The horrors of the regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge are now just a memory, albeit there are reminders, especially in Phnom Penh and the immediate vicinity. As Cambodia’s recovery continues, it is boosted by the increased numbers of overseas tourists booking a Cambodia tour. There are plenty of places to visit in Cambodia and its capital, Phnom Penh is certainly one of those places; it will always be included in a Cambodia travel package.
While the ‘’Killing Fields’’ from the Pol Pot time are a constant reminder of the past, Phnom Penh is a great place to learn about Cambodian culture, art and music. At this stage, it has not been as much affected by mass tourism as many other capitals of Asia. Traffic is building up and numbers are increasing but you may still appreciate the relative lack of development.
The fact that it sits on the Mekong River where it meets the Tonle Sap is an attraction in itself. A few French colonial buildings still remain; prior to the horrors of Pol Pot, it was sometimes called the ‘’Paris of the East’’ and the intrinsic beauty that earned Phnom Penh that title is still there; the wide boulevards, temples and monuments as well as the river.
When it comes to the best time to visit Cambodia, you must accept that the climate is hot. The rains are likely to arrive in April and last until the end of autumn but that does not mean there is more than an afternoon shower. The reason to go at other times of the year is that it will be slightly cooler. If you want to go exploring, perhaps cycling in the rural areas across the river, the temperature is a factor to consider. Life just a short distance from Phnom Penh carries on much as it has for generations. The locals mostly live off the land and you will be struck by the natural friendliness of local villagers, even though their lives at first glance seem rather hard.
If you want something a little more leisurely then you can play golf or simply cruise on the river. The riverfront is interesting with a few Phnom Penh landmarks as well as fishing villages and a sunset cruise is equally as enjoyable. If you are happy under the water, or want to be, you can go snorkelling as well as take your PADI certificate to allow you to scuba dive anywhere in the world.
There is a wildlife rescue centre which offers an interesting tour. The elephants are especially impressive while you can also see some of the country’s last tigers, macaques, leopards, and pythons.
If you have pre-booked a Cambodia holiday, your itinerary will be in place. If you are discussing with a travel agent what to include, make sure you have time to really get to know the city and its immediate vicinity. You will certainly enjoy the experience if you do.