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Phnom Penh

Things to see and do

  • Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda
    4.5 stars

    The Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda sit side by side on Sothearos Boulevard and while they are two separate complexes, they are visited as one. The palace has four gates. The eastern Victory Gate leads directly to the entrance of the throne hall and is used only by royalty and VIPs. The ... read more

  • Wat Phnom
    3.5 stars

    This small hill, or phnom, at the northern end of Phnom Penh give's Cambodia's capital its name. Legend has it that a Khmer woman Penh was dawdling by the riverbank when she noticed four Buddha images floating by. She grabbed the lot of them and lugged them over to the hill, where a wat was built ... read more

  • Cambodia-Vietnam Soldiers Monument
    2 stars

    Northeast of the Independence Monument heading towards the Royal Palace, this monument was built to a Vietnamese design in the late 1970s. Following demonstrations two decades later, the area surrounding the monument was dubbed Democracy Square. Today it is still used for political gatherings -- ... read more

  • Wat Lang Ka
    1 star

    This wat is of only passing interest to the typical traveller, although it is a popular one for VIP ceremonies of various kinds. You can tell when something VIPish is happening as they'll close the roads in the area, causing complete chaos. Toward the rear of the compound, by the entrance on ... read more

  • Wat Prayuvong
    1 star

    This small wat is hidden away to the east of Norodom Boulevard, about a five-minute walk from the Independence Monument. The wat is not signposted in English, but keep an eye out for the spirit houses lining Norodom and head down the nearby alley where industrious workers are making concrete ... read more

  • Choeung Ek
    3.5 stars

    Choeung Ek, 15 kilometres from Phnom Penh, is Cambodia's best known killing field, although many travellers do not realise that this was just one of the many, many that dot the country. More than 15,000 people, transported from Tuol Sleng, are believed to have been murdered here -- some shot, many ... read more

  • Phsar Thmei (Central Market)
    4 stars

    Built in 1937, this stunning ochre-coloured art-deco ziggurat designed by Vann Molyvann is the most unlikely of buildings in Phnom Penh. A huge dome with four wings, it's an amazingly cool place to seek refuge in the middle of the day and is also a fascinating market to wander through. The area of ... read more

  • Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
    4.5 stars

    S-21 or Tuol Sleng was the Khmer Rouge's primary interrogation and extermination centre, designed to purge anti-Khmer Rouge elements from the new society Pol Pot and his henchmen were hellbent on creating. Before the 1975-79 regime, the building was a school. Smaller interrogation centres were ... read more

  • Shooting Range
    3 stars

    Phnom Penh's notorious shooting range has long been a place of interest to tourists -- if not to visit in person, then to shake their heads at. If shooting really big guns is your thing, this is the place for you. For $30 you can fire 30 rounds of an AK-47 or 20 rounds of an M16. According to many ... read more

  • Koh Dach
    3 stars

    Koh Dach is an island about 15km north of Phnom Penh on the Mekong River. There are two reasons to visit this 30 square kilometre island -- for the beach, or to check out the handicrafts that local artisans make. The beach is very popular with locals on the weekends but during the week you will ... read more

  • Kien Svay (also called Koki Beach)
    2.5 stars

    Located 15km east of the Monivong Bridge on NH1 toward Ho Chi Minh City, Kien Svay is a popular spot for locals from the city. A sign for Koki Beach is on the left but easy to miss, so watch your odometer and keep your eyes peeled as you get near the 15km mark. A huge tree marks the turn, which is ... read more

  • Khmer Architecture Tours
    4 stars

    Khmer Architecture Tours run regular visits to Phnom Penh's fascinating but rapidly vanishing modern architectural sites. From Vann Molyvann's high-density housing project now slated for pull-down (his national theatre has already gone, sadly), to imposing-but-crumbling university buildings, and ... read more

  • Independence Monument
    3.5 stars

    Sitting in the centre of Phnom Penh's largest roundabout, the monument is a favourite among tourists and Khmers alike for photographs. The park that runs east towards the river from the monument is a popular spot for Khmer wedding photos -- look for the wedding parties with their golden umbrellas ... read more

  • Boat trip
    4.5 stars

    You'll often be approached by touts along the river to go on an organised trip, but if you can rustle together your own group you can call the shots. Most of the boats have their own sound system -- you can bring your own music -- and some have cold storage for drinks and kitchens with Khmer cooks ... read more

  • Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre
    4.5 stars

    It costs $30 per person, which seems steep, but the price includes jeep transport, entry fee, a fantastic Khmer lunch (complete with local booze and, yes, the chance to act like an elderly Cambodian and chew the stimulant out of betel nut roots). But the invaluable thing about taking the Betel Nut ... read more

  • Phsar Tuol Tom Pong (Russian Market)
    4 stars

    This market got its name due to the masses of Russians who shopped here in the 1980s. Though the Russians have disappeared, the bargains haven't. Popular with expats and tourists alike picking up pirated DVDs and CDs, fake designer clothing, handicrafts, real and replica antiques and other knick ... read more

