Philadelphia is roughly halfway between New York City and Washington, D.C. Since New York is America’s most famous city and Washington is the capital, Philadelphia is often overlooked. While Philly does lack the extensive public transit system of New York or even Washington, it does have the distinction of being the nation’s first capital. Neither of George Washington’s two terms as president were served in the city that bears his name. In fact, he died the year before the federal government moved there.
In addition to being first capital of the United States, Philadelphia has something else that neither New York nor Washington have: Cambodia Town! While Khmer cuisine is difficult to find outside of greater Seattle or California, South Philadelphia gives you options. Most of the businesses are along South 6th and 7th Streets (between Morris and Ritner).
Perhaps it is fitting that Cambodia Town is located in South Philadelphia. Like Philadelphia, Cambodia is sandwiched between two more famous neighbors. Most small cities in America have more than one Thai restaurant as well as a Vietnamese pho noodle shop. So what about Khmer (Cambodian) food? Well, if you can’t make it to Cambodia but live on the east coast, come to South Philadelphia. Yes, it is inconvenient. The subway does not go there, so buses are the only option for public transit. While Philadelphia is relatively car-friendly for a major city (the 5th largest city in the United States), parking can be as much of a challenge in Cambodia Town as in New York or Washington. While those issues may keep some people away, one should consider the fact that a trip to Cambodia would not have all the modern comforts that we in the west take for granted. In that sense, a trip to South Philadelphia is the American equivalent to a trip to Cambodia. Embrace it!
TOURISM IN CAMBODIA TOWN
Tourists tend to stay away from Cambodia Town and you may even get stares if you wander around too long, but this makes the experience all the more authentic. Like in most of Southeast Asia the people are very friendly. Show an interest in their culture and they will open up to you. If you don’t understand the menu, tell them what you like and they will point you in the right direction.
On weekends street food is also an option. In fact, if you plan your visit so you’re in Cambodia Town in the afternoon, you can fill up on street snacks without ever entering a restaurant. However, for the full experience, you should try a combination of both.
While you won’t find grilled rat, snake, VIP meat (that’s dog for those of you who’ve never been to Cambodia), live duck embryo or even insects, street food is an essential part of Khmer culture. Other favorites like amok (steamed fish in banana leaf), lap Khmer (raw beef salad), and bok lahong (papaya salad) are available in the restaurants.
Places to eat
I Heart Cambodia – 2207 South 7th St.
Khmer Kitchen – 1700 South 6th St.
Khmer Sweet Basil – 1801 South 6th St.
New Phnom Penh – 2301 South 7th St.
Places to shop
Chai Hong Market – 2200 South 7th St.
Eak Meng Grocery – 2122 South 7th St.
Phnom Penh Tmay Market – 2127 South 7th St.
Rising Star Grocery – 2123 South 7th St.
this sounds really cool! If I lived in the US I would definitely check this out
Hi Christel. Well, Philadelphia has a big international airport!
Wow, that’s so nice, Cambodia town ! 🙂
Never been to Philadelphia, definitely should go there one day. Great tips! I like thsoe Asian type of districts and would have a walk in Cambodia Town while in there. Food looks delicious!
I’m from the uk so I am not particularly well informed about Philadelphia but it sounds really cool. Another place I’d like to visit!!
i have Never been to Philadelphia! but it looks so beautiful. hope ill visit it one day
I didn’t have a clue Philadelphia was a capital city before. I learned something new. I agree that Philly has its own charm as well as NYC or Washington.
My friend went to Philadelphia last month and just loved it! Its on my bucket list. Hope to go there soon!
Cambodia town, somehow similar to china town? a little piece of that country in another country? so nice 🙂
Never heard of a place having a Cambodia Town before! But this is a concept that rocks 🙂 And it’s good to know that the inhabitants are every bit as friendly as their reputation would suggest.
Wow this is a very interesting post. Thank you for posting your street food recommendations 🙂
You’re right about Philadelphia getting overlooked. But now I feel like making a trip to Philly! 😀
I’ve been to Philadelphia multiple times but never Cambodia Town. To be honest, I didn’t even know it existed. But I’m going again in a few months and I will definitely check it out! Which restaurant that offers bok lahong (it’s one of my favourites) is the best to try?
