CAPITAL OF CAMBODIA
Direct flights to Siem Reap from Bangkok, Singapore, and Hong Kong, to just to name few airports, have probably robbed Phnom Penh of many potential tourists. Phnom Penh is located on the banks of the Tonle Sap and Mekong River, and has been the national capital since the French colonization of Cambodia. Although a capital of Cambodia, its tourism is not as developed Siem Reap's is. Still, this quiet South Asian capital has its charm and offers more than just "genocide tourism" as some critics have called interest in the devastating years of the Khmer Rouge regime.
It's best to stay in a nice hotel centrally located if you don't have too much time in the city. We stayed in Okay Boutique Hotel near the National Museum and Royal Palace. The 14th floor roof top pool and the view of the city were worth staying here. The room with 3 beds was $56.25 per night, and the breakfast buffet was $8 per person. The hotel organized the airport transportation for us and it was $18 each way.
In addition to visits to the Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Prison, one should also visit the National Museum which hosts a wonderful collection of artefacts from Angkor that were brought to the museum for its protection. Explanation plaques of the collection pieces are very detailed, so there is no need to purchase an audio guide in addition to the $5 ticket. Just half a block away from the museum, we stumbled upon Kabbas Restaurant. Amazing place for lunch and dinner with delicious Cambodian food, $0.50 beer and friendly staff members. One of the best meals during our whole trip!
Another short and sweet visit is to the Royal Palace complex. Inside its gleaming yellow walls is the Throne Hall (and several other pavilions that cannot be visited). What can be visited and is wonderful is the Silver Pagoda, which houses a wonderful gold and jeweled Buddha statues. Most notable is a small green crystal Buddha (the "Emerald Buddha" of Cambodia). It is open from 7:30-11:00 and 14:00-17:00, ticket is $6.50, and you will have to cover your shoulders and legs.
If you have time, visit Wat Phnom, the highest artificial hill in the city. According to the legend, when Phnom Penh was still a lake, a woman named Penh built a pagoda on the spot where she found a four-faced Buddha floating in the river, thereby founding the Cambodian capital.