While the idea of chilling under the shade of colorful parasols and at the same time lazing on a seashore may not fit in Phnom Penh particularly, there are smorgasbord of tours to do in this emerging metropolis of Cambodia. In Phnom Penh you won’t see a lot of towering skyscrapers so it is like a city with a touch of rural flair. One minute you are lost in a bustling market with exotic smells wafting in the air, next you are caught in the city’s chaotic traffic.
I know you cant wait to dig your toes into the beach sands of Koh Rong Samloem and Kampot’s river but hold that dream for now. If you can extend a day or two more, below are the top 10 tours I can recommend for the best stay you will ever have here:
Explore the 21st century Phnom Penh on foot plus short tuktuk rides
The tuktuk is a three wheeled vehicle used for short trips in Cambodia. This a universal rule when hiring a public transportation – always ask ahead how much it costs so that you have the chance to walk away if the amount does not sound right. A trip that’s up to 5 minutes is usually about 4,000 to 6,000 riel or $1 to $1.50. Around town is $2. From almost anywhere in Phnom Penh to the airport it is $6. It will go up depending on the pickup time and the traffic situation.
Get to know Cambodia’s heritage and painful past
See the extraordinaire Royal Palace, home of Cambodia’s royal family and where foreign dignitaries are welcomed. The National Museum is a treasure trove itself in terms of the country’s heritage. Silver Pagoda is sight to behold made of 5, 000 silver tiles and houses priceless Buddhas including the life-sized gold Buddha decorated with thousands of real gems. The Wat Phnom, a manmade hill built in honor of the lady named Penh whom this city was named after. Then also have a glance of Cambodia’s troubled past by visiting the Killing Fields and Tuoc Sleng Genocide where millions were killed and tortured during mid to late 70’s under the reign of Pol Pot of Khmer Rouge.
Go On A Dirty Bike Tour With Offroad Cambodia
If you’re up to dirty biking tour while having an unfettered view of the Cambodian countryside from shimmering rice paddies to visiting local communities you have to join Offroad Cambodia.
Driving your rented bike with the rest of bikers can take you to Tonle Bati, Chiso Mount Takeo, Kep, the beta hand cave, a pepper plantation and to the base of Phnom Oudong. Along the 40 km route, one very happy Tripadvisor reviewer said they never ran out of good snack like turnips and cookies. She said that she never felt rushed, had lots of chances to stop and frequently given information about the places they pass by.
Real Road Trip On An Automatic Quad Bike Tour By Blazing Trails
The journey starts at the nearest Buddha temple and if you’re lucky there’s a monk, the guide can ask him to bless you first. Then you stopover to a supermarket to buy candies, this is not mandatory though but you will throw it away to the children whom you will pass by along the road. They’ll scream, say ‘Hello’ and high – five at you so this is the gift for your little fans out there.
Quad biking can go as far as 40 minutes from Phnom Penh center where you’ll see old monasteries and remote villages. If you don’t want to go out of the city, the shortest route you can take is the tour to Killing Fields with audio guide.Check their website http://nature-cambodia.com/.
Drink Beer Fresh From The Tap at Kingdom Brewery
For $6 the tour will show you how beers are brewed including two free bottles of beers. Go there during late afternoon so that you can end your tour with the amazing sunset overlooking the Tonle Sap river. You get to know the drinking trends and customs in Cambodia. You can buy or drink other type of beers that are not sold to general public in this country too. Souvenirs such as glass mugs, coster, cocktail glasses and small beer glasses are also available.
The tour is not done on a daily basis or the schedule changes often without prior notice so please check their website http://www.kingdombreweries.com/ or call them ahead.
Be A Chef For A Day In A Cambodia Cooking Class At Frizz Restaurant
If you fancy learning to cook Cambodia’s classic dishes, Frizz Restaurant offers half – day to full day class. It starts with a tour at Kandal Market where you get to choose the freshest fruits, vegetables and ingredients. You will be taught about the traditional methods of preparing Khmer food. You will get introduced to the different herbs and spices common in Cambodian cuisine. Must learn is the fish amok, the country’s national dish which is a fish curry dry steamed in a cup of banana leaves.
Brush Up Your Camera Skills At Nathan Horton’s Photography Tours
Nathan Horton is an expat who travelled extensively across Asia. He now calls Cambodia his home since 2006. Their best – selling class is Photography 101 for budding photographers especially using a few image – editing software.
The lesson ranges from one up to ten days. It is a win- win thing, you get to hone your skills and at the same time you got great shots to bring home.
See the Rescued Animas At Phnom Tamao Wildlife Center
Phnom Tamao is a 6, 000 acre – park housing 1, 200+ animals such as gibbons, sun bears, elephants, ginormous pythons and a massive bird enclosure. The only difference of this to other ‘zoos’ out there is that these animals were taken from animal traffickers, abusive owners or poachers.
You can go there by yourself and simply walk around but the large space can be overwhelming . At the main entrance there are locals and children that sells fruits you can feed to the animals inside. Phnom Tamao does not recognize them as part of the management but they dont stop them for doing so since most of them are poor.
If you really want a close encounter with the animals you can join the exclusive Wildife Alliance Tour via Betelnut Jeep Tours. You get to feed baby monkeys and let them crawl all over you, feed elephants and touch the tigers.
Learn Cambodia’s Folk Dances And Ethnic Performances At Cambodia Living Arts
National Museum is also home to traditional apsara dance performances. Every Monday to Saturday depending on what season, they showcase the best of Cambodia’s vibrant culture. Must watch is the performances of Children of Bassac – a snapshot of Cambodia through dance, Mak Therng – the quest for love and justice, and Passage Of Life – living the Cambodian life.
Watch The Sun Set Through Cambo Cruise
Cambo Cruise is a western – owned river cruise company that offers luxury while sightseeing during sundown. The Silk Island cruise is their most booked tour package.
Silk Island is a nice stretch of sand perfect for sunbaking and castle making located north of Phnom Penh in the middle of the Mekong River and locally known as Koh Dach. They offer a mixture of Khmer and Western buffet. Inside the boat it features live music, fully stocked bar, eat – all – you – can barbecue, cocktails and coffee.
The boat lives whether it is full or not. If you go there off season, chances are you can have the boat yours and your buddy alone! You pay $12 for the cruise only and $22 buffet included. Check their www.cambocruise.com.
Mad Monkey Crawl for School
Mad Monkey Hostel as a socially responsible enterprise, conducts a weekly pub crawl where guests may purchase a bracelet then join a happy hour drinking all night long. The total costs of all the wristbands sold are all donated to various projects and causes they support for the locals like sending disadvantaged kids in schools.
It starts at the Mad Monkey Rooftop Bar, next to Top Banana Bar then Love Bar. Your love for booze can now make a difference. For more details please click here.
If you got all the time in the world, we have final four recommended trips at the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Oudong, once the royal and capital city of this country can give you unparalled 360-degree viewof the surrounding countryside. Scattered temples, stuppas and historic structures stretching back to 13th century are sights to behold in Oudong’s three hills. It is located west of Phnom Penh and it takes an hour to get there via taxi or moto.
If you got the endurance of a 30 km route, you can do biking until the Mekong Islands. You need to cross a river by boat. Inside the island there are orchards, market gardens and farmland. Renting a bike starts from $2 for a day. Tonle Bati a small lake where locals flock to picnic is also a must – see just 30 km to the south. Twenty minutes south of this lake, you can climb Phnom Chisor, a mountain with 461 steps.
That’s it. Mad Monkey Hostel can arrange most of the tours listed above for you. We can’t wait to see you soon here!