Daun Penh and Chamkar Mon, the best areas to stay in Phnom Penh
The Daun Penh is one of the liveliest and busiest neighbourhoods of the city, which straddles along the river, which makes it one of the most popular places to visit. A lot of tourists who arrive in Phnom Penh want to go straight to the waterfront and see the city from this position and this is a great way to start your sightseeing tour of the capital. The waterfront is known as Sisowath Quay and is an attractive promenade that is wonderfully accompanied by well-looked after gardens and trees as well as cafes, shops, bars and people trying to sell you tickets for shows and drinking establishments. It is usually quite busy and therefore it gets a carnival-like atmosphere, which brings much friendliness and fun times with it.
It is also possible to buy tickets along the promenade and go on river cruises, which give detailed information on the history of the city and is well worth a gander. Walking along the river from north to south will bring you to one of Phnom Penh’s main tourist attractions, which is the magnificent Royal Palace. The most outstanding things to see here are the Silver Pagoda and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which were built back in the 19th century and were a mix of French and Cambodian designs. There are guided tours around some of the palace, which will take you around the halls, gardens and some of the most glamorous rooms. Right by the palace is one of the most important museums in the country let alone city and this is the National Museum of Cambodia, which contains an excellent collection of art, statues and artefacts that were produced as early as the 12th century.
Most things are relevant to the past kings as well as various Hindu gods but there are all displays of work that have been completed from all over the country too. Close to this is one of the most important temples in the city, Wat Phnom, though the “Hill Temple” isn’t particularly appreciated for its looks, it is more for its historical importance as it is one of the oldest and most sacred places in the city. Daun Penh also has a good collection of French-colonial buildings and along the waterfront you will see the Grand Post Office building as well as other various offices that are housed in these colonial buildings. Another particular colonial building happens to house the Central Market, which is well set out and is where you can buy many products including jewellery, clothes, bikes, food and much more.
It couldn’t be simpler when thinking about where to go for food and drinks as the best, cheapest and widest range of both restaurants and pubs are found along the waterfront. You will find Western pubs and restaurants next to traditional Cambodian places and there are many other cuisines to check out along the way too. The same goes for hotels and hostels with the highest concentration being found in this area with some of the most amazing views of the city.
This area is just to the south of Daun Penh, which carries along down the river and is a little quieter here. Chamkar Mon is home to one of the most well-know prisons, S-21 Prison, which has now being turned into the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and is a must see for anyone interested in the history of Cambodia. This was the site where the leader of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, ordered more than 14,000 people to be tortured and then sent out to the Killing Fields outside of the city to face their death.
Unbelievably only 8 survived this tragic time with some ex-prisoners making an appearance now and then with the prison fully opened up for you to walk around the various torture rooms, prison cells and the mugshots of the people who lost their lives. Other things to see include the Independence memorials after the departure of the French in 1953 and Aeon Mal, which is the biggest western-style shopping centre in the city. Again it is easy to find the best accommodation, pubs and food as the majority of it is found on Samdach Sothearos Boulevard.