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Far East Holidays - Cambodia Holidays - Travel-Guides - Phnom-Penh

Phnom Penh Travel Guides

Reference WW40595
Phnom Penh Travel Guides

Legend has it that the city of Phnom Penh, the exotic 'Pearl of the Orient', was founded in 1372 by a local widow named Penh. It is said that she discovered four Buddha statues that had been washed up by the waters from the Mekong River and erected a temple on the hill to house them, believing that their arrival was a sign of great luck and prosperity to come. And so the city grew around this structure, becoming known as the Hill of Penh (Phnom Penh).

A day or two of traditional sightseeing is very worthwhile in this old and exotic city, but travel itineraries should also include some of the popular activities on offer: river cruises are a must; some people come from very far away to test out heavy weaponry at the famous shooting ranges, and cooking classes are a fond favourite with foodies wanting to learn a new skill. Phnom Penh also lends itself to leisurely hours spent soaking up the cafe culture on the banks of the river, watching the world go by.

Sightseeing in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is a good example of a two-day city, where there is plenty to see and experience in a short time but little to keep one longer. The Royal Palace and National Museum are worth a morning to get a sense of the country's rich heritage. As a counterpoint, visit the Tuol Sleng Museum and Killing Fields to understand the terrible atrocities that have happened in the countries history, but bear in mind that these sombre sites are not suitable for children. In a lighter vein, enjoy the lively shopping scene in the Central and Russian Markets and be sure to take the time to watch the sunset over the river and enjoy the fun nightlife.

A day or two of traditional sightseeing is very worthwhile in this old and exotic city, but travel itineraries should also include some of the popular activities on offer: river cruises are a must; some people come from very far away to test out heavy weaponry at the famous shooting ranges, and cooking classes are a fond favourite with foodies wanting to learn a new skill. Phnom Penh also lends itself to leisurely hours spent soaking up the cafe culture on the banks of the river, watching the world go by.

The city has much to offer on its doorstep as well, with many charming destinations nearby. Take an excursion to the gorgeous beaches of Sihanoukville, explore the dilapidated elegance of the once famous resort town of Krong Kep, or pay a visit to the Irrawaddy river dolphins on the Mekong River.

Eating Out in Phnom Penh

There is a great variety of restaurants in Phnom Penh, ranging from local cuisine to a burgeoning selection of places catering to the tastes of foreigners. Meal prices range a good deal but in general, eating out in Cambodia is not too expensive. The main restaurant areas are the Riverfront, the Wat Phnom area (particularly Street 104), and Street 51; where a busy nightlife means restaurants stay open quite late. However, the more family orientated establishments sometimes close as early as 9 pm. If eating out in restaurants all the time is not your style then try the food sections in the markets, or the roadside food carts (the CP carts are particularly good for simple Cambodian variations of fried chicken and the like).

Khmer cuisine is one of the world's oldest living cuisines and is generally considered a healthy cooking tradition. Although things like Prahok, a pungent fermented fish paste used to flavour many Khmer dishes, can be an acquired taste for foreigners, there are very accessible local dishes too. The most beloved of these is the Cambodian national dish, Fish Amok, made with coconut milk, chillies, onion and spinach and served with rice in banana leaves. For the more adventurous there are exciting Khmer staples like deep-fried tarantulas and red tree ants.

Cambodia's colonial history is also still evident, with a French, influence making things like baguettes and frog's legs common.