Thursday, February 21, 2013

Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh:


Phnom Penh (pronounced Puh-nom Pen) is a dirty place...it's definitely a third world country capital, but don't let that stop you from coming to visit. Don't expect it to be like Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh. Cambodia is much poorer than all of its neighbors and it's visible. But the city can be truly wonderful, and of course draws me in with its fabulous food.

Getting here: Phnom Penh is easy to reach from both Vietnam and Thailand.
-From Vietnam: Take a bus into Cambodia. You can get a visa on arrival at most borders. It costs around $10 and takes 6 hours.
-From Thailand: Take a bus to Aranyaprathet, which costs like $5 and takes about 4 hours. Don't let people mis-lead you telling you you need a visa before the border. You can get one on arrival. Drivers will lead you away to a place where you'll pay more. I think it's $20 for visa. Once you cross you'll be in Poipet. You can take a shuttle to the bus station where you can catch a bus to Phnom Penh for about $6.

What to do:

1.Wat Phnom: This is an amazingly beautiful wat right in Phnom Penh City. It's gorgeous, and the grounds around it are well kept. There is often an elephant on the grounds as well as monkeys. You have to pay to go to the top, but just walking around the grounds is beautiful. Don't pay to release the birds. They're trained to just come back.
2.Toul Sleng (SR-21): This was the main prison/torture camp during the Khmer Rouge regime, and it's in the heart of the city. It's horribly sad to see, but it's powerful and if you're looking to learn more about Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge, you should go here. They also have a movie they show, so you should look into the movie times and go when it's showing. Here's a post when I went to Toul Sleng.
3.Choeung Ek Killing Field: This is one of the largest killing fields just outside of Phnom Penh. Here's a post about when I went there. This place is very powerful to visit.
3. The Royal Palace: The palace was built in the 1860s and has been occupied by the kings ever since. It's gorgeous, and you can walk around many of the buildings and the grounds.

Where to eat:
1.The Shop ($5): This place is run by a French woman and they have one of the best menus in Cambodia. They have fresh yummy ingredients and their food is never disappointing. Passion fruit pancakes, don't mind if I do. They have amazing hummus, and their bread is baked fresh every day. Best croissant I've ever had!
2. Free Bird ($10): This place is spendy by my standards, but it's really good American food. I have a friend who swears by their biscuits and gravy. They also have really good sandwiches and root beet floats. They have a room in the back where you can bring 10 people and pop in a movie while you eat.
3. Flavors of India ($7): This is legit Indian food, run by Indians. $7 will get you a big thing of curry, and 2 orders of Naan, which will feed at least 2 starving people until we're stuffed. This place is fabulous. They even give you little appetizers, warm lime water to clean your hands after, and a little dessert. Mumtaz used to be amazingly delicious, and only 2 doors down, but they're trying to sell their business. Perhaps a new family of delicious cooks have bought it
4.  Fat Boys ($5): Fabulous sub sandwich shop with super fast delivery! They have so many toppings and you can order as many of them as you want. This place was started by an American and he really knows his sandwiches. Make sure to ask what the daily special is.
5. Pizza Company: If you're craving some Pizza Hut, this is the next best thing. Good pizza, a little spendy, but it will hit the spot.
6. Viva ($3) This is great Mexican food, and often you can get your food for very cheap. Their happy hour goes all day, so you can get cheap drinks and $1 tacos!
7. Casa Lika ($5) This is another yummy Mexican place right off of the river front.
8. Luna D'Autunno: Go to Luna NOW! This place lives up to it's hype. It's owned by an Italian family who also own Il Forno in Siem Reap and another one in Vietnam. This is some of the best italian food I've ever had. Their pizzas are yummy and please get their chicken and mushroom dish that is cooked in a clay pot. I dream of it at night.
9. Kineya: I couldn't find anything about this restaurant online. It's the best Khmer food I've had in Cambodia because it wasn't super true to Khmer village food. If you want to try food I'd suggest this place. It means ginger in Khmer, so that might help you find it.

Where to stay:
1. Phnom Penh City Hotel: ($15)This hotel is the basics. Nothing fancy going on here, but it's not a bad place to rest your head at night and it's cheap. The owner speaks good English and is really nice. There's a laundry mat across the street if you need that, and a Lucky supermarket right around the corner. It's really a great location in the city. Oh, remember when you tell your tuk tuk driver, it's Phnom Penh CITY hotel. They might try and take you to Phnom Penh Hotel which is big and fancy and expensive. Grab a card from the hotel and that should help clear things up. You can find cheaper places than this, but you won't have to worry about your belongings being stolen here.
2. SkyPark Guesthouse: ($10-$15) Skypark is pretty much in par with Phnom Penh City Hotel, except that the staff at SkyPark are really grumpy. All of them. This hotel is a lot bigger and has an elevator(if it's working) the Internet tends to also be spotty. They do have non ac rooms if you're looking to save a few bucks and don't mind just a fan keeping you cool. Burly is also owned by the same people and is just down the street.
3. Number 9 Hotel: ($20) I've never actually stayed here, but other volunteers have and they say it's a great hotel for visitors. It doesn't have a pool, but it does have a hot tub I think. Breakfast is included in the room price most of the time.
4. The Plantation: ($100) This is the perfect place to stay if you're looking for nice accommodations with a pool and everything. This is where a lot of volunteers have their families stay when they come into Cambodia.

4 comments:

Krysten @ Why Girls Are Weird said...

Lord anyone traveling there is going to LOVE you. So helpful.

Angi said...

Goodness...I never had a desire to visit Cambodia but after this post - sign me up!!!

Anonymous said...

This post is awesome! Everything sounds so fun and interesting! How do you pronounce Phnom Pehn because I'm pretty sure I'm slaughtering it in my mind. :)

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