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Phnom Penh 2006

Phnom Penh was a run down city with old colonial houses which long time have not seen any changes. Just very few cars on streets and most motobikes have been Daelim's owned by motodup drivers to transport tourists. There was a backpacker area on the mosquito lake Boeng Kak in the northern part with basic but charming ambiance for all those first travellers came for a visit to Cambodia. Of course there were a couple other hotels in city for western people but they have been by far not good enough to attract any moddle class tourists. So all what came from the western world to settle in Cambodia have been a couple freaks with an idea in their head. 51 street already had the Walkabout hotel with it's crowded freelance girlie scene as Freedom bar in Sihanoukville. Heart of Darkness was by that time the spot in the night to go and the prime night club in Phnom Penh. A few things have been existing at riverfront but it was not really much. Streets as 136 and 104 started to grow with it's girlie bars in that time.

Phnom Penh 2008

The amazing thing in Phnom Penh was those days that loads of luxury cars started to roll on streets in a country which had no other income than this coming from the few backpackers and a few western tourissts. It was an amazing view on Monivong boulevard to see all those Lexus 570 cars which cost with impoort tax 160000 dollar. Such cars in a country where the average monthly income was around 50-80 dollar a month of most working in the city and even far less for those working in the provinces. Hospitals reached by far not any standards and have been one of the biggest problems in country as everyone visited this country knew about there should nothing happen as the next best healthcare system was in Thailand. Naga clinic and Royal Rattanak hospital have been the first ones gave a relief and let western tourist think would would somehow be save when coming to Cambodia, but they were not and most available doctors have just been too uneducated.

Phnom Penh 2010

It's amazing how fast this city with it's mostly colonial buildings got a renovation. The touristic riverfront got a facelift with it's nice park areas in the year 2009. 5 star and all sort of middleclass hotels got available. Phnom Penh got a metropole. The city was busy but still charming. Everything was under construction and got a facelift with charming restaurants, bars and Golden Sorya was built with it's night spot Pontoon just opposite Heart of Darkness. So 51 street got together with the 136 and 104 streets a magnet for Phnom Penhs nightlife. Plenty of funky restaurants and little hotels settled behind Royal Palace and the city started to convert into a romantic kind of mediterranean town where life was still layd back and convenient for western tourists. It had a few convenient hotels to stay for adequate prices and loads of basic rooms. Touristic area was behind river front and the 51 street in the heart of the city. Traffic on streets was still ok with it's convenient Tuk Tuk rides. Of course cars on streets doubled every year, but it was still possible to get through anything even during rush hours.

Phnom Penh 2014

Phnom Penh got an overcrowded city now offering anything from the western world. The traffic jams block all streets during whole days and during rush hours you wont get through anymore. Nowhere. So that means as well for any ambulance cars, they won't have any chance to reach you if something happens. Especially during rush hours where of course ambulance cars are as well completely stuck in traffic as all those having a Khmer driver licence would not move a single centimeter to let it pass through. So Phnom Penh got a traffic chaos as nowhere else and anyone is sitting alone in his car and tries to get through. The nearby big companies in south where probably a couple 100 thousand people are working in those halls are one of the reasons. When they finish work around 5pm you won't have a chance to get through the city anymore, not even with a tuk tuk. So when planning to get to the airport from downtown you should calculate that you will maybe be stuck in traffic for 2-3 hours even usually before it took just 30 minutes to get there. When in ancient times of 2008 you got a hotel room with AC for around 12-20 dollars, the prices now doubled and tripled and even more. By end of 2014 there were plenty of those boutique hotels in city but just very few with sort of accommodation western middle class people would expect. Plantation hotel was one of the very few which offered something, but they started now to make prices let western middle class tourists think twice if they really want to visit Cambodia. We are talking about 100 dollars for an overnight stay for the cheapest room and 200 dollar a night for an average room next to the pool. When it was charming before it just got all an anonymous city where everyone just tries to get rich as quick as possible with crowds of tourists, blocked streets with their traffic jams. Amazing how quick Phnom Penh and whole Cambodia screwed up it's prices and in the meantime you should not expect to get it any cheaper than in Thailand. Cambodia got expensive and to stay a bit convenient in Phnom Penh means to pay international prices for half of the quality. This is not just us which can see those things and plenty of others will see it as well and probably will think twice if they really want to get an average hotel in Phnom Penh or they better get for same prices double as good hotels somewhere else in the world. Still probably loads of people which would like once to say 'Yeah, we have been in Cambodia', but most then probably go home and will tell all others, they came once and never again. So it maybe was not that smart of the hotel owners to squeeze and further rooms into their hotels and double their prices just within 1 year and it probably will have consequences for tourism. But now this city is that packed and crowded with all Khmers heading for the quick money that probably soon noone fits inside anymore. Consider that Phnom Penh probably will double it's population from now on within just a very few years. In the meantime Phnom Penh has all sort of skyscrapers, cities in the city, economic zones and whatever else and you feel like this balloon is exploding soon. A new touristic area started to grow behind independence monument where the ancient NGO's workers had their residences. But for tourism it's probably not really what someone expects and tourists would rather like to stay somewhere near the river instead of far away behind independence where they have to get into a Tuk Tuk for any activity. Consider Phnom Penh in the meantime rather a stressful experience at least when coming as a western tourist during high season. Those few hotels will give you a convenient stay are completely overbooked and things will bring you to limits when not experienced in this country.

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