Travel Tips Phnom Penh

Where to Go within the Region

Stone Etchings Revealing Khmer History, Cambodia

The history of this region is so rich and deep, with distinct cultures to discover.  To make most of your trip make sure to visit:

Vietnam | An easy boat ride or bus trip from Phnom Penh will get you to Vietnam. With over 90 million population, its currently one of the top 20 most populous countries in the world – so expect a different pace! Both its capital city Hanoi and its largest city Ho Chi Minh are worth a visit as they offer a different atmosphere. Due to geographic positioning, it will take a fair bit of time to travel throughout Vietnam and see it all, however here are some stunning sights to consider:

  • Halong – stunning landscape with amazing water views
  • Van Gia – a typical fishing village full of charm
  • Hoi An – the perfect beach side destination to relax
  • Cruise the Mekong River – if you havent had a chance to get on a boat in this region, you may want to try it here
  • Sapa – a colourful and charming town with lush green backdrop of rice paddys

Laos | Laid back and tranquil are words best to describe Laos. Vientianethe capital, is stretched out on the banks of the Mekong river plus touches of French influence giving it a nice appeal. Check out the giant gold leaf Stuppa and the Budhha park which are the key attractions. Beyond the capital, the other places of interest include:

  • Luang Prabang – former capital of Laos and UNESCO listed
  • Vang Vieng – stunning landscape with lush green boulders as a backdrop
  • Pakse – home of impressive waterfalls and coffee plantations

Thailand | Bangkok is a capital that does not sleep. Here you can visit the grand palace and the reclining Buddha. There are floating markets, night markets and markets in general to keep you busy too. Beyond Bangkok though awaits delightful beach resorts down south and tropical rainforests and elephants up north. Heres a shortlist to get you started:

  • Chiang Mai – enjoys the glistening sparkle of the gold leaf temple on top of the impressive Doi Suthep (and Doi Pui/ Buakha) mountain (forming a national park)
  • Phi Phi island – pristine beaches popular even with hollywood films 😉
  • Phang Nga Bay – just north of the very popular Phuket, this is where all the postcard photos are taken! Lime stone boulders protruding from the water! Stunning!

Travel Tips Phnom Penh

Getting Around within Cambodia

Floating Village Shop, Cambodia

The main methods of travel around Cambodia for long distances are by bus and boat, depending on the destination. The same services are often also available to neighbouring countries too. Listed below are some of the main companies offering transportation services.

Bus Companies
Boat Companies

Travel Tips Phnom Penh

What to See in Cambodia

Tourists Visiting Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Cambodia is known as the ‘Kingdom of Wonders’ for a reason. There is so much natural beauty and fascinating culture to keep you here for weeks. However here is our pick of the must see places:

Angkor Wat | A visit to Cambodia commands a visit to the ancient and UNESCO listed Angkor Wat. Serving as the centre of the Khmer Kingdom for several centuries, Angkor represents the hub of Khmer culture. This is a must see and must photograph sight. Even a novice will walk away with stunning photographs as the beauty of the architecture and stone carvings do all the work for you! Allow a few days here and naturally stay in Siem Reap.

Floating Villages | There are several floating villages in Cambodia (like Koh Trong, Me Chrey, Chong Kos to name a few). A boat trip to one of the villages will provide a fascinating glimpse of a different lifestyle to these ‘Venice’ style townships.

 

 

Kampot |  Home of the pepper fields. this charming riverside town has a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. The pepper fields around this region provides a lush green back drop with photogenic landscapes.

 

Battambang | With its distinct French colonial influence is a quaint City worth visiting. The temples here survived the Khmer Rouge period and are in original condition. Sihanoukville & Kep | Seaside destinations popular with locals and tourists alike. Sihanoukville is quite a bustling city compared to the laid back Kep. However both provide ideal relaxation with golden sandy beaches. Its the perfect place to take a break from holidaying and unwind 😉 Oh and did we mention Kep is well known for its seafood and crab in particular! What more can one need 😉

 

Travel Tips Phnom Penh

Where to Shop in Phnom Penh

Night Market Entrance, Phnom Penh

Shopping in Phnom Penh is an experience in itself. We have just selected a few popular options that we recommend listed by categories below.

Markets

Russian Markets | From a tourist point of view, this is the markets to go to. You will find a wide range of wares (homeware, clothing, stationary etc) including souvenirs, paintings and local crafts through to herbs, spices and dried fruits. You are bound to find a treasure to take home. From outside (pictured below) it does not look too inviting. Just pop in from one of its many entrances and watch the time fly as you walk through its labrinth of aisles lined with stalls (pictured further below).

 

The Russian market is about a 15-20 minutes walk from Envoy, or travel by tuk tuk to save your energy for the shopping. 🙂

 

Night Markets |  Range of goods for sale here are similar to the Russian markets, however this market is recommended more for its atmosphere and experience. You are likely to find live entertainment and many locals enjoying a family meal. This is the place to soak up the sights, sounds and aromas (of the many food stalls).

