Many consider Phnom Penh an obligatory stopping point on their way to more famous destinations in Cambodia – but the former “Pearl of Asia” is an alluring travel destination in its own right. Part of the capital’s appeal is in how its charm slowly reveals itself to visitors. From its colonial architecture to its picturesque riverside promenade and glittering Royal Palace, sooner or later most visitors acquiesce to the undeniable charm of this rustic city. While it may not have the frenetic nightlife of Bangkok or the sophistication of Singapore, it leaves visitors with a sense of intimacy otherwise absent from Asia’s more metropolitan destinations.
The attractions of Phnom Penh run the gamut between dazzlingly ornate and deeply sobering. The regal Royal Palace is a sparkling example of Cambodia’s past, along with the Silver Pagoda that shares its compound.
Beyond the Royal Palace, there’s no shortage of options if you’re interested in Khmer architecture. The iconic Independence Monument is a great backdrop for photos, while Wat Phnom, Wat Oanulom and Wat Botum are great places to dive into the local Buddhist culture.
Phnom Penh’s post-colonial charm is on full display at Sisowath Quay, boasting a peaceful riverside ambiance. This promenade runs along the west bank of the Tonle Sap River and is a great place for walking around, discovering local live music or grabbing a cocktail for sunset.
Though sobering and not a natural inclusion for a holiday itinerary, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, also known as S-21 Prison, and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek are an important visit for those who visit Phnom Penh. These places offer insight into one of humanity’s darkest hours, and provides context for Cambodia’s development and the importance of travelling responsibly here.
How to get there:
By Plane: Located just seven kilometres outside of the city, Phnom Penh International Airport is the country’s largest and most well-connected airport. Direct international flights here arrive from Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Taipei, Kunming and Nanning.
By Bus: Because of Phnom Penh’s central location within Southeast Asia, Cambodia is a popular waypoint for travellers coming from Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. As the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh is easily accessed from virtually anywhere within Cambodia.
By Boat: Phnom Penh is easily accessible by riverboat from Chau Doc in Vietnam, a journey of about 5 hours. There’s also a ferry link from Siem Riep to Phnom Penh.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column]