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Exploring Phnom Penh, Cambodia Nov 4-9, 2014

Exploring Phnom Penh, Cambodia

GPS waypoint: 11°33'23.2"N 104°55'41.4"E
Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Hotel Stays
In Kampot, an Italian lady gave me her $8 bus ticket as she had to take a quick cab ride instead from Kampot to Phnom Penh. Thank you! The 3.5-hour, 150.8km trip to Phnom Penh from Kampot was smooth and issue-free on paved roads. Arriving at the bus terminal, I hooked-up with fellow backpackers to split the tuk-tuk ride to Mad Monkey Guesthouse. I have heard so much about Mad Monkey as a backpacker lodging choice - it's high time I check-in. But at $7/night even on a/c dorm beds, I could only stay for a night - too rich for me. The backpackers I met even showed surprise - "$7 is already cheap!". In fairness though, Mad Monkey is clean, new, well-managed and felt backpacker-upscale in terms of amenities. I moved to a nearby backpacker joint, Mini Banana for $4/night - that was more like it for me. No frills, just a mattress you could move around inside a big not-so-ventilated room. There was a lively bar where the socials and alcohol hammering happens.



Getting a Client
I strayed into One Up Banana Hotel and talked to its general manager. He's smart. He completely got what I was offering on the internet. In exchange for my service, I got to stay in their finely appointed room plus breakfast. Nice! Like all my clients, I don't see myself simply as the guy who made a webpage for them and then left. I see myself as a partner in helping them achieve their online booking objectives through my web machinery. This means establishing a relationship built on earned merits. I'm totally up for that. If I do a good job, they just might renew by next year.

One Up Banana Hotel
One Up Banana Hotel, Phnom Penh, Cambodia The hotel itself is impeccable - new, clean, well-appointed, centrally located with lots of chic restaurants and cafés in the area. They have an open roof deck which came in handy when the fireworks were on display. The staff are all Khmer and from what I hear, the owner gives them higher-than-industry wages. I like that too. I found them courteous and helpful. Also, their general English is better than average - so it was easier to communicate.

Roaming Around on a Bicycle
After getting myself a bicycle, I was free to extend my radius. I roamed the greater Phnom Penh going from one essential area to the next, eating my way through to what seems like good cheap eats.

Independence Monument
The Independence Monument is one of the most important structures in Phnom Penh. It was built in 1958 to commemorate the independence of Cambodia from France. It becomes the center of all other national events. Close to the structure is a monument of the late king, Norodom Sihanouk, the one who is credited for negotiating with the French, the independence of Cambodia. Like the king of Thailand, he is revered and loved by the people. It is best seen at night when the lights offer a dramatic effect. Locals hang out there and past the time away. There are vendors hawking good cheap eats.

locals gather around the Independence Monument to while away the evening zooming-in with the water fountains just a few steps from the Independence Monument is the equally revered statue of the late King Norodum Sihanouk, the one credited for bringing independence to Cambodia from the French

Wat Phnom
Wat Phnom is a Buddhist temple standing 27 meters on a hill. It is said to be the founding mark of the city of Phnom Penh, dating back to 1373. While it does not tower as imposingly as the more grand pagodas, its historical significance make it one of the more iconic landmarks of the city. Legend has it that four bronze Buddha statues were found on this site which led to the building of the temple.

Wat Phnom rests on top of a hill zooming in walking around its perimeter spirit house by the temple
inside the temple money is squeezed-in by devotees Buddha Buddha and other religious artifacts
lotus buds sleeping Buddha    

Central Market
Built in 1937, this dome-shaped art deco public market has four annexes branching out to make 4 quadrants. It houses countless stalls selling everything from dry goods, precious metals, coins, food, art, household items and souvenir items. While it remains a functional market, it lends itself more to tourists, much like Chatuchak Market of Bangkok. Open from 7:00am to 5:00pm.

the Central Market has four wings comprising of 4 quadrants it has a domed central area the passageways offer goods of all kinds fried insects are there for the taking
tarantulas are flavored and fried to crispy goodness these oversized cockroaches were the only thing I couldn't eat...but I tried the crickets were particularly crunchy tarantulas were my snack food
fresh produce from the farm every place prides itself with its pepper product...not just Kampot different fruits and oddities are all around busy day at the market
fruit stalls side by side with eateries good cheap eats thick soup with egg and crab assorted dried fish and seafood

Russian Market (Psar Toul Tom Poung Market)
Back in the 1980s, Russian tourists frequented this market earning it its nickname. This is less touristy, catering more to locals, offering a huge line of silks, fabrics, carvings at reasonable prices. Open everyday from 7:00am to 5:00pm.

