Phnom Penh is a tiny, developing city in Southeast Asia, and touring this capital city of Cambodia from end to end is possible in a day. The most crowded area in the city is the Sisowath Quay, a 3-km-long walk along the Phnom Penh riverside where tourists regularly go to shop, eat, drink, meet people, and simply enjoy the scenery. All roads leading to Phnom Penh’s major landmarks and destinations converge at Sisowath Quay. This promenade along Tonle Sap River is flanked by rows of luxury hotels, major restaurants, bars, cafes and interesting shops. It is always full of vendors, tourists and expats, as well as locals. A common sight includes a number of Western tourists huddling over pitchers of cold beer while chatting the afternoon away.
Along the Phnom Penh riverside are important national landmarks and structures, perhaps the most important of which is the Royal Palace. Located on Sothearos Boulevard at the western side of Sisowath Quay, the Royal Palace has, through the years, been the residence of Cambodia’s king until today. And since it is a private home, only a few areas are accessible by the public, including the throne room. It is open for public touring from 7:00 AM to 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM every day for only US$3. Those wanting to take pictures would need to pay additional US$2 as camera fee. Tourists wearing clothes that reveal the knees or shoulders are not allowed inside, which is why T-shirt and sarong rentals are conveniently available at the entrance area for 1000 riel. For those who do not wish to spend that much money no matter how cheap, the beautifully manicured gardens and colorfully tiled glass roof already provide a breathtaking sight.
Within the Royal Palace compound is the magnificent Silver Pagoda, also referred to as Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Inside the pagoda is the magnificent silver floor that is made up of thousands of pure-silver tile pieces, the 200-pound life-size Buddha made of pure gold and studded with thousands of diamonds, and the Emerald Buddha that is made from 17th Century Baccarat crystal. The pagoda is open to the daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM and 2:30 PM to 5:00 PM. Entrance fee is only US$3 per person, plus a US$2 camera fee and US$5 video fee. Again, tourists showing their knees and shoulders will not be allowed to enter.
Across the street is the National Museum of Cambodia. It showcases the best Angkorian and Khmer art not featured elsewhere in the world. The most important artifact is the statue of the Leper King. The museum is open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, with entrance fee of only US$3.
Meanwhile, a well-known hang-out diner among foreign tourists is the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC). It is popular for its panoramic views of the river, menu that includes both Khmer and Western dishes, and signature cocktails, which include the Tonle Sap Breezer and Burmese Rum Sour.
Silk is also an important commodity along Sisowath Quay and the bestselling silk garments are those sold at the Kravan House. Sold here are Cambodian silk products, which include scarves and handbags. There are just so many things to see and do along Sisowath Quay. The only downside here is that it is poorly policed and there have been several cases of theft and pickpockets.