A guide to some of the best indoor play areas for kids in Phnom Penh
IN the past few months, Phnom Penh has begun to turn into a more child-friendly city before our very eyes. The opening of the playground on Sothearos Boulevard was one of the more visible steps but I have been surprised to discover that a number of new jungle gyms and play zones have begun to spring up. These are markedly less visible and many parents may not be aware of the new facilities. With the school holidays upon us – as well as rainy season – I’ve done all the hunting for you, so there is now no excuse to just sit at home on the sofa watching cartoons every day.
One of the most professionally run outfits in Phnom Penh, Monkey Business is a brightly coloured, spotlessly clean jungle gym on the top floor of the Paragon Shopping Centre. An inflatable area consists of a large slide which children must scramble to the top of, as well as a bouncy castle-type affair. The main play zone is not huge but includes different levels for climbing, a curly slide, a ball pool and two steeper slides for the older children. Adjacent to this is the ‘little monkeys’ section for smaller kids, which has a smaller ball pool and climbing area, as well as a number of cars for children to zoom around on. For all those yummy mummies out there, there is a large seating area which has a good selection of magazines and sells food, soft drinks and even glasses of wine to enjoy while your little one goofs around with the excellent, attentive staff in the play areas. Within this seating area there is also a small soft play section for the littlest babies, which is wisely positioned away from the rest of the jungle gym.
Top floor of Paragon Shopping Centre, Street 214. Entrance costs $6 for over-2s, $3 for under-2s and is free for under-1s and adults. $1 of every entrance fee is donated to charity.Air-conditioned throughout.
Another jungle gym which has sprung up out of nowhere, Elephant’s Playground is located in the new Dreamland theme park which opened recently opposite Nagaworld. The first thing that strikes you about this brand new place is the sheer size of it. It is absolutely huge, easily big enough for kids to spend a full day in without getting bored. The variety on offer is astounding: from ball pools to climbing nets, plastic tunnels to foam ball cannons, as well as four levels to explore, and even a life-sized model of Spiderman. And that is just in the main play zone. Outside of this are two more adventure playgrounds, with the usual climbing apparatus and slides, as well as an approximation of a hall of mirrors. Even though Elephant’s Playground is slightly less professional than Monkey Business, particularly in terms of the lax staff, it isn’t a problem if you go climbing along with your little one and is probably the most impressive place in town in terms of value for money.
Dreamland amusement park, Sihanouk Boulevard (opposite Nagaworld). Entrance costs 2000 riel for Dreamland and then $1.50-$2 for children depending on their height, adults are free. Admission is allowed all day but air-conditioning is only provided from 5pm until 10pm.
Lucky Kids’ Club
This kids’ club is something slightly different from the two aforementioned jungle gyms. It is a clean, vibrantly decorated area with lots of opportunities for the little ones to explore their creative side. Plenty of tables with crayons and pencils for drawing are joined by a comfy cushion area where an assortment of books is waiting to be read. The toy selection is superb, with everything from baby’s shape sorters and jigsaws to cars and soft toys. The friendly staff are always on hand to help and will even pop downstairs to retrieve a Lucky Burger for parents and carers if you fancy a cheeky munch. A great place for birthday parties and play dates, Lucky Kids’ Club is also fantastic value for money if you’re looking for somewhere where your child can be stimulated outside of the four walls at home.
Above Lucky Burger on Sihanouk Boulevard. Entrance costs $1 per visit or $25 for an entire year of unlimited visits, parents enter for free. Air-conditioned throughout.
Last but not least is Happy City, located right next to the food court on the top floor of City Mall. A bit smaller than the other jungle gym contenders on the list, Happy City still manages to tick most of the requisite boxes with a great ball pool and the other usual suspects, plus a fantastic little merry-go-round, trampoline and a toddlers’ mini zip-line, which is something I have never seen before. This play zone is perhaps aimed at the younger end of the scale, due to a lack of steep slides and fewer levels to explore but, on my visit, older kids seemed to be having their fair share of fun too.
Top floor of City Mall, Monireth Boulevard, next to Olympic Stadium. Entrance costs 3000 riel, adults are free. The entire floor of the shopping centre is air-conditioned.