Best Day Trips from Phnom Penh

Best Day Trips from Phnom Penh

Best Day Trips from Phnom Penh

The bustling capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh is the cultural, commercial, and political centre of the country. What was once considered the ‘Pearl of Asia’, got hideously ravaged by war and revolution; but it has since risen up and still exudes certain charm and serenity with French colonial buildings, tree lined streets, and Angkorean architecture. Set on the confluence of 3 mighty rivers, Phnom Penh offers a lot of attractions for tourists like temples, museums and The Royal Palace. Set amidst a rapid transition with the rise of skyscrapers and fast food joints, this city has managed to maintain a striking balance between the traditional Cambodian hospitality and modernity. There are plenty of things to see around the city and it has always surprised the first timers with its charm, exploding food scenes, and a vibrant nightlife. However, Phnom Penh has always been touted as a gateway to exotic lands. From riding a cycle around the rice fields to an animal rescue centre, there are a number of things to be experience around the capital. So, following are some trips that can be done in a day or half and the best thing is that all are accessible by tuk-tuk.

1. Silk Island

Silk Island or Koh Dach is located just a stone’s throw away from Phnom Penh, yet is worlds away from the humdrum of capital city. Up the Mekong River, the island is a beautiful peep into the rural life of Cambodia. As the name suggests, Silk Island is home to its silk weaving village where you have an opportunity to witness the whole production of silk with mulberry-eating silk worms in golden cocoons, to the process of complex manual loom. The village has a large number of residents whose livelihood relies on creating beautiful clothes from the antique loom. In fact, you can visit anyone’s house to learn more about this process! The best way to explore the island is on a bicycle; ride along the sleepy villages, paddies, and farms and enjoy the laidback vibe of the island. Swim or laze at the beach area and you can also rent small Cambodian-style built hut and maybe have a picnic. Apart from this there are pagodas, a few rustic restaurantss and shops who sell their silk wares. Only 6 km away from the capital, Silk Island is a 45-minute drive. You can reach here on tuk-tuk or moto drive and a short ferry journey.

2. Oudong

Once a capital of Cambodia, Oudong is situated 45 km from Phnom Penh. It holds extreme significance for the Cambodians, as many of their kings were crowned and buried here. The main attraction of town is the small temples and stupas which are interspersed on the Mount Oudong. The flight of 509 steps takes you to the top. While it may be tiring at first, but the panoramic views would be an unparalleled experience, with surrounding plains stretching to as far as the eye can see. Large numbers of delicately carved temples and shrines ornate the area, like the Preah Sakyamoni Chedi, a stupa which is known to house the relics of Buddha himself. Being a premier place for Cambodians to visit on weekends to relax and pay their respects, the street on the base is lined up with no. of vendors selling yummy delicacies like grilled catfish or bamboo shoot salad. Make sure to dig in it before heading back. The best way to visit Oudong is by renting a car that would take an hour approx to reach here. Alternatively, you can also take a tuk-tuk which is a much cheaper option, but would take double the time.

3. Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre

Apt for a full day family outing, Phnom Tamao is the perfect place to explore Cambodia’s immense wildlife diversity. This national park century takes in the animals rescued from poachers, abusive owners, or if they are part of a sustainable breeding programme. Home to gibbons, tigers, elephants, enormous pythons, and massive bird enclosure, the centre runs various programs to preserve the endangered species and care for the injured and neglected ones. It should be noted that it is not a zoo and tourists should not expect daily shows like in other Southeast Asian countries. In fact, it offers offbeat options like behind-the-scene tour which lets you access the feeding and nursing area and let you shadow the onsite team. Visit the sanctuary via tuk-tuk or maybe rent a car, both taking a little more than an hour. However, it is recommended that you book a tour through travel agencies as finding the exact location of this place may seem a tough grind.

4. Choeung Ek Killing Fields

Travelling does alter our perceptions and widen our horizons, and this trip will definitely change yours about the darkest moment of Cambodia! Perhaps the most sobering experience, a trip to the Choeung Ek Killing fields gives you that devastating insight into a country’s history ravaged by politics, war, and mass genocide. The peaceful orchard of the memorial grounds was once a site of almost 20,000 tortured men, women, and children who were victim of Khmer Rouge regime. Visitors walk around the ground surrounded by sombre environment and take in the brutalities that happened decades ago. Expect to shed tears when listening to the heart wrenching audio of survivors narrating their ordeals and of executioners too. The main sights of the memorial include the Killing Tree where it’s horrible past lies behind its beauty and sometimes visitors leave a friendship bracelet as a token of solidarity. At the end of tour, there is Buddhist Stupa where thousands of skulls are arranged in order of age and sex. Eerie right? Despite the trip being a disturbing one, it is the most recommended tour depicting the tortured history of Cambodia. The Killing Fields are located 17 km from Phnom Penh and takes 40 minutes if going from Tuk Tuk.

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