Tours of modern architecture in Cambodia
Our tours focus on buildings erected after Cambodia's independence in 1953, a style described as 'New Khmer Architecture', while setting these within the historical context of Phnom Penh.
tours take place on the second and fourth weekend of each month.
Regular public tours:
23 February 14
9 March 14
23 March 14
6 April 14
27 April 14
How to book:
For all tours, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your request for places. Please include names, at least one local telephone number and which tour you would like. We will email you back with a booking confirmation and meeting point details.
regular tours start at 8.30am unless otherwise indicated. Tours tend to be fully booked, especially
during the high season (December through March) so it is advisable to reserve
at least a week in advance. Last minute bookings can also be accommodated
depending on availability, along with shared tour options.
Fees are collected by the guide at the start of each tour; cash only
Fees are collected by the guide at the start of each tour; cash only please.
Details of regular public tours :Please note, all tours involve a fair share of walking outside, so suitable attire is advised.
Central Phnom Penh by cyclo
Traveling by cyclo (a Cambodian pedal-powered rickshaw) is a special way of experiencing the streets and buildings of the city. We will enter some buildings and see others from the cyclo, as well as exploring on foot.
We start at 8:30 am and return after 2.5 - 3 hours. Cost is 15 USD per person including the cyclo hire.
tour normally takes place on the second Sunday of each month, but can
be arranged to run at different times on request.
meet in town at the Post Office and travel by bus. Start at 8.30am, end around 11.30am.
meet in town and travel by bus. Start at 8.30am, end around 11.30am.
We then take a short walk around the area known as the Front du Bassac, planned in the 1960s to be a 'civic and cultural centre', and look briefly at the Grey Building and visit an apartment in the White Building. The Grey Building, now altered, was designed by Vann Molyvann as an Olympic Village for the Southeast Asian Games; the White Building was designed as public housing by the municipality of Phnom Penh.
at 8.30am and end around 10.30am.
If you are interested in a special 'custom' or private tour, please email us. We offer two options for private tours and can modify these to some extent, based on the sites you would like to visit. For our 1960s tour, it usually takes one hour per site including transport time. All tours are conducted in English and led by Cambodian architects and students of architecture.
1 Central Phnom Penh by cyclo
(description above in the 'Details of tours' section).
2 New Khmer Architecture of the 1960s.
The New Khmer Architecture tour explores Phnom Penh’s landmarks designed by Vann Molyvann, Cambodia’s most famous architect. After independence in 1953, a far-reaching cultural and social vision for Cambodia was reflected in the new architecture of the time; uniquely this focused on integrating an international style with local tradition, materials and climate. This tour visits the National Sports Complex (Olympic Stadium), the Universities Campus, the 100 houses (social housing) and, if requested, the Chaktomuk Conference Hall. The tour takes around 3 hrs and is by tuk-tuk (a motorbike-powered rickshaw), car or mini-bus. Tours usually start at 8.30am or alternatively at 2.30pm. Rates in USD:
2 New Khmer Architecture of the 1960s.
The New Khmer Architecture tour explores Phnom Penh’s landmarks designed by Vann Molyvann, Cambodia’s most famous architect. After independence in 1953, a far-reaching cultural and social vision for Cambodia was reflected in the new architecture of the time; uniquely this focused on integrating an international style with local tradition, materials and climate. This tour visits the National Sports Complex (Olympic Stadium), the Universities Campus, the 100 houses (social housing) and, if requested, the Chaktomuk Conference Hall.
The tour takes around 3 hrs and is by tuk-tuk (a motorbike-powered rickshaw), car or mini-bus. Tours usually start at 8.30am or alternatively at 2.30pm.
Rates in USD:
1 - 3 guests: first hour at $25, subsequent hours at $10
eg 3 guests for 3 hours = $45 for the group, plus transport per guest.
Additional transport costs:
Cyclo; about $2 per hour per cyclo / guest.
Any large group will be divided to have a maximum of 12 people.
To request more information and to check availability, please email us at: contact(at)ka-tours.org.
The maps are free for personal use. Download and print them for handy, full-of-info guides to some of the most interesting streets in Phnom Penh and Battambang. All comments/suggestions gratefully received. Copyright notice: please note that reproduction for commercial use is not allowed.
Maps of Battambang are available in both Khmer and English; these have been produced by KAT in partnership with the City of Battambang and GIZ Land Rights Programme. Our Phnom Penh Central map, first released in 2006, was updated in 2013.
Phnom Penh Central Map (English)
Central and South Maps (Khmer)
Battambang Central and South Maps in (English)
1 Notes on cultural context:
For Cambodia, the late 1950s and 1960s was a period of dynamic cultural and political ambition, which resulted in an extensive programme of building. A far-reaching cultural and social vision for Cambodia was reflected in the new architecture of that time which focused on integrating an international style with local tradition, materials and climate.
