During my first visit to Phnom Penh in 2002, the memories of the civil war that ended in 1994 were still fresh. Since then the city has grown and dark memories have faded, making Phnom Penh a much livelier city. And one of the best places to soak up the atmosphere is along the River Promenade in the heart of the city at sunset!
Phnom Penh has built a pedestrian promenade along the Tonle Sap river from the City Courthouse in the South past the Royal Palace to the Night Market in the North. It comes alive during sunset when the temperatures become more manageable and it turns into a place for the locals to hang out. You can see families out on a walk, young couples on dates watching dreamily out over the river or monks relaxing after a long day. Teams are playing soccer or, unique to Asia, foot volleyball (or training for it) which is very technical and fun to watch!
It’s also a great time to take pictures, with the sun setting behind the Royal Palace or Wat Ounalom, making for a dramatic scene. You can sit down on the many benches to take in the scenery or on the low walls facing the river. If all that walking has made you thirsty, there are plenty of bars and restaurants across the street to enjoy drinks or dinner while the light fades.
Be careful when you cross the street though – traffic along the river seems to be as bad as it gets in Phnom Penh around sunset.