lots of used clothing for sale more used clothing inside dried meat and fish spirit house by the temple
inside the temple money is squeezed-in by devotees Buddha Buddha and other religious artifacts
lotus buds sleeping Buddha marble artifacts - the dragon whispering to Buddha candle holders, parafin and related items
beads, necklace and other accessories stuffed crocodiles...real crocodiles helping myself to a Vietnamese crepe with stuffing inside. Really good! getting a healthy doze of sugarcane juice

National Museum of Cambodia
The National Museum of Cambodia is a magnificent structure that houses the country's largest collection of historical and archaeological artifacts dating back from prehistoric times to post-Khmer Empire. It has a spacious and manicured courtyard. Admission fee: $5 for foreigners. Open from 8:00am until 5:00pm daily. No photography allowed.

a rare find that graced the cover of the museum brochure a head piece this is as far as I could go in taking a picture the courtyard was manicured and spacious
the front of the museum precious items were encased in glass passage to the courtyard it was an interesting overlap of books, creating a new cover
the museum is an impressive building with the lion guard or perhaps a mythical figure    

Water Festival
It was timely that I got to Phnom Penh during the annual Water Festival. It's a weekend of festivities on the Tonle Sap River. As a traveler, the festival also made the hotel bookings more difficult and more expensive, as I could not get an extension from Mad Monkey. I braved the intense heat of the mid-day sun and squeezed myself into throng of people who came to watch the frenzied boat races. Fireworks filled up the night sky. This event was marred in 2010 when a stampede killed 340 revellers. This event however, did not seem to dampen the festive spirit.

even in the heat of the afternoon sun, crowds gathered long and narrow dragon boats can be seen in their flashy colors neck-a-neck race a free Muay Thai was vicious

Ending Thoughts
Phnom Penh has so much more to offer but time is not on my side. Before my visa expires, I have to do what I came to Phnom Penh for - visit the killing fields.

--- TheLoneRider

Next stop: S21, the Cambodian Torture (Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum) and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh landmarks
Phnom Penh attractions
my first lodging at Mad Monkey...clean, organized and reasonable at $4/night, Mini Banana was right up my alley at Happy Hour, I could get a nice meal from La Plaza at nearly half price the barbed wires on fences and houses of Phnom Penh tell me I'm no longer within the innocent enclaves of Kampot and Battambang
inside Phnom Penh's latest mall offering. Nice effort, but it's still a long way from the malls of Bangkok where malling is nearly over the top a leisurely breakfast at a cafe with free wifi - my office until the next meal frog's legs were great...but sometimes I get scammmed by the vendors. I ask them a price and when I'm done with the meal, they give me a higher price I cannot resist grilled meat
bicycle is still the best way to get around, $2/day old and new...a new modern building is under construction while a traditional pagoda looms in the background dismantling the scaffoldings from the Water Festival give me my coconut fix and I'm a happy camper, $.50
Khmer love their king, and venerate their king's father, the late King Norodom Sihanouk, credited for taking Cambodia into independence Phnom Penh's riverside area is clean, manicured and orderly some buildings are still graced by French colonial architecture huge marble carvings
some meals go for a steal - this one for only $1.25 my lovely room at One Up Banana Hotel hanging out with this beautiful Italian, Erika monuments and religious statues grace roundabouts

Phnom Penh Cost Index, backpacker places (US$1 = Riel 4000 = Php 44)

  • $1-1.25 one mug draft beer (.75 happy hour)
  • $.50 1.5 liter drinking water
  • $.75 - 2.00 from street coffee to restaurant coffee
  • $2 bicycle rental, 24 hours
  • $4 cheap dorm lodging (Mini Banana)
  • $1.50/kilo laundry
  • $.25-.50 glass of sugarcane juice

FYI / Tips

  • best way to explore Phnom Penh is still by bicycle ($2/day) - intersections can be tricky
  • if there is festival happening, it's best to book bus and hotels ahead of time as they can be more expensive or fully booked
  • Phnom Penh is generally more expensive than the rest of Cambodia
  • Cambodia accepts payment in US$ - even sidewalk vendors. If your change is less than $1, it will be given in riel


  • How to Get to Phnom Penh from Kampot
    • the minivan fare from my hotel straight to Phnom Penh is $8/pax ($10 during the Water Festival), 3.5 hours. Like most bus rides, you can have your hotel book it for you. Usually, the rate is the same as booking it directly with the bus company - so I book mine with the hotel (and get the hotel pick-up service).
  • How to Get to Ho Chi Minh City from Phnom Penh
    • there are many bus ticketing offices around the Old Market where you can buy tickets. 5 hours 30 mins, $5-7

Cambodia Blogs by TheLoneRider

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Nov 4-9, 2014

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Phnom Penh Hotel

Titch Riverside Guest House Kampot

One Up Banana Hotel | Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phnom Penh Hotels

One Up Banana Hotel, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
One Up Banana Hotel
Phnom Penh, Cambodia