Phnom Penh is an Asian daydream. Once known as the “Pearl of Asia,” in the 1920’s it was thought to be one of the most beautiful French-build cities in Indochina. Fast forward a century—a turbulent one for Cambodia and its people—and that shining pearl still attracts nearly 3 million tourists a year.
It’s an assault on the senses, from the glittering spires of the Royal Palace, the Mighty Mekong, the whine and grumble of passing motorbikes and the pungent smell of a thousand market stalls. But it’s a city that’ll live with you long after you’ve left.
Experience the city’s main sights and get out on the water in one day. You’ll see hundreds of years of Cambodian architectural achievements, history and art at the Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda, the National Museum and the Wat Phnom temple.
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Although the official Cambodian currency is the Riels, as a tourist, you’ll often be asked for payment in US Dollars. It’s usually useful to have some Riels to use at markets for small transactions though, as the amount you’ll pay in dollars is likely to be greater.
You’ll be able to use a card to withdraw money at an ATM but not at shops, in markets or for transport. We would recommend withdrawing the money you need for a few days to minimise the fees of using the ATM.
The best time to visit Phnom Penh is between November and April. This time of year is often the driest with clear blue skies.
Travellers from many countries can get a one-month tourist visa as they enter Cambodia. Do check in advance though as Australians, for example, need to apply for one online before they travel.
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