A ‘must visit’ extension destination in Cambodia for visitors looking for a safe, earthy Asian city experience, Phnom Penh is a meld of warm moments, kindly people and rowdy enterprise. Accommodation, delicious food and shopping here is bargain-priced… the nightlife vibrant.
A visit to Phnom Penh begins with a tour of the glittering Royal Palace, a complex of golden domed buildings. Visitors are able to tour the Throne Hall, gardens and the Moonlight Pavilion.
The nearby National Museum of Cambodia houses 14,000 exhibits including the world’s largest collection of Khmer sculpture.
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21), is a grim testament to the Pol Pot regime 1975 – 1979 when as many as three million people out of Cambodia’s population of eight million died or disappeared. S-21 is terrifying. Following interrogation and torture 17,000 people held here were taken to the Choeung Ek Killing Field for extermination or buried in mass graves in the prison grounds.
Phnom Penh folk like to eat and drink after dark, when temperatures drop and work has finished. Street food around the weekend night market at Street 108 feature US$3 dishes and US$0.50c beers. Across the road, Rik Reay BBQ offers fried red ants, spiced pig and beef innards. Delicious fish amok, the essential Cambodia dish, is found on most menus as are Thai, western and vegetarian dishes. The Blue Dolphin and Karma are favorites of travelers on a budget, so is Friends, managed by a charity teaching hospitality skills to young people. Quality restaurants like L’Orchidee, Le Saint Georges and wine bars including Bouchon that also serve food, are modern classics.
===> Explore more itineraries via the RELATED links below.
Shopping in Phnom Penh is a treat. What better way to begin your second day than a visit to the art deco Central Market. It offers some of the best shopping in Southeast Asia: handicrafts, souvenirs, foods – staples through to deep fried tarantulas – a-ping – and roaches, aromatic Kampot pepper and spices, designer clothes, silk textiles, handbags, sunglasses and shoes – are all bargain priced.
Take a walk to the nearby Sorya Mall and eat out in the upper floor, Sorya Food City. The food is local, authentic and delicious. Prices range from US$4 per dish. Included is a complimentary soup.
Stroll in the gardens and enjoying the views on offer at Wat Phnom, located on the only hill in town. From here, it is south to the sprawling Russian Market where you will be able to buy the famous Cambodian krama, the scarf with a 100 uses. Also on offer are designer jeans and shirts, scarves, children’s clothes, DVDs, replica watches, electrical gadgets and handicrafts at low, low prices.
Watch the sun go down over a cocktail at one of Phnom Penh’s fabulous sky bars including the Eclipse Sky Bar, the rooftop bar atop the central Frangipani Royal Palace hotel sky bar and the sky lounge at Naga World. After a few drinks here, dine in style at Armand’s, Malis restaurant or the Est.Bar for a special night out or head on to Street 172, for bargain eateries.