Qatar Airways fly from Ho Chi Minh directly to Phnom Penh as a fifth freedom flight and is often one of the cheapest carriers between the cities which is perfect for me as I try to maintain my platinum membership with Qatar Airways.
Once arriving in Phnom Penh, I jumped upon one of the really cool big tuk tuks that are waiting outside the airport. They are a cross between a moped and a jeep so you can fit your luggage on and cheaper than a regular taxi.
As there was no SPG hotel I decided to go for a boutique hotel called TEAV boutique, which had a pretty good rating on trip advisor and was very reasonably priced (around 40 Dollars a night including breakfast). It had a relaxed laid-back vibe, was very clean and the room was ginormous for the price – it was like a suite with its own kitchen and living area. An added bonus of this place was that the staff were extremely helpful and had lots of information ready to share.
As soon as we landed, I headed straight to the killing fields just outside the city centre, which is one of the many areas that Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge regime committed their vast genocides (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killing_Fields). It is so unbelievable that human beings can be capable of such acts and especially as it was against their own people and often people of the same faith, which are usually the two main reasons, such genocidal acts happen. The numbers are extraordinary as well; 3 million of approximately an 8 million population were brutally tortured and killed.
Having been to Srebrenica in Bosnia, I have seen the aftermath of such massacres however this was much more raw and it felt much more real, as the area is still not developed like Srebrenica. For example the bones in some areas of the people are still there and all the skulls that were found were shown in a display unit categorised by the age and gender of the person. Your admission allows you to follow an audio tour using headphones all around the site, which is really insightful and quite emotional. This place is a definite must if you visit Phnom Peh!
Following the killing fields I ended up going to an army shooting range where you can fire a variety of guns. The prices were not cheap where it was around 150 USD for AK47’s and up to 300 USD for a bazooka, which is large amount of money and I am 99% sure I got hustled. Therefore, would advise you to go earlier in the day rather than in the evening as it’s a bit of a shady place and negotiate with the guys even if they say it’s fixed. Be prepared to walk away and they will hopefully alter the pricing. I believe you should expect to pay around 100 USD but you maybe able to get it a lot less if you are a good negotiator.
Apart from those mentioned above, around Phnom Penh there is not that much else to see to be honest. There is some monuments in the city centre which has a pedestrianised area so its nice to walk down; there is a palace and several temples on the road so you get to see several monks walking around and there is ceremonial guards (think Buckingham Palace guards).
However, in my eyes one of the best things to see Phnom Penh isn’t exactly any sites or monuments in particular but to just generally watch and immerse yourself in their general day to day life. It has a great vibe and the people are friendly and interesting. It’s a place I would recommend spending a bit of time in if you are traveling in South-East Asia, it is an ideal place to relax and take a time out to catch your breath.
Like most of this part of the world, the food is great. In Phnom Peh there are lots of nice restaurants and cafes spread across the city packed with a trendy, young, Vietnamese crowd. For somewhere a bit more special we were told by the Hotel to check out this restaurant called Malis (http://www.malis-restaurant.com/index_home.php?lang=en), which is known, as one of the best restaurants of Cambodian cuisine in Phnom Penh.
The price was expensive for Cambodia however was around 8-10 USD for a starter and 15-20 USD for a main and considering it was one of the most expensive and nice restaurants in Phnom Penh and it is definitely one for a celebration or special occasion as the food and service is fantastic.
Adieu, Adieu.. Stormy