Phnom Penh: More than a stopover?
We decided to stop in Phnom Penh (PP) to break up the tortuously long bus ride to Saigon. A friend recommended a hostel that promised to change your mind about Phnom Pehn’s layover status, so we went for it. Wouldn’t say they were exactly successful.
After a 7 hour bus ride we arrived at PP’s bus station exhausted. A tuk tuk was supposed to be waiting for us but wasn’t there quick enough to stop us from being harassed by a dozen others. After explaining we had a ride a million times I called our hostel to get us and they finally came. Over the next few days the hostel staff made it clear they were not interested in helping us as they continuously tried to get the best deals for their tuk tuk drivers, ignored our requests when something was wrong, and couldn’t give us much advice about the city other than the main sites.
PP seemed alluring because it promised a decent art scene, a huge cafe culture, French boulevards and historical sights. It is definitely a bustling tourist city, but I think that’s what makes it so unpleasant. With prices twice that of Siem Reap you’d think they’d have a little more to offer. The art scene was pretty scarce, the scenery was hard to enjoy when you had tuk tuk drivers calling to you as soon as you walked out the door, and the historical sights were informative, but definitely didn’t put you in a pleasant mood.
Overall, maybe if you were an ex pat living in the city you’d appreciate the cafes and find nooks out of the tourist trail, but as a traveler who’s just there for a few days I definitely don’t think it was worth the hassle.
And to attest to how much we loved Phnom Penh – these are the only pictures I can find that we took of the city right now…