The market is located at the northern point of the Riverside walk. Note it is only open Fri- Sun from 5- 11pm.

 

Boutique Shops

There is no shortage of individual shops selling everything from clothing through to local handicrafts. We have listed a few that operate on a humanitarian aid and mission foundation – so your dollar spent, helps improve the lives of many in need.

Daughters of Cambodia | All handicrafts are prepared by victims of trafficking in Cambodia who are helped by the Daughters organisation to train and minister on to their needs. This is indeed a worthy cause but also you can pick up many handmade items crafted with love to take home as gifts and souvenirs.

 

For more information on store locations (including their cafe and other businesses please visit their website.

Friends | Helping children in vulnerable situations, Friends is another worthy organisation to support. They teach parents of the children skills and trades to prepare very creative and affordable goods including jewelry made of cutlery, notebooks and stationary made of rubber tyres or food wrappers. You will love what they come up with and you are sure to find a unique souvenir here!

Note they have a few shops including a stall in the Russian Markets (#434). To find out more about what they do and store locations please check out their website.

Shopping Centres

Shopping centres are pretty much the same every where around the world – so they are not listed here as a tourist attraction but as a necessity in case while travelling you need to replace your shoes or buy another bag to fit all your souvenirs in!

Sorya | Opened in 2003, it offers several floors full of shops. It is located close to the Central Market.

Aeon Mall | Established in 2014 this is a European standard Mall run with Japanese efficiency (they funded it!). It has a large collection of shops including department store and large supermarket.

 

Travel Tips Phnom Penh

Khmer Cuisine

20140405_125427

There is such a wide range of foods to try. But make sure you pack your courage with you when you travel here! As said locally, anything with 4 legs that is not a table (or chair) is eaten 😉

Amok | A coconut based curry dish served with rice is a popular Khmer dish. This tasty dish is made using different meats (fish being very common) or using vegetables only.

 

Nom Banh Chok | Delicious noodle soup fondly known as Khmer noodles. Typically eaten in the morning, you can find street vendors selling this rice noodle topped with fish curry and vegetables.

Morning Glory | A green hollow stemmed vegetable that grows in this region is the main ingredient in this dish. Part way between celery and spinach, it can appear in several dishes.

 

Khmer Style Spicy Frog | You may have tried frog legs in a French restaurant before, but this spicy crumbed and fried frog dish is sure to delight. This tasty dish has somewhat of a chicken flavour to it, just watch out for the little bones.

 

Insects | Anything deep fried tastes good, right? Well then jump in and try a wide selection of insects on the menu across Cambodia.  Insects can be prepared in their whole form or cooked within a dish (eg in stir fries or curries). From ants, tarantula’s, cockroaches, grasshoppers (particularly tasty!) to worms pictured below, each have a unique taste and texture. This is bound to be a conversation piece when you return and tell friends about your adventures.

 

Durian Fruit | Fruits in general are widely available and quite exotic to the foreign eye. From delicious mangoes and dragon fruit to rambutans and mangosteen, you are in for a treat. However the top of the fruit-chain can be identified by the Durian. A large spiky fruit, very popular in the region, requires an acquired taste. Tasting more like caramelized onions the flavour changes from sweet to a spicy hot end. Again, give it a go! You;ll find street vendors selling this and other fresh fruits in the streets.

 

Khmer Drinks | There are a couple of drinks well worth the mention to try while in Cambodia. One is the coconut shake pictured below. This fresh coconut drink is very refreshing and sweet, serving as a bit of a dessert at the end of a meal.

 

At select cafes and stalls at markets (pictured below) you can find a range of other deliciously refreshing fruit smoothies available. Yet another drink worth a try is the Khmer Iced coffee. Brewed on the spot and mixed with sweet condensed milk, this one you’ll crave once you go back home!

 

 

Travel Tips Phnom Penh

Weather

16999334460_f031491aa1_o

Tropical weather with a distinct pattern makes climate quite predictable so you can come prepared and enjoy your adventure.

Its probably fair to split the climate to 2 distinct sections:

Dry Season | From around November to end of March is best known as the dry season. There is minimal rain and lower temperatures (in the 20C’s) with a bit of cool breeze. This is a popular season to visit Cambodia so expect long queues and hordes of people at the sights.

The Not So Dry Season | Well, thats what we like to call it 🙂 The Wet season is no joking wet. It can be sunny and blue sky, then out of no where a considerable downpour of rain will cripple the city. Having said that, sightseeing is much easier during this period (Apr- Oct). Also the weather is warmer, at times reaching 40 degrees. We recommend going with the flow. If locals can do it – you can too! Pack a light weight raincoat in your day pack and pop it on unperturbed if it rains, and for extra nice touch start do your own rendition of “Singing in the rain”!  😀