Aerobics (Line Dancing)
Every morning at the crack of dawn, and again at dusk, Cambodians gather in several pockets throughout the city to participate in quirky and colourful aerobics sessions. This quintessential Cambodian phenomenon sees a ringleader, equipped with boom box and microphone, whip protégés into shape with a mix of 1980s, Soviet-style calisthenics and Thriller-inspired line-dancing moves. It’s favoured by middle-aged Khmer women, but you’ll see both sexes and all ages participating, and tourists are more than welcome.
There are many places to join in the fun or just observe. Olympic Stadium is probably the best spot for the sheer volume of participants; several instructors compete for clients and the upper level of the grandstand becomes a cacophony of competing boom boxes.
The riverfront usually sees some action: the space opposite Blue Pumpkin at the terminus of St 144 is a good bet. Another popular place that usually sees several groups in action is Wat Botum Park, along Samdech Sothearos Blvd.
Boat trips on the Tonlé Sap and Mekong Rivers are very popular with visitors. Sunset cruises are ideal, the burning sun sinking slowly behind the glistening spires of the Royal Palace. A slew of cruising boats are available for hire on the riverfront about 500m north of the tourist-boat dock. Just rock up and arrange one on the spot for around US$20 an hour, depending on negotiations and numbers. You can bring your own drinks or buy beer and soft drinks on the boat.
Public river cruises are another option. They leave every 30 minutes from 5pm to 7.30pm from the tourist-boat dock and last about 45 minutes (US$5 per head).
It is easy enough to hire a bike and go it alone, although take some time to familiarise yourself with traffic conditions first. Koh Dach is a doable DIY trip, or venture across the Mekong River on a local ferry (1000r including bike), which departs from the riverfront just north of the eastern end of Sihanouk Blvd, and pick up bucolic back roads on the other side. Or opt for something more organised (with or without a guide). Vicious Cycle runs daily group tours to Udong or Koh Dach, departing before 8am.
Fitness Centres & Swimming
The fanciest hotels in Phnom Penh will let you use their gyms and pools for a fee. A few of the boutique hotels will let you swim if you buy a few bucks’ worth of food or cocktails. Keep in mind that the pools at most boutique hotels are pretty small, more for dipping and cooling off than for doing laps. Most other midrange boutiques charge US$5 for pool rights.
If you can’t survive without a swing, Phnom Penh has several 18-hole courses, but most of them lie about 30km or more out of town.
Massage & Spas
There are plenty of massage parlours in Phnom Penh, though some are purveying ‘naughty’ massages. However, there are also scores of legitimate massage centres and some superb spas for that pampering palace experience.
Yoga studios around town hold regular classes. Check their websites for schedules. Some offer discounts for multiple classes.