Southeast Asia Trip Report: Heartbreak and Hope in Phnom Penh
We finally started rehashing our three-week Southeast Asia trip that happened about three months ago. So far we’ve shared about our three days in Chiang Mai, our Mekong River slow boat experience, our favorite little town of Luang Prabang, and our three days in Siem Reap. Today we’re moving through the country of Cambodia to a city with a powerful past: Phnom Penh. Stay tuned for more from our days in Asia — including all of our time in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
When we think back to our quick time in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, two feelings come to mind: unbelievable heartbreak and unwavering hope.
We had read about some of the violent and tragic history of Cambodia prior to entering the country, but we didn’t realize the extent of it, or understand how recently it all happened, until we stopped in Phnom Penh for a day.
After deciding to take a bus from Siem Reap into Vietnam rather than fly, we looked into the option of stopping in Phnom Penh for a day in between bus rides. We found a great, cheap guesthouse, and we started looking into options for visiting the city in just one day.
Quickly we determined that it would be a hard day. We opted to visit the infamous Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum, which outlined the tragic events of the Khmer Rouge-era genocide of almost one-third of the population of Cambodia.
It’s hard to describe the images we saw on the museum walls, and the stories we heard through our audio tours, and the emotions we felt as we stood beside the mass graves of children. I just know it was an important day to endure during our otherwise-sheltered three-week Southeast Asia trip.
Read about the specifics of our day in Phnom Penh below:
How we got there:
Because flights out of Siem Reap were a bit pricey, we instead opted to take a 6-hour bus ride with Giant Ibis from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh for $16/each. We probably could have found a cheaper bus ticket, but these large coach-like buses were very comfortable, with wifi, AC, and even a small snack.
Where we stayed:
We found a great little boutique guesthouse that was walking distance to the night market for $22/night for our two nights in Phnom Penh. It included a hot breakfast and even came with a surprisingly good view of the city! We found it on HostelWorld, here.
What we did:
With just one full day in the city, we hired a tuk-tuk ($16 for the day) to drive us to the Killing Field, Genocide Museum, and then to our dinner cruise dock. At night, we perused the night market and drank fruit smoothies. In between activities, we had just enough time to walk past the Royal Palace, but it was closed for a government holiday.
What we spent:
$16/each for buses from Siem Reap, $22/night for our guesthouse room, $16/day for tuk-tuk transportation, $10/each for tickets and audio tours for both the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum, and $23/each for sunset dinner cruise tickets. For one and a half days of lodging, transportation, activities, and miscellaneous expenses, we spent a total of $183.10.