Phnom Penh, once called the jewel of Indochina, retains its precious, delicate quality despite its gruesome history. Though some visitors may be taken aback by the bustle and grim of Phnom Penh, most find themselves falling in love with its quaint sleepy cafes on the river, the colonial architecture and noble wats (temples) around the city. Phnom Penh still has a particular crumbling elegance and naiveté, a far cry from the fast-paced dog-eat-dog mentality found in other Asian capitals. It is divided up by a few major thoroughfares—Monivong and Norodom Boulevards going north-south and Pochentong and Sihounouk boulevards going east-west and the streets are numbered in grid fashion (i.e. Street 107, etc). Within these passages, visitors can ride motobikes, stroll by the lethargic river, hike up the winding stairs of Wats, munch of Steak frites or explore traditional Khmer cuisine, or simply sip a coffee and dream on a side café. Travelers enjoy a day visiting the well-maintained
Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda, where historical monuments from Khmer history are delicately displayed. In addition, Phnom Penh does not ignore its grim past; at Tuol Sleng museum, one is confronted bluntly with the horrific nature of the Pol Pot’s reign. A day trip to the Killing Fields further commits to memory this dark time in Cambodia’s history. In fact, it is hard to believe with the vivacity and energy of this city, that only 30 some years ago, this town endured such hardship. Visitors should not that local Cambodians tend to be on the shy side and keep to themselves, but if anything, offer a calm smile. Also, it is not familiar in Cambodian custom to take pictures so tourists should be respect this and not take pictures of the locals.