It is so sad and exciting at the same time to be leaving Vietnam after a month of intense travel. You start thinking what it will be like and how different it will be. I got an afternoon bus to Phnom Penh from Saigon.
The buses are more basic than the Vietnamese Sleeper buses and I have been told that the bus ride would be bumpy. It is definitely quite rough and as we crossed the Cambodian border, the bus felt like it could self-destruct. You’ll probably experience worse journeys however, so don’t let it out you off. It’s the best and easiest way to get across.
The journey took around 5 and a half hours. On the way you must stop to get your Visa on Arrival. Make sure you carry some US dollars with you as you will need these to pay for the Visa. I think it costs around $35-$40.
Arriving in Phnom Penh, you are surrounded by the Tuk Tuk drivers shouting you down, asking where you need to go. If you are used to Asia you’ll be accustomed to this already. I picked friendly faced man, negotiated a price I was happy to pay and went on my way to the hostel.
Lovely Jubbly Villa
It’s in a dark and shady area, eerily quiet, totally different to the hustle and bustle of Saigon. The staff in the hostel are a little unresponsive, when asking to check in. It took an eternity and they didn’t have too much information about things to do around the city. None the less, the facilities were good and I was only planning to stay in the city for a few nights. They offer bus booking services and tuk tuk hire. The tuk tuk daily hire is a little more expensive than simply going outside to flag one, therefore I would negotiate with a few on your own to get a decent price.
Things to do in Phnom Penh – Get a tuk tuk for the day, just remember to negotiate hard. Hostels will offer you the same service but it will definitely cost you more.
Tuol Sleng S21 Genocide Museum
This was a former school turned into a prison under the Pol Pots Khmer Rouge ere. You walk through the school grounds with classrooms, now turned to prison cells and torture chambers. There are bars and barb wire on the windows to prevent any chance of escape. The old rusty beds still in the cells and you can imagine the atrocities that were committed here. As a result, a very dark and sombre mood resonates throughout the whole complex. There are heaps of pictures of all the prisoners lining the museums rooms, and these were people that Pol Pots saw as a threat to his regime. It is an important place to visit despite being a place of such destruction, in order to get a perspective on such recent Cambodian History.
Phnom Penh Killing Fields
This is the area that the Khmer Rouge would take the prisoners for execution. Today, the fields show no resemblance of this but as you walk through the fields the audio guide will describe to you in graphic detail what went on here. The guide includes passages from survivors of the genocide. It’s one of those dark tourist sites, where it’s deadly silent, no one talks as they respect the site and listen intently to the audio. There is a stupa/memorial at the end of the tour, holding the skulls of the dead, categorized by the cause of death. Some caused by blunt trauma or otherwise. It’s another site which I think you must visit to gain some perspective on the country’s recent history.
These are the two sites that I think are worth visiting in Phnom Penh. Due to the atrocities that took place here, I took no photos on these sites. Ones posted are courtesy of the internet!
I did go to some museums and the Russian market as well, but I didn’t find them very interesting. If you have time you can visit these but you won’t be missing too much if you pass on them. Something to note though, in the Palace, make sure you wear appropriate clothing otherwise you can’t go in. So no shoulders on show, and no short skirts
My personal view on Phnom Penh is that you can easily spend two days here but after that, move onto the next city as you will have exhausted much of what on offer here. If you enjoyed this post, please hit the share buttons below!