Most people going on holiday will go to Siem Reap to see the world famous Angkor Wat. Most of them fly in & out of Siem Reap and will see only Siem Reap. A bit a pity as Cambodia has much more to offer as only the ancient temples of the Greater Khmer Kingdom. Phnom Penh is the capital city of Cambodia and the one and only big city in Cambodia. Calling it a big city is very relative in Cambodia as in western standards you could still almost call it a very big village. Although also in Cambodia times are changing. I love Phnom Penh, located along the banks of the Tonle Sap River and Mekong River, for its chaos, its colonial buildings, French food and loverly people. For me Phnom Penh feels like the real South East Asia.
So what to do in and near Phnom Penh? Well in Phnom Penh most people will visit the gruel reminder of the Khmer Rouge at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Royal Palace. Most times followed by a visit to the National Museum where you can see many stunning pieces of art made in the time of the Greater Khmer Kingdom. Then if you like markets you are at the right place in Phnom Penh, the city is full of markets. But the 2 most famous are the Central Market and the Russian Market. I love the Central Market for its beautiful architecture and the Russian Market for all the weird things they are selling. But if you want to do some shopping there you better learn to bargain very good as prices are highly inflated for tourists.
But there is so much more to do in Phnom Penh city. Just walk or bicycle in the many small streets and get lost. See hidden markets, daily street-life, small shops and the real Asian way of life. Or make an tour along the many historical buildings. In day-time or late afternoon you can make a great River Cruise over the Tonle Sap River and Mekong River. Or Walk along the Riverside in the early morning (7:00am) or in the late afternoon. It is a great place for watching people! Another great place to watch is people is the park around the Wat Phnom. And of course Eating local Cambodian food is the best way to learn a new culture. But be a bit careful in the restaurant you choose as not all restaurants are following hygienic standards. Personally I love the French kitchen in Phnom Penh, delicious good French food & wine and in compare to Thailand not expensive. For bicycle tours in Phnom Penh see Grasshoppers Adventures
What to do nearby Phnom Penh? Most people will visit the unfortunately world famous Killing Fields, where you will be confronted with the harsh reality of the Khmer Rouge. And if you like culture and temples you could visit the Phnom Chisor Temple. But if you want to experience the real upcountry daily life then you should make an bicycle tour. Going more upcountry in Cambodia there are stunning beaches, tropical islands, green jungles, rivers and National Parks to be found.
|Park around Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh, Cambodia|
|Taking the ferry crossing the Mekong River at Phnom Penh, Cambodia|