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Sunday, 16 May 2010

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Asia, Dec 2001

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Phnom Penh is the capital city of Cambodia, home to the Royal Palace and hub for international flights. We would recommend to spend one full day. You could hire a car with a driver for about US$15-20 for the whole day, guide is optional if you have a good guide book.

Local attractions (More important ones are shown first, for details click the links on the left hand menu):
Royal Palace: Home to the King with many buildings for different purposes including the Silver Pagoda. Entrance fee US$3 per person and US$2 for taking photos
Tuol Sleng (Genocide Museum): A huanting place once used as a torture centre by the Khmer Rouge during the dark times of modern Cambodia. You can see the tools that they used to torture people and photos of the victims both local and foreign.
National Museum: It has some nice displays including sculptures from Angkor Wat, but I didn't find the place very exciting. Entrance fee US$2 per person
Central Market: The biggest local market, you will find almost everything here from groceries, stationaries, watches to consumer electronics
Independence Monument: A monument commemoriating Cambodia's independence from French rules.
FCC Club: A nice bar and restaurant for foreigners to hang out
Wat Phnom: An anicent temple built on the only hilly area of Phnom Penh city 

Overall recommendation:
We would recommend to spend one full day in Phnom Penh and three full days in Siem Reap. 
We found the "Lonely Planet" guide book on Cambodia to be very useful. 

Our itinerary:
Day 1: Hong Kong -> Phnom Penh
Day 2: Phnom Penh day tour: Royal Palace, National Museum, Central Market etc. 
Day 3: Phnom Penh -> Siem Reap: Visiting Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat Area
Day 4: Siem Reap: More magnificent temples
Day 5: Siem Reap: Banteay Seri, Western Baray and Tonle Sap Lake
Day 6: Siem Reap->Phnom Penh->Hong Kong

November - February is the best time to visit as it is the cool and dry season. 
March - May is hot and dry
June - August is hot and wet
Septermber - October is cool and wet
We went there during 20-25 Dec 2001, it was very sunny and temperature was around 27C.
Good thing about the dry season was that we didn't see too many mosquitos, 
so you have less concern of tropical diseases.

Flight information:
Dragon air and Royal Air Cambodge has regular direct flights between Hong Kong and Phnom Penh. 
For other locations, please refer to your local airlines.

Visa and airport tax:You can obtain the visa at the Phnom Penh airport for US$20 per person. 
There is an airport tax of US$20 per person when you fly international from Phnom Penh or 
US$10 per person when you fly domestic. US dollar is commonly used in all tourist areas and
prices are all quoted in US dollars, you don't need to exchange in advance for the local 
currency (Rie) as you can get enough Rie changes from small purchases.

Don't set your expectation too high. Cambodia is not famous for its food and you will find it
very similar to Chinese/Thai/Vietnamese food with no surprises.

Car renting:
Hiring a car (with the driver) would cost US$15-60 depends on your bargaining skills,
whether you are hiring, half-day or full day, and whether you are also hiring a guide.
With a proper guide book, you can probably travel Phnom Penh without a guide,
in the Angkor Area, we found the guide useful in explaining the history of the temples
in great details. Renting motorbike is also common. 

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