Phnom Penh is the vivid capital of Cambodia located at the junction of three rivers, the Mekong, the Bassac and the Tonle Sap. During the 20s was considered as the “Pearl of Asia” due to its modernity, an exotic combination of French architecture, Khmer rural landscapes and with a fast economic growth.
Phnom Penh suffered a dark period in its history, during the rule of the Khmer Rouge between 1975 – 1979. This period had a great impact not only on the capital but on the whole country. It is estimated the Pol Pot’s rule caused death to 2-3 million people and the metropolis itself was forcefully evacuated. After the Red Khmer expulsion by the Vietnamese army, Cambodians started slowly to return to the city.
If you have never visited the capital of Cambodia hurry up, cause it won’t be the same in a few years! We noticed hundreds of emerging restaurants, skyscrapers, hotels and much more. Phnom Penh is experiencing again a significant economic growth and urban areas, in particular, are undergoing fast development. There is new business opportunities in every corner and the need for trained, qualified people.
Our Polish friends who live there for almost one year were our hosts. Before, they were also travelers like us, backpacking 8 months through Asia and end up staying in Cambodia.
Fell free to check their polish blog VSPAK – Even if you don’t understand polish is quite worth it thanks to their great pictures from China, South Korea, and Japan.
Independence Monument (Vimean Ekareach) was the first thing we visited, a memorial to Cambodia’s war dead and a symbol of independence from foreign rule, designed by the influential Cambodian modern architect Vann Molyvann.
The riverfront is the most touristic part of the city. From one side dozens of pubs, galleries, cafés, restaurants and shops and the other Sisowath Quay overlooking the Chaktomuk. It’s a representative place of Phnom Penh surrounded by the most important temples and museums. On the afternoons, especially during the weekends, it’s a meeting and festivities point for Khmer people.
Silver Pagoda and the Royal Palace are the most beautiful and historic temples in the capital of Cambodia. Instead of going inside, we choose to walk around and put more attention to Khmer people and their habits.
Walking further we encountered the country’s leading historical and archeological museum, the National Museum of Cambodia.
There are several markets in the city and the most famous one is the Central Market (Phsar Thmey), a unique colonial style building constructed in 1937.
Toul Tum Poung is often referred as the Russian Market because it was popular during Russian expatriates in the 1980s. The visitors are mainly, antique collectors and people looking for good reproductions.
After 5 PM occurs a transformation from the antique mall to the bustling market where you can buy meat, fish, and vegetables.
Orrusey Market, was the most claustrophobic and busiest one. Situated not too far from the Sorya Shopping Center and the Central Market (around 5 minutes by TukTuk).
During the weekend, our polish friends wanted to show us the Silk Island also know as Koh Dach. Located on the Mekong river only 40 minutes away from Phnom Penh and where the pace of life is relaxed and the locals are welcoming, providing a genuine insight into village life.
On our last day, we decided to reach the top of the Phnom Penh Tower. The highest building with a bar on the last floor offering a panoramic view of all the city.
It was a great way to say goodbye to Phnom Penh.