Located in a cozy spot between the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers, the French called this city “The Pearl of Asia.” The largest and capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh has had a long, rich history. It most recent times, it has seen its fair share of tragedy, left almost completely empty during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. But today, it has rebounded beyond expectations, into a vibrant, bustling city, with a constantly growing population. With plenty to eat, see and do, Phnom Penh should definitely be on your travel radar.
Stretching through the city, like someone slowly reaching to dip their toes in the river, makes a grand impression. As it curves around the corner along the river bank, more monuments and more greenery can be found. People flock to this area day and night, but you’ll be sure to find people playing, exercising and enjoying the view more towards sundown. Dotted with monuments, it reminds visitors of the city’s liberation by the Vietnamese in 1979. It is particularly lovely at night, lit up against the city escape, and is the perfect place for an evening stroll or picnic.
In the beauty of the city, it can be easy to forget the recent atrocities that occurred in Cambodia. Choeung Ek, as well as the S-21 Memorial Museum, are harrowing records of the Khmer Rouge. These areas are not easy to see, but are intrical to understanding Cambodia’s history and culture. The fields may not seem like much, but thousands of people were executed and tortured in these spots. While hard to take in the gory information, it is critical that they remain. Like any Holocaust museum, everyone should visit these sites, if only to make sure events such as these can never happen again.
Prepare yourself to be overwhelmed! The palace is a great peek into an older way of Cambodian living, and the architecture that came along with it. Early in the morning, expect some of the most gorgeous scenery, the intricately detailed and painted set against the inevitably clear blue sky. This is also home to the Silver Pagoda, a fitting name, as the floor is covered with five tons of the stuff. Inside, you'll see the infamous Emerald Buddha, who more than lives up to his name. Made up of 90 kilograms of gold, and adorned with over 2,000 diamonds, there’s no doubt that this statue is incredibly impressive.
Want to try some local food? Would you also like to support a great cause? Romdeng is the perfect spot for you then! One of several restaurants in the TREE Alliance group, they are very community oriented: furniture and decorations are handmade locally, and all staff were once at risk youth. They’re given the chance to learn hospitality skills to better and further their lives. The food here will knock your socks off, and if you’re feeling adventurous, it’s a menu to die for. It might sound scary, but definitely try the crispy tarantula with lime and pepper if they have it. If you’re looking for something a bit more mild, anything off their fish menu is sure to be delicious. They have several sister branches by different names throughout the country, so keep an eye out for them. One includes Friends Tapas near the National Museum, also in Phnom Penh. Get the 3B burger, you won’t regret it.
The traffic may be hectic, the roads a bit rough, and it’s reputation scorned by war. But Phnom Penh is a city on the rise. Foreign investors have been pouring money into the city, creating grandeur on an epic scale. Get yourself to the Pearl of Asia before this secret really gets out. Start planning your trip today with Trekeffect!
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