If you have some free time in Phnom Penh and have visited the main sites of interest in the city, here are three locations I recommend you head for to get more in tune with the heartbeat of the city. All three are within 1km distance of each other and can easily be seen on foot if you are staying in the vicinity.
Directly opposite the Royal Palace Park. You can find the location on Google maps here.
This was quite possibly the highlight of anywhere I visited in Phnom Penh, and it was a mere 3 minute walk from my hotel. This tiny shrine stands on the banks of the Tonle Sap river, and one evening in particular seemed to be the focal point for worship.
I don’t know if this was on a special festival day for Buddhists, but the whole area was filled with people wanting to make offerings, the air was filled with incense smoke, and your ears were greeted from some distance away with music and drumming. It’s well worth coming down here in the evening to see what’s happening and take a stroll along by the side of the river.
This is a fascinating area to explore for an hour or so, it’s great insight into every day life in the city and of course what sort of produce is readily available. Being close to the river there was an abundance of fish on offer, although I struggled to be able to identify what many of them were.
Royal Palace Park
This small park is directly in front of the Royal Palace facing the river. You can find the location on Google maps here.
To call it a park is perhaps a little optimistic, but here you will find the Khmer at leisure enjoying the outside with families and loved ones. In the late afternoon this place starts to fill up with children playing and adults just hanging out. Smiles are everywhere, with food and toys for the children being sold from street vendors lining the pavements.
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