Phnom Penh is a city with an indomitable spirit. The capital of Cambodia was devastated by Pol Pot but today has reimagined itself as a rather hip capital with a nightlife and foodie scene that are hard to beat. The shining spires of the Royal Palace the evocative saffron of the robes worn by monks and the perfect location on the banks of the Mekong river contrast with the speeding motorbikes clamorous markets and the foreboding walls of S21a former internment camp for the Khmer Rouge in the heart of the city.
Areas & Neighborhoods in Phnom Penh
Sisowath Quay - This nondescript square is the heart of Phnom Penh life. The Royal Palace lies glistening behind it palm trees sheltering bars and restaurants stretch out on either side of it and locals fly kites picnic or just enjoy the river views from the centre of it.
Sothearos Boulevard - Explore ancient Cambodian culture at the National Museum the nearby Liberation Monument celebrates the defeat of the Khmer Rouge whilst S21 commemorates the suffering of Cambodians during its rule. In Wat Ounalom resides the heart of contemporary Cambodian Buddhism.
Wat Phnom - Perched on the city’s only hill is its favourite temple. Painted murals stone lions the smell of incense and the incessant murmuring of locals make for an atmospheric visit.
Choeung Ek - The Killing Fields contain the bodies of nearly 9 000 victims of the Khmer Rouge. It’s a sobering reminder of Cambodia’s history and the deathly silence here - just a few miles from the city - makes the noise of the capital suddenly welcome.
Things to See in Phnom Penh
The temples of the capital are typically noisy and busy affairs and all the more appealing for it. The Royal Palace’s glistening spires seem to reflect at you wherever you are in the centre whilst S21’s institutional horror and the testimony of Choeung Ek highlights just how far the city has come in its reinvention as a hip trendy and vibrant capital.
Things to Do in Phnom Penh
Enjoy the views by the river as you lounge in a cafe or bar or sample the varied menus of the restaurants. Take a trip out to the bustling markets to hunt for a bargain. Mingle by the quay with the locals and appreciate the buzz. Phnom Penh is a city that never stops and you are always invited to join in.