Here’s 2 questions for you:
If you answered yes to both of these, then you have to go to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center!
We stayed in Phnom Penh for 4 nights, and were looking for the best things to do there.
We heard that there were some zoos nearby so decided to do a little bit of digging online.
Sadly for us, it was hard to find all of the information we needed, but we decided we would go and check it out anyway.
We were not disappointed!
I would personally say it is the best wildlife sanctuary I have ever been to and can't believe more people haven't been.
If you’re in Phnom Penh now, or will be soon, then here’s 9 reasons why you MUST visit the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center.
I know that zoos are really a love or hate kind of thing nowadays. And personally, I do sit on the fence a little.
Back in England, I've been to most of the zoos as a child, but as I grew older I do find it upsetting that the animals there are so far away from their natural homes and climates.
However, what I loved about the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center is that all the animals there actually come from that climate, and are there for a reason.
As the name clearly states, they are all indeed rescue animals. It is not a zoo that has been built to attract tourists and make money, instead, it is genuinely there for the wellbeing of its inhabitants.
This leads nicely onto my next point …
We visited the Center in September, and found that it was completely empty.
I’m not sure what it’s like at other times of the year, but with a lack of publicity, I doubt it is ever as busy as Western zoos.
This is amazing for 2 reasons. Firstly, it doesn’t feel as if the animals are there on display, instead, it is like they owned the place and we were their lucky guests.
Secondly, it literally felt like we had our own private rescue center!
With hardly anyone else around, you are free to roam endlessly in whatever direction you want and not have to deal with large crowds or a loud environment.
The Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center really does house a fantastic array of animals.
From near-extinct sun bears to tigers, and from an albino deer to a 3-legged elephant, they really do have it all.
But don't worry about that 3-legged elephant, because they made him his own prosthetic foot!
Just check out a picture of this cool guy below. We were able to feed him bananas on a stick all on our own, without crowds of tourists bustling for photographs.
This elephant would be a celebrity in the UK!
I can honestly say that the best part about our trip to Southeast Asia as a whole was the freedom of driving around on mopeds.
But what’s even better is that you can drive around the entire rescue center on a moped as well.
This is handy, because it’s a very large park.
It means that you get to enjoy everything the center has to offer, and not be absolutely knackered by the end of the day.
You can quickly skip from cage to cage, checking out all of the amazing animals living there.
One of the best parts about visiting the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center is that you can feed almost all of the animals living there.
When you go past the main entrance you will find some people there with stools selling drinks and bananas.
We bought 3 bushels of bananas off a boy there for about 5 dollars and had enough to feed animals throughout the whole day.
This leads nicely onto my next point … and a word of warning ...
Seriously who doesn't love monkeys!?
Well, we certainly do, but you have to be wary when visiting the centre as they are literally everywhere.
It’s great fun to start, but it’s also a quick way to lose all of your bananas.
Whenever you're feeding the animals, you need to do it quickly and subtly to avoid these cunning critters catching you do it.
No jokes, they will try and steal them from you if you give them out elsewhere, just check out the video below!
To help, I'd advise hiding them all away in a bag and then just take out one at a time and hide it in your pocket before passing it on.
The rescue center is also called home by packs of wild pigs that roam about the place.
They are a little more shy than the monkeys, but do warm to you if you feed them a banana or two.
Just be careful though, the monkeys will try and snatch any bananas away if you're going to feed the pigs.
We actually saw the some monkeys start riding the pigs!
As with most places in Cambodia, the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center is ridiculously cheap to visit.
The entrance fee is just $5 dollars per person and you can spend as long as you want there and see all the animals.
The only other things you may want to pay for are some bananas which are really cheap, and some snacks and drinks (again, very fairly priced).
You can also pay one of the locals to give you a tour of the park if you want, or to drive you around.
I’m not too sure how much they would charge you to drive you around, but the boy who sold us our bananas only wanted a few more dollars to carry all our bananas for us.
Driving a moped in Phnom Penh is similar to driving in any other city in Asia.
It is very crowded, and a little smelly when you leave the city. But after that, the roads are surprisingly well maintained, and the views are spectacular.
There are a lot of open fields all around you and plenty of places to stop and take some photographs.
However, do remember that Cambodia is prone to very heavy and very sudden downpours of rain.
We were reminded of this fact on the drive back.
We had to endure an hour and a half of torrential downpour with nothing to protect ourselves because we forgot to take our raincoats! Oh well, all a part of the experience I suppose.
The center is situated roughly 35 km South of Phnom Penh.
Personally, we hired a moped for the day and drove there ourselves.
If you enjoy riding mopeds then I would 100% recommend this as it means you can drive it around the park when you get there.
It took us about an hour and a half each way.
Here's the place we rented our mopeds from. They are very cheap, and the shop that all other backpackers recommend:
As a bonus tip, they also do passport visas, so you can rent a moped overnight and leave your passport there ready to be picked up the next day. We did this with our Vietnam visas.
It is possible to book tours to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, and minibuses must run, but I’m afraid I don't know much about this. It may be best to speak to your hotel or hostel for some more advice.
For directions getting to the center, you can just download the maps.me app. We use it everywhere we go, and it’s not let us down yet.
If you have any other questions about visiting the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center then just let me know by commenting below. Or if you do get the chance to go, then let me know what you think of it below!
Oh and if you are type 1 diabetic and reading this, then you will want to plan for the heat.
You can purchase some sugary drinks there, but its best to take these necessary precautions when travelling with diabetes in the heat.