My first time visiting Cambodia, and although it was just a 24 hour layover that flew by, I still managed to explore a little bit of this fascinating city.
Cambodia has a lot of sad history, and I would have liked to have visited some of the places that had such a huge impact on the country, such as the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum.
This layover none of the other crew wanted to visit these places, so I decided to join them on a different tour of a few places in the city instead, and will save the others for my next layover there.
After a great night’s sleep and an amazing breakfast at the hotel, we were ready to go.
We hired a tuk tuk driver from the hotel, Mr Sna, who was amazing! He drove us around the city for over 5 hours, waiting at each place, for just $12. A bargain split between 4 people!
Our first stop of the day was the Royal Palace. The palace is a complex of buildings which serve as the royal residence of the King of Cambodia. It was constructed in the mid-19th Century.
As with many temples, palaces and religious sites around the world and in Asia, shoulders and knees must be covered when visiting, and t-shirts are sold at the entrance in case you don’t have anything appropriate. (Scarves are not allowed to be used as a cover up).
All of the buildings are just stunning and I love the intricate detailing so typical to Asia.
After spending as much time as we could admiring the Royal palace, it was time to head to our next stop for the morning.
The National Museum of Cambodia is another beautiful building. It is Cambodia’s largest museum of cultural history and is the country’s leading historical and archaeological museum.
It houses one of the world’s largest collections of Khmer art, with over 14,000 items, and was inaugurated in 1920.
We spent some time wandering out looking at the artefacts, but by far the nicest part was the lovely inner courtyard, full of greenery, plants and flowers.
Wat Phnom is a Buddhist temple which was built in 1372. Legend states that a wealthy widow called Penh found a large koki tree in the river, and inside the tree she found four bronze statues of the Buddha.
Penh constructed a small shrine on an artificial hill made by the people living in the village to protect the sacred statues. Eventually this became a sacred site and sanctuary where people would make blessings and pray.
Whatever the legend says, the temple is just as beautiful as the other buildings we visited!
We had a wander around the temple, admiring some of the pretty flowers on offer to the gods. Amongst those were plenty of other, slightly stranger offerings, such as pork chops placed in the mouths of dog statues!
Next on our whirlwind tour of Phnom Penh, was a trip to the central market. I love exploring markets in Asia, and this one really had a bit of everything! From souvenirs, jewellery, clothes, to designer knock-off handbags, fruit and veggies, to food stalls, fried insects and more.
I have to say I was not brave enough to try any fried insect delicacies… maybe next time!
Spot the stall owner above… just chilling in-between her vegetables!
After a wander around the market and picking up some delicious fruits, it was time for lunch. Sna, our tuk-tuk driver, dropped 2 of the others back off at the hotel, and drove myself and one of the other girls out towards the waterfront for some lunch.
First we decided to go for a massage, since they are so inexpensive in Asia. I have to say though, Thailand wins hands down for me! Perhaps we chose the wrong place but the massage was just not that great.
Luckily we had worked up an appetite having been out sightseeing all morning, and found a restaurant serving up some local dishes. (Although I’ll be totally honest and say that I think my dish was more Thai than Cambodian… oops!).
Nevertheless, it was very tasty, and we finished off with some mango sticky rice, one of my favourites in Asia.
Eventually it was time to head back to the hotel and get ready for the flight back. We do this flight via Bangkok, so it ends up being a fairly long day as you have some time on ground in Bangkok, but it was so worth it for me – ticking off a new country, exploring some beautiful sites and eating lots of delicious Asian food!