We stopped in Phnom Penh on three occasions, once for 4 nights on our way to Sihanoukville, again on the way back up to Siem Reap to meet Julie and the last time was to overnight on our bus trip to Saigon in Vietnam.
Phnom Penh is crowded and bustling with crazy traffic but it still has a charm once we started getting a feel of the place and brushed away the dust and chaos of the roads. It was easy to get things done, I guess the US$ is mighty (US$ is the main currency in Cambodia, local currency is used as change for anything less than a US$1). We organised our Vietnam visa through a young guy at a travel agency, it took one day and was cheaper than in Australia.
Also got the best hair cut for US$3 after Malene had a go but was vetoed and a rescue was needed by a pro.
We came across a trendy pocket of restaurants and bars next to our hotel in street 308, as for the cocktails they were just as good as any in Siem Reap. In contrast had a meal at a totally local restaurant on Diamond Island which was recommended on a blog we’ve been following (www.movetocambodia.com). Everything – signage, menu and spoken language – was in Cambodian. The food was very tasty, ordering was fun, even getting a beer was not an easy task, but unfortunately the meat was tough as boots – should have known because beef in Cambodia is mostly like that.
We travelled on a number of bus companies (Giant Ibis seems to be the best) and on big busses and smaller 11 seater ‘VIP minivans’ as they are called. Our vote goes to the bigger busses for more comfort and a more relaxing ride. Even if the minivans may be a little faster given that it’s all about overtaking on Cambodian roads; tuk-tuk overtakes bicycle, motorbike overtakes tuk-tuk, truck overtakes motorbike, bus overtakes truck, minivan overtakes bus and finally cars overtake them all, all fine but all at once!! Really?!
On the way to Saigon we waited nearly 2 hours to cross the Mekong River which gave us plenty of time to watch all the vendors. By coincidence, a large modern bridge has just been built and will open for traffic within the next 24 hours and replace the 15 minute ferry ride. Times are achanging, here at the ferry crossing and for us, who are continuing our trip to Vietnam after a great time in Cambodia for the last 4 weeks.