Photo: On the river, Phnom Penh.

3 days in Phnom Penh

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For many travellers to Cambodia, the capital Phnom Penh is but an after thought to the main attraction of Angkor Wat. While there’s no denying the ruins on the outskirts of Siem Reap are the country’s premier destination, the capital retains its own particular Khmer charms and is pretty to boot. Here’s what we’d do with three days in the city, striving for a mix of history and hedonism -- mix and match to suit.





Day one

Morning There’s no better way to commence the mammoth effort of trying to get your head around what happened during Cambodia’s genocidal Khmer Rouge period than with a visit to Tuol Sleng, or S21. Set within the walls of what was originally a school, education was turned on its head here with some 17,000 Khmer and foreign citizens imprisoned, tortured and executed as the Khmer Rouge hierarchy turned upon and then devoured itself. It’s a sombre, emotional place. We’ve seen visitors in uncontrollable tears and others wandering, glancing around as they discuss happy hour that night. It affects different people differently. Any visitor, with any kind of interest in the Khmer Rouge period, should begin their journey here. Allow at least two hours.

Grim scenes at Tuol Sleng. Photo taken in or around 3 days in Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia by Nicky Sullivan.

Grim scenes at Tuol Sleng. Photo: Nicky Sullivan

Midday

Once you’re done at S21 get a tuk tuk off to Phsar Tuol Tom Pong, which is far better known as the Russian Market due to its popularity with Russians, back in the day. Despite its cluttered walkways and low roofs, this is a good market for shopping, browsing and snacking. While true antiques can be found here, there are also some fine replicas, which, in the scheme of things, are what you really should be ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Popular attractions in Phnom Penh

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Phnom Penh.



What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Phnom Penh.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Phnom Penh.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Phnom Penh.
 Read up on how to get to Phnom Penh, or book your transport online with Camboticket.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
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See below for more sights and activities in Phnom Penh that are listed on Travelfish.org.


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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Phnom Penh? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Cambodia.


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