Although Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia, most tourists head straight to the beautiful historical Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap. However, most people seek to realize that Phnom Penh, Cambodia, is essential to anybody’s Cambodian itinerary! Why? Because Phnom Penh is rich in history and boasts significant cultural and historical landmarks, it will give you a deeper understanding of the Cambodian People.
Things to know before you go
Visa in Cambodia
Check that you do not require a visa for Cambodia. The ivisa website is a quick and easy way to check whether your passport requires a permit.
Travel insurance in Cambodia
SafetyWing is the World’s first International Travel Medical Insurance developed to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and remote workers travelling or living abroad. However, if you do not fall under this category, do not worry; SafetyWing also suits all vacation types.
The best time to travel to Cambodia
The best time to travel to Phnom Penh is between November and May because it is the drier months. However, it is hot and humid all year round, so temperatures are similar throughout the year.
How to get to Phnom Penh
With just under 2 hours of travel time from Singapore, it is a perfect long weekend destination. You can fly there by Singapore Airlines, Cambodia air and Jetstar to Phnom Penh.
Transport: Phnom Penh International Airport is 35 minutes away from the city centre.
Tipping in Phnom Penh
Tipping isn’t expected in this part of the World, but as Cambodia relies heavily on Tourism, tips are greatly appreciated. Leaving a small token of appreciation to any service industry employee makes a big difference.
Things to do In Phnom Penh
Take a tour of S-21 Prison and Killing Fields
Angor Wat is beautiful, but we must remember what happened here (not long ago). If you want to know about the history of this beautiful country, then you must visit the S-21 prison and killing fields (I wouldn’t recommend children), but adults will be moved by the harrowing history that went on here. Then, look inside the Tuol Sleng genocide museum and find out what happened with Khmer Rouge Regime ruled between 1975 and 1979.
Spend an evening on a Mekong River Sunset Cruise.
Spend the evening enjoying the peaceful view along the river to enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets in South East Asia. There are many cruises to choose from along the riverbank; some are only 30 minutes and can be picked up along the riverbank, while others are more organized and include unlimited drinks and food.
Visit the Royal Palace
The Phnom Penh Royal Palace is a Khmer-style Throne Hall built to serve as the residence of the King of Cambodia and his family. The Palace was built in 1866, whereas a silver Pagoda was constructed in 962 by King Sihanouk. Remember to visit the Silver Pagoda, which can be found on the south side of the Palace.
Have a drink at the Raffles Le Royal Elephant Bar.
Have a drink at the Raffles Hotel bar; you will feel like you have stepped back in time! The bar is beautiful, the staff are friendly, and the drinks are incredible. However, this bar is nothing like the Long Bar in Singapore, so do not expect a loud, vibrant atmosphere; instead, sit back, relax and enjoy the quiet time drinking some of the more famous cocktails. These include Femme Fatale (made especially for Jackie Kennedy), Sensory Mango Boulevardier (winner of the 2019 Phnom Penh Remy Contrieau Competition) or a Phnom Penh Sling, to name a few.
Enjoy your time exploring Wat Phnom.
Wat Phnom is a Buddhist temple (Pagoda) part of the Khmer national Identity. It was built in 1372 and is located on the only hill in the area. According to history, the Pagoda was initially constructed to house the four statues of Buddha found in a tree floating down the river. Remember to be respectful and take off your shoes when entering.
Explore The Markets in Phnom Penh
There are several markets to explore in the area; all are worth visiting for different reasons. First, head to the Penh Night Market from 5 pm to 11 pm, where you can buy anything and everything, but the Market is small enough to enjoy (and not get lost). Next, the Central Market is an art deco architectural landmark built in 1937; it is by far the most well-known, cleanest of all, and the biggest. You really can find everything you need here. Finally, if you still want to try another market, then the Russian Market (Toul Tomorrow Poung Market) is an excellent place for souvenirs and clothes; most tours will have you stopping by this Market.
Stop by The National Museum of Cambodia
The National Museum of Cambodia is the largest Museum of history in the country. The Museum is open to the public from 8 am to 1130am each day and then again from 130pm to 5 pm. If you decide to visit on your own, take a guided tour once you arrive, as these tours are available in many languages. This beautiful Museum has an incredible collection of Cambodian art and holds the most extensive collection of ancient artefacts from the Khmer Empire.
Be a little adventurous and book a food tour.
If you are anything like me, I love trying new foods, especially when I visit a country for the first time. So although you could probably go out and order many new and exciting dishes at a local restaurant, I always try to take a cooking class or join a food tour. And Phnom Penh is no different; there are many strange and exotic dishes in Cambodia, and they are always best tried with a guide that can explain the origins (and the ingredients) of the dishes you enjoy.
The Hyatt Regency always has a good name, and this hotel is no exception. This modern hotel is beautifully decorated with a gorgeous pool, a fantastic buffet breakfast and an ideal location. This newly opened hotel is everything you expect from a luxury brand, a beautiful outdoor pool and amenities, tastefully decorated rooms and suites and excellent service.
Raffles Le Royal
This hotel not only screams luxury, but it also screams loads of history, incredible colonial architecture and fantastic service. This hotel is so beautiful that I would return to Cambodia to stay at it again (yes, it was that good). Apart from the fact that Jackie Kennedy once stayed here, this hotel has been running since 1929 and is exquisite, with two pools and other great amenities. It is also located within walking distance of many famous landmarks.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I hope this post has given you the information you need. If you have any recommendations, tips or advice, I would love for you to share them in the comment section below!
Other things you need to know
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