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What to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, once known as the Pearl of Asia, is a significant travel destination in Southeast Asia. Situated just north of Siam Reap and the marvelous Angkor Archaeological Park, the city is also known as the home of the country’s kings. There are many wonderful attractions in Phnom Penh for the classy, interested traveler.

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Places to See in Phnom Penh

Cambodian National Palace, Phnom Penh Royal Palace, has been the home to the royal Kings of Cambodia since the 1860s. It is beautifully designed, with strong stature and intricate golden gilded edges. A trip to Cambodia requires the view of such a beautiful building!

Phnom Penh Royal Palace

Phnom Penh Royal Palace

Next to the Cambodian National Palace is the National Museum of Cambodia, a wonderful, must-see location when visiting Phnom Penh.

The national museum of Cambodia is beautiful inside and out. Made of red sandstone 90 years ago by architectural designer, George Groslier, it is built in a square shape around a lovely courtyard filled with lilies, lotus blossoms, and fish ponds.

Garden of Cambogia National Museum

Garden of Cambogia National Museum

The museum’s design was inspired from imagination; statues of imagined lines serve as guardians to the entry way of the museum. The National Museum of Cambodia holds many ancient treasures, such as prehistoric bronze, stone, and wood sculptures as well as ceramics, all from the pre-Angkor, Angkor, and also post-Angkor time periods. (Angkor refers to the time when the Khmer dynasty was at its’ peak, Angkor was the capital of the Khmer dynasty, and its many temples may be seen today at Angkor Archaeological Park near Siem Reap City, not far from Phnom Penh.) The bronze and stone sculptures found here are world-renowned; the sculptures on display showcase the amazing craftsmanship and metal production from the Khmer dynasty.

One of the most famous pieces of art to be seen here is the Vishnu, the eight-armed supreme god, a Hindu divinity. Beautiful Buddhist art can also be seen on display at the museum. Overall, the museum holds spiritual art sure to inspire any visitor.

Vishnu, Cambodia National Museum

Vishnu, Cambodia National Museum

Museum hours are 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, seven days a week.
Tickets are only $3, and pictures of the courtyard are allowed for an additional $1.
Additionally, tours are available guided, for $5, or you may purchase a guide-book for a self-guided tour for $3.

Another interesting attraction is the Phnom Penh Central Market, Phsar Thmei, dome shaped market, originally constructed in 1937, and a great place to find true Cambodian culture. From foods to goods, a visit to the market is a wonderful way to spend any morning or afternoon.

While touring Phnom Penh, visitors should also check out the Raffles Hotel Le Royal built in 1929. This luxury boutique hotel is a wonderful place to grab a drink or dinner.

Raffles Hotel Le Royal

Raffles Hotel Le Royal

Touring Phnom Penh

One way travelers are catching the sites of Phnom Penh today is by ATV! (Four-wheeled motorized bikes) The mix of excitement and adventure, coupled with the rugged hands on experience of interacting and exploring Cambodian neighborhoods on another level has brought acclaim from many visitors as a must-do attraction in Phnom Penh.

Photos of Phnom Penh

Restaurants and Cuisine in Phnom Penh

Van’s Restaurant, one of the best restaurants and attractions in Phnom Penh is not to be missed. Van’s is located in what is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, what was once the Banque Indochine, whose old vault doors can still be seen as you waltz into the dining room, upstairs. An amazing meal is sure to be had; refined cuisine is served, such as succulent veal, sea-perch carpaccio, and an even more decadent and delicious Grand Marnier soufflé. The Lamb shank is also a house-favorite; add an appetizer of escargot, two glasses of delicious wine, a steak, and you’re only set back $75. Not bad for a luxurious, delicious dinner in Phnom Penh.

Renowned for its deep cultural roots, Friends (Mith Samlanh) Restaurant, is located across from the entrance to the National Museum, Main courses $2.50-$4.75, “a little gem.” Entrees are tapas sized, and served by young hopeful locals, “Friends.”

Friends Restaurant, Phnom Penh

Friends Restaurant, Phnom Penh

Many travlers have been buzzing about Boddhi Tree Umma, located in Beong Keng Kong (across from Tuol Sleng Museum) cozy boutique restaurant, named after the “little tree” Buddha meditated under, this quaint courtyard restaurant serves delicious daily specials.

For authentic Cambodian noodles, good at any time of day and as within Cambodian culture-breakfast, visit the Boat Noodle Restaurant in Phnom Penh. This is definitely one spot where you’ll feel the bang for your buck.

Khmer Surin is the ambience lover’s dream.  The Khmer Surin restaurant is decorated with floor pillows, and antique adornments. Three-stories of space making finding the perfect cozy nook for a special night easy; dependable and delicious Cambodian and Thai cuisine are offered.

Khmer Surin Restaurant

Khmer Surin Restaurant

Staying in Phnom Penh

4 star hotels in Phnom Penh start from around $25 per night

When staying in Phnom Penh, there are a few different areas you may choose from. For the most ambiance, choose a hotel on the riverfront, such as Amanjaya Pancam Hotel, with rates starting at $106, and classified as 4 stars.

Also with 4 stars, and for a lower starting rate of only $54 is the Bougainvillier Hotel. A more modernized waterfront hotel is the Naga World Hotel & Entertainment Complex, with rates from $91 per night, with 5 star awards.

There are other good options not on the Riverfront, such as the Circa 51 Hotel, which has 4 star awards, but is only $40 a night, the best bang for your buck. Visitors have also enjoyed the Lebiz Hotel & Library, located near Phsar Thmey which has historical intrigue.

Pros:

  1. Seeing the king’s palace and museum is a one-of-a kind Cambodian cultural experience.
  2. The streetlife and local culture is intriguing

Cons:

  1. None of Cambodia’s renowned ancient temples or ruins are located here, though Phnom Penh is close to Siem Reap and day trips may be arranged.

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