On my previous visit to Cambodia at the end of 2006 my travel friends and I didn’t really give the capital city much of a chance and other than a tuk-tuk evening tour and a few drinks in one bar we left the place after just a sole night. I wasn’t too sad about it at the time but back then I was fairly clueless about Asia and still had a lot to learn!
Nearly nine years later and I was more interested in spending a bit of time in Phnom Penh and so, following our tour of places associated with the dark side of Cambodia’s history, we moved riverside for a spot of lunch. After a very sombre morning I was in need of a beer and food-wise I plumped for the Khmer Boran chicken curry.
We eventually left the restaurant and walked the short distance to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda (below) which were nice enough but in some ways just box tickers.
One of the more quirky features of this complex was a miniature Angkor Wat (below) which was a nice teaser for the real thing which was to come a couple of days later.
Our base for our first phase in Phnom Penh was Tama Hotel on the 22nd floor of Phnom Penh Tower; a very nice place with some great views (below) of the city but perhaps not the best location although that matters not so much when you’re never more than a quick tuk-tuk ride away from anywhere. One place quite near was the 007 bar (above) which was an interesting photo opportunity for me though no doubt there was no connection to James Bond whatsoever!
For my birthday night out, we went out to the Night Market and to get some more local Khmer food. It was the first day of the Premier League season in England so I was hoping to find a bar showing some a game or two. Rice Paddy Irish bar had been recommended by a mate but they were mainly showing rugby and the Everton game. A few doors along though and I was surprised to find a bar showing the Leicester v Sunderland game live and I was quite stunned to find we were already 2-0 up when we entered the place. It ended up as a marvellous 4-2 victory and (cliché alert!) was the perfect way to celebrate my birthday.
The next morning we took a walk round the city and ended up at Wat Phnom (below) for a bit before taking a seven hour bus ride up to Siem Reap.
Five days later we were back in Phnom Penh for our final day in Cambodia following a taxi ride from Kampot. This time we stayed in a more central location; the very cool and modern Lebiz Hotel & Library, just a short walk from the Central Market where we initially went before having lunch at the nearby Sorya Shopping Centre.
After eating beef brain noodle soup we split for a few hours as I was still keen to see a few things further afield. One of those places was the National Museum (below) which had a wonderful courtyard with four pavilions surrounding the beautiful garden.
Our funds were running very low so our last night in Cambodia saw us return to the nearby Sorya Shopping Centre where we ate in the same food court as at lunchtime.
My previous trip to Cambodia still counts as one of my favourite ever trips as it was such a laugh travelling with mates but experience counts for a lot and this time I left the country with a far greater appreciation and understanding of it’s history, culture and cuisine.
For other reports from our Cambodia trip click on the following links:
Pt I: Killing Fields & Tuol Sleng Museum Pt II: Main Temples Of Angkor Pt III: Lesser Temples Of Angkor Pt IV: Lara Croft Tomb Raider Filming Locations Pt V: Kampot Pt VI: Bokor Hill Station Pt VII: City Of Ghosts & R-Point Filming Locations
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