The French-built city of Phnom Penh is a rising star in Asian tourism. The capital of Cambodia is slowly gaining high-rise buildings, tourist accommodations and the structures left during the colonial times are getting restored. If one can brave the beggars, reckless drivers, traffic and what-not, Phnom Penh has a lot of attractions to offer. The Phnom Penh International Airport is where one should land from an international trip, unless a tourist went through the borders of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The city has a new terminal that has fairly modern facilities and a help desk for tourists. From the airport, one can opt to take a taxi, a bus or the motorcycle taxi called the tuktuk.  There’s a $9 flat rate for taxis so if drivers might give you a hard time so better to look for an official taxi dispatcher employed by the airport.

Buses and tuktuks are the main transport modes in the city. The bus varies from the haggard ones and a more comfortable ride that offers on-board movies and Wi-Fi.  The chaotic bus station can be found around the Central market.  Be careful about leaving luggage around as robbery happens a lot. The city is quite small and it may take 2 days to check out all the sights. The tuktuks are everywhere and they’re quite reliable if you’re nice to them. There are a lot of backpackers in the area, and they’re usually taking a bus ride to a neighboring country. These backpackers are experts on finding practical lodging and affordable adventures.

Phnom Penh has an amazing river front of the Mekong that’s lined by French colonial buildings, a wide boulevard and a host of cafes and restaurants. It is a good place to relax after a hot day of sight-seeing. Tours around the Mekong River can be arranged with tour guides. It will include a tuktuk ride to Silk Island, a sunset river cruise with the bonus of local Cambodian snacks. Note that the guide expects a gratuity aside from the tour fee. Among the sites to visit are the Tuol Sleng Museum, The Killing Fields, the Royal Palace and the Wat Phnom.  Shopping can be done at Osar Tuol Tom Pong or the Russian Market and there a lot of nice finds in the Bayon Market too. The Equinox Bar is a hub for locals and tourists at night for an acoustic jam session by the local bands.

Photo Credit:  Mardy Suong[email protected]