Travel Report: Cool Spots Around Phnom Penh City, Cambodia.
December 2015. Arriving in the smoky buzz of Phnom Penh felt like the perfect Asian daydream. Winding our way towards our hotel in a tuk-tuk, there were flashes of fluorescent market stalls, locals munching on sizzling meat and wobbly high-rises reflected in the Mekong River. The next morning we awoke to a glorious day of blue-sky perfection. Actually, the sun was shining so impossibly bright I could barely see as we took breakfast on our hotel’s rooftop terrace.
It’s impossible to look back on those action-packed Phnom Penh days without mentioning our hilarious hotel, Samnang Laor. This fancy four-star joint stands within walking distance of Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. As promised, a driver picked us up from the bus station and safely deposited us at the lobby steps. However, from here things took an odd turn as the night manager began profusely apologising that we hadn’t been picked up.
“No, we WERE picked up, it’s fine!” I tried to explain. Mr. Hotel Man then insisted on debating Wonderboy as to whether or not he might be an altogether different guest. “Um… no, I’m definitely me!” Happily installed in our spacious, ensuite twin, the confusion continued with an unexpected knock at the door. In came a young boy carrying a gigantic fruit platter! There was also a written apology for not being picked up. “A magnificent incompetence!” grinned Wonderboy. To find out more about Samnang Laor Hotel, head for their website.
As luck would have it, our stay in Phnom Penh coincided with the closing ceremony of the city’s 6th International Film Festival. Therefore, we paid a visit to Legend Cinema with hopes of catching a glimpse of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Security was amazingly lax, hence I could pretty much wander about as I pleased. But after an hour or so watching pretty young things come and go, we finally found the lure of a Mexican dinner much more enticing. Click here for a visit to Legend Cinema’s website.
A highlight of any visit to Phnom Penh is a stroll down its atmospheric promenade, with amazing views out over The Mekong River. It’s certainly a vibrant area, with one side of the street packed with restaurants, bars, cafes and shops. Moreover, the other side is where people come to chat, sleep, exercise and walk their dogs.
Needless to say a trip out across The Mekong is a must! We ended up taking the last boat of the day, a sixty-minute sunset cruise that offered wonderful perspectives of the riverfront. This unmissable landmark is the famous Sokha Hotel, a luxurious five star residence with an especially impressive outdoor pool that has to be seen to be believed! Wanna book a stay? Here’s the website.
Seeking a drink in the riverside area? For a truly unique spot, look no further than the FCC (Foreign Correspondents’ Club). Inside there’s a seemingly authentic colonial atmosphere. I’m talking stone columns, battered leather armchairs and a billiards table set between photographs of Cambodia’s troubled history. But actually the club only opened in 1993 and hasn’t been a gathering place for journalists for over fifteen years.
Nevertheless, The FCC remains a chilled out place for dinner and a cocktail. Furthermore, I recommend taking a punt on their famous London Syllabub. This 17th century milky mousse features sherry, lemon juice and curdled cream. It was… interesting and it blew my mind a little to think that I had to come to Cambodia for my first taste of this traditional English dessert! For more on The FCC, head to Atlas Obscura.
For more info on my adventures in the city, have a leaf through my other reports on Phnom Penh.
Like these? Then why not have a look at my articles from across Cambodia.
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