Chum Reap Sur Phnom Penh: 12 hours in the capital city

July 14, 2012 ASEAN Backpacking

This is part two of our Mekong Adventure. First city we visited was Saigon.

We gathered in front of the Sinh Office early in the morning to catch our bus to Phnom Penh.  Our hotel, Saigon Mini Hotel, packed our breakfast so we were really ready for the long bus ride.  Our estimated travel time was around 5 hours.  We left at exactly 6:30 AM.

On board, we have a tour guide.  His name is Tam and he kept us entertained with his interesting facts about Vietnam and Cambodia.

Say hello to Tam! 

An hour and a half later, I woke up at the bus stop. 

I love bus stops.  It allows rest for weary travelers.  Very often, they serve good food.  And of course, it is always a time for more conversation with fellow wanderers.

We got two servings of these noodles for 15,000 Vietnamese dong each.    

After that filling pho meal, it was time again to board the bus and sleep. 

At the border!

Next time I woke up, we were already at Moc Bai Border, which is part of the province of Tay Ninh, Vietnam.  The Moc Bai / Bavet crossing is the most popular border crossing to Cambodia.

According to our tour guide, it was a school holiday in Vietnam so there were flocks of Vietnamese tourists at the border.  We expected queuing time to be longer but good thing our tour agents took care of our visa requirements.  We got off the bus and just waited outside the immigration office. 

After about an hour, we were ushered to the immigration office.  Good thing it was okay for us to leave our bags on the bus so it was convenient.

When we got inside the building our tour guides handed us our passports, which already had immigration stamps and our arrival cards.  This is officially it.  

Welcome to Cambodia!

We walked to Bavet, the international border gate of Cambodia.  

Bavet is part of the Svay Rieng province.  It is a special economic zone and there are textile and bicycle factories here, but what is more noticeable here are the casinos, which line up the street.  These serve mostly Vietnamese tourists.

I returned to dreamland after we boarded our bus again.  I just woke up when our bus crossed the Mekong River.  This is actually my first glimpse of the great Mekong River. 

There were interesting fruits being peddled here.  But, it was too hot and crowded outside the bus so after taking photos, I went back to sleep inside the bus.

We arrived at Phnom Penh around 1:30 PM.  It took longer because of the immigration process but I didn't mind because I was able to catch up on sleep.  I was ready for Phom Penh!

The first thing we did was have lunch at The Sinh Tourist Hotel, which was also where our bus dropped us off.  Our friend Mervin, who arranged this trip, recommended the food here and we were not disappointed.

It had my usual fried rice and a bit of the spinach with garlic, which as Mervin said, was good.

After lunch, we went straight to our hotel.  We took a tuktuk and it was my first ever tuktuk ride, so a picture was in order.

Kelly and her first tuktuk ride!

In Phnom Penh, we stayed at the Paragon Hotel (Sisowath Quay), which offers a splendid view of the Tonle Sap and Mekong River.  

We freshened up a bit then went on exploring the city by foot.

Phnom Penh was once known as the "pearl of asia."  It was considered one of the loveliest french-built cities in Indochina.  Our travel companion Drew, who lived in Phnom Penh 5 years ago, noticed how much the city has changed and improved.  

A Walking Tour

Most of the city's landmarks are just a few minutes walk from our hotel.  First of which was the National Museum of Cambodia, the largest museum in Cambodia.  It has the world's largest collection of Khmer Art. The building, inspired by Khmer temple architecture, was constructed between 1917 and 1924.

Beside the museum is the Royal Palace.  This is the royal residence of the king of Cambodia.  It was not really the splendid architecture that caught much of our attention.  It was the pigeons at the park and for minutes, we were desperately attempting a perfect shot with all those pigeons.

After that, a failed attempt to see a night market!

After the Royal Palace, we rode the tuktuk again to the market, for a sampling of Cambodia's street food.  We all had fruit shakes.

Dining with a purpose at Romdeng

I was glad I didn't eat much at the market, for delicious and filling meals awaited for us at Romdeng (Street 174).

The restaurant is a lot more than creative cuisines, great artworks and interiors, the place is run by former street children and their teachers.  This restaurant deserves a separate blog post but for now, I say this one fills both the tummy and the heart.

Our trip ended with a trip to a local bar.  That was it for Phnom Penh.  

Next is Siem Reap.

Other Good Travels


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