Phnom Penh Travel Guide
Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia, but it is not that typical capital city where everything is bustling around and moving at a speed of light. This city is home to very few skyscrapers and is a place where the rich and poor divide is very obvious. A place to see or to transit over to your next Cambodian destination, Phnom Penh has its own charms for you to see for yourself. Check out this Phnom Penh Travel Guide and find out what to see and to do in Phnom Penh and also useful travel tips that will help to make your trip unforgettable.
Hostel – A typical hostel room dorm can range between $5-10, a bit more if you want to stay in a private room (around $15). There are plenty of hostels available in the downtown area.
Hotels- Cheap hotels can range anywhere from $20-50 for a private room. Some of these facilities include TVs with cable and some even have pools!
Food – Food is very cheap in Phnom Penh – from local food stalls, you can get a meal and a beer for less than $5. Best way to try different types of local food is to eat it in the tapas way, sharing with a group of friends, old or new. You got to try a typical dish “luk luk” or some BBQ.
Transportation – The cheapest and guess the funniest way to move within the city is to pick tuk-tuk. One way trip will cost you around 2$. Besides the low price I also like to use tuk-tuks because you can always easily find the available one no matter where you are. To go from Phnom Penh to other cities in Cambodia or neighboring Vietnam you can by Sleeper buses and minibusses. The average price for the trip – between $8-25, depending on where you are going.
- Be ready that it’s not a top luxury destination. Phnom Penh is a poor place, where the gap between rich and poor is outstanding. Tuktuk drivers asking you if you need a ride at almost every corner, which you can politely decline and just say no to. Some streets have trash on the sidewalks, but its all part of the city’s charm.
- Beware of scams – there are plenty of scammers waiting around the walls of the Royal Palace if you happen to walk around that area. These people will tell you that the palace is closed but conveniently enough, they can take you on a tour for a very small amount of money. Do not believe this scam – 99% of the time, the palace is open (when in doubt, check online for the operating hours or walk directly to the entrances and see if the gates are open or not).
- The USD is widely accepted in Cambodia. So no need to change your money into local currency. You can keep just some of Cambodian Riel in case if you need to pay for something small on the street.
Top things to see and do in Phnom Penh:
- The Royal Palace – the residence of the royal family of Cambodia, the royal palace is a massive complex with ornately designed buildings. It’s the home of the Silver Pagoda, home to the Buddha that’s decorated with precious stones, and the Emerald Buddha. Note that you have to leave your footwear outside if you want to go inside, and it is a place of worship. You can’t go inside all the buildings of the palace, but the place is enough to eat up half a day.
- The Killing Fields – Literally a killing field, it is an eye opener at what happened during a mass genocide that happened in Cambodia. In the days of Pol Pot’s government, all intellectuals or people who are involved with foreign countries were rounded up and put to prison, many others have been stripped of their belongings and between 1,5 to 3 millions of Cambodians were killed. It is a terribly sad and heartbreaking page of the history of Cambodia. Today, the Killing Fields is open to anyone and is also home to a commemorative stupa with skulls of some of the victims.
- Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum – Before it was a high school that turned into a prison during the Khmer Rouge regime – it is a depressing, dark place that has a lot of graphic exhibits – from photos of the prisoners to some torture devices that were used.
- Sisowath Quay (Riverside) – this place is excellent if you want to walk around and just hang out – there are plenty of cafes where you can buy a bottle of beer or eat something and see the sights.
- Central Market – the best place to get the karma, a scarf that’s very distinctive and is a Cambodian national symbol. It is a cheap and great souvenir. You can also buy all sorts of other kitsch in the market, as well as other essentials like clothes, and food. The building itself is worth seeing, with its art deco dome – but remember which entrance you came to, as it can get quite confusing inside.