We decided to extend our stay in Phnom Penh, so we had some time to seek alternative unique things to do. Naturally, you do not want to miss the popular tourist spots such as S21 Prison and The Killing Fields (it sounds horrible calling them that), as well as trying out these unique things to do in Phnom Penh!
1. Roller Skate with the Cool Kids
Make your way to the top of the Soyra supermarket and you will find a roller rink with a DJ to boot. We were definitely the eldest and had to buy socks at the shopping centre. There is a really nice ice cream shop in the centre too.
2. Enjoy a Film in Bed
Flicks Cinema is a one-screen cinema with large comfy red beds and an owner that lets you pour your own drinks. We tried to walk there and was told ‘no one walks in PP’, the owner actually laughed at us.
3. Herby Pizza
By herby, we mean oregano. Friends was definitely the best meal of the trip.
First Impressions Phnom Penh, Cambodia
First impressions on arrival – this city is very westernised. There’s billboards everywhere and large concrete buildings and more tuk-tuks than mopeds. We pre-paid our visa online for ease which I recommend, it brought about a swift entry (unlike Hanoi).
We got a taxi for $10 to the city centre from the airport and were hit by shoeless children begging for money when we were stopped at traffic lights. It was very hard to look at their faces, heart-wrenching actually.
We were later told by a New Yorker that now runs a bar in Cambo (after falling in love with a Cambodian woman – a lady of the night) not to give them money, it’s an organised business.
He also told us a lot of the kids do go to school, school runs in four-hour slots so if they are begging in the morning they go in the afternoon. I really hoped that was true.
Things to Get Over
On the first night, we took a tuk-tuk down to the waterfront and had dinner in a Tenerife style restaurant which sold Findus Crispy Pancakes (just after the horsemeat scandal!)
They travel well…
The initial feeling you have to get over is hate, hate for the overweight white European men walking the promenade with their young Cambodian wives/girlfriends.
Every second person sitting on the wall is in this situation. What is exciting is to see such a well used vibrant waterfront – the water is filthy looking but the path is filled with people doing aerobics and kids playing football. Unfortunately, there are heaps of street children trying to sell you DVDs also.
Where to Eat in Phnom Penh
That night we met new friends who we first met in Hanoi (the beauty of travelling) at Friends Restaurant (how apt). This was a unique experience as your food is made and served by ex-street children.
You need to the queue but not for long (we grabbed a cheeky tin from the newsagent across the road). The food was genuinely delicious and the cocktails even better.
The turnaround is pretty quick as it’s so popular so we went for a few drinks to the Foreigner’s Correspondents Club. It was nothing to write home about, it’s on the second floor so you can watch the waterfront but that’s about it.
Pretty much could be said for the main drinking area too – Street 51. The area where guidebooks rave about unless you are looking for a wee Asian bird, don’t bother. A tuk-tuk driver took us to a bar to play pool where we met the New Yorker mentioned above.
Hotels in Phnom Penh
We stayed at The Frangipani Living Arts Hotel & Spa and man alive were we impressed.
It had two pools, one on the rooftop and two bars. The rooms were massive and private with a TV and warm shower all for about £15 each. The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful. It was a bit further out than the main drag but I wouldn’t really want to be staying there, to be honest.
The hotel had tuk-tuks out front and we paid no more than $3 to get to the waterfront (which we were told was more than enough so you could haggle more).
Craig lost his phone in the tuk-tuk, I called the hotel from the restaurant and low and behold the iPhone was there. That just would not happen in Scotland – a nod to the kindness of Cambodians.
Pin to your Cambodia inspiration board!
What unusual things do you like to do you in your favourite city?