Exploring Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Cambodia is like the middle child, often overshadowed by its boisterous and bossy siblings, Vietnam and Thailand. But I found it to be such a wonderful surprise!

I spent ten years living in Southeast Asia and only just made it to this beautiful country!

Our first stop in this week-long trip to Cambodia was the capital city of Phnom Penh. We arrived on a pleasantly warm December afternoon to our charming boutique hotel, The Pavilion. Built in the 1920s with French-Khmer architecture, this hidden gem was once a private retreat for Queen Consort Sisowath Kossamak.

Nestled in the heart of Phnom Penh, the Pavilion is a peaceful sanctuary embellished lush greens, relaxing sun and shaded pools and a spa (guests are treated to a complimentary twenty-five minutes massage!). The perfect little hideaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Relaxed, pampered and re-energised, we headed out to see the sights and sounds of the city.

The Pavilion is walking distance from the Royal Palace which is a complex of buildings serving as the royal residence of the King of Cambodia.

A majestic structure with glowing rooftops of terracotta and gold, adorned with statues of mythological creatures and deities.


The Kings of Cambodia have occupied this palace since it was first built in 1860s, except during the Khmer Rouge when the entire country was in turmoil.

The palace was constructed after King Norodom relocated the royal capital from Oudong to Phnom Penh in the mid-19th century.

The palace complex is divided by walls into four main compounds. On the south is the Silver Pagoda, to the north is the Khemarin Palace and the central compound contains the Throne Hall. In the west is the private sector or the Inner Court. This structure behind me is a tomb holding the remains of several members of the royal family.

Exhausted from strolling the enormous palace grounds, we made our way to a popular spot for lunch, Friends. Employing young people who have come from less fortunate backgrounds, Friends is one of Cambodia’s longest running and best-loved restaurants.  Definitely try their Seafood Laksa and Burmese Chicken Curry!

We were then back on the streets of Phnom Penh in our tuk-tuk and heading towards the Central Market (Psar Thmei).

Selling absolutely everything from local artefacts, to fresh meat, fruits and vegetables, clothes, beauty and household products! The Central Market was constructed in 1937 and was said to be the biggest market in Asia at the time of its opening.

I love going to the markets of every city I visit as I feel that it’s where you get to see the true culture of its people.

Cambodia is such a beautiful country but has suffered from such a terrible history about which I will go into more detail in my next post.

Thoroughly satisfied with our day of taking in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Phnom Penh, we retreated back to The Pavilion for some much needed rest ahead of some more adventures!

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