I didn’t know Philadelphia had a Cambodia town. Really reminds me of when I visited Siem Reap, Cambodia.
I had no idea that there’s a Cambodia Town in Philly! It would be nice to go here and just try all the food! It’s something that you can do if you want to be more familiar with Cambodia’s culture.
This sounds like a lovely place if you’re feeling adventurous with food! I would love to try the street food but I would rather follow your advice and try a combination of trying out the restaurants and the street food when I’m there.
Wow I never knew that Philadelphia had a Cambodia town! Definitely something worth checking out at some point!
A Cambodia town in Philadelphia, that really sounds interesting. i was fascinated by the Angkor Pharmacy and the food too looks authentic.
What?! I had no idea there was a Cambodia Town.. let alone one in Philly. I loved all of the food I ate while in Cambodia. Need to check these places out! ^^
I never been to Philly but I heard so many good things about it. Cambodia Town seems amazing.
Thanks for the tips! It looks very cool and I would like to go someday.
Yum. So hungry now. Love traveling through food. I used food as a tool to get my kids ready for travel too. I will check out this area on my trip to Philly.
Cambodian. Street Food. In the US? I must go! NOW!!! No seriously, this sounds absolutely delish and I will make it a point to add Philadelphia to my next trip to DC!
I knew about Chinatown but Cambodia town? That is a first but it does make sense!
It’s amazing how big metropolis have these areas where you can find Asian street food. I have been to Asia and I remember how delicious the food was. Most of the cities have China Towns, it’s so cool that Philadelphia has Cambodia town.
I hadn’t realized that Philadelphia had a Cambodia town. I’ve yet to visit Philly, but when I do I’ll be sure to check out some of the places on your list.
We have not had the privilege of visiting the eastern states, and I am happy you’ve highlighted what plenty of travelers would miss. This is a unique experience in culture! I’m glad you chosen to showcase it despite it not being along a metro stop, or having ‘traditional’ cuisine. Great post!
What a cool place to visit! I would definitely head there for the food!
Excellent post man! I got a chance to travel SE Asia pretty well and spent quite a bit of time next door, in Thailand. Unfortunately, didn’t have time for Cambodia. I am planning a trip to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, coming soon. Might as well visit Philly when I’m in the States haha. Also, great photography (skylinesfromrooftops.com).
Can’t believe there is a Cambodia Town in Philadelphia. Sounds strange and very interesting. Would definitely love to try the food. Why tourists don’t go there? Would you say it is a bit dangerous?
There are no other tourist attractions in the immediate area
I didn’t know Philly had a Little Cambodia! That’s so awesome and the food looks amazing. I’ll definitely have to check this out if I ever make it there.
Wow, this looks so cool. I love the wall art. I will definitely have to explore Philadelphia in the future! Thanks for sharing this and great blog!!
Whoa, I didn’t know about this before! I haven’t even seen many Cambodian restaurants compared to their neighboring Thai, so this is a surprise. The street food must be divine. It would be the perfect foreign town with same happy and hospitable people like those in Southeast Asia. 🙂
You had me at papaya salad from street vendors! But in general, I don’t know of (m)any US cities that have Cambodia Towns. I plan to be in Philly later this year, so I’ll have to make a stop in this ‘hood.
Thank you for sharing! I’ve never really thought of visiting Philadelphia before. Looks like a great town!
Very interesting information, would definately check this place out , when ever i visit Philadelphia.
This looks like a great place to visit! The street food looks great!
I actually really want to visit Philly, I’m from the UK so hoping to holiday around the states sometime! Cambodia town looks interesting and I love the sound of the street food market too!!
We have actually visited Cambodia and loved everything about it, including the food. How wonderful to be able to eat it in Philadelphia. Cambodia Town rocks!
Great post, I had no idea Philadelphia had a Cambodia town! I’ve always wanted to visit this city, mainly for its great significance for American history. I’m a huge fan of Cambodian food so I’ll definitely drop by here whenever I get the cancellation to visit!
