6 Best Things to do in Phnom Penh [Cambodia]

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Best Things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s busy capital which is full of incredible and horrific history.  Is Phnom Penh worth visiting?  Absolutely! It’s a wonderful place to start your Cambodian adventure and learn more about the Cambodian genocide before the rest of your travels around the country.   There is a thriving street-food scene along with many things to see but here’s a pick of the best things to do in Phnom Penh.


Best things to do in Phnom Penh


 Best Things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

1. Pay your respects at Choeung Ek (The killing fields)

I would highly recommend starting your visit to Phnom Pehn by hiring a rickshaw driver for the day and visiting Choeung Ek.  This was the mass grave of the victims who were killed during the Khmer Rouge, which happened between 1975 and 1979.  Over 17,000 men, woman and children who were kept and tortured at the S-21 prison were brought here to their death.  It’s not an easy place to be but it is important to visit to learn more about the horrific history of Cambodia.  It was estimated that 1/3rd of the population was murdered during the genocide.  While walking around Choeung Ek you will still see bone fragments and cloth from during that time so always keep to the paths.  You will also see a memorial with over 600 skulls of the victims displayed.  The skulls are colour coded by sex.  You will also see the weapons that the Khmer Rouge used to commit the mass murders.  Visiting the killing fields is one of the must-see places to visit in Cambodia.

*Please be respectful when coming here.  During my visit about 6 young guys came in drinking, smoking and overall being incredibly disrespectful to all Cambodians, it was so embarrassing.


 Best Things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Visiting this place is one of the best things to do in Phnom Penh

2. Learn about Cambodia’s history at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

If you hire a driver for the day they will likely also take you to the S-21 prison, or also known as Tuol Sleng.  Here you will see how the victims were kept captured and tortured.  You will hear stories via an audio guide of the experiences that these people had to go through.  When visiting the rooms, you will still see blood stained walls and floors.  You should take your time to hear all the stories.  I would even recommend doing this the day after Choeung Ek as it can become a long day and its best to come here fresh to really take it all in.


accommodation in Phnom Penh


 Best Things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

3. Marvel at The Royal Palace

The Royal Palace is a beautiful piece of architecture.  There are several buildings to explore and see for yourself but the main palace you cannot enter so you have to marvel from the outside.  You get to go close and look through the windows to get a sneak peek into the luxurious palace.  If you visit on a Sunday, you will see the locals from the countryside coming to pay their respects.


 Best Things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

4. Check out Wat Phnom

Located near the river is Wat Phnom. which is a Buddhist temple that was built in 1372.  This is the tallest religious building in Phnom Penh as it stands over 27 meters above the ground.  Many of the locals come here to pray for good luck and to give their offering of usually jasmine flowers or bananas.


 Best Things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

5. Visit the night markets

Phnom Penh has a thriving market scene especially the night markets.  You can grab some great deals on clothing and knickknacks too.  You will also see many delicious food stands all surrounding mats to eat on.  I can highly recommend the coconut ice cream!  You can grab dinner here for super cheap.  There are also performances on sometimes, so I highly recommend coming here and checking it out.  Note that the mats are assigned to the different stalls so don’t do what we did and cluelessly sit down on a random mat and get kicked off instantly.  We had to move serval times before figuring that out.


accommodation in Phnom Penh


 Best Things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

6. Spend the evening trying all the street food sweets

Aligning the streets are many little street food stalls.  I had the most delicious chocolate filled pancake doughnut along with crepes filled with orange peel and a sort of marshmallow paste.  If you have a sweet tooth, then don’t be scared to get out there and try some of the delicious little desserts from the street sellers.


Where to stay in Phnom Penh?

Base Villa – This is where I stayed in Phnom Penh.  The staff were friendly, the food was good, and they also offered tours for the killing fields and the museum for an affordable price.  There is also a swimming pool here so it’s great if you want to cool off and escape the city chaos.


Let me know if you have any other recommendations on what to do in Phnom Penh.   Visiting this city is one of the most fun things to do in Cambodia.


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Best Things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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  • Reply
    binay bhatera
    December 16, 2017 at 12:31 am

    simply great..i loved the detailed write-up, will love to visit these places.pihotos are also awesome.

  • Reply
    Lois Alter Mark
    December 17, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Okay, I’m stuck on the chocolate pancake donut! That would be worth a trip itself! I would love to visit Cambodia – the architecture is so special and so beautiful, and I would really enjoy walking through the night markets and tasting those sweets!

  • Reply
    Steph and Zach Dorworth
    December 17, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Never been to Cambodia so it was nice to learn about it. We have been to so many day time markets. But night markets?! How cool. Sounds like a great place for yummy food, shopping, and coconut ice cream. Yes please!

  • Reply
    Fiona Maclean
    December 17, 2017 at 10:34 am

    What a stunning royal palace. But more than that, Wat Phnom sounds amazing and I love the sound of the street food from the night market. Great photoes too

  • Reply
    December 18, 2017 at 2:45 am

    For me it is very important to know the history of a place and this one seems very painful. I hope Tourists are considerate enough.
    I had been to Siem Reap so have a good idea of their street food. 🙂 Great pic. Wish to do Phnom Penh some day.

  • Reply
    December 18, 2017 at 7:45 am

    The last time I was in the capital many of the streets were still dirty dusty roads, wow, things have really changed and maybe for the better. I love the vibe of this city, like a smaller and accessible Bangkok

  • Reply
    Nathalie Salcedo
    December 18, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    I think night markets are always a great idea when you visit a certain place.
    Loving the great finds clothing and food that is worth the try.

  • Reply
    December 19, 2017 at 3:14 am

    I visited all the places you mentioned in the post, Cambodia was a country that really touched my heart, and that visit to the genocide museum was so emotional, did you visit the killing fields too? – Changing subject I remember how awesome the night markets were and the pancakes from the street stalls became a regular visit pretty much every night.

  • Reply
    December 19, 2017 at 8:39 am

    The royal palace looks amazing! I’d love to also visit the night markets and try their street food, I love South East Asian food because of their flavors and I’m pretty sure I’ll like Cambodia’s food too. This post is an interesting read, thanks for sharing !

  • Reply
    December 20, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Phnom Penh is a lovely city. I love the unique architecture of their temples that is very distinctive and instantly identifiable. Also, the street food seems to have some Indian influence too, at least that is what it looks like from the photographs.

  • Reply
    December 20, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    Never been to Cambodia but would love to go one day. The temples are so intriguing, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I bet the night markets have excellent food.

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