Legend has it that the city of Phnom Penh was founded when an old woman named Penh found four Buddha images that had come to rest on the banks of the Mekong River. She housed them on a nearby hill, and the town that grew up here came to be known as Phnom Penh.
While I am not sure whether or not this legend is true, what I can tell you is that Phnom Penh is worth seeing. Unfortunately the beautiful city is often overshadowed by Angkor Wat, and is often overlooked. Within just 2-3 days you, can explore the ins and outs of Phnom Penh and judge for yourself whether the legend is true or not.
KEEP READING FOR YOUR QUICK GUIDE TO PHNOM PENH
Central Market: The Central Market was built in 1937 during the French colonial period and is filled with stalls selling gold and silver jewelry, electronic equipment, clothing, fake watches and bags, suitcases, dried and fresh food and lots of souvenirs. I made several trips to this market since it is the perfect place to bargain for low prices on clothes and shoes. I managed to get the price lowered on a pair (or two) of cute Cambodian elephant pants that I so badly wanted. Remember not to accept the first price that is offered to you. Stay adamant and you shall get the price lowered on your very own elephant pants.
HOURS: 7:00am-6:00pm everyday
LOCATION: Central Market (Phsar Thmei) is located on Street 128 (Kampuchea Krom) in Phsar Thmei 1 Commune, Daun Penh District, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Sisowath Quay: I spent many hours walking along the Sisowath Quay, a beautiful and extensive river located across from the Royal Palace. This portion of water was used during Water festivals in the past to watch boat races. A stroll along this river is both tranquilizing and scenic, as well as convenient since there are many tuk tuk drivers waiting along the curbs for tourists that are looking to go to their next destination.
LOCATION: Sisowath Quay stretches from Street 104 area to Street 178
National Museum of Cambodia: Out of all the Phnom Penh attractions that I saw, this was my probably my favorite. I arrived in the evening when the sun was just beginning to set. As the sun set, candles and light were lit that reflected beautifully on the gold flecks on the buildings. All around me were tourists from around the world and munks with shaved heads dressed in orange garments. I felt as though I had stepped into the heart of Phnom Penh’s religion and culture.
HOURS 8:00am-5:00pm everyday
COST: $5 for children, $10 for adults
LOCATION: Preah Ang Eng St. (13), Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Wat Phnom: My time in Phnom Penh consisted of many visits to breathtaking Wats, the first being Wat Phnom, the tallest in the city. This particular Wat seemed to be a favorite for locals as it was surrounded with families and small children. There were also several locals that had come there to worship. The calm atmosphere up on the hill compared to the congested city streets was wonderful.
HOURS: 8:00am-6:00pm everyday
COST: $1 US dollar
LOCATION: ផ្លូវវត្តភ្នំ, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum: Also very worth seeing is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. I will be honest, after walking through this place and watching the video that was shown, I cried. If you take a visit to this museum, you may have a similar experience. This museum was the actual place in which the Cambodian genocide took place and people were tortured in the Khmer Rouge Prison. It may not be a pleasant experience, but it is an important part of history that should be known about and remembered.
HOURS: 8:00am-5:00pm everyday
COST: $8 with audio
LOCATION: St 113, Phnom Penh 12304, Cambodia
Smoothies: The fresh fruit in Phnom Penh was everywhere, as well as fresh smoothies. On the corner of streets you will often find local smoothie and coffee shops that will let you pick out the fresh fruits that you want in your smoothie. I managed to have maybe three, four, or five smoothies during my three-day stay in Phnom Penh. On one occasion, I ordered two smoothies at once because they were so delicious!
Coconuts: I love coconuts almost as much as I love fruit smoothies. As you make your way around Phnom Penh, you are bound to come across fresh coconuts many times. I especially like mine chilled. The fresh tasting coconut juice will help hydrate and energize you during your trip.
Beef Lok Lak: A traditional Cambodian dish that I tried was called Lok Lac beef. There are many different ways to prepare this dish, but mine was prepared with seasoned beef, onions, topped with an egg, and the whole dish was over white rice. Believe me when I say that it is finger-licking good!
Pork and rice: This particular dish is a popular street food in Phnom Penh that is both tasty and super cheap. You can find it at Corner Street 19 and Sihanouk Boulevard for as little as $1.
Donuts: What’s better than freshly made fried donuts? On Street 9, near Psar Kabko, you will find food stands that make the donuts in front of you which are lightly dusted with sugar. These sweet treats cost a mere 25 cents.
Pho: Although this is a traditional Vietnamese soup, Phnom Penh has many different restaurants that make it deliciously. If you love Pho as much I do, then I would recommend buying yourself a bowl at such a cheap price.
Phnom Penh will always hold a special place in my heart and I will always defend it when I hear that it is not worth seeing because it is very much worth seeing. If you have questions for me or want to share your own experience at Phnom Penh, then feel free to share them in the comments!