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A Travel Bloggers Impressions of Phnom Penh

A Travel Bloggers Impressions of Phnom Penh Cambodia in Words & Pictures

Monument to the late King Norodom Sihanouk with independence monument in background

I first visited Phnom Penh about 4 years ago and was struck this visit by the rate of change and the speed of development taking place in this city on the move.  This is fast turning in to and exciting vibrant and great city to visit in South East Asia. No longer just a stopping post for visiting the Killing Fields and S21 but is fast becoming a destination city in itself.

 

Memorial statue and monument to the Vietnamese army for their part in driving the Khmer Rouge out of Phnom Penh

I first visited Phnom Penh about 4 years ago and was struck this visit by the rate of change and the speed of development taking place in this city on the move.  This is fast turning in to and exciting vibrant and great city to visit in South East Asia. No longer just a stopping post for visiting the Killing Fields and S21 but is fast becoming a destination city in itself.

One of the aims of my return visit was to lay some ghost to rest having had a bad experience when I was last there. Phnom Penh as most will know has had a very chequered and torturous recent history under the demonic time of Pol Pot who so ruthlessly cleared the city of its inhabitants, eithr by killing imprisoning or exiling to the countryside. As a consequence it stood ghostly and empty from 1975 to 1978 when the Vietnamese army pushed the Khymer Rouge out of the city. It would not be until 1993 that Phnom Penh once again become open to the outside world. The horrors found in the form of the S21 Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the killing fields found a little outside the city are today one of the main reasons people visit the city. Although these are essentials points for any visitor this city, and an important lesson for all of humanity, this city has some much more to offer the contemporary city visitor.

The Royal Palace

The flower seller pavilion on the banks of Tonle Sap river Phnom Penh

Tuk Tuk drivers take a break outside the Royal Palace

Royal Guard with radio to relive the boredom

Frangipani flowers a common sight throughout South East Asia

Red Wax Apples ripening on the tree

Vibrant orange of a monks clothes drying on the line

Fresh coconut street seller

Street football

Resting Cyclo driver Phnom Penh

Eco Tuk Tuk battery operated, the future.

Funky door colour

Cambodia new age, colorful high rise apartment building

Stone Buddha carvings street scene

My Top Travel Tip Phnom Penh. Do be sure to visit and check out the riverside area starting at the pier adjacent to the royal palace and making your way on foot to night market. The atmosphere is vibrant, lively and entertaining, with a range of stalls and more importantly many good bars and restaurants, whilst along the promenade you can join the throngs of locals taking an evening stroll, catching the sunset and picnicking. Its charms intoxicating.

Also high up on the list and another must see is the fabulous Art deco masterpiece that is Central Market, featured in pictures ion the blog post, it offers a true picture of city life of the local population of Phnom Penh. It all here from meat and fish to fruit, vegetables and fashion.

Street view Art Deco Central Market Phnom Penh Cambodia

Portrait of a stall holder Central Market Phnom Penh

Central Market Phnom Penh

Psychedelic shoe stall

Pickle and fashion fusion

Barbecued squid

Salted chili cockles

The Card Game

Street hawker Central Market Phnom Penh

Fresh fish seller Central Market Phnom Penh

Fruit and floral

Decorative flower arrangement

Salted duck egg, a made by packing each egg in damp, salted charcoal.

Phnom Penh Street Life

House wall decoration

Antique shop window display

Home altar

Fashion shop with a difference

Russian Market

Toul Tom Poung market, also more famously known as the Russian Market

Fish drying in the sun

Wandering these streets it is hard to imagine the horror of its not too distant past. Indeed I cannot help but imagine the stories and hardships etched into the faces of some of the subjects of my pictures. What I have not encountered in any interaction or conversation is any trace of bitterness or anger, although no doubt there it is not expressed, other than in sorrow and countless tales I have listened to of lost grandparents, mothers, fathers, brothers, aunties dead. In fact I have scarcely met one person in Phnom Penh who has not lost some family members to the brutality of the Khymer Rouge. For me the biggest tragedy of all is our utter failure as a species to learn from the countless wars and atrocities of the 20th century. The Khymer Rouge was not so long ago, but right now today we have killing and brutality along similar lines taking place in Syria. With one big difference, the world claimed not to know what was taking place in Cambodia but no such excuse exits for the non-action or lack of concentrated effort to stop the murder that is taking place daily in Syria.

Chinese Dragon Dance 

Came across this dragon dance staged outside an electronics business. The Chinese believe that a performance of the dragon dance will bring good fortune for the new year. It is also believed that the longer the dance goes on for the better the luck. Hence this one went on for a long time. A fantastically colorful spectacle.

Local kids admire the dragons beard

Beating the drums during the dragon dance to ward off evil spirits

Phnom Penh Social

 

 

Getting There

Travelling from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh by road is a long trip on hectic roads and there are many bus companies that will take you there some more hair raising than others. After many road trips in Cambodia and I can only recommend Giant Ibis. This is a well-run bus company with sane drivers (if you have every taken bus journeys with other bus companies in Cambodia you will know what I mean)

 

Top Road Travel Tip

If you want to be sure of a seat on Giant Ibis it is best to book as far in advance as you possibly can. We left it too late when travelling from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville and ended up with another bus company and one of the worst trips of my life. I honestly did not think we would make it without incident. By some miracle we did but that no recommendation!

 

Where to eat

We stayed in a hotel very close to the independence monument (not mentioning the hotel as was far from satisfactory) and ate at a number of places some good some bad. Below is a shortlist of the best. All reasonably priced and serving decent food.

 

Top Foodie Pick

Probably the best food we had in Phnom pend had to be at this extremely well run place just opposite the night market. It may not look like much but trust me this place serves excellent and authentic Cambodian food at very responsible prices. In fact it was so good we went back for a second visit the next night. The service is also fast, efficient and very friendly. They dont appear to have a website but full address below easy to find once you are at the night market or tap into google maps for street view.

18 Rik Reay BBQ

#3Eo, Street 108 | Sangkat Wat Phnom, Khan Daun Penh,

 

Others worth trying

 

Anise

It’s a hotel, but also has a very good restaurant. Word of warning though watch out for the mosquitoes cover up or spray. Click for info

 

Samaky

Great local place reliable food and service good spot for lunch. Click for info

 

Surin

Another nice restaurant with good food and ambiance. Again need to watch out for mosquitoes. Click for info

 

My next blog post a tribute to the many victims of S21 Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Cambodia tours
    July 1, 2017 at 4:27 am

    Good post and thanks for restaurant’s suggestion as well.

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