It was our first wedding anniversary, hence we decided to make it special & chose to explore Cambodia, although there are two major cities in Cambodia i.e. Siem Riep & Phnom Penh, we picked the capital city Phnom Penh for a short trip . I shall try my best to put forward my experience & best practices that may help you while you decide to travel this side of the World ! We stayed in FrangiPani Royal Palace Hotel in the centre of city. A good place to pick. Reasonable in price and very good hospitality. It has swimming pool, Spa and Bar in-house.
The History : Cambodia is an ancient civilization in the Indo -China Peninsula. It has a history of more than 2000 Years. The most powerful Khmer empire has risen here and created the prosperity of Angkor. Cambodia maintains friendly relations with most of the countries.
The Religion : National religion of Cambodia is Buddhism ( around 95%).
The Geography : Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake is largest freshwater lake in Southeast asia. The Mekong river which originates from Lancang river in China has largest amount of water resources flowing through river in Cambodia. Total Population is approx. 16 Million ( standing 72nd in the World )
The Climate : The climate here is typical tropical monsoon. Rainy season is from June to October. Average temperature is 28 degree celsius. Nov to May is dry season with average temperature 32 degrees.
The Transportation : Tuk -Tuk and Motorbike are still the most common ways of transportation here. The rates are reasonable. The Tuk-Tuk costs you around Riel(khr) 4000/Km ( FYI : 4000 Riel is 1USD ) : Basically in approx 1 usd you can travel roughly 1.5- 2.5 Kms. I would personally recommend you to download PASSAPP ( similar to Uber). The charge is cheaper if you use the App and it is authentic. I have used the same App for my 2 days trip and it was very useful as I had travelled a lot in the city. You can use this App for cabs, Tuk-Tuk and Auto ( all 3 modes ) .
The Currency : Cambodia is a dual-currency basically based on the US Dollar and Cambodian currency (Riel). In majority of the places both USD & Riel are well-accepted. 1USD = 4000 Riels. All restaurants, transportation, local shops accepts both USD and Riel. Few stores also accepts AliPay.
The Culture : Cambodia is a country with a friendly custom. The clothing is still a bit conservative, it is recommended to wear long sleeved trousers to go out & touching head is not allowed from culture stand point. The official language is Khmer. The language should not be a problem as English is spoken by majority.
The Market Life : There are 3 major markets that you do not want to miss when you are in the capital city Phnom Penh.
a) Phnom Penh Market b) The Central Market & c) The Russian Market
We had visited all the 3 and there are some real good local shopping stuff available in all of them. My personal experience was “The central market” is cheaper than rest of the two. Russian Market being placed at the upper end. Some of the good things to buy are Souvenirs, Handicrafts, Jewellery, Clothing, Silks, Woodcarving, Painting etc. We did pick few of them in our trip. They also have Live Music being played in the Market.
The Royal Palace : A must visit place if you are in the capital city. The entry fee per person $10 usd. The Royal Palace has the hall for coronation ceremony & a place for Cambodian Monarchs. Do come early as it is a good spot for Photography. The Night view of the Palace is also beautiful.
Independence Monument : The mastic “Si-Hanouk” statue is located here, You can walk along the trails & play few games here. The cambodian style fountain is a delight to behold.
The Rosewood : Rosewood hotel is highest landmark in Phnom Penh, only place from where you can see panaromic view of Phnom Penh. The view from the upstairs is quite fascinating.
Choeung Ek Genocidal centre : This is the place for commemorating the victims of The Khmer Rouge in late 1970s. It will give you a deeper understanding of Cambodian History. It has an entry of around $6 /Person.
National Museum : Here, you can see the pottery & bronzes of former Angkor era. If you are a lover of historical relics, it might even take you one full day to complete the tour. The design is typical traditional Khmer architecture style which is very beautiful.
The Boat Temple : A temple in the shape of boat, the history speaks that the place where this temple is built was once drowned , hence the King of Cambodia has developed the temple once back to normalcy and today this is one of the finest tourist spots.
Though there are many more temples & many more places to explore in Phnom Penh. Let me caution you here. This place is for you if really love to explore the culture, the architecture, the temples, the Palace and good food. If you are a beach lover then you should explore the other side of Cambodia. It might require atleast 6-7 days to explore all cities in Cambodia but capital city will surely leave an impact on the culture side.
Some useful tips / recommendations to conclude the blog :
Download PassApp for Transportation
Keep USD as currency cash & some local Riels
We stayed in FrangiPani Royal Palace Hotel – feedback : very good. (centre of city)
Plan atleast 2 days in Phnom Penh and sure 2 days in Siem Riep (Angkor Wat ) : this is largest religious monument/temple in the world.
You can also use GRAB App
Money exchange please do at Airport, inside city they charge a lot
Lot of bargaining is practiced in Markets for shopping.
The Jewellery & Silk scarf are highly recommended from Central Market
Lot of Indian restaurants are there near River side. ( lot of clubs / pubs as well ). Night Life is good.
Angkor Beer is famous. You can try that as well.
Phnom Penh Night maket opens at 5 pm and closes at 10 pm
Shopping Market opens at 6 am and closes to 5 pm.
Restaurants gets closed by 11 pm.
Lot of reputed Spa Resorts available as well.
This is just my personal experience , hope you enjoyed reading the blog. Would recommend a visit to Cambodia. Worth a trip ! Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in this world ! Keep Travelling, keep exploring. Enjoy the little things and be grateful always !
Thank you for reading my blog.