phnom penh please!


As 2015 makes way for 2016 the people of the Kingdom of Cambodia have really a lot to smile about. Already enjoying more economic, political and social freedom than any other country in South East Asia, Cambodia is now the fresh hot destination for tourists, foodies and property investors.

After three trips in two months (Christmas, Chinese New Year and one in between) I am almost convinced that Phnom Penh is one of the most pleasant cities in the world.

Here are three tips for a great trip:

  1. Accommodation: The branded hotel chains have not yet made it to Phnom Penh. Around  USD60 will get you a clean and comfortable boutique room with breakfast. Avoid the riverfront area (Sisowath Quay) instead stay in the quiet, central and upscale districts near BKK ( Boeung Keng Kang) and Tonle Bassac.
  2. Dining: Eating well in Phnom Penh is easy especially if like me you like fish, seafood and vegetables (try the spinach). No need to consult your guide book or trip advisor just eat where the food looks fresh and clean. Food (especially Chinese) is good in Phnom Penh although eating out is a tad pricier than Vietnam, Thailand or Malaysia due to the “local” currency the US Dollar.
  3. Transport: Although PP is not a huge city, the heat and often humidity rule out walking to where you want to go. The transportation of choice for most tourists is the remork moto (tuktuk). Find an honest-looking driver and book him on a daily or half daily rate for the rest of the trip. Between USD10 to USD15 for a 6 -hour day is fair.


Santa Claus at the Sorya Mall, one of the city’s pioneer shopping mall
Sugar cane vendor outside a house in the south eastern township of Boeung Tumpun
African woman on Street 271
Clean luck on the second day of Chinese New Year
Phnom Penh is a great place for beer drinkers. Happy Hour price for draught beer is 50 US Cents per pint in many bars
Mr Kao Vanarinn who escaped from the Khmer Rouge at age 14 by making his way on foot across the country to a refugee camp in Thailand exemplifies the steely spirit of Cambodians of his generation
One benefit of not wearing a helmet
Riding friends at a traffic lights
masked and moped
Angkorian motif outside a walled villa in the upmarket Boueng Keng Kong area


All images and text copyright Kerk Boon Leng February 2016