With over 1.5 million people, Phnom Penh is the capital and business center of Cambodia. It is a city that takes time to appreciate. The first time you step in the city, it probably is one of the ugliest and dirtiest megalopolis you have ever seen. Allocating a couple of days to get over these barriers is the key to discover and enjoy the vibrancy of Phnom Penh!
Both the Tuol Sleng genocide museum set up in the old S21 prison and the Killing Fields rank amongst Cambodia’s most important historical sites. They tell the story of the Khmer Rouge genocide. It is the darkest period of Cambodia. From 1975 to 1978, around 25% of Cambodia’s population was executed. While Tuol Sleng S21 prison was a torture site, the Killing Fields were execution sites. Both sites go through the history of Pol Pot’s regime and showcase testimonies of survivors. It is tough to handle and best done in 2 days.
Phnom Penh is also the last place I visit in Cambodia before flying over Malaysia. The county is quite flat and heavily polluted. There is no such thing as breathtaking landscapes or adventurous paths to hike. While not being as much exciting to travel as its neighborhood countries, there are some serious highlights such as the Archeological Park of Angkor in Siem Reap, The bat cave of Battambang and obviously Cambodia’s history in Phnom Penh!
Cambodia remains one of the poorest country in the world with an average salary of 150$ per month ; some people surviving with a dollar per day. That being said, cambodians are amongst the nicest, friendliest and most open-minded people I have ever met!
Oh and one last thing! The Khmer food is a serious highlight of the county. Both Lok Loak and Amok are an amazing blend of flavors and spices. They feel like heaven in your mouth!