And to wrap up our Cambodia visits for now, we’re back in Phnom Penh — which is in fact, one of the 21 finalists in the New 7 Wonders Cities list:
Phnom Penh (/pəˈnɔːm ˈpɛn/ or /ˈnɒm ˈpɛn/; Khmer: ភ្នំពេញ, Khmer pronunciation: [pʰnum peɲ]), formerly known as Chaktomuk (Khmer: ចតុមុខ “Four Faces”), is the capital and most populous city of Cambodia. Located on the banks of the Tonlé Sap and Mekong River, Phnom Penh has been the national capital since French colonization of Cambodia, and has grown to become the nation’s center of economic and industrial activities, as well as the center of security, politics, cultural heritage, and diplomacy of Cambodia.
Once known as the “Pearl of Asia,” it was considered one of the loveliest French-built cities in Indochina in the 1920s. Phnom Penh, along with Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, are significant global and domestic tourist destinations for Cambodia. Founded in 1434, the city is noted for its beautiful and historical architecture and attractions. There are a number of surviving French colonial buildings scattered along the grand boulevards.
Situated on the banks of the Tonlé Sap, Mekong and Bassac rivers, the Phnom Penh metropolitan area is home to about 1.5 million of Cambodia’s population of over 14.8 million.
When you live in Thailand, Khmer architecture looks rather familiar indeed — quick now, would you guess this was Cambodian and not Thai if we didn’t tell you?
but yes, the French colonial remnants are something you don’t find in Thailand, Siam being the only place on the globe that Europeans never colonised and all.
As an example of that, here is the Raffles Hotel Le Royal,
If you’re willing to pay for five-star luxury and an iconic history dating back to the 1920’s and through two world wars and the Pol Pot regime —
— the hotel was the main set for The Killing Fields, in fact —
— that would be your place to stay.
Us, though, we’re all about the budget and convenience, and convenience is a significant factor when you’re talking about hotels in Phnom Penh; the traffic is enough to make driving times unduly unpredictable. Thus, our recommendation is right by the airport: You Eng Hotel!
And by “right by the airport” we mean right by the airport, 800m walk in fact that took us just a few minutes straight down the road when we arrived at 11 PM:
and we figure a hotel like this is just fine.
If you do spend more than just the night you arrive and the day you fly out in Phnom Penh itself, yes a downtown hotel is a good idea; but if you’re flitting around like us and just want a sleeping place convenient to the airport, top marks to You Eng Hotel!