We have tracked and covered street art and artists in many cities—New York, Budapest, Jersey City, London, Paris, Penang, Hanoi, Singapore and elsewhere. While visiting Phnom Penh, we wanted to find Street Art. It was one of the most challenging places to find murals. The Street art community is in the process of emerging in Phnom Penh. And, it is growing in a very interesting direction that engages Khmer symbolism and history. It is exciting to see how Cambodian street artists are creating their own version of urban art. The best two places to start looking for Phnom Penh Street Art are Boeung Kak Lake & Street 93 and behind the French Embassy.
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Street 93 in the Boeung Kak District is the most known place for urban art in Phnom Penh but there are also murals scattered throughout the City. There is another area in the Boeung Kak area behind the French Embassy that has urban art. We found a small third area near Meta House on Samdach Sothearos Blvd. Since there is a lot of construction going on in Phnom Penh, many of the places that were full of art have been torn down and many murals have disappeared.
Cambodian street artists have been painting on and in the abandoned buildings in the area behind the French Embassy. It is interesting to see local artists begin to create new forms of urban art and murals in Phnom Penh. This area needs to be visited carefully and thoughtfully as it is a poor area of Phnom Penh.
There is also an international street art festival that has taken place twice in Phnom Penh and some of those murals are still up. This festival brings in international artists to paint in Phnom Penh.
Many street artists are beginning to paint inside businesses and some of the best-preserved murals can be found there.
Table of Contents
Key Developments in Phnom Penh Street Art
Street art in Phnom Penh has been developing slowly over the last decade. There are international artists as well as local artists leading this development. Below are some of the people and events that are helping to make this happen.
Boeung Kak District
The Boeung Kak Lake District was a large residential and commercial area surrounding a lake. In 2010, the Cambodia government filled in the lake to make way for a new development. Many residents and businesses were forced out. The promised development never happened, leaving the area poor and marginalized.
Four years later, Marj Arnaud and Ludi Labile opened Simone’s Bistro and Art in Boeung Kak on Street 93. They invited artists to begin to paint on Street 93. Their vision was to turn Street 93 into a street art village as a way of revitalizing the area. The café has since closed, but Street 93 remains a center of street art. There are murals up and down the street and on some of the side streets.
Local residents have mixed feelings about the art. Some are indifferent. Others like the images. Some dislike seeing tourists come in taking pictures. Others park tuk-tuks and hang laundry in front of murals and otherwise ignore the work.
Cambodia Urban Art Festival
Phnom Penh Street art has been cultivated through the Cambodia Urban Art Festival. The Festival was founded by French street artists Chifumi and Theo Valier. Some of those murals from the festival can still be found, though others have since disappeared. Last year’s festival had to be canceled due to lack of funding. We hope 2019 will bring it back.
Cambodia’s First Female Street Artist Lisa Mam
Cambodia’s first female street artist was Lisa Mam. She is a dentist and a painter. She was the first Cambodian woman muralist and helped to inspire other young women to start painting. Lisa and her partner New Zealander/Cambodian Peap Tarr have been helping to inspire the next generation of Phnom Penh street artists.
Boeung Kak Lake District and Street 93
One of the best areas for street art is near the Al Serkal Mosque (1 St. 86). The Mosque is the largest in Cambodia and is worth seeing before you start the street art tour.
To get to the street art, face the Mosque and walk to your left (this is Street 93). Walk on the street. Keep walking and you will start seeing street art in about 200 feet.
The first time we set out to find the street art in the Boeung Kak District, our tuk-tuk driver could not find the street. The second time, we almost missed it again because there are two Street 93s. The best way to get to the street art is to use either the Mosque Address (1 St. 86) or Number 10 Lakeside Guest House on Street 93.
Keep in mind that Preah Monivong Blvd. is also called St. 93. Don’t get confused (we did). Make sure to go near the Mosque instead.
Behind the French Embassy
There is another area in the Boeung Kak district (behind the French Embassy, in the vicinity of the Callamet Hospital). This area is a poorer part of the city and you should be very careful about your camera and bags. There is very raw graffiti in this area, mainly on abandoned buildings. Some of the graffiti and murals have been there for a few years so you will see much wear and tear.
How to Find Street Art behind the French Embassy
Samdach Sothearos Blvd Between St. 274 and St. 294
Phnom Penh Urban Art in Buildings and Business
There are a number of places to see street art inside businesses. These are much more permanent than the street art outside.
Lisa Mam, Peap Tarr and Friends
You can find art by Lisa Mam, Peap Tarr and friends at:
- Starbucks #14 Address: Street 57 near Street 288 in the Boueng Keng Kong area)
- Outside Sui Joh Address: No 25Z Street 294
- Nham Central in the Exchange Square Shopping Mall Food Court, St. 106 Corner St.61
- Puzzles near Aeon 1 (in front of 3G 2 soccer pitch)
- Dos behind the Toyoko Inn Hotel, Koh Pich Swan Bridge
- Number 8 Beer Bar, St. R1, Boeung Kak, Khan Daun Penh
Mad Monkey Hostel has a series of murals that you can see when you walk inside the entranceway. Address: # 26 Street 302 Sangkat
This mural was one of the ones painted for the Cambodia Urban Art Festival. It is on the Herb Cafe at the corner of Street 278.
We found this mural in an alley next to our hotel on 108 and Riverside.
Kbach Gallery is an art gallery that showcases street artists. You will find art by Chifumi, Theo Valliers as well as local artists like Sovivorth Orpoz. The gallery is not always open, so check before you go.
Address: 42E Preah Ang Makhak Vann St. (178), Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Street Art Map
The map below is a route from the from Meta House to Sui-Joh, Mad Monkey and the Starbucks flagship store.
8 Tips for finding Street Art in Phnom Penh
We’d Love to Hear from You. Where have you Hunted for Street Art? Interested in going to Phnom Penh?
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