Monday, March 9, 2015

Phnom Penh - the City as seen at Night with Tuk Tuk ride

Date: 28th December 2014

We have been very wise in engaging a Tuk Tuk driver to take us around the city after agreeing on the charge rates like a professional Quantity Surveyor's (QS) are. Anyway, we both has a strong QS blood in us so, there would usually no problem in getting people adjusting their charge rates into our budget numbers. What we did after we check-in at the hotel was taking a quick rest, set a wifi connection to both our Iphone and Mac Book, took shower and performed the obligatory prayers. Surprisingly that we were not as hungry as we thought we would though we were in the boat almost a third of the day. Before negotiating with the tuck took driver, we had a late lunch or rather a combined lunch and dinner at a Muslim food restaurant seated adjacent to the hotel. 

While having our meal, we discussed the places that we should stop during the tuk tuk's ride, using a Phnom Penh Tourist map as a guide. Our intention was to pass by most of the Phnom Penh attraction from where we started, i.e. the hotel and back to the hotel. Among the attractions that we have covered are, National Museum (no stop), Royal Palace (no stop), Silver Pagoda, Cambodia Vietnam Friendship Monument, Independence Monument, statue of the late King Norodum Sihanouk, Buddhist Institute, Central Market, Canadia Building, Train Station, Vattanac Building, Wat Phnom, Post Office and Night Market. We made only 2 stops at Silver Pagod and the Train Station just to take photo.

First stop, Silver Pagoda (will be on separate entry)
The tuk tuk driver genuinely glad that we took his service. This was how he look after we have done our quick tour inside the Silver Pagoda :)

The tour was indeed very relaxing and warm by the Ton Le Sap river route. We saw in a gloomy light a National Museum of Phnom Penh, which is located just next to the Royal Palace (seen in below photo). The museum houses numerous sculptures, relics and artifacts, mostly a main highlights from the Angkor era. An entrance fee is USD2 and USD1 extra is charged for your camera.

National Museum

Wat Botum and Cambodia Vietnam Friendship Monument
Meanwhile, the Royal Palace complex reminscent the Bangkok grand palace though in a much smaller scale. The palace is off limits for a tourist to explore. An entrance fee is charged at USD3 plus USD2 for a camera. It looks really grandeur at night when the light is on. Royal Palace is open daily from 7:30am to 11:00 am and from 2:00 till 5:00pm. We were very pleased to witness how the locals enjoyed their late evening out at an open space of the palace, in a crowded road, full of motorbike, having their meals. The night view around the palace can be seen in few photos below. 

closer look of the Royal Palace

There were so much crowds in a heavy traffic jam area. We were clueless of what special occasion there could be since no better explanation offered by the tuck took driver who can't speak more than necessary English with us. He mostly smile, nodded, say yes yes to anything we asked and said. 

We were impressed with an Independence Monument, or "Vimean Ekareach" as called by the locals. It is a majestic structure that really dominates Phnom Penh city centre. Independence Monument was primarily erected to mark the liberation of Cambodia from the French who ruled the country for almost a century from 1863 to 1953. It was built in 1958 and inaugurated in 1962 during the regime of Sangkum Reastr. It serves as a proud testament to commemorate the Khmer who sacrificed their life for the welfare of the country. Above all, the monument and the Statue of the late Norodom Sihanouk looks magnificent at night.

Statue of the late Norodom Sihanouk

Independence Monument at Norodom Boulevard

Take note that the tuk tuk can carry 6 person at one go, so they are the most ideal way if you are in a big group. Fare is said ranging from USD1 dollar for a short trip. We paid ours for USD7 dollar though it said you can book for USD10 for a half day and or USD17 for a whole day depending on places you wishes to visit. It will charge more should you travel outside the city or with  multiple passengers.

Below is a central market or Phsar Thmei called by the local. The place is in the top ten list to visit as it became the most famous local market among the tourist. It's an art deco building full of merchandise which inside has many market stalls that you can explore. The market has been recently been renovated. You may find a row of food stalls selling cheap and tasty local dishes at the northern part.

Central Market

It took less than 2 hours or so to cover the whole journey. The route that we covered from our tuk tuk route ride that night night are shown on highlighted marker line in. You can get a copy of Phnom Penh Tourist Map from the hotel reception to guide you. The map is intended to go hand in hand with their tourist attractions, dining and tips that you mind very useful. We started from our hotel at Sisowath Quay and back. Do not change so much local currency as most of the places accept Euro or American Dollar.

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