Certainly not known for its charm or tranquility – Phnom Penh is loud, busy and vibrant. The streets offer a history lesson and has a certain distant charm to it. If you are in Cambodia, just 2 days in Phnom Penh would actually suffice.
We stayed at the Palace Gate Hotel Resort. It’s smack in the city and right opposite the Royal Palace. A restored French colonial villa with spacious rooms, good food and a 20 minute drive to/from the airport.
We had a few meals at the Mealea restaurant located in the hotel, and the local cuisine is fantastic. We tried the Battambang chicken curry in Khmer spice, wrapped in a lotus leaf and a local favourite – The fresh zucchini, moringa leaves and pumpkin flowers soup.
It’s not spicy, just full of flavour and turmeric, galangal, ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves.
Make your way to the Central Market – It’s worth the experience. WAY more expensive than the actual stores despite the haggling, but you will find almost anything and everything.
Built somewhere in 1935-36 in the shape of a dome, the building itself is a dark yellow art deco. You may want to hold on to your clutch while you haggle.
Wander over to the Royal Palace, built in the 1860’s. With four main compounds, the palace boasts the finest Khmer architecture and a touch of French charm. With beautiful mural paintings, a throne hall, temple of the Emerald Buddha and a Kampaeng (Defensive Wall), it’s open to the public during the day.
The museum is also quite close to the Royal Palace, home to the world’s finest Khmer collection. Photography is not allowed and it’s not as large as you’d expect it to be. It took us about an hour to tour the entire museum .
Just remember – eat, eat and eat…