Cambodia’s intriguing capital city, Phnom Penh is a constantly evolving metropolis and visitors here should be prepared to expect the unexpected. There are many Cambodia holidays that offer tours around the city or you can just carry out some independent exploration for yourself.
Phnom Penh is undergoing yet another transition in its history. The city has managed to survive the horrendous decimation of it population imposed by the Khmer Rouge, the rule of French colonialism and is now on the travel route for most tourists visiting this corner of South East Asia. Sometimes called ‘The ‘Pearl of Asia’ or ‘The City of Four Faces’ this noisy and bustling city is yet to experience an explosion in mass tourism though with increased interest from overseas investors a boom is on the horizon.
Both the Cheoung Ek (the Killing Fields memorial site) and the Tuol Sleng museums commemorate the Khmer Rouge atrocities and should be visited if only to try and understand a little more about the recent history of Cambodia, up to 25% of the country’s population was murdered in the late 70s and it is only now that the current generations of Cambodians are able to rebuild their country.
Any travellers who want to delve further back into history then the Royal Palace Museum contains the stunning Silver Pagoda within its grounds and for those who enjoy gazing at sheer opulence and beauty, then the silver surface of the entrance hall should really set the imagination into orbit. The marble staircase leads to the 17th century crystal Buddha and a gold life sized statue of the Buddha decorated with 9,584 diamonds. This temple is still the official place of worship for the current elected Cambodian monarch, Norodom Sihamoni.
Spas and Massage
Sometimes it’s vital to step back from the noise of the streets, and the amazing sights and sounds of Phnom Penh. This is the perfect city to go and indulge in a massage. The treatments on offer can range from hot stones to a massage performed by a blind practitioner. Manicures and, thankfully, pedicures are all widely available. These relaxation activities cost considerably less than those in other parts of South East Asia and will propel you to continue your Phnom Penh tour.
Head on over to Psar Tuol Tom Pong for some shopping, the choice of goods on offer can sometimes appear a little bizarre but you’ll always leave with a bargain. It is imperative to haggle here and the best merchandise consists of silk, materials and other gifts.
You should not visit Phnom Penh without exploring some of the city’s diverse nightlife. From an exploding music scene to an elegant and sophisticated cocktail at ‘Raffles Le Royal Hotel,’ visitors to the city will be able to find a huge range of entertainment. Alternatively, the traveller might like to go to the ‘Elephant Bar’ and spend a relaxing evening sipping martinis and counting elephants, there are supposed to be 80 amid the room’s decorations, not the pink breed that come with too many martinis.
By Celina Bledowska