The Angkorian weekender

3 Nov

THE ANGKORIAN WEEKENDER  Phnom Penh is known as “the pearl” of South East Asia. The city, Cambodia’s capital, is described by travellers as a genuine old Asian city, with timeless infrastructure, captivating Angkorian and French architecture and, it’s greatest asset, friendly and optimistic Khmer people. It’s easy to spend an entire weekend eating, drinking and aimlessly roaming the city just to absorb Cambodia’s distinctive culture. But these charming attractions are a stark contrast to Phnom Penh’s dark history, which is another important reason the city features on many travel itineraries.

I recently went to Phnom Penh from Ho Chi Minh City for a weekend trip, which was just enough time to see it’s main attractions.

I battle with rain and wind in front of The Royal Palace. It's surrounded by beautiful gardens and stunning Khmer buildings.

The attraction of The Silver Pagoda is it's silver tiled floor. Just one section of the floor is uncovered for display but the tiles are tired and taped together.

Wat Phnom is a quiet temple on the city's only hill. You will see monkeys and an elephant called Sambo at the foot of the hill as well.

The Independence Monument towers above Phnom Penh's largest roundabout. It was modelled on Angkor Wat's central tower and built to commemorate independence from France.

Over 8,000 victim's skulls are displayed at The Killing Fields as evidence of the brutality Cambodia experienced under Pol pot's regime of the 1970's. Plan your following activity carefully as The Killing Fields are an emotional experience.

Tuk tuks are the easiest and cheapest way to travel around Phnom Penh. It costs around US$2 for a trip across the city. Choose your drivers carefully though; my friends and I survived a tuk tuk crash on the way to The Killing Fields because our driver played chicken with a motorbike.

Phnom Penh's markets are fantastic! They offer much more variety and often greater quality than HCMC in Vietnam.

I was lucky enough to enjoy a private nighttime cruise along the Mekong for a friend's birthday party. To take a sunset cruise along the Mekong River, contact tour operators located on Sisowath Quay.

Weekend travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh

Browse the travel agencies on Pham Ngu Lao street to find the best deal (consider cost, travel times, visa handling and comfort) and prepay for your ticket to secure a seat. I took a Friday overnight bus which I very strongly do not recommend. The overnight bus took nearly 12 hours, as opposed to the usual six to seven hours, due to hours wasted waiting for the border to open overnight. Take a Friday 3pm bus or leave on Saturday at 6.30am.
I stayed at Top Banana Guesthouse which was cheap (US$15 per night for a room with two double beds), clean and ideally located.
I returned to Ho Chi Minh City via a 2pm Sapaco bus on Sunday afternoon which arrived in Ho Chi Minh City around 8.30pm.

By Marissa Toohey

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2 Responses to “The Angkorian weekender”

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