There is a huge list of possibilities regarding contemporary activities that you can do in Phnom Penh, but what’s the fun to travel to such a distant location if you don’t make the most from its specific place on the map? The fact that Phnom Penh is a large city in Indochina, with so many local attractions, calls for two major decisions:
- Allow yourself to taste the comfort people in Asia are experts in.
- Immerse yourself in a wholly different culture than your own.
It doesn’t really matter your nationality. The Japanese, the Americans, and the Peruvians, they all have the same cultural shock when they land at the Phnom Penh International Airport. This distance between other civilizations and Cambodia is one of the things that attract tourists in the country.
So you can go to Phnom Penh and play tennis all day long or you can:
- Take a boat trip on Tonlé Sap and Mekong. This will give you the opportunity to visit neighboring fishermen villages and to take lots of pictures. And it’s a fact: you won’t need a professional camera, as the waterscapes and the city seen from the water are simply astonishing in themselves. Especially at dawn and at sunset.
- Plunge into the Cambodian spirituality. You can do this in two ways:
- 1. Visit the temples. This should give you a good perspective on how Theravada Buddhism influenced these people and on the huge difference between rich buildings and poor cottages that persists throughout the country.
- 2. Visit their museums: they speak about the glory of the Angkor Empire and the tragedies of the Khmer Rouge massacres with similar distinction.
- Taste local food. This is a must, especially if you own a palate which can distinguish between fresh peppercorn melted in sage dressing and fresh peppercorn with mint sauce. Cambodians are experts when it comes to fresh spices.
- Take cooking classes. If you like to cook, a few courses should suffice to give you a coherent perspective on Cambodian cuisine.
- Explore the city. You can rent a bike, a car (more comfortable, but not as fun), or enjoy the streets of Phnom Penh in a local remorque.
- Enjoy Phnom Penh Nightlife. Many clubs are open after midnight, some have themes, karaoke, or quiz evenings; others are extremely sophisticated (and, honestly, rather expensive for a mid-range tourist), and others are… private.
- Take an entire afternoon off and enjoy the world-famous Cambodian spa services (e.g. Bodia Spa). You can do this back at your hotel (three stars and up) or look for a professional wellness package.
- The Flicks Festival Movie House can be a great attraction for kids and young people. They feature just about anything, from classic movies to contemporary manga.
- Enjoy a night at NagaWorld Casino. It’s expensive, but it comes with exquisite services in a very elegant setting.
- See the Independence Monument. It commemorates Cambodia’s independence from France, back in 1953. It’s easily accessible in the downtown area.
- Yoga Classes are very popular in Cambodia. If you miss your guru back home, or simply want to enjoy a session of Sahaja Yoga, this is the place to be.