Cambodia is better known for the Temples of Angkor in Siem Reap. Nonetheless, we paid a visit to its rapidly developing capital, Phnom Penh. Its people are just emerging from years of war and genocide. Behind its tragic past, Cambodia is slowly recovering and peace is now enjoyed by its people. There are great sights to see in the city such the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda where the king and queen reside, experience bargaining at the Central and Russian Market, and visit temples like Wat Ounaloum and Wat Lanka around the city. Going around is easy with numerous tuktuks in the streets offering transport for tourists. Major sights in central Phnom Penh could be seen via tuktuks. The fare would cost around $1-$4 depending on how far you want to go. Tuktuks can be very persistent and sometimes annoying if they see tourists, but it’s generally safe.
We stayed at Fancy Guesthouse ($25/night) for an affordable accommodation. The rooms are clean and have free towels, water, and wi-fi available for its guests. Phannak and his family were very accommodating and even helped us for our transportation to Siem Reap. The location is also near attractions like the Royal Palace, National Museum, and restaurants along Riverside. The only drawback is the area feels secluded at night since there are few lights in the vicinity.
Another highlight is our experience of Cambodian traditional arts, particularly the shadow puppet performance at Sovanna Phum. The shadow puppets are made by hand using leather material called ‘Sbaek’.
A visit Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, which was formerly a prison facility where thousands were tortured and executed at the hands of the Khmer Rouge regime, would give one a heart-wrenching experience. Seeing photos of prisoners of both children and women posted on its walls, reading their morbid stories, and walking within the actual rooms where different torturing methods were used to refugees. I can’t imagine what kind of people can do such acts.
One of the joys of travelling for me is the process of booking your own flights, scavenging for affordable quality accommodations, and planning your itinerary. For those interested, here is my 8-day Cambodia Itinerary:
Days 1 and 2: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam (via Cebu Pacific)
Days 2-4: Phnom Penh, Cambodia (via Vietnam Air)
Day 5: Land Transit from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
Days 6 -8: Siem Reap, Cambodia (via Jetstar)
Photos of Phnom Penh below: