48 hours in Phnom Penh

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I could tell straight away that we would love Phnom Penh. It's bustling and busy, but with a laid back vibe. I've heard it described as the wild west of Asia, and although it's developed quickly over the last few years, it still feels like a city where anything could happen.

Street scenes

People live right on the streets of this city. Food carts, roadside barbers, markets that spill out on to the pavements, bikes and dogs everywhere. However long you stay in Phnom Penh, make sure you dedicate enough time for walking around, there's so much to see.

Phnom Penh market

French style building

Tuk tuks

Bikes everywhere

The sights

The Killing Fields and S-21 give a real insight into the Cambodian genocide in the 1970s, the impact of which is still felt today. You can hire a tuk tuk driver to take you to both for around $18 for the morning or afternoon. It's a good idea to plan some quiet time afterwards; it's very emotionally draining.

Apart from these, Phnom Penh wasn't really about the 'sights' for us, what we really loved was just walking around. We visited the Central Market, Royal Palace, Independence Monument and Wat Phnom, but none of them blew us away.

Once you get past the souvenirs and jewellery aisles, the Central Market is an interesting place to walk around, although we preferred the markets in Siem Reap. If you make your way into the corners of the market, there are stalls that have been made into tiny beauty salons and fortunetellers reading tarot with playing cards.

Phnom Penh central market

The Royal Palace is a peaceful place to walk around and the buildings are beautiful, but there isn't much explanation of what anything is in English.

Phnom Penh Royal Palace

The Flicks

If you need some time away from the bustling city or out of the heat, The Flicks is a community cinema where you can relax on sofas and watch the latest releases. Tickets cost $3.50 for a whole day so you can see as many films as you like.

Mekong river

In the evenings, families and couples all congregate on the riverfront to eat street food snacks and play games. It's the perfect place to go for a stroll and soak up Phnom Penh's laid back vibes.

From the rooftop of the Foreign Correspondents Club, there are nice views of the river at sunset. If it's the weekend, you can take a left along the river and end up at the night market.

View from the FCC

Night market

The weekend night market in Phnom Penh is a place for locals to shop, so expect a lot of clothes and household items. At the end of the market, there are food stalls (mostly selling the same variety of meat and vegetable skewers with rice or noodles), and big communal mats where you can enjoy your meal in the middle of it all.

Night market

Where we stayed: The Sundance Inn is a solid budget option in a central location. Where we ate: Malis, considered to be Phnom Penh's best Khmer restaurant set in a lovely courtyard; Romdeng, a training restaurant for ex-street kids that serves up delicious traditional dishes; and Turkish Delight, a surprisingly authentic Turkish restaurant.