The resulting style has been called New Khmer Architecture and is beginning to be recognised as an important artistic milestone in 20th century Cambodian culture. Darryl Collins, Helen Grant Ross and Hok Sokol carried out extensive original research into the architecture of the 50s and 60s; see Building Cambodia: New Khmer Architecture 1953-1970 listed below.
The innovative cultural scene of the late 50's and the 60s is discussed in Cultures of Independence published by Reyum: "The period following independence in Cambodia seems to have been marked by a willingness to expand and incorporate new elements, looking both outside and inside the newly independent nation for available methods and materials with which to build a modern culture. An emerging urban elite undertook the task of conceiving, defining, and building a "modern Khmer culture". Whether consciously or not, most of their work took up questions of how to create forms that would be recognised as both Cambodian and modern. In other words, for example how to create a contemporary architecture which incorporated ideas of international modernism while still keeping a local specificity, or how to take forms established elsewhere - such as the novel or cinema - and produce these forms as part of Cambodian culture."
2 Reference material:Strolling around Phnom Penh
Jean-Michel Filippi, published by KAM Editions, 2012.
Building Cambodia: New Khmer Architecture 1953-1970
Penh a l'aube du XXIe siecle
of Independence: An introduction to Cambodian
Arts and Culture in the 1950s and 1960s
Penh developpment urbain et patrimoine
Penh Then and Now
Modern Architecture (MIMOA) - free online architecture guide:
SangSalapak : Building Arts - organises occasional architectural events
Reyum Institute of Art and Culture - research and publishing on cultural
Architecture Link in the UK - info on architecture tours internationally:
of Modern Khmer Architecture - images:
New Khmer Architecture:
The Vann Molyvann Project - drawings/models of buildings through measured surveys:
The buildings pictured in 1-10 above are included in our tours. 11-12 are Sihanoukville Station - go see it yourself!
New '1960s' tour; see details below...
People say...> "Thank you for the tour of New Khmer Architecture in Phnom Penh. I can't tell you how much we enjoyed it and found it a brilliant introduction not only to a fascinating architectural period... but also to Cambodia and Phnom Penh in general. KA Tours is a very impressive organisation. Your knowledge, professionalism and especially your love and enthusiasm for your subject is infectious." - RV
> "We had a terrific tour this morning, - my colleagues said that it was the best thing they had undertaken in Phnom Penh." - SH
> "So far, I have attended three of your tours and the only thing I can say is that you are doing a wonderful job. The service is perfect, with clear explanations, guides passionate about their subject, great organization! Well done!" - SB
> "I went on the cyclo tour this afternoon and I just wanted to let you know that my guide was excellent... He is one of the best guides I've had in my three months of traveling. I had a wonderful afternoon." - VM
> "We downloaded the map and had a wonderful morning, 8am to 1pm looking at all the buildings. As an introduction to Phnom Penh it was magic. The subject matter was fascinating, the notes short but very informative and it took us down streets we would never have visited if we had kept to the main tourist sites. We looked at the street scenes with heightened interest and saw more than we would have done withour the guide. An excellent experience. Please pass on our appreciation to the architects in your group who have done such a good job." - JS
> "I just wanted to let you know that we've done the architecture walking tour - downloadable version - last Friday and we loved it! it's a beautiful walk, just long enough and gives you a total different perspective on Phnom Penh! After that walk, we paid a lot more attention to the buildings in PP and that was a true enrichment!" - JO
Updates by email
> If you register with us, we will email occasional reminders about tour dates, but not too often. Your email details will not passed on to any one else; and you can unregister at any time. Please let us know if you would like to be on our list via:
> We welcome comments and suggestions about buildings, tours etc. Have you seen any architectural gems which might be worth visiting?
Who are we?
> The aim of KA Tours is to promote the understanding of modern architecture in Cambodia. Started in 2003 as an independent, not-for-profit organisation, KA Tours is an operation of Space for Architecture which is also located in Phnom Penh and promotes dialogue about urban heritage and design as part of Cambodia’s cultural heritage. space for architecture
> In addition to arranging tours and guiding, KA Tours researches buildings and provides training in preparing data about important buildings. Founded by Geoff PYLE, KA Tours' guides/researchers are all Cambodian architects and students of architecture. The Director is Stefanie IRMER. The Coordinator is Tara MAR. Our guides are SIM Sitho, YAM Sokly, EM Soceata and ROEUN Virak.> Funds raised by donations or tour fees are directly channelled into covering costs of the tours, which include guide fees, as well as sponsoring additional educational activities such as lectures, research and guide training.
> We are highly honoured to have as our Patron His Excellency VANN Molyvann.
> Khmer Architecture Tours relies on the enthusiasm and efforts of our team of collaborators which includes students of architecture and graduates employed as tour guides and researchers, local and foreign architects, and architecture fans who support KA Tours as advisers, map-makers and lecturers. A mention to past researchers/guides HANN Lina, CHEAM Phanin, HOU Sarith, HOK Vichet and SOTH Sothea; all-round advisor Jane MARTIN and map-maker Tobias OLSSON.
> If you are interested in assisting with research or guiding please contact us.