Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is the busy capital city of Cambodia which from the first glimpse is challenging for travelers. Although, there was a day it was considered a one of the most beautiful capitals in Asia, war and revolution did its impact and since then city is still rebuilding and imitates Fenix rising from the ashes. Situated on Mekong and Tonle Sap river junction with all those cafes, bars, restaurants and parks on its walkable riverfront Phnom Penh is ready to be explored!

Some of its highlights could be the ornate and glittering Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda or National Museum where you can find many artifacts from around the country. However, many of the travelers skip the bright and vibrant side of Phnom Penh and go visit gloomier and sorrowful part of it. With Security Prison 21 (S21) and Killing fields as their main attraction in the city. Both of these sights were used by Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979. S21 was former secondary school transformed into a political prison and now serves as a museum chronicling the Cambodian genocide. While Killing Fields was a former orchard just 17 kilometers away from Phnom Penh transformed into a believed largest mass grave site where during Khmer Rouge reign around 17,000 Cambodian men, women and children were executed. The fields now serve as a stark educational reminder about the bitter past, so it would never repeat itself.

Phnom Penh streets are always full and buzzling with millions of motorbikes, cars and helpful tuk tuks. Traffic has no worries regarding pedestrians, the rule is similar as we witnessed in South Asia “Do not to stop! Just keep moving forward!”. In our opinion city has its own unique charm, spicy feel to it and commercial attitude where people strive for survival every day!

Helpful tips

Restaurants. There are multiple places in the city where you can find descent food. In most of the local restaurants you will find price and quality ratio alright and food fresh, especially fish as city is close to massive Mekong River and not far from the Gulf of Thailand. In many restaurants they even have aquariums where you can choose food from like a menu. Stop by and try local food in street markets, look for a cleaner place and enjoy!

We usually enjoyed food not far from where we stayed in local and nameless restaurants around the area or city center. Not only because it was way cheaper than chain restaurants, but also to touch how ordinary people who live here eats. There is always an option to eat at your hotel, although, it is usually a bit expensive, as many accommodation providers will have a restaurant installed, so you do not need to go look for food.

Markets. In Phnom Penh not as in almost every other city in Cambodia you will easily find a lot of cheap souvenirs to put on your fridge. However, we encourage to walk around and look for hand made goods in local markets. Here they will charge you more if you look like a tourist. In shops all over city prices vary around same level, thus, choose a more convenient for you. We did find that “Kiwi Mart”, “Super Duper” and “Lucky” shops they would accept card payment, however, there are much more small shops and markets which do not accept it, thus, be prepared and have some cash with you!

Transportation. To get to Phnom Penh you can use car, bus, train, plane or even boat as it is the capital of Cambodia, it has great accessibility. We traveled to Phnom Penh using hitchhiking from Kep. The road quality is alright, they are not massive but well maintained. We got lucky and reached Phnom Penh just before the sunset. Either way you choose, be aware that infrastructure is not bad but clearly not the best, roads are small and sometimes two-line road (one line each direction) is already considered as a highway. So, do not forget to enjoy the trip not only the destination.

Inside the city you will find yourself using local Tuk Tuk’s, bikes or mopeds which are one of the most convenient transportation devices used to get around. However, exploration is doable on foot if you decide to skip on bike. Keep in mind that here you will face heavy traffic!

Best of luck planning your holidays in Cambodia!

Is there anything else you would like to visit while in Cambodia?

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