres and cross the Mekong by ferry at Kdei Chas village.