Although many visitors skip Phnom Penh on their trips to Cambodia, the capital city of Cambodia is worth a visit. Phnom Penh is an excellent destination to learn more about Cambodian culture, cuisine, and local lives.
In this article, I’ll share the best things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, along with tips to have the best trip there.
1. Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21)
For travelers seeking the darker side of Cambodian history, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (Prison S21) is a place to be.
In 1975, Pol Pot occupied Tuol Svay Prey High School and turned this place into Security Prison 21, also known as S21, the most feared prison all over the country.
Between 1975 and 1978, the Khmer Rouge regime executed and killed 17,000 lives here.
How to get there: I recommend joining the Hop-on Hop-off bus tour to the historic sites to save costs. Alternatively, you can hire a tuk-tuk for a day and explore the city.
- Address: St.113, Beoung Keng Kang III, Chamkarmorn, 12304 Phnom Penh, Cambodia
- Opening hours: 8 am – 5 pm
- Ticket price: $5 (entrance ticket) + $3 (audio guide)
- Website: https://tuolsleng.gov.kh/en/museum/
2. Visit Choeung Ek Killing Field
After a Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) trip, I recommend visiting Cheung Ek Killing Field next.
Located about 15 km from the capital Phnom Penh and only 30 minutes by tuk-tuk, Cheung Ek is one of the thousands of killing fields around Cambodia where the Khmer Rouge practiced genocide during the late 1970s.
Between 1975-1978, over 20,000 men, women, and children tortured at S21 prison were transported to this extermination field.
Tips: You should rent the audio when purchasing the tickets. Without the audio, there won’t be many details to learn.
Warning: This site can be extremely distressing if you’re not emotionally prepared. I felt scared and sad during the visit.
- Opening hours: 7:30 am – 5:30 pm
- Ticket price: $6 (entrance ticket)
3. Enjoy traditional Cambodian dance
Take a glimpse into Cambodian culture with the performances at the National Museum of Cambodia.
Cambodian Living Arts Earth and Sky Dance is a fantastic way to support local artists and see how Cambodian are improving their way of living through various folk and ritual dances.
As the theatre is quite small, you should get at least a Seat B with more comfortable seats.
4. Cycle past local villages
Are you looking to escape the bustling city of Phnom Penh? How about joining a cycling tour to the Silk Island?
Here, you will learn about the daily lives of the locals and enjoy delicious regional Khmer dishes.
Don’t worry if you’re an inexperienced cyclist. The guide will help you!
- Time: 7:30am
- Meetup location: Grasshopper Shop Phnom Penh
5. Explore French colonial buildings
You can see several delightful colonial buildings in the French Quarter, including the grand train station, main post office, the National Library, and Raffles Hotel Le Royal.
Many French buildings survive today, and the area is worth exploring, on foot or by tuk-tuk, to get a taste of Cambodian historical monuments.
I recommend joining the Phnom Penh heritage tour if you’d like to learn more about its colorful past. The tour guide will show you the buildings and explain the stories behind them.
6. Try beer tasting
Indulge yourself in the delicious flavors of Cambodian craft beer during this fun beer tasting experience at Kingdom Breweries.
Here, you’ll get to learn about different brews, see the facilities, and even find out how beer is made. Then, get a seat at the bar and sample the beer.
7. Watch the sunset in Phnom Penh
Sitting on a boat and watching the sunset will be a memorable experience on your trip to Phnom Penh.
Depending on the price, visitors will choose the itinerary to suit their budget.
You can choose Phocea Mekong Cruises or Memorable Cambodia Cruise boats, both of which have departure platforms at Sisovath Quay.
8. See the Palace
The Palace is located on Samdach Sothearos Blvd, near the West Sisowath Quay.
As soon as I entered, I was impressed by the magnificent design and fancy motifs. The ticket to visit the Royal Palace for foreigners is $ 10 per person.
Except for the Khemarin Palace where the current King lives, you can visit other areas, including the famous Silver Pagoda.
9. Go shopping at the Russian Market
The Russian market is ideal for those who love antiques, silk clothes, silver jewelry, and old banknotes collected from previous regimes.
Also, you can easily find electronic products such as DVDs, CDs, and handicrafts.
- Opening hours: 7 am until 5 pm.
10. Dine at Phnom Penh night market
The Phsa Reatrey night market is a fun stop at night in Phnom Penh. Night Market was established in a relatively large campus adjacent to the new Western Quarter.
There is a large stage in the middle, a place for performing arts. The front and sides of the set are stalls adjacent to each other, selling all kinds of clothes, souvenirs, shoes, etc.
Behind the stage is a dining area with affordable prices. Streetfood at the night market includes many famous Cambodian dishes such as dried noodles, fried noodles, grilled pork and rice (Bai Sach Chrouk), Bread (Num Pang), and skewers.