Trying some new dishes in Cambodia town sounds like fun. I need to remember this the next time we head to Philadelphia for a show.
What kind of show?
Food looks awesome! Haven;t put too much thought into Cambodian food or Philadelphia, but this post certainly opened my eyes and mind a little. Keep blogging! 🙂
Oh cool! the last place I think about is Philadelphia. Thanks so shining a light on a “hidden gem” of a city.
I have never been to Philly before but it looks pretty nice, I may now have to visit one day.
Wow! This is so cool! Ive never been to Philly before! I never knew there was a Cambodia town though!
Nice article…definitely put Philly on my radar!
philadephia, will look to see more on this place, thanks for this.
Philadelphia is so beautiful! I never knew it had a Cambodia town in it. It looks so fun, and I can’t wait to try the food, and experience the culture! 🙂
I had no idea there was a Cambodia Town in Philly! Its good to know that they serve normal food alongside the more ahem unconventional offerings.
I have only driven through Philadelphia once, and would love to explore more – Cambodia Town seems to be the place I probably should start, as I am a foodie, and I can just imagine the flavors, yum. Thanks for pointing it out. blessings!
I have yet to make it out east but this post just gave me another push!! Thanks for the info and inspiration!
There is so much richness going on in Philly! I want some of the food!
Ivelisse | CarnationDreams.com
sounds like an entertaining place to visit, love the photos… I’d like to see Philadelphia some day: )
Oh this looks like so much fun! Thank you for sharing with us a snippet of Cambodia town in Philly.
Your post was really interesting. I never knew that something like cambodia town exists. if i evergo to philadelphia i will definetely check out cambodia town
That looks cool! Thanks for sharing. I wouldn’t have thought such a place would exist in Philadelphia!
How interesting! I never knew this existed! We were in Cambodia last year–it would be fun to stumble across a ‘Little Cambodia’ back in the USA! Also, with our food regulations I guess it makes sense why they aren’t selling much in the way of roasted insects on the side of the road…ah, rules and regulations…
This is truly amazing. Being in two places at the same time – Cambodia and Philadelphia! Thanks for this info. Will duly take note of this. 🙂 🙂 🙂
It’s been a while since I’ve visited Philly, but I had no idea this existed!
Wow… Never knew something like this existed.. Very interesting.. Thanks for sharing
Wow. I have never heard a Cambodia town before….always China town. Anyway, this one looks even better than the latter one. Hope to find one in my future travels.
We are fascinated by Cambodia and wish to visit soon. And if we were to get a chance to visit US we would love to check out this version of Cambodia in Philadelphia.
Wow that food looks delicious! Makes me miss Siem Reap and my adventures there. Crazy that I grew up so close (in NJ) and had no idea Camdodia Town even existed.
This was an interesting read. Cambodia Town looks cool. Thanks for sharing.
Love this post! I want to visit Cambodia
Have any of you actually been here yet? Not to be a downer but I live here. Not by choice, but because financially it’s a necessity. I’m sorry but this place is disgusting ( i live a block away from “cambodia town”… it’s all cambodia town down here). It is absolutely filthy. I’ve never seen so many flies, waterbugs and roaches in my life… thankfully not in my house (i pray never to inherit that problem from neighbors) but definitely all around me. They seem to be regularly cooking rat on the corner… won’t say for sure because no, they’re not THAT friendly. There’s garbage everywhere. Oh yeah, don’t forget a couple blocks over, an old drug spot that got shut down (supposedly when I lived there 7 years back.) Lots of addicts come night time, and rowdy street kids of various ethnicities. Cambodia town seems family oriented but it’s really hard to get past the filth… come on by and see what i mean. I took my kids to the nearby park and had to try to explain why they shouldn’t copy the other EIGHT YEAR OLD child picking candy off the STREET right near a trash can and eating it. This park that regularly has broken glass and needles laying around. Yup, come on down. Then please get me the he** out of here!!
