Inquiry Submission By EverWonderer
Have just returned from a 3 weeks trip to Cambodia, including a one week stay in Phnom Penh. I travelled independently. I am perplexed by some of the negative reviews this beautiful city has been receiving.
Based on my experience, the Pearl of the Orient has very much regained some of its luster.
It combines the vibe of the lost colonial Orient with all the conveniences of a modern city:
– Fantastic Khmer, Fusion and French food. My most expensive meal was $60, 4 courses including lobster, French champagne and foie gras. An average meal was $10 (and I like to eat at nice places!).
– Terrific coffee for $1, on par with the best of Melbourne (but where you pay $5+);
– Funky sky loungers for cocktails and sunset watch;
– Glorious colonial architecture;
– Shopping centers, gleaming new high rises and a casino for those who like those things,
Whilst the main sights will not take much of your time, it is the city to just relax and do nothing but walk, eat, have a drink and people watch.
Some things I recommend doing:
Wake up with the locals around 5:30am, go for a long walk from the Independence Monument to the riverside exercise area and join in with the locals in yoga, aerobics or open-air gym activities. Then relax over a coffee from one of many coffee carts.
In the evening, go for a stroll just as sun starts to set, have a drink at many Sky bars and dine at many top-notch Cambodian or fusion places.
Accommodation is great value compared to the rest of SE Asia and is to a high standard (I stayed at the mid range King Grand hotel for the first part of my trip and an upmarket Patio for the second part)
In terms of security, I found the city center no worse than HK, BKK or in Barcelona or Marseilles. Even in my home city of Melbourne one must watch their bag and wallet around the central station and the shopping mall. To avoid unwanted attention, it is advisable to dress modestly (especially for women) and go to bed early (most places catering to the locals shut by 10pm for a reason), not carry much cash in your pockets/handbag (I found that a money clip from a travel store at the airport, the one that clips onto your underwear, is handy and can hide a credit car and/or larger notes. Can pull it out at more upmarket places).
Plan to spend an extra couple of days in this beautiful city before it is overdeveloped, overpriced and way too big and busy.