  • Post Office Square
    4 stars

    The cream-coloured Post Office building was built in 1890 and restored in 2004, and it remains one of the city's best examples of French colonial architecture. Inside, olden-day photographs adorn the halls and there's even a philatelic counter that will excite all you stamp collectors out there. ... read more

  • Olympic Stadium
    3.5 stars

    The stadium may be visited at almost any time for free -- even for a weekend football game you only have to pay the modest ticket price if wanting a shaded seat -- but if there happens to be a concert by boy band leader Ronan Keating going on (seriously, he performed here once), you will have to ... read more

  • National Library
    3 stars

    The site was used as a piggery during the brief but devastating Khmer Rouge period, when books were lit aflame and tossed into the street like garbage. Although still not at its pre-Khmer Rouge glory, several donations over the years have restocked many of the library's shelves with an eclectic ... read more

  • Kun Khmer (Khmer kickboxing)
    3.5 stars

    The easiest way to lose a Khmer friend is by referring to it as muay Thai -- Cambodians are very proud to say it was their ancestors who invented the sport back in the ninth century CE, as evidenced by stone carving reliefs at the Terrace of Elephants of Angkor Thom and elsewhere. According to ... read more

  • Yoga and Pilates
    3.5 stars

    We highly recommend teacher Kate Liana, who leads courses at NataRaj Yoga on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings and also at the InterContinental Hotel. She can also be contacted directly for private lessons. NataRaj is a great place at any time for Vinyasa flow, Ashtanga yoga, ... read more

  • Phnom Penh weekend night market
    3.5 stars

    A handful of vendors sell Khmer silk scarves, Cambodia T-shirts and Angkor Wat ashtrays, but the vast majority cater to local tastes. Expect sparkling jewellery, paper flowers and impossibly small "designer" clothing with misspelled brand names. Be ready to bargain if you're here to shop. In ... read more

  • National Museum
    3.5 stars

    The museum is one of Phnom Penh's most recognisable landmarks, situated right next to the Royal Palace near the riverfront. With its countless pediments and multi-tiered spired roofs, the building itself threatens to upstage the relics it houses. Visitors first pass through a well-groomed ... read more

  • Backstreet Academy
    4 stars

    If you're the kind of person who prefers to do rather than see, Phnom Penh's Backstreet Academy gives you the opportunity to get up close with Khmer culture in a different way. Practical short courses in Cambodian traditions -- of the dancing, fighting and crafty variety -- provide an insight ... read more

  • King Norodom Sihanouk Memorial
    3 stars

    Just east of Phnom Penh's Independence Monument, the memorial to Cambodia's late king is located on the street bearing his name, Sihanouk Boulevard. Unveiled in October 2013 to coincide with the first anniversary of his death, this US$1.2 million new addition to Cambodia's public monuments makes ... read more

  • Sunsets
    4 stars

    Phnom Penh does well on the sunset stakes. A combination of its river setting and a low-rise skyline, plus some often fabulous cloud formations, often makes for a beautiful dusk. There's only one flaw -- the orientation of the city means that the main riverside has its back to the setting sun. But ... read more

  • Plae Pakaa: Cambodian Living Arts
    4 stars

    The tick-list of things to see in Phnom Penh is often heavy on the brutal history, leaving visitors reeling and with only a bite-sized impression of the country's rich heritage. Cambodia's culture goes well beyond loud karaoke and reproductions of Angkor Wat everywhere you turn, beautifully ... read more

  • Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh
    4 stars

    Khmer New Year is one of the most important festivals in the Cambodian calendar and a popular public holiday. From Saturday April 12 to Wednesday April 16, Phnom Penh will empty out and markets will be closed. So as Phnom Penhers rush for the countryside and the highways clog up with minibuses, ... read more

  • Beautiful Shoes
    4 stars

    Long-running Beautiful Shoes makes, well, shoes. And boots. And belts and handbags and wallets. But mainly shoes. Made to measure, hand cobbled and designed by the customer. Apparently, clients have been known to become a bit giddy on a first visit, overfaced with cabinets stuffed full with a ... read more

  • Aeon Mall
    3.5 stars

    Opened in June 2014, for the first few weekends it seemed like all of Phnom Penh descended at once to get their fix at Japanese-run Aeon Mall. Half department store, half branded boutiques, it's four floors of concentrated consumerism. Located next to the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra Hotel, ... read more

  • TK Avenue
    3 stars

    Along with freshly opened Aeon Mall, another new shopping destination that may either fill you with delight or horror is TK Avenue... Yes, really, this is still Cambodia. TK Avenue is a pedestrianised High Street experience, lifted wholesale from a generic town in the UK or Australia and plonked ... read more

  • Kids City
    3.5 stars

    Kids City promises 11 levels of fun in an air-con, child-friendly environment, and it's quite entertaining for grown up kids too. There's no missing the brightly coloured exterior in funky glass, almost next door to Lucky Supermarket and a five-minute drive from the Independence Monument. More ... read more

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