Despite widespread backpackers and travel forums' beliefs, we don't traditionally eat maggots, spiders and cockroaches. But it does make for a good story when you go back home to tell people that Cambodians eat spiders.
The locals seem to be enjoying street food all over Cambodia, so what's the harm? Well, your taste buds might agree with the local taste, but your stomach might disagree with the local bugs.
King Father Norodom Sihanouk composed a famous song called “Phnom Penh”, which croons about the local “joie de vivre”. Those were happier times in the 1960s. Phnom Penh is still moving and shaking, and abuzz with local arts, galleries, performances, eateries, drinkeries and generally loud noise.
Phnom Penhers get up early. They start cleaning their houses at around five. When the night air is still a little chilly, your average Phnom Penher makes his way to the nearest river front, park or stadium for the morning exercise.
Cambodian diet is based on seafood and freshwater fishes and crustaceans. We are fish-eaters, we love dried fish and rice, fish sauce and rice, and if we have the money we eat crabs and shrimps and rice.
We’ve put together a short list of the best restaurants in Phnom Pen that serve “authentic” Khmer food. These restaurants are not your average eateries that can be found all over Phnom Penh. Get invited by the locals for real Khmer cuisine at home!
Le Royal is beyond doubt the grande Dame or grand Monsieur of Phnom Penh. Like any ancient, it has witnessed its share of trends and fads, historical figures, power hungry captains of industries, anxious French writers, and glamorous stars, as well as the more casual modern tourists.
Beautiful Shoes has been around this area of Tuol Sleng a good twenty years. The family run business established itself as one of the first cobblers returning to Phnom Penh after the war. The adjacent shoe shops are relatives of the original owner, although most people still shop at Beautiful Shoes.
Phsars, literally "markets" are where Cambodians purchase anything from fresh fish and vegetables, tools for home improvements, jungle knifes for field expeditions, bibelots for friends and relatives, to CDs, DVDs and books. Phsars usually offer better deals than individual shops and shopping centres, although the latter would have the upper hand for electronics.
Phnom Penh is relatively compact and you’ll get your bearings quickly. The Monument of Independence sits at the centre, with Monivong and Norodom Boulevards (appropriately named after Kings) as main thoroughfares.