Photo: Mark Bowyer
Last updated 04 September 2011By Mark Bowyer
After more than three decades recovering from Pol Pot’s murderous regime, Phnom Penh's makeover is on in earnest. Streets are buzzing, cranes are hard at work. A city almost entirely evacuated by Khmer Rouge decree in 1975 is a bulging centre of hope and opportunity again. Phnom Penh is emerging from the ashes. It couldn’t be expected to be an easy journey. And it isn’t.
But this is one of Asia's most compelling cities with plenty of things to do, a wonderful mix of Khmer and French colonial architecture and a new atmosphere as bars and restaurants open up along the picturesque riverfront. And Phnom Penh still sports two other especially enticing ingredients - a profound story and a sense of exotica.
There are plenty of reality checks. This is after all the capital of one of Asia's poorest countries. Beggars, touts and seediness are all part of the city's fabric. But as more people choose to visit this city for the right reasons, they make their own contribution to its positive development.
The Royal Palace is a great place to start a journey into the life of one of the twentieth century's most intriguing characters - Norodom Sihanouk. Nearby, the National Museum houses the world's finest collection of Angkorian sculpture in what is, despite its modesty, one of Asia’s most delightful museum complexes.
The genocide museum at Tuol Sleng is a harrowing experience not least because in addition to showcasing the horrors that took place in this school turned concentration camp, it tries to humanise both the victims and the perpetrators of the Khmer Rouge's barbaric project.
But a visit to Phnom Penh is not all about solemnity. It's also about recovery and revival.
Take time to walk the streets, visit some of city's beautiful wats and get to know the locals.
Shopping eating and drinking are also part of the Phnom Penh experience in 2011.
And this city is home to some of Asia's most tasteful, well priced and well loved boutique hotels and guest houses.
Don't overlook Phnom Penh during your visit to Cambodia.
A photoblog of Kep, pre-Khmer Rouge Cambodia's beach playground for the rich, now in ruins and making its first moves towards recovery.
We take a look at the best ways to visit the incredible temples of Angkor in Cambodia.
In the early 1960s, Cambodia was a kingdom at peace. Its rich and famous travelled to the seaside town of Kep for weekends high living and they created a homegrown architectural style of remarkable am...
Just before I left Australia in November, I read of the passing of photographer Peter Carrette. I'd never heard of him but some of my friends knew of him and he'd been discussed affectionately at a di...
Ta Prohm is probably the most loved of all the temples in the Angkor complex. It's not as large as Angkor Wat and less distinctive than Banteay Srei. But it has something more special than both.
Mekong River cruising between Vietnam and Cambodia is booming and I recently took the opportunity to revisit the river aboard a colonial style river boat recreation, the Jahan.
The second of two galleries tracking my travels in 2012 visiting Dalat, Vung Tau, Hanoi and Ha Giang in Vietnam as well as Battambang in Cambodia.
A look at the flourishing of new boutique hotels in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.
A real-life look at The Plantation, Phnom Penh's self-described "urban resort". We don't use any fancy production techniques, we just want to give you a sense of what the hotel really feels like.
Phnom Penh's Royal Palace miraculously survived the trauma of Cambodia's twentieth century history. We take a look.