The Russian Market area : my favourite Phnom Penh!
You have just arrived in Phnom Penh. The city is new, and for now, it's mostly bustling and deeply vibrant. Noisy, maybe. A little bit disturbing, too, at first.
Anyway, you still don't know where to settle in.
Phnom Penh, is still a mistery to you, possibly some difficult place to tame for western minds! An intricate town also, with all those different neighborhoods, geographically close but quite different. Each, worth seing.
The Riverside and its crazy night-life. The Independance Monument, and the BKK1 zone, which is for now the less disorienting space for you, and a promess of always finding your way back home. BKK3, so-called the Tuol Sleng area. A changing neighborhood for expats, undertaking many reagencements. In other words, breathing far from its history. The Sihanouk Boulevard , next to the Olympic Stadium zone, and the Orrussey Market. This, is the "real" Phnom Penh, as you will often hear.
So yes, Phnom Penh is full of beautiful possibilities. In other words, there is no good or bad choice.
However, the Russian market is THE area I would suggest you to inquire more !
Why that ?
* The Russian market area has ... the Russian market, or Phsaa Toul Tom Pong. That's where you will be able to find whatever you are looking for. Actually, almost anything. Clothes, discs & DVDs, food and delectable fruits, souvenirs, and much more. So, having this shopping area near is a real asset.
It's not an expat shopping center, it's Khmer owned and ruled. And, you'll find there many Khmer things. However, the neighborhood is mostly frequented by expat people and tourists. So is the market, which makes it not properly Khmer in a traditional way. You won't feel lost there. In other words, it's an interesting middle-ground : a Khmer experience, however not too far from your own landmarks and background. This is a great sum-up of what the zone is, a middle-ground between a complete Khmer experience, and a expat one (for expats experiences only, let's move up north to BKK1 area).
* The Russian market area is ... full of lovely places to eat, have a drink, or have a rest. Places that have a personality, per say. You will be able to find usual western cafés, but also restaurants that have a real character and a cosy atmosphere. More than in other neighborhoods.
For cat lovers, veggies, and fan of The Beattles, I would namely recommend stealing one of the Orchidée restaurant's table. The menu is longer than any, desserts are tasty and full of French surprises. Worth the try!
* The Russian market area is ... beautiful, and luxurious in its own way. The bougainvilliers trees make it colourful, and cosy. It's quiet, more relaxing than the other city areas that are located more north. However, don't worry, our Russian market is still very lively!
We could compare it to the centre of Pondichery, Tamil Nadu, India. Flowers and quiet streets, in other words it's a space that requires to be settled in, in order to be fully understood and enjoyed !
* The Russian market zone is... if some still wonder if Phnom Penh is a safe place to live in, a very safe area. You won't get in trouble there, if getting back to your place late. Of course, you may need to be careful with your belongings, but exactly as you would be somewhere else. There, not much may happen to you.
Also, the Russian Market area is full of surprises. You can stumble on a group of kids that will try and talk to you at a street corner, and on a beautiful market of plants and flowers. You will also be close to a well-known buddhist pagoda. And, to sports club and yoga classes.
So much to see, or do, there !