Phnom Penh: The Other Side of Cambodia

Cambodia is a country which is most popular for its ancient structures called Angkor Wat. After being featured in Angelina Jolie’s movie, Tomb Raider, it has gained worldwide popularity. The movie was not very good but the location they have chosen for it was spectacularly beautiful. Since then, tourism in the country has boomed and continues to draw millions every year.

Although Phnom Penh is the country’s capital, it is much less popular than Siem Reap. It is often used as a transit point only and tourists do not spend a long time there. If they can go to Siem Reap directly and skip Phnom Penh entirely, they would.

So, it was quite our good fortune not to find any cheap tickets for flights from Singapore directly to Siem Reap. We were able to have almost a full day exploring Phnom Penh. As soon as we got out of the airport upon arrival, we saw that there were many tuk-tuks waiting outside to take tourists around the city.

Tuk-tuks allow you to explore the city without breaking the bank. As soon as we finished negotiations, our driver So Kal, who was a very nice man by the way, proceeded to take us around while giving us a little history lesson. He would point to buildings, tell us what it is and when it was erected. We agreed on a pay of $30 for taking us around the city and then taking us to the bus station after.

Phnom Penh is a delightful city. Everywhere you look you can see temples. It seems that the people in this city and country take their religion seriously. I have read that most of them are practicing Buddhists. We had planned to go to the Royal Palace but alas, we were too late. Tickets were only sold until 9am every morning and it was already 9:30am when we got there. Just our luck! So, we had to do with taking pictures outside the palace gates.

The palace overlooks a lake and you can see many locals there going about their daily business. There are also lots of pigeons and photographers who will happily take your pictures for a fee. Since we brought our own cameras, we did not have to spend extra money to get our pictures taken. A truly thrifty traveler, after all, brings her or his own camera.

We had wanted to explore the Killing Fields but it was more than an hour’s drive away from the city and we were pressed for time. The Killing Fields is a witness to the atrocities committed during Pol Pot’s reign. Since we could not go there I had to satisfy myself with reading history books and articles. Hopefully, I will be able to go back next time and see more of Phnom Penh.

Here are some of our Phnom Penh pictures.

The National Museum in Phnom Penh
The National Museum in Phnom Penh
At the Independence Square with our tuk-tuk driver, So Kal
Beautiful house
Lots of pigeons outside the Royal Palace
Tuk-tuk, Cambodia’s main transportation
Yep, no piranhas here

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