Out of the house
There are so many things to do in this neighborhood that it is a destination for locals and tourists alike. The National Museum is a beautiful place to see some historical art and artifacts as well as a lovely place to just chill out. The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda are worth visiting more than once, and the parks in front are nice spots to hang out in. The riverfront is a beautiful walking spot as well as having some of the finest drinking and dining establishments in town. Street 240 is famous for its boutique shopping and cafes, while Street 178 is home to some of the best Khmer artists and art galleries in Phnom Penh. Street 172 is also worth checking out, as a number of new bars and cafes have opened up. The main market is Phsar Kandal, which is a sprawling market full of everything you could need from curling irons to blowtorches and mangos to maternity clothes.
What's going for it?
Chey Chumneas is one of the most captivating areas in Phnom Penh, playing home to the Royal Palace, National Museum and the Royal University of Fine Arts. To the east it is bordered by the riverside Sisowath Quay and to the south it is bordered by the Rodeo Drive of Phnom Penh - Street 240. Tourists, expats and Khmer nationals can all be seen soaking up the lovely atmosphere of this neighbourhood. Pedestrian and bicycle traffic is heavy, with people taking advantage of the many places to go and things to see in the area.
What's the catch?
Finding a place to live in Chey Chumneas can be done, but it isn't the easiest neighbourhood to simply move into. Many of the people who live there found their homes by word-of-mouth. If you're looking for a modern serviced apartment, it can be especially difficult; most of the rental properties are unrenovated flats and people who do find nicely remodelled places generally try to hold on to them. Ironically, some of the nice things about the neighborhood, such as good shopping and plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants, are also some of its main drawbacks. Chey Chumneas can be a little too busy at times with heavy congestion of tuk-tuks, motos, cyclos and well, let's face it, local drivers.
Getting there, and away
There are relatively few streets in Chey Chumneas, but for the most part they are clear except during rush hours (7-10am, 4-6pm). Street 19 between Street 240 and Street 178 gets pretty crazy between 3pm and 4pm, as there is a large school that lets out around then, kicking off a road war as the kids on motos try to fight their way through the parents' SUVs. The strip off Sothearos Boulevard in front of the Royal Palace, however, is one of the easiest roads to navigate and is fun to cruise, as you can often get up to 35 miles-per-hour, which is very fast for Phnom Penh. Unfortunately, the entire neighborhood floods during the rainy season, but new sewage and drainage pipes have been put in so it's possible that this next rainy season won't be as bad - but you shouldn't count on it.
There are no international schools directly in this area, but iCAN British International School, International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP), the British International School of Phnom Penh, the upper-school campus of Zaman International School and Home of English are all nearby.
On the market
Land in Chey Chumneas varies in price quite a bit, depending on what part of the neighborhood you're looking at. There are also numerous restrictions concerning building height and renovating and maintaining historical buildings. For property along Norodom Boulevard, the asking price for land is between $4,500 and $6,000 per square meter, according to Bonna Realty Group. Along Street 19, behind the Royal Palace, it drops to between $1,800 and $2,500. Land along the riverside proper sells for $3,000 to $3,500, and along Sothearos Boulevard for $2,000 to $3,500.
Average prices for an approximately 600-square-metre villa are between $1.5 million and $2 million, but villas are hard to come by in this neighborhood and are usually quite old and in need of repairs.
Average rents range widely from around $400 up to $1,000 for a flat. Serviced apartments are available along the quayside, but will set you back at least $1,000. How much you pay will also depend on what floor the apartment is on.
From the streets of
Stephen O'Connor, whose wife owns the White Moon Cafe on St 172: "Yeah, I like living here. The traffic up and down this street  gets a bit much at night and after 10:30 or so it gets pretty dark and of course there's garbage everywhere, but there's a number of tourists and that's good."
Robert Nelson, resident: "You could walk everywhere if you wanted to, and it's close to the market. Plus if you want something nice you can go to the FCC or one of those places if you really want to have a nice experience or do something more upscale."
Virath Chau, resident. "It's a good area; really a neighbourhood. People are friendly and really neighbourly once you get to know them. I found my place pretty much by word-of-mouth. It's close to everything and except for the stray dogs - they sometimes follow you around and can be annoying at times - I like it."
INTERVIEWS AND PHOTOS BY MELANIE BREW