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Phnom Penh: Experience the soul and history of Cambodia
The name of the Cambodian capital alone suggests that you are far away from home. However, Phnom Penh quickly makes one feel at home when the cozy café life, the colorful markets, and the busy city life unfolds. It is one of the fast-growing economies in all of Asia, with years in a row reaching ca. 7 percent yearly growth.
The city offers fantastic experiences in an exciting and ancient culture and at the same time gives the opportunity to reflect on Cambodia’s violent past.
Central Market huge market in the center of Phnom Penh
Central Market in Phnom Penh’s center is marked by a market aptly known as the Central Market or Phsar Thmei. Apart from the fact that due to its central location, it can function as a meeting place or starting point, the market itself is definitely worth a visit. It branches into several long corridors, where you can let yourself get lost in the number of clothes, fruit, souvenirs, and lots of people. Everyone who visits Phnom Penh visits the Central Market, and the locals know it. So be prepared to meet hard-bargaining sellers who, like most Cambodians, have a smile on their faces.
The Russian market etc. in Phnom Penh?
If the central market feels too touristy, you can go to the Russian market instead. The ceiling is lower, and when you suddenly find yourself in a department with only tools, there is no doubt that it is the locals who shop there. It is virtually impossible not to get lost once you enter, and if you let yourself be seduced by the atmosphere, you can easily spend a long time here. There are exciting things to see and buy, and it is definitely also suitable for tourists. However, if you want to completely avoid other tourists, the city’s third market is the right one: Psar O Russei looks like a shopping center from the outside, and is huge. It’s like a maze of stalls selling all kinds of incredible things and things, and if you need spare parts for your bike or are looking for a local snack, you can definitely find it here. In appearance, the central market is a clear better, but in terms of charm, all three score top marks.
See Phom Penh´s fascinating history
The country’s history is of course also in the capital, and the beautiful national museum gives a good insight into the country’s cultural and religious heritage as well as its art. Not far from there sits the breathtaking royal palace. There are lots of beautiful buildings with fantastic interior design, e.g. the silver pagoda, the floor of which is coated with silver – but covered with carpet for protection, so that you can only see a corner of the floor. After a visit here, it is obvious to enjoy a cold drink by the nearby riverbank, which is full of life with lots of cafes, restaurants and small specialty shops. In the evening, you can enjoy the sunset in a relaxing environment from a boat on the Tonle Sap River. From here you can see the spire of the palace and the many lights of the city, which at the same time can give a better understanding of the size of the entire glory. The boat trips are available in several price ranges and for different durations, and even the cheapest trip is a good experience.
Most compelling, however, are the city’s museums about the people’s suffering under the Khmer Rouge. A short distance from the city center you will find The Killing Fields, which are a collection of mass graves used by the Khmer Rouge. Wearing a pair of headphones, you are guided around by a gripping narrative of the terrible events that took place. The audio guide paints vivid pictures of what happened on the spot and explains through stories and eyewitness accounts about the many creepy details you run into.
The Khmer Rouge regime of terror in Phnom Penh is now a thing of the past
If you can handle more about the Khmer Rouge, the torture prison Tuol Sleng – or S-21 – is the next stop on the tour in Phnom Penh. Around 14,000 people died during the regime of the former school, of which only seven escaped alive. It is, among other things, from these seven survivors that one knows about the terrible methods used against the inmates. The prison is located in the middle of the city, but is a quiet place with great respect for history. Like The Killing Fields, it is a place where there is room to breathe and reflect on the events while taking a step back from the hectic life that fills the streets of this metropolis. The pace is fast and you have to keep your eyes open when you wind your way around the obstacles parked on the pavements. All of this helps make Phnom Penh the exciting metropolis it is, and with a little help from the ever-friendly Cambodians, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be a good stay in the city.
More about Cambodia, from the incredibly beautiful and peaceful Siem Reap and the Angkor temples.
Mere om Cambodia, fra det utroligt smukke og fredelige Siem Reap og Angkor-templerne.