"Every few hundred feet, the world changes" - Bolano
Cambodia’s capital city is often seen as a pass-through of sorts, a short layover before people move on to Siem Reap and the incredible temples at Angkor, but Phnom Penh is well worth a visit. So here we go, here’s our short guide to help you get the most out of Cambodia’s vibrant capital. Enjoy it!
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Take… a Khmer cookery class!
Khmer food is amazing and has become a big part of the tourist office’s campaign to bring travelers to the country. With that in mind, a trip to Phnom Penh is the perfect opportunity to take up a cookery class and try your hand at making the famous amok dish! With both half and full-day classes on offer at La Table Khmer from $21 (including a trip to the local market to pick out the ingredients), what’s your excuse? 😉
Learn… about Cambodia’s embattled past at S21
Cambodia now is a stunning country with a vibrant population, but it wasn’t always that way, with the country under the rule of the violent Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1980. The Killing Fields and the S21 Tuol Sleng museum may not be the happiest way to spend a morning, but understanding the nation’s coloured history is crucial to understanding the country now.
Explore… the city’s Russian market
No visit to Phnom Penh is complete without a wander through the bustling Russian market. With hundreds of stalls selling everything from wooden statues, to paintings, to pieces of jewelry, and absolutely everything in between, the market is the perfect place to find yourself a souvenir for a fraction of the price that you would pay elsewhere. Just be sure to haggle to get the best price you can!
Survive… the heat with the local delicacies
The only thing that ca be said about the weather in Phnom Penh is that when it’s hot, it’s suffocatingly hot. So, while a break in a fancy coffee shop with Wi-Fi and air conditioning sounds perfect (check out our Cambodian coffee guide here!), the locals have their own way of dealing with the heat – fruit and coconuts! Grab a sliced mango and a coconut by the side of the road, stick a straw in it and just keep on exploring!
Visit… the stunning Wat Phnom and Royal Palace
While Phnom Penh is a world away from the ancient temples of Angkor, the city has its own beautiful sights. From the unmissable Wat Phnom in the north of the city, with its community of monkeys - that you should definitely go and feed(!) - to the expanse of the Royal Palace with the one-of-a-kind Silver Pagoda, Phnom Penh is full of perfectly instagrammable locations!
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