Right after Nha Trang, we went back to Ho Chi Minh to catch a bus to Phnom Penh. I’ve transited thrice already in HCM but never stayed for more than a few hours. I’m sure that there’re lots of things to do and see in HCM but for some reason, I wasn’t really excited about it.
Tip: If you are just transiting in HCM to catch a bus onwards to other destination in Vietnam or to Cambodia, you’ll find a lot of travel agencies along Pham Ngu Lao selling bus tickets. Don’t settle with the first price that they’ll give you. Haggle and surely you’ll be given a dollar or two discounts.
The bus ride from HCM to Phnom Penh was really exciting due to one reason – about ten to fifteen Filipino tourists boarded the same bus. It was fun to hear people talking in Tagalog again (even for a short while).
It was crazy at the start because there seemed to be multiple tickets with the same seat number. One lady got into a little argument with a Chinese guy because they were asked to vacate the seat only to find out that both of them had the same seat number. We got delayed for a few minutes but I enjoy the little chaos that went on.
The group of fellow Pinoys were really a fun bunch of people chatting with fellow tourists onboard. A lot of tourists got into conversation with them about places to go to the Philippines. They really made a great job in promoting our country.
After a few hours of travel, we finally arrived in Phnom Penh and alighted at the river front near the night market. I told them a place where they could find a cheap accommodation but they said that they’ll just spend around four hours in Phnom Penh and go back at HCM by 11PM. We bid them goodbyes and walked towards our hostel.
As I was walking along Sisowath Quay, I felt the vibe of Phnom Penh. PP is like Manila, it may not be exactly the most beautiful city in the world but it has its charm that just grows on you. The plan to stay in Phnom Penh for a day changed to a four day city exploration trip.
Here’s a list of 10 Things to Do in Phnom Penh aside from visiting the Wats , Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields:
1. Explore the markets: I spent my entire stay in PP visiting various markets. There are many to choose from and you’ll surely enjoy it. I even went to a local wet market and got surprised to see frogs being beheaded and skinned, river fishes that I saw in National Geographic river fish related shows. You have so many markets to go to such as Central Market, Russian Market, Orussey market and more.
2. Shop Second Hand Clothes in Phnom Penh: If you’re into second hand clothes, vintage clothing or ukay ukay then you’ll enjoy it. I didn’t buy anything but I did enjoy the shops that I saw.
3. Pig Out: Phnom Penh has a lot of cheap places to try eating local foods and they also have a lot of restaurants that specializes in fusion cuisines.
4. Drink and Party: Along the river front, you’ll find a lot of watering holes for those who loves to drink.
5. Visit the Royal Palace: I didn’t go inside but it seemed to be a nice place to go to. I’ll try to visit when I come back to Cambodia.
6. Relax at the River Front : I wish there are hammocks around the area. Makes me feel sleepy every time I stroll along the river front.
7. Cruise along the River: Sunset cruise seems to be popular to tourist here in PP.
8. Eat Tarantula: Deep fried tarantula, anyone?
9. Shop Original Branded Items for a Fraction of the Price: Go to City Mart inside the mall near the Central Market or at We Export Shop in BKK1.
I really enjoyed staying in Phnom Penh, even if it’s just four days. I’ll try to stay longer once I got back to Cambodia.