Thanks for reading my post. The purpose of my blog is to highlight places that most people would not visit on their own. Both personally and as a blogger, I try to find beauty in things that the “mainstream” would consider ugly. I’ve been to Cambodia Town both before and after my trip to Cambodia. I would love for you to read this post https://imayroam.com/2016/05/12/6-tips-enjoying-holiday-cambodia/. It should give you an idea of what the Cambodian people fled in order to go to places like Long Beach and South Philadelphia. Finally, Khmer cuisine does not get the credit it deserves. South Philadelphia is the only place that I’m aware of (outside of Long Beach and Greater Seattle) that has this many Cambodian restaurants and stores in such a close vicinity. Yes, I saw needles on the ground along South 7th Street and was warned to get out of there after dark, but I try to focus on the positive things when I write. The “mainstream media” does a good enough job of focusing on the negative, often scaring people away from places that have a lot to offer.
The food looks amazing! I have never heard of Cambodia Town! It sounds great and would love to check it out sometime! Thanks for sharing!
I had no idea there was a Little Cambodia in Philadelphia – very interesting! I live in Montreal so it would definitely be closer to go there than to Cambodia. 😉
Bonjour Lydia. It’s been more than 10 years since I’ve been to Quebec. Hope to return before 2020. Especially after watching Anthony Bourdain’s episode there!
You knkw, i never lnew Philadelphia had a Cambodia town. Granted I’ve never been to Philadelphia so that might be way lol. I absolutely love street food though. I’d definitely try some out there.
I have never been to Philadelphia. Visiting Cambodia town looks so fun and yummy! Will pin for an upcoming visit.
I am definitely going to check some of these out when I am in Philly this July.
Didn’t know about the Cambodia town in Philly. Not only that I was surprised, but I was amazed by your photos, description, food and small stores you’ve captured. Thanks! 🙂
Wow. Since I am from just outside Philadelphia, you would think I would know about Cambodia Town. I know exactly where this is, I just never heard it referred to as Cambodia town. See even a local can learn something new about their own town.
Hi Susan. It’s not officially recognized.
I’m very curious about Khmer food and you make the tour around this district look quite interesting. Although I’m not a VIP meat kind a girl!
Well, I spend time in Cambodia and did not try VIP meat either https://imayroam.com/2016/05/12/6-tips-enjoying-holiday-cambodia/
Philadelphia looks like fun city to explore! 🙂
Hi Esperanza. Yes, and check out this guide along the Broad Street Line https://imayroam.com/2019/05/01/philadelphia-broad-street-line/
I was in Philly last month. I wish I had an idea of Cambodia town, would have loved to explore its cuisine! I’ll definitely try to visit there whenever I’ll visit Philadelphia again!
Let me know how you like it, Ana. Where did you end up going in Philly?
I have to admit, I am one of those people who have overlooked Philly in favour of NYC and DC! I actually had no idea that it was the country’s first capital.
I don’t think I’ve ever tried Cambodian food either! The street food sounds so good.
Hi Cookie. For more on Cambodian food………….. https://imayroam.com/2018/02/23/khmer-cambodian-cuisine/
It’s like a taste of Asia in Philly. It’s nice to know that a Cambodia town can be seen in that part of US. See, the most famous town you always heard of is Chinatown. Where ever in the world you live, you always find Chinatown in it. But Cambodia town, it’s quite new. Nice one!
Hi Synz. Thanks for commenting. In case you’re ever in Lowell……. https://imayroam.com/2021/08/13/cambodian-cuisine-culture-lowell/
Sounds kinda interesting. Im a fan of Cambodian food. and to see that in Baltimore and experience the culture would be oddly surprising. Nice one!
Hi Sreekar. Nothing that I know of yet in Baltimore. But check this out https://imayroam.com/2021/07/05/jasmine-norton-urban-oyster-baltimore-food-guide/
We’ll be passing through South Philly in a couple of weeks and are grateful for the recommendations. Had no idea any of this even existed there.
Enjoy! Here are some more suggestions https://imayroam.com/2021/05/25/kampar-kitchen-angelina-branca-philly/
How could I miss Cambodia Town when I used to drop by my favorite Indonesian haunt Hardena not far from Tasker-Morris Station!
Hi Dan. I love Hardena as well! https://imayroam.com/2021/05/25/kampar-kitchen-angelina-branca-philly/