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Phnom Penh

Things to see and do

Museums

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • National Museum
    3.5 stars

    First opened in 1920, the ornate Khmer-style building that houses the National Museum thankfully survived the Khmer Rouge's horrific "re-education" of the late 1970s and continues to impress today. The museum is one of Phnom Penh's most recognisable landmarks, situated right next to the Royal ... read more

Temples

  • 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

  • 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

Interesting buildings

  • Independence Monument
    3.5 stars

    Also known as the Victory Monument, this Vann Molyvann-designed reddish-brown coloured edifice was built in 1958 to celebrate independence from the French and as a memorial to Cambodia's war dead. Sitting in the centre of Phnom Penh's largest roundabout, the monument is a favourite among tourists ... 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

  • Post Office Square
    4 stars

    Made famous by the French film, City of Ghosts, Post Office Square is one of the last places in Phnom Penh to glimpse the slow-paced, pot-holed city of old. 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 ... read more

  • Olympic Stadium
    3.5 stars

    Designed by Cambodia's best known architect, Vann Molyvann, and constructed in the 1960s, the enormous 84,000 seat Olympic Stadium is worth stopping by for a local football match, to get your aerobics groove on, or just to wander this cavernous complex. The stadium may be visited at almost any time ... read more

  • National Library
    3 stars

    Built in 1924, the low but graceful building that houses the national library on elegant Street 92 is off the radar for most visitors to Phnomh Penh. 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 ... read more

Markets

  • 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

  • Phsar Tuol Tom Pong (Russian Market)
    4 stars

    Despite its English-language name, the one thing you can’t buy at Phnom Penh’s Phsar Toul Tom Poung is a Russian. 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 ... read more

  • Phnom Penh weekend night market
    3.5 stars

    Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening, the stretch of riverfront between streets 106 and 108 comes to life with lights, shopping, music, food and a colourful local scene. A handful of vendors sell Khmer silk scarves, Cambodia T-shirts and Angkor Wat ashtrays, but the vast majority cater to ... read more

  • Phsar Kandal
    3.5 stars

    A great little local market, Phnom Penh's Phsar Kandal is centrally located off Street 154. One block back from the riverfront, it's only a five-minute walk from Street 172 and opposite the north side of Wat Ounalom, so chances are if you're wandering around the city centre you'll pass by, or ... read more

General Activites

  • 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

  • Kun Khmer (Khmer kickboxing)
    3.5 stars

    Also known as Pradal Serey, Kun Khmer or Khmer kickboxing is a sport steeped in history and ritual. 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 ... 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

  • Sunsets
    4 stars

    A combination of its river setting and a low-rise skyline, plus some often fabulous cloud formations, often makes for a beautiful dusk in Phnom Penh. 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, ... read more

  • Phnom Penh's elephant, Sambo
    3.5 stars

    For the last 30 years, Sambo the elephant has been entertaining tourists at Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh. ... read more

  • Kambol Go-Karts
    3.5 stars

    It’s not particularly close to town — be prepared to to spend some time in a tuk tuk ... read more

  • Tips for photo studio portraits in Phnom Penh
    3.5 stars

    It’s no secret that one of my favourite daytime activities in Cambodia is dressing up like a Khmer princess and having my photo taken. ... read more

  • Catch a football match at Olympic Stadium, Phnom Penh
    3.5 stars

    For less than the price you’d pay for a pint while watching a Premier League game at a pub back home, you can see a professional football match in Phnom Penh. ... read more

  • Learning stuff in Phnom Penh
    3.5 stars

    If you’re lucky enough to have a few days to spare in Phnom Penh, there’s plenty of opportunity to learn a new skill or try out something different. ... 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

Yoga

  • Yoga and Pilates
    3.5 stars

    Several gyms and studios offer a range of yoga and Pilates in Phnom Penh. 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 ... read more

  • Swimming in Phnom Penh
    3.5 stars

    As the mercury shows no signs of dropping for at least another month, there’s no better way to cool down than spending some time poolside in Phnom Penh. ... read more

  • Gyms in Phnom Penh
    3.5 stars

    If you’re looking to get fit in Phnom Penh, there are a plethora of options — from aerobics at Olympic Stadium to the new public exercise equipment on the riverside. ... read more

  • Aerobics at Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium
    3.5 stars

    Every evening at dusk hundreds of Cambodians gather at the top of Olympic Stadium to listen to Khmer techno and get some cardiovascular exercise in. ... read more

Shopping

  • 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

    Half department store, half branded boutiques, Japanese-run Aeon Mall is four floors of concentrated consumerism. 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 ... read more

  • TK Avenue
    3 stars

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

  • Secondhand clothes shopping in Phnom Penh
    3.5 stars

    Phnom Penh can be a shopper’s paradise, where seemingly every week a new shiny store opens selling the latest in international fashion. ... read more

  • An afternoon at Phnom Penh's City Mall
    3.5 stars

    There’s no way to pretend that hot season isn’t off to a roaring start in Phnom Penh, with temperatures already far higher than I am ready to cope with. ... read more

  • Shopping on Sihanouk Boulevard, Phnom Penh
    3.5 stars

    Phnom Penh isn’t a bad city to shop for women’s clothing, if you know where to look. ... read more

  • English-language bookstores in Phnom Penh
    3.5 stars

    About to head out on the bus to Battambang or Siem Reap and need a good book for the trip? ... read more

Day trips

  • Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre
    4.5 stars

    An organised day trip to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, about 40 km from Phnom Penh, leaves from Lazy Gecko restaurant on the lakeside at 10:00 and usually returns at about 17:00. It costs $30 per person, which seems steep, but the price includes jeep transport, entry fee, a fantastic Khmer ... 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

  • Kingdom Breweries
    3.5 stars

    Kingdom Breweries dubs itself as the only “premium” Cambodian beer. ... read more

  • Day trip from Phnom Penh: Ta Khmao
    3.5 stars

    There’s no particular reason to visit Ta Khmao, which is reason enough in my book. ... read more

  • Phnom Chisor
    4 stars

    Great for a day trip, this spectacular site is a mere hour's drive from the capital and a short drive from the well-preserved Jayarvarman VII temple of Ta Prom and the excellent animal rehabilitation centre Phnom Tamao. Despite being one of the most interesting Angkor period temples, Phnom Chisor ... read more

Performing Arts

  • Plae Pakaa: Cambodian Living Arts
    4 stars

    Cambodia's culture is beautifully demonstrated by Cambodian Living Arts' Plae Pakaa performances at the National Museum. 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. ... read more

Cinema

Hiking, walking tours and itineraries

Public Parks and Zoos

  • 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

  • King Norodom Sihanouk Memorial
    3 stars

    This US$1.2 million new addition to Cambodia's public monuments makes for an interesting detour. 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 ... read more

Boat trips

  • Boat trip
    4.5 stars

    Phnom Penh can get oppressively hot, particularly in March through May. One fine way to escape is to take a boat ride along the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers. 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 ... read more

Festivals and events

  • Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh
    4 stars

    Phnom Penh goes quiet over Khmer New Year as people head back to their villages. Here's what to do in the unusually quiet city. 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 ... read more


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