Phnom Penh is the capital city of Cambodia. This city lacked a bit of the character of Siem Reap (as most capital cities do… apart from Wellington, NZ … shout out to my home town!) but was nice to look around all the same.
One of the main sites if you’re into shopping is the Russian Market. It kind of just looks like a giant warehouse filled with stalls. Lindsey and I were quite nervous to go inside as it just looked to busy but we went for it anyway in search of a great bargain. I ended up picking up two pairs of very colourful pants, a pair of Cambodian tank tops, and a duffle bag that I thought I’d use as my carry on for the trip back as it was bigger than my backpack. Cambodian Souvenirs: Check!
Lindsey and I then met up with Cornelia. Lindsey decided to take a look at the Royal Palace whilst Cornelia and I went to the National Museum. Most of the writing in the museum was in Cambodian but it was still nice to take a look at all the ancient artefacts and learn a bit more about the history of the country. The building itself was also really pretty.
We then all decided to head towards the (Mekong) river. It’s actually quite dirty and rather brown but impressive none the less. It runs all the way down the east side of the city and then eventually through to Vietnam. It was then time for lunch so went inside a place we’d been recommended and had a well deserved air conditioning break (It was HOT y’all). The final site in the city of Phnom Penh we visited was the hill and pagoda. This is the namesake for the city. The story (somewhat paraphrased from memory) goes like this: There once was a lady by the name of “Penh” who came across two golden Buddha statues. She felt these would bring good luck and wanted to display them to spread the luck throughout the city so she placed them on top of a hill (a “Phnom”). So the city is named “Phnom Penh”. Well there ya go! You learn something new everyday.
At the bottom of the hill is a nice little garden area and at the top is a pagoda. You have to pay $1 to climb the stairs to the top but we thought we’d do it because why not! It was really pretty and a nice end to the morning. If you’re in Phnom Penh for more than one evening I’d suggest having a cocktail at the Foreign Correspondents Club! It’s actually quite funny, before I left NZ my Dad told me “When you’re in Phnom Penh, go have a cocktail and the Foreign Correspondents Club”. I kind of thought, yes ok Dad maybe, thinking how on earth was I going to find this one bar in this big city! Funnily enough our tour leader told us on our first night, “Tonight we are having happy hour at the FCP!”. I almost couldn’t believe it. So there ya go Dad. I had a cocktail or two just for you.
If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper and more casual, we found a bar across the road from our hotel (the Queen Wood Hotel) which was a hairdressers during the day… and a gay bar at night! We had a great time and they even let us plug in our music!
Overall Phnom Penh is a great little city but you can definitely do it all in one day. Read my next post for how we spent our afternoon…