Is running popular in Southeast Asia? A Japanese university runner experienced the running culture in Cambodia | RuntripMagazine[ラントリップマガジン]

Hello, I'm Mizuki, an intern at Runtrip Magazine's editorial department. Currently a university student taking a leave of absence from his 6th year of medical school. When he was in high school, he belonged to the track and field club and specialized in middle-distance running. She still participates in competitions such as marathons and trail running as a citizen runner.

Last year, I took a leave of absence from university and participated in medical-related internships in Cambodia and Kenya in order to deepen my knowledge of medical care in developing countries. Even in such a life,It is no exaggeration to say that running is essential, and I spent every day running in the area. There, I discovered things that I discovered only because I ran in a place far away from Japan.

This time, I will report on the running culture and spots I encountered during my stay in Cambodia, as well as the points I paid attention to when running.

Cambodia where you can immerse yourself in an extraordinary atmosphere

Cambodia attracts many tourists from Japan. Angkor Wat, a world heritage site, is famous, but what kind of atmosphere does the city have?

I was staying in Phnom Penh, the capital located in the south, and it was relatively safe, so I could easily move around the city using Grab (a ride-hailing app popular in Southeast Asia). can.

What particularly impressed me was the Cambodian cuisine. The seasoning is a little ethnic, but it's not too spicy like Thai food, and many of the dishes are very approachable. With a wide variety of fish, meat, vegetables, and fruits, you can enjoy a wide variety of dishes.

cambodian food

In addition, in the center of Phnom Penh, there are restaurants that serve not only Cambodian cuisine but also cuisines from around the world such as Lebanese and Mexican cuisine. There are also many Japanese restaurants, so don't worry if you miss Japanese food.

Furthermore, there are three large shopping malls in Phnom Penh, where you can always find Japanese ingredients and daily necessities.

Cambodia is a very comfortable place to spend time, but the chaotic traffic and the smell of durian in the streets give it a distinctly Southeast Asian feel. One of the charms of Cambodia is that you can surrender to an extraordinary atmosphere.

Recommended running spots in Cambodia

Currently, running is becoming increasingly popular in Cambodia. Here we will introduce two popular running spots in the capital Phnom Penh where we met many runners.

① Phnom Penh Olympic Stadium

In addition to an athletics field and an outer running course, this is a multipurpose stadium with tennis courts, volleyball courts, basketball courts, and a gymnasium. You must pay an admission fee to use the athletics field and various courts, but you can enter the running and walking courses around the perimeter and above the stadium seats for free.

The track and field stadium is crowded every day, and in addition to citizen runners, there are also people who appear to be athletes. Also, in Japan, track and field stadiums have the image of being a place for serious practice, but in Cambodia, there were people walking and children playing.

The playing field inside the stadium is empty after the rain.

I always find myself curious about the running shoes people are wearing. I was a little surprised to see so many people, including those practicing inside the stadium and those running around the outside, wearing high-performance shoes.

Cambodian people in the city usually wear sandals. However, some of the people exercising at the Olympic Stadium were wearing shoes that are commonly seen in Japan, such as Nike's Vaporfly 3, Asics' GEL-KAYANO, and Adidas' Adizero Boston. I felt the development of Cambodia, the accompanying rise in health awareness, and the improvement in living standards.

Along the outer course. Aerobics was also popular!

[Click here for course details]

② Along the Tonle Sap River

If you want to jog, we recommend the footpath that runs along the Mekong River. There is a straight sidewalk for about 2km, and there are no traffic lights, so it is very easy to walk. Furthermore, the most recommended point of this course is that you can watch the sunrise over the Tonle Sap River. It was the most beautiful sunrise of my life.

Sunrise seen from the Tonle Sap River
riverside course

A morning run under the sky that changes with the sunrise, basking in the divine morning sun and breathing in the fresh air is sure to be the best start to your day. There are tourist attractions such as the Royal Palace and Independence Monument nearby, as well as stylish cafes, so we recommend enjoying sightseeing in the area after your run.

Royal Palace located right next to the Tonle Sap River

[Click here for course details]

I participated in a running event held in Phnom Penh!

While I was in Phnom Penh, I participated in a running event called “PPCC Fun Run 5K/10K & KKRC Elite Race 5K'' that is held regularly there.

There are elite divisions (5km) and general divisions (5 and 10km), and I participated in the 5km general division with a friend. There is no entry fee for both the elite and general divisions. Although the race started before sunrise to avoid the heat, it was a lively event with many runners participating.

Condition before the start

In the elite division, time will be measured, and prizes and prizes will be awarded to winners. The general category starts slowly and runs on a 1km loop course. There is no time measurement, but a style where individuals measure their time and finish. After finishing the race, everyone picked up trash in the surrounding area.

There was a lot of interaction between runners, and I was very happy to see how running brings people together in Cambodia as well.

Points to keep in mind when running

Cambodia is recommended for a variety of people, but there are some things you should be aware of when going for a run.


Cambodia still has inadequate roads. The roads are congested, and there are times when motorbikes and three-wheeled vehicles called tuk-tuks are running in all directions. In crowded areas, the amount of exhaust gas is also high. To enjoy running safely, we recommend running in a place with a well-maintained running course.

It gets quite hot during the day, so running in the morning and evening is recommended, but it's best to run when the sky is slightly brighter, such as around sunrise or in the evening. It's even safer to run with someone instead of alone.

hot and humid climate

Phnom Penh has a tropical climate, meaning it is hot throughout the year and extremely humid during the rainy season. Especially during the day, take precautions against UV rays, stay hydrated, and be careful of heatstroke. We recommend visiting in the morning or evening, when the temperature is slightly cooler and the sun is less intense.

It is also recommended to run along the Tonle Sap River while admiring the night view.

Experience Cambodia's running culture

Through my stay in Cambodia, I felt strongly that running has become a national sport. The background to this is that the country has changed rapidly in recent years, and people's living standards have improved. I think people are becoming more health conscious as a result.

The gym was also crowded with people.

Also, by participating in running events and experiencing the interaction between runners and the lively atmosphere, I realized that the power of running to connect people is universal.

Furthermore, in Cambodia, where awareness of environmental issues is still low due to the developing country, I was surprised that garbage picking was incorporated into the event, which is a very advanced initiative. Because running uses public places, it is easy to increase environmental awareness, which may serve as a driving force for improving environmental issues.

The difference from Japan is that time passes slowly for people. Time passed more slowly than in Japan, and I felt that the overall atmosphere of the city was more laid-back. The runners seemed to be enjoying running and walking freely in their own style.

If you have a chance to travel to Cambodia, why not enjoy running and surrender to the somewhat chaotic atmosphere that gives you a nostalgic feeling?

(Text/Photo: Runtrip Magazine Editorial Department Intern Mizuki)

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