As far as capital cities go, Phnom Penh had an up and coming feel to it. Certainly not as big and crazy as Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, but also not a sleepy nothing to do underdeveloped city either. I really liked Phnom Penh even though we only stayed 3 days and it was really hot and humid there.
We had taken a bus from Sien Reap early Friday morning. It was advertised as a 5-6 hour bus ride, but due to road construction EVERYWHERE it ended up as an 8 hour bus ride… a very bumpy bus ride! We took a tuk-tuk to our hotel 1/2 a block from the river, checked in, then headed out to a market a block away for dinner. I must say something about our hotel, the Velkommen Guesthouse, only because it was owned and operated by a Norwegian. He was very nice and friendly and had lots of suggestions on things to do and see such as the night market up the river, using the swimming pool for non-guests at the Plantation hotel behind the palace, and even the newly build shopping mall called Aeon.
Day 1 at Phnom Penh was just our day to relax and recharge. We took a tuk-tuk and headed straight for the Aeon mall after breakfast and didn’t leave ’till after dinner. 🙂 We went shopping at Daiso ($1.90 there), ate lunch, treated the kids to Tomorrowland, did more window shopping, had dinner, found another Sticky store (score!), then took the tuk-tuk back to the hotel. It was like a day at home (although at home we NEVER actually spend a whole day at a mall!!!!).
Day 2 Tuyet got up super early, walked down along the river to the palace, then ran the Phnom Penh 10k. She was supposed to do the 1/2 marathon but got signed up for the 10k by accident, which ended up being a good thing due to the heat! CONGRATS HONEY!!!
After a late breakfast/early lunch we headed to the Central Market. That was super interesting… each wing of the market specialized in something different; tourist trinkets in one wing, barbers in another wing, fabric in another, home products in another, etc. We ended up buying two new hats for myself and Kim as we had both lost ours somewhere along the way. We also bought small sew on flags of all the countries we’d been to so far; 4 sets for us all.
We had lunch at a mall outside the central market and got some ice cream after which we walked up to a temple near the night market.
Next to the temple was a playground which was great to blow off some steam. We ended up at the night market for dinner. It was a bit touristy, but still a fun place to hang out at.
Day 3 we headed to the Plantation Hotel for lunch and a day of swimming! They have a smaller pool for the non-guests however as we were finishing lunch they were setting up for a kids party. They hadn’t told us that so thankfully they let us use the guest swimming pool. Ah… what an upgrade!
After a full day of fun in the pool, we headed to a restaurant operated by an organization called Friends. They take disadvantaged youth from Phnom Pehn and give them an opportunity. In this case they are trained to work in a restaurant. This particular restaurant had a couple of challenging dishes to try. I ended up having the fried red ants mixed with beef and basil. It was actually very good! Prior to hitting the restaurant, we had stopped at the Friends shop and bought some useful stuff made by locals the organization supports; a fold up bag for myself, and a bracelet for Tia.
All in all, our time in Phnom Pehn was good. It is a city I would go back to given the opportunity.
Now off to Vietnam!