Phnom Penh was our first stop in Cambodia. Our time in the county’s capital was was short but sweet, and gave us a good taste of what Cambodia has to offer! We stayed at Kim Guest House which was around £15 for the night.
We entered Cambodia via a coach and the border crossing from Vietnam went really smoothly. We took the bus from Ho Chi Minh City and then when we got to the border had to fill in a form, have our photo taken and our passport stamped and then just hop back on the coach until we arrived at Phnom Penh.
Once we arrived, we decided to hire a tuk tuk driver out for the day so that we could fit in as much as possible with our limited time.
Our first stop of the day the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, otherwise known as the killing fields. This was a rather sober start to the day but incredibly important and I’m very glad we went. On arrival you’re given a very good audio guide which tells you about the horrors that took place here as a result of the Khmer Rouge Regime. Between 1975 and 1978 about 17,000 men, women, children and infants who had been detained and tortured at S-21 were transported to the extermination camp of Choeung Ek, and some of the mass burial sites are there to see today. The bracelets that are put on the posts of the burial sites are left by visitors as a mark of respect to those that died there.
After, we visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum which is a museum in the centre of Phnom Penh chronicling the Cambodian genocide. The site is a former secondary school which was used as Security Prison 21 by the Khmer Rouge regime from its rise to power in 1975 to its fall in 1979.
We decided not to rent an audio guide which in hindsight was probably a mistake as there wasn’t much information to read around the museum. But there was a room that was full of photographs of the people who had been held there, and its true that a picture is worth a thousand words.
After a very intense morning, we had a quick lunch stop where I got my first taste of Cambodian cuisine, fish amok! In South-East Asian cuisine, “amok” refers to the process of steam cooking a curry in banana leaves, hence why my dinner was served in some leaves! It was so, so tasty so i’d highly recommend anybody to give it a try!
After we had filled our bellies, we headed to the Royal Palace. As we were walking there we spotted a place that looked pretty cool so stopped to take a few pics. Honestly, it was so bloody hot I couldn’t cope, so I have no idea what the place was other than it looked interesting!
Then, we arrived at the Royal Palace. Now, I understand dressing for a certain culture and covering yourself to be respectful. I have absolutely no problem about this whatsoever. I made sure that I wore trousers that morning and took a shawl in my bag so I could cover my shoulders if need be. However, apparently this is not enough and you have to actually be wearing a t-shirt that is covering your shoulders rather than wrapping a scarf around them. Because of this, I had to buy an oversized, overpriced shirt that had the royal palace logo on it, so I look rather fetching in the photos! So just beware if you are planning on visiting the palace to be wearing appropriate clothing, unless you want a souvenir t-shirt!
Aside from this, the palace is really pretty! But mainly all outside so if you’re not good with the heat i’d recommend going in the morning before it gets too hot! Make sure to see the silver pagoda when you’re there!
Finally, we went to visit Wat Phnom, which is a Buddhist temple in the middle of Phnom Penh and is the tallest religious structure in the city! It was very pretty and nice to have a walk around, but after a long day of sightseeing we were ready to have a rest.
In the evening, we had a walk around the Phnom Penh night market where I picked up a lovely painting of Angkor Wat. The market is quite good for souvenirs and there are quite a few food stalls as well, but just be wary of pick pockets!
After, we headed for dinner at Romdeng which was super tasty! Now, if you’re brave, you can order some insects for your dinner, but I am a wimp and didn’t really fancy a taranatula on my curry! Now, it was a little pricier than other places but 100% worth it if you want Cambodian cuisines with a twist! They also did amazing cocktails which were super yummy and a nice change from beer!
Although it was quite a long day, we managed to fit in everything that we wanted to see. It may have been nice to soak in a bit more of the atmosphere but if you’re on a tight schedule then a quick 24 hour stop is definitely do-able!
Next stop, the fishing village of Kep!