Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Mind the Crap

Oh, Phnom Penh. Such a shithole. The butt crack of the world — where the scum settles in the tourist area. So many beggars and ruthless business people selling their everything (including their children). I felt generally unsafe in Phnom Penh. Maybe because of the horror stories I had read. Maybe because on the first night a child, who we wouldn’t buy a bracelet from, followed us through the streets and called us shitheads. I’m not sure. What I am sure of though, is that Phnom Penh is not the most accurate or pleasant introduction to Cambodia.

The market area outside of our hotel.

We stayed at the Angkor International Hotel whose $10/night fan rooms didn’t have windows and had all the charm of a prison cell, but it was the best option we could find on our budget.

Ryan pours his first beer in Cambodia.

They did, however, have a nice patio, if you don’t mind having a tuk tuk driver stick his head through the bushes to try to sell you a ride every ten minutes or so; or the aroma of day-old market garbage, left out in the blistering sun to fester, wafting around you; or over priced beer. But it was a short walk to the waterfront, yet far enough away that you weren’t smack-bang in the middle of the tourist tumult.

We did a nice little walking tour – a difficult feat in the city’s sweltering heat. We saw Wat Phnom ($1) and the Central Market.

We also went to the upsetting but un-missable Killing Fields of Choeung Ek ($5) and S-21 Prison ($4) to learn more about the brutality of the Khmer Rouge.

After 3 nights in Phnom Penh, we headed out of the city to a more relaxed atmosphere: Kompong Chhnang, Cambodia.

My return to Phnom Penh was a much better visit. Read the details here:
Phnom Penh: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the City.