A blend of French-styled buildings and local Khmer-styled architecture, with tourist traps right next to locals going on with their lives, the walk along the vibrant Sisowath Quay was an enjoyable one.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia Part I (21-23 December 2013)
Day 1: Sisowath Quay aka Riverside walk
We read that December is one of the best months to travel in Cambodia and this was apparent once we were greeted with the cool 23°C weather outside Phnom Penh International Airport. A taxi ride to the city costs a flat rate of USD9 and was easily hired over the airport counter which we took to our hotel.
Our accommodation for the next two nights was at Golden House International Hotel (USD40/night/2 pax). It was highly recommended and quite true to its photos on agoda, conveniently located just a few steps from the river at Sisowath Quay and main bar areas. The bars on our street were less ‘proper’ of sorts tho, but we had no issue with that as it was just a few steps before we reached the river bank.
By the time we settled down in our hotel and took a Tuktuk to the Royal Palace, it was about 4.30pm. It was just a 10min walk down the river but we took our 1USD tuktuk as we were rushing for time. We were too late to get in anyway but the sheer majesty and opulence of the palace from outside was enough to impress us. With the cool weather and spacious square of lush green lawns and flocking pigeons, it was almost reminiscent of Europe. Although the wealth and grandeur of the palace proved to be a stark contrast to most parts of the city. If you walked down the river from here, you would notice many similar juxtapositions across the city.
We had a nice stroll down Sisowath Quay as we tried to identify each of the national flags planted by the river bank. We were greeted with different groups of locals kicking around soccer balls and chaptehs by the river – both children and adults alike. Just across the street are several French-styled hotels fronted with street food peddlers, living in harmony with modernly decorated restaurants and pubs.
We eventually found ourselves at the Night Market (Phsa Reatrey) where you will find Cambodian silk scarves, trinklets, traditional or modern wear and – most delightfully – local street food. In the middle of the many food stalls is a huge space of numerous mats – complete with individual tissue boxes and baskets of sauces – laid out side by side for patrons to eat their food, picnic-style. A total of USD15 for 4pax, dinner consisted of grilled prawns, squid, chicken/lamb kebab, stingray (skinny one tho), fried noodles, noodle soup, sugarcane juice and for desserts, some coconut kuehs + fried milk.
Whether you want a nice, relaxing beer (rooftop bar Le Moon overlooking the river had great ambience for USD4 a beer pint) or some clubmix dancing, there’s plenty of nightlife on Sisowath Quay. And to rest your tired feet, the street is filled with massage parlours – we had a 1hr full body for USD6