Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s capital and largest city, located in the country’s south-central region on the banks of the Mekong River. Phnom Penh is a vibrant and lively city known for its rich history, cultural attractions, and delicious food. It is also a popular destination for digital nomads looking for an affordable and exciting place to work and explore.
The city was founded in the 15th century and has a long and tumultuous history. It served as the capital of the Khmer Empire and later became the capital of the French Protectorate of Cambodia. During the reign of the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s, Phnom Penh was emptied of its inhabitants and became a ghost town. However, since the regime’s fall in the late 1970s, the city has undergone a significant resurgence and today is a thriving metropolis with a population of over 2 million people.
One of the top attractions in Phnom Penh is the Royal Palace, a stunning complex of buildings and temples that serves as the residence of the King of Cambodia. The palace blends traditional Khmer architecture and European influences, and visitors can explore the beautiful gardens, temples, and throne rooms.
Another must-see attraction is the Silver Pagoda, located within the Royal Palace complex. The pagoda is home to a number of important cultural and religious artifacts, including a 90-kilogram solid gold Buddha and a life-sized Emerald Buddha.
For a glimpse into Cambodia’s dark history, visitors can visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. This former high school was used as a detention and torture center by the Khmer Rouge regime. The museum serves as a poignant reminder of the atrocities that took place during this time and is a powerful testament to the resilience of the Cambodian people.
In contrast to these somber sights, Phnom Penh is also home to a number of vibrant markets and shopping districts. The Central Market, also known as the Psar Thmei, is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, offering a wide variety of goods ranging from souvenirs and handicrafts to clothing and jewelry. The Old Market, or Psar Chas, is another popular shopping destination known for its textiles and clothing selection.
Foodies will love the diverse culinary scene in Phnom Penh, with a range of options from street food to fine dining. Local specialties include amok, a coconut milk-based curry, and prahok, a fermented fish paste that is used as a condiment. Street food is also very popular in Phnom Penh, with vendors offering a wide variety of dishes such as grilled meats, noodles, and fresh fruit.
In addition to its cultural and historical attractions, Phnom Penh is also a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The city is located on the banks of the Mekong River, offering water-based activities such as boat trips and fishing. The city is also surrounded by many beautiful temples and other cultural sites worth exploring, including the Angkor Wat temple complex, which is located just a short drive from the city.
For digital nomads considering working from Phnom Penh, the city offers a number of coworking spaces and cafes with good WiFi connectivity. The cost of living in Phnom Penh is relatively low, with affordable accommodation and food options. The city is also well-connected with the rest of Southeast Asia, making it easy to travel to other regional destinations.
Overall, Siem Reap is a charming and welcoming destination that offers a unique blend of ancient history and modern amenities. Whether you’re interested in temples, markets, or just soaking up the local culture, there’s something for everyone in this lively city.
Koen Blanquart is a strategy consultant, journalist, and author.
Wanderlust is one of his driving factors, and he shares his travels here on Boarding Today. Koen is also the skipper of SV Bagabonda, a sailing vessel making a slow circumvention of the globe..
Koen recently published a book on how to manage a remote team: The Suitcase Office.