Saturday, 25 February 2012

Two Nights in Phnom Pehn

We arrived in Phnom Pehn at around 6.30pm after a long but enjoyable boat journey from Saigon.  We knew that the hotel we'd booked wasn't too far from the jetty, but it was getting dark and we didn't know exactly where it was, so we chose a tuk-tuk and driver, Petter, to take us there.  He only charged us $1!  He spoke good English and was very friendly, so we hired him for the following day to show us the sights.  His fee was a mere $18 for the whole day, including a visit to the killing fields some 10km outside the city.

We only had two nights and one full day in Phnom Pehn on this occasion, but I'm sure we'll be back!!  We had had varying accounts before we went, including one from a colleague who visited a couple of weeks before we did and gleefully told us that the city was a hell hole and that the Riverside district (where we were staying) made Pham Ngu Lau (the somewhat seedy backpacker district of Saigon) look like Knightsbridge!  All I can say is that that wasn't our experience!  We really enjoyed our time in the city.

The Riverside area is full of bars and restaurants.  We chose one at random on our first night and had no complaints about our meal.  On the second night, we ate at the Foreign Correspondent's Club, the famous watering hole of journalists in the post Pol Pot era.  It's mentioned in every guide book for Cambodia and could be a bit of a cliché, but, actually, we had a fantastic evening there.  We sat upstairs on the terrace overlooking the Mekong River.  The atmosphere was great and the food was delicious.  I began the evening with a cocktail - not my usual beverage of choice, but I was tempted by the 'Ginger Roger', a combination of gin, ginger beer, lime juice and mint.  It was divine!!  We ordered a starter combo, a selection of three dishes served on a three-tier cakestand-like dish.  These were all beautifully presented and very tasty.  Our main courses were good, too.  The meal was the most expensive we had in Cambodia at just under $50, but worth every penny!

As for sightseeing, Petter took us to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the killing fields at Choeung Ek, as well as to the Royal Palace, all of which I'll write about in separate posts.  We also had time to have a couple of walks around the city, taking in the market and the river front promenade.

We'd been told before our trip that the beggars in Phnom Pehn were particularly aggressive and persistent and would ruin our visit to the city.  Again, I have to report that we didn't find it so.  Of course there were beggars, as there are in every major city in the world, but they didn't bother us too much.  A smile and a polite 'no' sent them on their way.  The street sellers (books, DVDs, maps, postcards, etc., etc.) were nowhere near as persistent as those in Saigon and we actually managed to look around shops without someone trying to make us buy - this would never happen in Vietnam!!

All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our two days in Phnom Pehn and will definitely visit again! 

You can see some more photos of our visit here.


  1. I love your positivity! So many times people are so quick to be negative. Definitely following now :)

  2. Thank you!!

    I've left a comment on your blog about the TDM job.