My Guide to Phnom Penh
We had originally planned to only visit Vietnam (which will be covered in the next few posts), but after pulling up Google Maps (lol, but srsly) we thought it would be silly not to make the most of being in SE Asia and visit Cambodia too.
We flew into Phnom Penh with Jetstar Australia and BOY was I ready for this holiday. TBH we planned nothing for Cambodia except where we were sleeping. I’m talking ZILCH. I didn’t have the energy before we left (did I mention I really needed this holiday?!). We really wanted to just relax. A lot of the time you go away and you come back more exhausted than when you left – it ain’t good. For the first time, we were going to holiday.
WHERE TO STAY
After landing we headed straight for our hotel, which was IN-CRED-I-BLE. Holy F*#%. We stayed at the Plantation Urban Spa & Hotel and not going to lie, it was one of the highlights of our trip (so bad… but true).
When I go to book a hotel/place to stay, I trawl through only two sites – Air BnB and Booking.com. If I can’t find any cracking, unique little Air BnB’s then I’ll hop onto Booking.com and read through hundreds of reviews and scroll through thousands of photos (#cusinstagram). The best thing is, you can book a place, not pay any money, and cancel it if you find a better one (ps. this is not sponsored at all by Booking.com, it’s actually just my favourite pastime – but Booking.com want to sponsor me they can – DM me for bank deets). I booked almost every place for our holiday on there to the point that now I get a 10% discount on bookings *insert laughing/crying/stoked emoji*.
Apologies, I went on a bit of a tangent. So, the Plantation – holy mother of god. It was beautiful. The staff were amazing, the food was amazing (the drinks even better), there was a spa on site and the most incredible pool area. To be honest, we probably did spend most of our time here. It was so relaxing – exactly what we wanted and needed to start our trip on. I would 10/10 recommend staying here. We booked a very standard room and it was about $100 AUD a night. You can’t forget the inclusions to, i.e. free buffet brekky every morning AND when you arrive they give you this epic ginger sorbet – do not turn it down. do. not. turn. it down. At first, you might be like DAFUQ is this but it was the best thing I have ever eaten.
You’ll see the amazing pool and restaurant area below, all of the food and dranks, and where we lounged most mornings. Get to breakfast early and nab a cabana straight after before they’re all gone and don’t ever miss happy hour. You are on holiday for god’s sake!
We ate A LOT at the hotel and stopped off at a few random cafes (like, real random) when exploring, but a couple of places we loved (and actually caught the name of) are…
You’ll enjoy traditional Cambodian food here, we ordered the Khmer curries and a bottle of Rosé (FYI not traditional). Super cheap (the same as pretty much everywhere) and amazing staff – so so friendly! There is a second one in Siem Reap. Highly recommend this place – either location will do!
Definitely a spot for the tourists (from all over the world) but epic food and a great place to relax if you’ve spent all day walking around and exploring. It’s in a really cool colonial building with a great story – the walls are covered with the history of the place, a good read! Also, great food and cocktails, because #alwaysdrinkingevenwhenimnot.
It’s overwhelming but you can’t miss out on a visit to Central Market. We even went back there on our last day to get something that caught my eye on the first visit (sorry Tom). It is a HUGE market place with anything and everything. I bought a dress for $10 and sunglasses for $5. I had actually spotted the glasses on the first day but didn’t end up taking them. On the last day of the trip I really wanted to go back and get them (knowing very well, I would NEVER find them – there were hundreds of sunglass vendors). We went through all of them (probably twice – it’s seriously a maze), and then one of the ladies remembered us and remembered the exact pair and went and found them! It was fkn crazy. They were the only pair like that in the whole place. Long story short, I left a happy girl with some bloody great bargains.
If you’ve read my other travel blogs then you know that I love to walk, EVERYWHERE. It’s my favourite way to explore and stumble across things. When we weren’t eating and drinking or just drinking, we were walking everywhere. Looking at places, people, finding random things to do. This is how we found our sunset cruise. It cost us $5 each and was so beautiful. It left from the centre of Phnom Penh right by a few restaurants along the river and across the road from the Phnom Penh Night Market. It was definitely worth it and quite an experience. It took them almost 20 minutes to just get the boat out into the water, trying not to hit other boats (lol #safe). Take some roadies or should I say boaties for the ride.
After the boat ride we went across the road to the Night Markets (which TBH had nothing on Central Market), but had LOTS of Chamel and Bior #designer.
An absolute must-do when you visit Phnom Penh is visiting the Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields. We spent the first half of the day at the museum (previously the prison). You don’t need a guide, just grab one of the audios and do the full tour. It’s obviously incredibly sad and confronting but so important to learn about. Take your time and listen to the stories.
From here we went to the Killing Fields. It was really valuable doing it in this order as all of the knowledge we had from the museum helped us piece together some of the stories at the Killing Fields. Again, you don’t need the guide. Grab the audio and take your time.
Given we chose not to do a lot in Phnom Penh, I am so glad we chose to spend the day learning about the history of Cambodia and Phnom Penh specifically. I would highly recommend doing the same. You won’t regret it.
We spent only 3 nights in Phnom Penh, so this is a very small snapshot of what it has to offer, I know!
The people were amazing, they were so kind and so friendly. They didn’t speak a lot of english (only really at the hotel), but it wasn’t really a problem at all.
I wouldn’t bother getting the Cambodian currency out, I would just get US dollars. Everyone accepts it and it makes working at currency conversions SO much easier. Another plus, you can use US dollars in Vietnam too.
From Phnom Penh we flew to Vietnam with Jetstar Australia, which was about 3 hours. I definitely recommend locking in both if you are planning a SE Asia trip – they are too close together not to!
If you have any specific questions please send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or comment below!
STAY TUNED FOR… Hanoi and Hoi An.