Phnom Penh isn’t usually part of the must see places when Cambodia is on the travel list. It’s usually Angkor Wat in Siem Reap that gets visited. Don’t discount the capital city yet though, the city does have little gems to offer.
We stayed at the Raffles Le Royale – a historic hotel that was home to former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy when she visited. They have the glass that she used on display, prominently showing the lipstick mark. The Elephant Bar is named as such because of the plethora of elephants they’ve used as decor. If you do drop in, please order the Nasi Goreng because it is so delicious! Make sure you make time to have a dip and a drink at the pool. I also strongly suggest that you take a well deserved nap.
For some culture, I decided to go to Wat Phnom – the biggest temple in the city on top of a hill. In fact, it’s the only temple on a hill in the city. In fact, that’s the only hill. This Buddhist temple is said to have had the first pagoda on this site erected in 1372. It was to be the home to the four statues of Buddha deposited here by the waters of the Mekong River and discovered by Lady Penh. This is why the city name is Phnom Penh or ‘hill of Penh’.
For a traditional Khmer meal, I strongly suggest you head on over to Romdeng on street 174. Having a meal here doesn’t just give you an authentic foray of Khmer dishes but you also help support their advocacy. Read up on them by clicking here. I had the tarantulas, baby frogs, crickets and red ants with beef.
For shopping, there’s Central market. While there is the Russian market that will probably be the tourist go to, I prefer Central. I’m not kidding when I say they have it all. Hungry? There are food stalls that offer the deep fried crawlies, stalls that offer noodles with some meat in it – not sure what kind of mean but I can assure you that it definitely comes from an animal.
There are museums and places to visit if you’re a history buff. The Genocide museum and the killing fields may be harrowing but it will show you what the Cambodians had to go through and just how wrong any kind of war is.
Phnom Penh has a lot to offer, it’s just a matter of you accepting the gifts they’re giving.