Today (8th Oct, 2019) marked out 2nd leg of the trip – The Cambodian part. 5 days in Cambodia would be split as 2 days in Phnom Penh & 3 days in Siem Reap. We arrived in Phnom Penh, after an interesting bus ride from HCMC (Saigon). If you haven’t been following the blog, I would urge you to read the last part of our trip to understand how scary, adventurous and fun it was.
I have already talked in detail about the land border crossing between Vietnam & Cambodia. You can read it here – Land Border Scams.
Day 1 – 2 days in Phnom Penh
Envoy Hostel was going to be our home for the next 2 days in Phnom Penh. We had informed the bus driver in advance that we would be getting down just before the Independence Monument. From that point, it was a 1 km back to the hostel. The hostel is located in a very posh and upmarket locality of Phnom Penh.
You can read the full review here – Envoy Hostel, Phnom Penh Review.
Phnom Penh is also the capital of Cambodia and has quite a few monuments/attractions of National importance and heritage. 2 days in Phnom Penh would be ideal to cover most attractions.
Envoy Hostel, Phnom Penh – First Impressions
Well its not exactly a hostel. Its a posh villa/bungalow that’s converted into a hostel. This was a welcome relief from most hostels we had been staying in Vietnam. This hostel has a spacious lobby and the rooms are clean, crisp and everything is bright. It even has a terrace.
During our bus ride, we had already stopped at a place for lunch. So we decided to rest for a few hours in the hostel and then go about exploring the town in the evening.
City Orientation Walk (A pretty long walk)
I’ll make it very clear upfront – It’s a good idea to book a rick or rent a bike from the hostel if you are not a keen walker. We walked around 10-11 kms that evening and this was my personal record (when travelling). Little did I know, I would smash this record 2 times in the next 4 days.
This was the first stop, when we started around 3:30-4PM from the hostel. Wat simply means a temple. Wat Langka is one among the 5 monasteries set up by King Pohnea Yat In 1432. Other monastries are Wat Botum, Wat Koh, Wat Ounalom and Wat Phnom. All of these still survive and can be visited even today.
The outer facade of the temple is impressive with a golden roof. We spent some time in the prayer hall meditating and praying for World Peace ✌️ (No kidding)
It’s a lotus shaped stupa and was built in 1958 to memorialise Cambodia’s independence from the French in 1953. A ceremonial flame on the interior pedestal is often lit by a royal or high official during national celebrations.
Right behind the independence monument is the Norodom Sihanouk Memorial. The memorial commemorates the former King Norodom Sihanouk. The bronze statue is 4.5 meters tall and is housed under a 27 meter high stupa.
Royal Palace Park is located in front of the Royal palace but outside the Royal palace premises. Unlike most monuments and places in Cambodia, Royal park has no entrance fees.
It was a good way to give some rest to our tired legs. Also, since it was evening the park was filled with people and it was fun seeing local families spending time here.
On the opposite side of the Royal Palace Park is the Sisowath Quay.
Again a very popular destination among the locals. To put it simply I would call it Phnom Penh’s marine drive. The place was buzzing with tourists and as the sunset a monument with the photo of the Queen Mother was all lit up. It was a great experience to just sit by the riverside and watch the world pass by. Felt as if I was back in Mumbai.
After spending a good couple of hours here, we headed back to the hostel.
For the dinner, we had finalised Irrawaddi Myanmar as we had never tasted Burmese food (except for Khao Suey). The reviews also were pretty good.
The first thing you notice, specially if you come from Vietnam is that the food isn’t cheap. In Vietnam we would have meals for less than 3$/person. But that wasn’t going to be the case in Cambodia. As we learned going ahead almost all popular tourists places have a minimum rate of 3-5$/dish. So a meal for 2 easily costs between 15-25$ including food and drinks.
Since, it was a weekday only 2 tables were occupied and the service was pretty fast. We ordered:
- Prawns Tom Yum Soup
- Fish Curry
- Fried rice with prawns & chicken
- Steam Rice
The food was delicious and has some great deal of resemblance with Bengali cuisine (because of the geographical location of Myanmar).
Total dinner cost – Around 15$ without drinks.
After dinner, we just came back to the hostel and crashed. The bus journey, ordeal at the Vietnam exit and the long evening walk had taken a toll on us. Also, one thing was obvious by now. Cambodia wasn’t going to be as cheap as it we had initially expected it to be.
Note – We also realised this on the first day itself that most places don’t accept credit cards. Yeah even places like KFC, Burger King etc accepted only cash.
Day 1 – Video
Read on to find out what attractions we covered on Day 2 – 2nd day of 2 days in Phnom Penh.