Many consider Phnom Penh to be a city that’s best to skip through rather than stop in. While its not crowded with tourist attractions, there’s certainly enough to see and do to keep you in the Cambodian capital for a while.
Every guidebook will list the Tuol Sleng/S21 museum followed up by a visit to the killing fields; the cities two biggest physical memorials to the Khmer Rouge regime. It will also mention Wat Phnom (with its baboons and elephants) and the Royal Palace. We’ll also recommend the Bophana Audio Visual Centre with its archive of thousands of clips from Cambodia’s history.
This great little town is far enough from the tourist trail to stay relaxed and unpretentious, but is visited enough to have a strong tourism infrastructure of hostels, tuk-tuk tours and a handful of good restaurants.
That isn’t to say there isn’t plenty to do: Battambang was one of our favourite cities in Cambodia, and we’ve heard it’s high on the Cambodian Tourist Board’s agenda to promote it as the next big location. Visit now, in case they actually do it!
We travelled from here to Siem Reap by boat, and had a great trip. We’ve heard it’s one of the most picturesque journeys in Cambodia, which perhaps doesn’t bode well for other journeys although there were areas of great beauty and interest.
Siem Reap and the Angkor Wat Historical Park
The town of Siem Reap acts as a gateway for the famous temples “rescued” from the jungle nearby. As such, it’s the most visited place in Cambodia and has a surfeit of hostels, guesthouses, BnBs and everything up to luxury hotels. Its tourist and backpacker crowds are a sharp contrast to sleepy Battambang with street vendors, markets and restaurants to match the range of the accommodation.
The Angkor Wat Historical Park begins less than thirty minutes from Siem Reap, with tickets starting from US$20 for one day. Along with the iconic Angkor Wat, there’s the whole Angkor Thom complex and over a dozen other temples and sites. We recommend you look through a guidebook first then negotiate an itinerary with a tuk-tuk driver. We found a recommended driver and let him choose, using the Travelfish Angkor iPod guide to fill in background information on where we were.
More Cambodia travel information
In the podcast, we also talk about our border crossings and transport between each centre. You can find it in iTunes. There’s also our Cambodia travel planning page, cheap tours in Siem Reap and in Phnom Penh. To listen, hit play above or check in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud.