Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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Riverside, Phnom PenhPhnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, sits on the banks of the Tonle Sap river, at the confluence of two other rivers, the Bassac and the mighty Mekong, and it holds an undeniable charm despite its recent tumultuous and violent past. In the early 1900’s, the height of French colonialism, Phnom Penh was known as ‘The Paris of the East’, and colonial style villas set along tree-lined boulevards still remain - however they are slowly being consumed by development and replaced by modern glass and concrete structures. In 1975 Phnom Penh suffered a forced evacuation by the Khmer Rouge and became a ghost town for five years, followed by many years of international isolation. National Museum, Phnom PenhToday the city has revived and is fast sharpening its contemporary cosmopolitan edge. Chic new hotels and restaurants, shops and bars are springing up all over the city, plus the emerging art scene is attracting international acclaim. Visits to the Royal PalaceSilver Pagoda, and National Museum are a must, as is a late afternoon stroll alongSisowath Quay, alive with exciting riverside life - the restaurants and bars along here being ideal spots for a relaxing drink whilst enjoying the beautiful light shows caused by the setting sun. Phnom Penh is also home to many impressive wats or pagodas such as Wat Phnom, Wat Ounalom, and Wat Langka, and browsing the many local markets such as theCentral Market (Phsar Thmei), and the Russian Market (Phsar Toul Tom Poung), interacting with the Cambodian people, are great experiences, as is experiencing your Phnom Penh city tour by cyclo.

Of course, you cannot talk about Phnom Penh without mentioning its more recent harrowing history at the hands of the infamous Khmer Rouge, and the sites of the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (also known as S21), and the'Killing Fields' Colonial buildings, Phnom Penhof Cheoung Ek. Although visiting these sites can be emotionally straining it allows an insight of what the Cambodian people have endured, and an understanding of today’s Khmer society.

Phnom Penh is a charming city to explore yet far too many people rush through it in a day or two at the most. With its elegant colonial architecture, alfresco lifestyle and laid-back locals it retains an irresistibly provincial charm, so base yourself in Phnom Penh for a few days more, not only visiting many of the new shopping and eating outlets (many offering employment to the less privileged), but also taking day trips to surrounding attractions such as: the hill top temple of Oudong - a former capital; a Mekong river cruise to Koh Dach ‘silk weaving island’; or the small, yet beautiful ancient temple at Tonle Bati, to name but just a few...

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Asia Adventures

Cycle the backroads of Cambodia plus Vietnam, Thailand & Laos. Immerse yourself in the local lifestyle. Sample delicious foods. Volunteer for community based projects. Witness breathtaking historical sites. Cruise the Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake.

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