If you’re looking for something to do of an afternoon in Phnom Penh and have exhausted all of the genocide-related possibilities, you’ll be pleased to hear that on the outskirts of the city there’s a functioning go-kart track about 8km past the airport.
It’s not particularly close to town — be prepared to to spend some time in a tuk tuk — but Phnom Penh’s go-kart track is worth a visit if only because it embodies everyone’s favourite part about Cambodia: the free-spirited lawlessness and lack of intervention when it comes to engaging in dangerous behaviour.
Beautifully situated among rice paddies and surrounded by palm trees, go-kart racing in Cambodia can be a surreal experience, only heightened by the sound of gunfire coming from the neighbouring shooting range. The track is over 900 metres long, with 11 turns and a 150 metre straight-away (I’ll admit that I didn’t count the turns and and cribbed that information from my favourite Phnom Penh map by Canby Publications).
Workers are blissfully indifferent to the deportment of their customers, and speeds of over 60km can be reached on the track. Drinking and driving is not only permitted but encouraged, and cold beers are served in the bar that overlooks the track, which is a pleasant place to hang if you happen to be terrified of driving (like yours truly). Luckily, they provide helmets and optional blue and yellow jumpsuits for both safety and style.
Each race is 10 times around the track (almost 10km) and costs $12. Depending on how fast you drive, each race lasts about 10 to 18 minutes. It may not seem like a long time, but it’s exhausting, and most find one or two races more than enough. Try and time your visit so you catch the beautiful sunset over the track and surrounding paddies.
By Lina Goldberg
Last updated on 8th August, 2014.