Following a 6-hour bumpy ride, we’ve arrived in Phnom Penh without a solid itinerary on-hand. As soon as we got off the bus, I immediately felt the different ambience of the city. Phnom Penh is the contrary of Siem Reap! The place is so laid back with easy-going people and you can feel the authenticity of the place. While most of the people go to Cambodia to see the Angkor Wat, visiting Phnom Penh will make you understand more about Cambodia’s dark past.
Our day started by having chicken noodle soup for breakfast. It wasn’t the best noodle soup though, not even better. Moving on, we continued our day by walking along the streets looking for Aura Thematic Hostel. Thanks to Maps.Me App, even though we didn’t have any 3G/4G connection, we still managed to use the maps offline.
WHERE WE STAYED?
We stayed at Aura Thematic Hostel
Budget-wise, this place is perfect and staying here for a night is ideal. The hostel is walking distance to most of Phnom Penh’s tourist spots and food hubs. They’ve got a rooftop lounge called Elevium. This is also where you’ll have your breakfast to start off your day. Staff were all nice and friendly. They were the ones who arranged our transportation going to Ho Chi Minh.
When we arrived at the hostel, we were too early for the check-in. They didn’t allow us to have an early check-in because they were full at that time. Exhausted from walking, we decided to take a rest at their rooftop lounge to kill the time.
Our initial plan was to visit S21 & the Killing Fields for half a day but that didn’t push through. Our tired bodies didn’t want to do it, we were screaming for air-conditioning that time! Instead, we visited the impressive National Museum that is only a 10-minute walk from the hostel. We had lunch afterwards & ordered a traditional amok. Then, we went back to the hostel for the check-in.
Tip: Most of Phnom Penh attractions are already close at 5PM
After the refreshing shower and quick nap, we began exploring the place.
A 15-minute walk from Aura Thematic Hostel, you can already spot the Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda. (Entrance Fee: 10$/person) It’s a huge place with stunning architecture. If you’re planning to bring a guide with you, you must pay 10$ more. There is a lot to learn inside so getting a guide would be helpful and worthy of the price. They are following a strict dress code in the vicinity. Sleeveless and shawls are not allowed, as well as above the knee skirts or shorts. Fret not, they have t-shirts and bottoms for sale near the ticket booth. You can see flower beds scattered all over the area. The Silver Pagoda is actually part of the palace. Taking photos or videos is also not allowed inside the Royal Palace and Pagoda.
We also paid a quick visit to the Independence Monument. There’s nothing much to get excited about this. But being in a new country, you should at least learn their significant history. The monument will tell you about the strong relationship between Cambodia & Vietnam.
Our day ended at Sisowath Quay. This place reminds me so much of Corniche in Doha, Qatar. We strolled down along its wide boardwalk while watching the sunset. Observed how the people were enjoying their time with their friends and loved ones. You can also sight a lot of street food vendors here and avail cheap beers or massage.
It was a very tight 24-hour in Phnom Penh. Totally regretting (up until now) that I didn’t get the chance to visit S21/Killing Fields. I still have a reason to go back here and spend 2 days more to explore the city.