19.07.16 – 22.07.16
Before arriving in Phnom Penh we had heard mixed reviews about Phnom Penh, plenty of people had told us the only reason worth visiting was to learn about the killing fields, and that was it. But we were so pleasantly surprised. Phnom Penh, is a relatively clean city, with modern buildings and plenty of culture. Although the city isn’t huge, there is definitely plenty to do and see in this interesting city, and we loved our stay here.
We entered Cambodia by boat and met an amazing Kiwi family, who we have caught up with since, during our time in New Zealand. (Hello to the Sinclair’s, if you are reading!) We hopped off at the port and decided to walk to our accommodation. The streets in Phnom Penh are numbered, which makes for easy travel, but our hostel was a long way from the port. After almost an hour walking through hot and humid Phnom Penh, we were exhausted.
Whilst in Hoi An, Vietnam, we did a Vespa tour that we absolutely loved, and the same company operated here in Cambodia. So we splurged a little a took a city tour on the back of a Vespa! The guides took us around to all the major city sites, including a visit to the Phnom Penh Pagoda, were we were blessed by the oldest and most senior monk for safe travels ahead. The tour takes you to some places that you would never find as a tourist.
We also spent a day learning more about the history of Cambodia and Phnom Penh. The Killing Fields and S-21 Museum, while gruesome at times, give a stark reminder of the atrocities the Cambodian people have endured in the last century. Both sights can be visited in a day and a worth a visit. Best way to see them is by hiring a tuk-tuk driver as the Killing Fields are well out of town.
Like we said earlier, we were pleasantly surprised by Phnom Penh and it rates highly on our scoreboard. We stayed at the Mad Monkey Hostel, right in the heart of the action in terms of things to do and food! There was a brand new Krispy Kreme Donut place on the corner handing out free donuts. Never a bad idea to visit when this is happening! Within walking distance is plenty of options, we even stumbled across an incredible Mexican restaurant. Even though the service wasn’t great, mainly due to business, it was a nice change from Asian inspired cuisine.
– Take US dollars in cash. This is a cash economy and uses US currency. BUT you will receive change under a dollar in Cambodian Kyat.
– We loved our city tour, and thought it gave us a much better understanding of Phnom Penh.
– The Killing Fields and S21 are worth a visit, but easily done by yourself, and no need for a tour. Use a tuk-tuk driver, barter hard. We paid $12 US for a whole day, and our driver was actually a survivor of the Pol Pot regime, which was super unique.