Phnom Penh, is the largest and capital city of Cambodia bordered by the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Bassac rivers. It is the most populated city and the heart of the country’s business and political buzz. The city still exhibits remnants of French colonization reflected by the surviving French colonial buildings all around the metropolitan.
Seeing Phnom Penh was definitely a treat, and here I share with you things that are guaranteed to make your stay in Cambodia more unforgettable.
1. RESPECT is a rule of thumb. Address the locals as “Brother” or “Sister.”
Wherever country you may end up in, RESPECT for the locals is definitely a must. The Khmer are a very loving, hospitable and happy people, and as long as you don’t try to be an a** to them then they will stay accommodating and helpful as ever. Address them as “Brother” or “Sister” when having a conversation, or haggling for tuktuk fares or items, it is sure to please them and soften them even more.
2. Change your currencies to US dollars.
It is the most convenient way to pay for everything in Cambodia. Every stall accepts USDs so make sure to carry around them $1 notes. Although expect some local currency (KHR) for the change.
3. Visit Tuol Sleng (Genocide Museum – Former Office S.21) first before heading down to The Killing Fields (The Choeung Ek Genocidal Center).
Before visiting these places, I recommend that you briefly read up on Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge as it would help you further understand the significance of these sites.
Make Tuol Sleng your first stop to follow a more chronological themed trip. Tuol Sleng was where Pol Pot’s subjects were imprisoned and/or tortured before being sent to Choeung Ek for execution. Check for the guided tour schedules or survivor talks, too.
As a word of caution, Tuol Sleng is definitely not for the faint of heart. There is a very different and heavy energy in every room/cell, so I’d suggest skip this if you’re claustrophobic or have heart or blood pressure problems.
The Killing Fields offers a much different atmosphere. Although, the drive there will be very dusty and hot so bring heaps of water and a face mask. You will be given an audio tour set from the entrance so you’ll learn a lot from this place. There will be children begging at one point of the track but you know the drill, opt to give them food rather than money.
4. Shop and have dinner at the Weekend Night Markets.
Make sure you hit Phnom Penh right on time with the Weekend Night Markets. Haggle at the shops, watch the live performances from the locals and grab some cheap munchies from the food stalls. Don’t expect to see any tables or chairs for dining, the big matts in the middle of the food section is the very way to go. Your $5 will go a very long way for food, I promise.
5. Make new friends and grab a pint by the Mekong River during Happy Hour!
Nothing beats 50c beer with new found friends.
6. Visit the Royal Palace.
There’s no leaving Phnom Penh without having a good stroll around the country’s political heart, the Royal Palace.
And last, but definitely not the least…
7. Have some HAPPY PIZZA!!!
The people are happy, their beer is happy, and of course, their pizza is happy! If you’re really up for a great high and a good night’s sleep, Happy Pizza must be ticked in your list. Just be careful not to carry valuables with you when you have some outside your hotel.
Well there you go folks. That’s my list, what’s yours?