Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia is often used as a transit city to head to Siem Reap for the temples hunters. But it would be a pitty to just pass by and don’t see this city and thankfully that is not so difficult. The city is compact in size so 24 hours is a good time to squeeze all the highlights of the city. Here’s my guide with the compilation of what to check when you have a limited amount of time to spend in Phnom Penh.
The Royal Palace with its stunning classic khmer roofs is the official residence of King Sihamoni, for this reason there are just 2 parts of the palace that are possible to be visited here: the throne hall and the silver pagoda are open for the public. To be able to visit some clothing rules need to be follow: pants covering the knees and shirts that reach to the elbows.
Unfortunately on the day me and my boyfriend planned to visit the palace, the president of the Philipines were also paying a visit therefore the whole palace was closed to the public meaning we need to come back soon to check this place again which is not a big deal as we loved Cambodia!
Opening hours: 7am-8:45pm Fee: $6
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF CAMBODIA
Probably the highlight of the city (as we couldn’t really check the Royal Palace yet), this museum is home to the finest collection of khmer sculpture and what surprised me here is that a great number of it where not even protected by a glass around so this made our experience even more real – not to mention that the building itself is a piece of art. Definetely a great place to check before heading to Siem Reap as you can learn a lot about the Angkorian period.
Opening hours: 8am-5pm Fee: $3
WALK DOWN STREET 178 TO SISOWATCH QUAY
There is no better way to see a new city then strolling around- therefore take your best sneakers and walk around! Go in the direction of the river and if you get hungry, stop by the FCC (Foreign Correspondents Club) bar which offers a great view of the bay. This place is as good at day as it is at night. Well know among bloggers as being the favorite spot to sit down during the day to write and an when the sun goes down to experience the nightlife – plus the food, specially the drinks are worth it.
The Wat Ounalom is the headquarters of the Patriarch of Cambodian Buddhism. Here is also where most of the monks live. Behind the main building you will encounter a stupa which is known by containing an eye brown hair of buda.
VISIT THE GENOCIDE MUSEUM
Coming to this museum might make your heart feel heavy but is very important if you want to understand the Cambodian history and know what these people went through – this dark period that was the Khmer Rouge which is considered one of the worst massacres of the 20th century and we barely heard about it. It is estimated that over 2 million Cambodians were killed.
S21 or Tuo Sleng Genocide Museum was initially a school, the Khmer Rouge converted it into a prison and torture chamber. People that were considered intellectuals, religion, some kind of art or education, they would be taken from their families without any explanation and sent to the camps forced to work under extreme conditions or persecuted and executed here. The Khmer Rouge wanted to reset the country where only farmworkers would survive.
So definetely do not skip this place if you want to understand they culture better.
Openings time: 8am-5:30pm Price: U$$ 3
DRINK AT THE ELEPHANT BAR
This place is located inside of the luxurious Rafles Hotel Le Royal and is worth to come to take a look for the ambiance and good drinks. Many celebrities are known to attend this place and their famous drink called Femme Fatale, was named after Jacqueline Kennedy during her visit in Cambodia in 1967.
Located in the heart of the city on the largest roundabout, this intriguied monument in Angkorian style was built in 1958 after winning their independency back from the french in 1953 – it is alsos seen as a memorial place dedicated to the cambodians that fought and died for their country.
DINNER AT MALIS
To top it all off visit one of the best restaurants that Phnom Penh has to offer. Although expensive for Cambodian standards, it still reasonable for western prices without loosing the authencity of the kmer cuisine – which since I tasted from it I am in looove with, I just cannot stress enough how peculiar and delicious their food is and here it doesn’t matter what you order I’m sure it will be delicious ! Definitely a place I would like to visit again.
Have you ever traveled to Phomn Penh? What else would you recommend to not miss in this city?