As a latecomer to the Southeast Asian tourism scene, Phnom Penh has a lot of catching up to do. But while it lacks the polished infrastructure of a city like Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, it more than makes up for with its authentically Southeast Asian atmosphere.
Dining in Phnom Penh is a pleasure due to the variety of high-quality cuisine on local menus. The city's not-so-distant colonial past has paved the way for a few outstanding French restaurants, but there's much more for hungry tourists to enjoy. The ideal dining itinerary involves an even mix of Khmer and European cuisine, with an occasional visit to a Chinese restaurant.
It may not be a shopper's paradise, but Phnom Penh has a couple of lively marketplaces that are worth visiting for the culture and people-watching, if not for the chance to pick up a few souvenirs.
Phnom Penh has embraced its newfound tourist appeal, and things have picked up considerably. Plans for newer and better transportation infrastructure are still in the early planning stages, and the current system feels a little improvised. Regardless, tourists enjoy Phnom Penh for what it is, as the charms of this still developing city greatly outweigh any drawbacks.
The activities scene in Phnom Penh is still developing, and for the time being tourists are content to get involved with the local culture, visit museums and see the major sites. There are a few expatriate bars and clubs along the river that stay busy at night.
Phnom Penh's sites fall into two categories: historic and contemporary. The historic sites are few and far between, but a few of them are exceptional. The contemporary sites are somber and compelling, and visitors are likely to leave with a heavy heart. This is part of the experience, and most would say they're better for it.
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