Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, counts a genocide museum and a place called the “killing fields” among its top sights. With attractions centering on the morbid, coming here was never in my list of priorities. I had been to Cambodia previously but directly skipped the capital in favor of Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat.
Armed with good recommendations from friends and colleagues, I finally made my way to Phnom Penh just last week – nearly 6 years since my last visit to Cambodia. Needless to say, I was bowled over by the laidback vibe and friendly city folk. With rapid economic growth in recent years, Phnom Penh is currently undergoing a massive change with new highrises, fancy restaurants, bars, museums and day trip possibilities. Those who arrive on transit to Siem Reap, usually from Ho Chi Minh, and check in immediately to their Phnom Penh hotel without expecting anything will be pleasantly surprised. Cambodia’s capital is now a destination in its own right with several things to keep the traveler busy. For a city that has earned a gruesome reputation due to its recent past, I found a plethora of things to see and do that were not in any way related to torture chambers or mass executions.
For a 5 to 7 day itinerary of Cambodia that runs through the essential sights, check out this combined Cambodia travel guide