004. Chbar Ampov

In this “SERIES:”, we intended to take a closer look at how Chbar Ampov came to be, what its current state is like, and what future potentials and threats are awaiting the district.

The backstory of the district

To the southeast of Phnom Penh city proper lies Chbar Ampov, an up-and-coming district that's been considered by many to be Phnom Penh's last green frontier.

Formerly a part of Kandal province, the area only formally became part of the capital in 1998 under the then administration of Meanchey district. It was later granted its own administrative status as the official district of Chbar Ampov in 2013.

Naming Origin

As its name suggests, Chbar Ampov, which means “sugar cane garden”, used to be a part of the rural outskirts of the then much smaller Phnom Penh. Dominated by lush farmlands, it was (and still is) renowned for its abundance of fresh local produce such as corn, longan and banana.

Geographical location

A map with the Chbar Ampov district highlighted in orange.

Geographically, it is located on the tip of a long-stretched island shared by Cambodia and Vietnam and is surrounded by the Mekong and the Bassac River on both sides. Since the island's northern tip (where the district is located) naturally forms a narrow peninsula, residents of the area are able to enjoy the humid breeze from the two rivers all year round. Additionally, this geographical alignment also enables exceptional fertility of its soil, which the locals have been taking advantage of for many generations.

Bassac, being the narrowest stretch of river to cut across Phnom Penh, allowed Chbar Ampov to be more easily accessible from the main part of town than any other district to the east. This lead to connecting infrastructure (such as bridges) being much less expensive to build.

Archival image of the formerly “Gustave Eiffel Bridge”.
Source: Kasen Post, 2021

The first-ever bridge to connect the area to the main part of Phnom Penh was built in 1928 during the reign of King Sisowath Monivong. Decades later, the bridge, which was formerly called the “Gustave Eiffel Bridge”, eventually began to weather, and a plan for its reparation was to place in 1964. A new bridge in its place, the one that is still currently in use today, was finally opened in 1966.

Being home to sprawling greenery and a plethora of other geographical advantages certainly catapulted Chbar Ampov to becoming a clear and ideal spot for Phnom Penh’s residential overspill.

Chbar Ampov as of today

Just in a little over a decade, the Chbar Ampov district has seen a drastic transformation in its suburban landscape.

Thanks in part to its geographical strong points, the area grew from what had been described by many as a rural agricultural back garden to a new hot spot for residential and lifestyle developers. This is evident by the fact that the Chbar Ampov district is now home to around 164 000 people according to a 2019 census – a healthy 23% growth from 10 years before that.

Although residential development projects tend to only occupy a part of Chbar Ampov's western tip, the district is still home to around 10% of the capital's total housing development – big and small.

Analytical infographics of housing population in Phnom Penh.
Source 1: City Population, 2022
Source 2: Khmer Times, 2018

In an attempt to better integrate Chbar Ampov into the capital's proper, and to attract newer development and investment to the area, the City Hall has been implementing a three-year development plan for the district. With this program, they set out to spend $1.2 million per year on the expansion of road networks, and renovation of existing infrastructure such as buildings and sewage systems.

Collage of news headlines about Chbar Ampov future developments.

All this effort to develop Chbar Ampov doesn't mean that the area has lost its original essence, however. Much of the eastern and southeastern part of the district where communes such as Kbal Koh, Preak Thmey and Preak Pra lie still preserve much of the district's green infrastructure while other communes such as Chbar Ampov Ti Mouy, Chbar Ampov Ti Pi and Nirouth remain the most developed. This can simply be traced to generational farming traditions that still persist among most families that have been living along the banks of the Bassac River for decades.

What’s coming soon at Chbar Ampov

Along with the many smaller scale boreys that have been sprouting out in the area, several massive projects have been announced and slated to be built in Chbar Ampov in the next few years.

Mixed-use developments like Koh Norea satellite city (125ha) and One Phnom Penh (61ha) are set to house more than 50,000 residents, each aiming to encompass all aspects of a major city: residency, commerce, finance, education, health and leisure. As extensions to the ever-enlarging city center, both projects will boast a variety of amenities such as high-rise residential units, office spaces, hotels and retail.

What could not be remissed is the largest housing community in all of Cambodia (Borey Peng Huoth Beung Snor) consisting of 300+ hectares, which continues to expand and occupy most of the area between the Bassac River and Road 114 (2nd ring road). To the east, Vattanacville plans to introduce a new smart eco-city spanning over 1,000 hectares.

Source:, 2022; Kulen Property Group
Source: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates; Peng Huoth

Being a future development zone, Chbar Ampov has been receiving needed attention from Phnom Penh City Hall and private investors in terms of infrastructure development. In addition to existing Nat’l Road 1 & the Monivong bridges, many road networks and infrastructures are also either being constructed or are underway.

The most notable of these being the Koh Norea suspended bridge (which would help bring the city center even closer to the greater Chbar Ampov district), Prek Talong bridge, and the long-awaited Mekong river bridge connecting Nat’l Road 1 to Areyksat.

In this trajectory, the northwestern tip of Chbar Ampov will be more gentrified with amenities and infrastructure. Thus, making the southern and eastern parts a new residential zone with easy connectivity to the southern tips of Phnom Penh and the emerging 60 meter road area (Hun Sen Boulevard).

Chbar Ampov has the potential to become Phnom Penh's first multi-faceted green district where businesses and residency converge within a greenery-incorporated landscape. City planners and future developers should be diligent and be aware of the area’s surrounding nature to cultivate its benefits for our community.