A bustling yet not overwhelming city, Phnom Penh is one of our favourites. Located on the banks of the Mekong, it was once known as the ‘Pearl of Asia’ and became a popular tourist destination in the 1920s.
French-built, this city is still brimming with striking architecture and is renowned for its historical attractions. Despite its historical influences, the city is catching on fast to the needs of modern tourism. It’s been busy developing its own shopping malls, café culture and cosmopolitan areas – whilst managing to retain its traditional values.
The centre of the city, known as the ‘riverside’, is where you’ll find most of the high-end bars, restaurants and shops. But, amongst the glitz, you can still wander down some of the side streets to spot local traders, open-fronted shops and even beautiful parkland.
One of the city’s most iconic sights is the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, situated right on the riverfront to the south of the city. You might also choose to have a look around the National Museum which was built by the French in the 19th century and is now home to an impressive collection of Khmer antiques. To learn more about the Khmer Rouge and Cambodia‘s troubled past, visit the former Khmer Rouge prison S-21, or take a trip to the notorious Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, less than half an hour from the city. Although both are sobering sights, they provide a valuable insight into this country’s turbulent history.
On a lighter note, the city holds its very own Water Festival, which takes place in November. Locals gather to celebrate the reversing flow of the Tonlé Sap River and there’s a host of entertainment to enjoy such as live music, fireworks and great food!
Phnom Penh is an ever-changing city, that has a foot in the past, but is soon to be sucked into the fast-paced, modern lifestyle. With an increased demand for tourism, the number of restaurants and bars is on the rise here. If you like destinations with authenticity, come and visit it now before it’s too late. Or, come back and discover it how it’s changed if you’ve visited this city before!
Plan your trip to Phnom Penh today.