Quick facts for the traveller:
- War Museum is $5 USD entry. Tour guide is included. Whilst not mandatory, tipping in encouraged. Budget for $20 USD for a Tuk Tuk return ride to town.
- Angkor National Museum is $12 USD entry + $3 USD optional audio guide. If short on time, skip the museum in Phnom Penh for this one.
- The museum will not let you take bags and professional cameras in. (They have on-site cloakroom service)
- A one way Tuk-Tuk ride to the airport will set you back ~$6 USD.
After a dusty morning recovering from the night out on Pub St, once I was well enough it was time to go look at some museums, not to waste any time as my Cambodia trip was coming to an end.
The War Museum is ~10km out of town, (it’s near the airport) and will cost you about $20 USD return tuk-tuk trip. If you have a face mask now would be a good time, the roads outside of town in morning traffic can be very dusty.
Entry is $5 USD and a free guided tour is included. The guides are former soldiers or relatives of soldiers, the first-hand stories they have are very informative and at times confronting in regards to what they have been through during the Pol Pot years. They also give you specific stories about the vehicles stored at the museum, what happened to the crew and how they came to be at the museum. Highly recommend giving this a visit, but being all outdoors, morning would be the best time to visit before it gets too hot. PS. No, you can’t shoot guns here!
I had originally intended to eat again now but the tuk-tuk driver insisted he could take me to the national museum at no extra cost, so why not.
The Angkor National Museum is just a block away from the royal gardens and is one of the costlier attractions to enter (aside from shooting guns) in Siem Reap. Entry will set you back $12 USD + $3 USD for the optional audio tour. I didn’t take the audio tour option as the majority of the displays are explained in writing anyway as you work your way through the museum and there are video presentations. The museum is very large and extensive, allow yourself 2-3 hours here and is definitely a class above the museum in Phnom Penh. You can be forgiven for skipping he Phnom Penh museum if you visit this one. Exhibits are very focused on the Khmer empire, religion and the struggle between Hinduism and Buddhism, some more things on day to day ancient lifestyle would have been good to balance out the exhibitions. If you have a couple of hours to kill then visit the museum, it will give you a good background to the temples as well before visiting Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples. P.S Don’t bother bringing your big DSLR camera, you won’t be allowed to take it in.
I was still a bit hungry so I got a cheeky cup noodle to eat in my room. What’s a visit to Asia without having, at least, one cup noodle anyway?
For the final dinner in Cambodia, I linked back up with Ric to check out Haven. At a first glance it’s a bit out of town and pricier than other places, however, I highly rate this restaurant and encourage a visit from the partying of Pub St. Tucked away behind walls from the street, Haven acts as employment and a training facility for those from orphanages and poor rural areas giving the vulnerable skills for a better future. Aside from a good cause, the food is spectacular, right up there with a high-class restaurant and despite being a training centre, the service is very hospitable.
A nice touch was one of the founders (from Switzerland) personally went around to check on every table as well as introduce some of the waiters.
That pretty much wraps up a quick week through Cambodia, the next morning I took a tuk-tuk to the airport with some people from what used to be East Berlin to save some USD.
Cambodia is a lovely country, and found it safe (personally, I found it safer than Vietnam) and the people are very friendly. English is widely spoken so you will have no issues getting around.
There is a definite sadness that lingers in the air that you can feel, especially with the older generations that saw the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge (a few I noticed had the thousand-yard stare and the Pol Pot era wasn’t that long ago) and while many are still poor you can see the emergence of new wealth. As the country is not as developed as other SE Asian countries there is a lot of unspoilt natural beauty, especially around the Angkor Wat area. Having said that, however, there is a lot of development in Phnom Penh with new buildings being laid down, skyscraper developments underway and new highways being built. A visit sooner rather than later is recommended as the country is transitioning and risks losing its charm to becoming another large Asian city.