Exploring Phnom Penh with kids
We arrived in a very hot and humid Cambodia after a glorious and rather over indulgent 3 months in Australia. Our first stop was a few days exploring Phnom Penh.
Needless to say, the heat hit us like a road train! Phew, getting back into traveller mode is going to be tough! But we were excited to be on the road again and especially to a country neither Keith and I had visited during our backpacking days.
Where we stayed
We found a lovely, and cheap, hotel in a perfect location called RS III. It was fairly new and had more modern features. The room was light, had air conditioning and a bathroom. Cost £53 for 3 nights.
The hotel itself was situated down a small alley, so nice and quiet. The hotel has a rooftop lounge and a small cafe. The staff were very accommodating and helped book our bus tickets to Battambang.
It was situated in a convenient location for easy access to the national ancient history museum and the royal palace.
Things to do in Phnom Penh
Visit the Royal palace
Set in beautiful grounds, this palace has a selection of buildings for you to explore. The gardens surrounding these buildings are well maintained and glow blindingly bright in the sun (take your sunglasses!) It’s also where you’ll find the silver palace.
The day we went out was stifling and so we were grateful to hop into buildings.
We arrived in the morning just before 10am and had pretty much finished our tour when we were being ushered out of the grounds. Luckily we arrived early enough to see everything! Supposedly it closes for 2 hours from 11am to 1pm each day! Just check that as we never saw any signs 🤔
Visit the killing Fields & S-21 Genocide museum
We had read advice which suggested that these sites were not suitable for children. I know that Ethan trends to get quite sensitive to these things so I was keen not to distress him.
Instead, I showed the boys a ‘kid friendly’ video about the events that happened so that they understood the atrocities here without having it rammed down their throats.
As it was though, Keith didn’t feel that it was too bad and that the boys, aged 8 and 10 could have attended.
Keith gave me a brief overview to the sites:
S21 was a school which was turned into an concentration/ torture camp where false confessions were sought. I’ve the Khmer rouge had the confession they were killed. But even more distressing was the fact that their entire families were also killed to prevent any repercussions to the regime!!! There are some graphic photos in some of the torture rooms.
The killing Fields is a place where the Khmer rouge killed and buried many thousands of innocent Cambodians in a brutal fashion. Human bones and clothing remains can still be seen on the surface of the ground. It’s very sombre.
These museums exist to not let people forget the horrors that happened here and that people understand what this country has been through
Visit the national ancient history museum
Ok for an hour of you are joining for something else to do. But not an overly exciting museum. There are lots of statues and monuments, but not much else.
It did have a lovely garden to roam around with fish in the ponds there.
However, the boys did enjoy discovering the course links that Cambodia has with Egypt and India. A number of the gods and stories the boys had already heard about in India!
Wander along the promenade
Quite the hub of activity, with lots of people milling around especially during the evening. The promenade runs alongside the Tonle Sap River where it meets the Mekong River.
There was a nice breeze here so helped a little with the humidity!!
Visit Wat Phnom
A Buddhist temple for you to explore and only US$1 to enter for foreign tourists. The area is surrounded by trees and has many ornate statues. There’s a lovely garden you can wander through too.
Visit Phnom Penh night market
A very small and a bit uninspiring market. There’s only a handful of stalls selling clothing and a small food section at the back. We were a little hot and tired after our walk so decided to stop anyway and grab a snack and drink.
We plonked down onto the mats with the other locals and ate some vegetarian spring rolls, chicken wontons (well we think they were chicken) and fried noodles.
We were still adjusting to the humidity and so were sweating buckets without a fan!!
It’s not something I’d recommend, but if you are in the area you can always just pop your head in!
Places to eat
We stopped in a few eateries around the area. Did you known that Cambodia has a French colonial influence?a! It explains why we found lots of coffee shops and bakeries. As we wandered around the streets, these were my favourite places to eat:
David’s homemade noodles restaurant
A lovely restaurant situated round the corner from our hotel. It was only small but we saw a guy making fresh dumplings so that we’d give it a whirl.
There’s was lots of choice, the price was good and the food was fresh. The owner came over to see if we’d enjoyed our meal. They were very friendly and nice.
This was a convenient breakfast stop for a pastry and strong coffee. Plus it was indoors with air con to cool us off. It had good WiFi too and we saw a number of people with laptops working away.
On the waterfront, we found a nice, friendly (and fairly busy) restaurant. There are a few inrush restaurants and pizzerias. But as it was we were still looking to try authentic Cambodian food. We also had our first beer. So we all left feeling full and happy!
Bright lotus restaurant
Situated under the bright lotus guesthouse we were handed the biggest menu I’ve seen so far when we sat down. But this was because the items ask tag their own picture. This made it a little easier for us to make a choice. We all really enjoyed our dishes and they were well priced with nice flavour. Very enjoyable meal, although the service was a little lacking.
As a first stop on our South East Asia tour we found Phnom Penh to be fabulous. The people were friendly and not overly pushy. The prices were very cheap and there was plenty to do around the area.
If you get chance, then definitely make sure you visit Phnom Penh for a few days.