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Megan the Travelin Writer

Best Things to Do in Phnom Penh

Cambodia endured almost 30 years of conflict between the Vietnam War and the Khmer Rouge, and Phnom Penh, the capital, was at the center of it all. It's here where the incredible resilience of Cambodians can really be seen in the way life can and will continue. It's seen in the riotous display of colors at Psar Thmei Central Market, the honking of scooters circling Independence Monument, and the laughter outside the palace gates. Spend at least two days seeing these things and many more things to do in Phnom Penh.

The Best Things To Do in Phnom Penh


1.  Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum -
S-21 Prison

During the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum was a prison and torture chamber known as "S-21".  S-21 was one of 200 secret prisons around Cambodia. While it's difficult to visit, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is an essential part of understanding Cambodia's dark past and painful history. 



$5 per adult and $3 for the audio guide

Make sure to buy the audio guide.



Of the 12,000 to 20,000 prisoners of S-21 prison, only 12 survived. Some of those survivors sell their autobiographies at the museum. These books provide firsthand accounts of the horrors of what life was like for prisoners at S-21. By sharing their stories, these brave survivors have helped shed light on darkest period in Cambodia's history and keep the memories of the victims alive.



2. Choeung Ek Genocidal Center - "The Killing Fields"

It’s an emotional journey, with mass graves, bones and clothes of victims as testimony to the suffering under the Khmer Rouge. "The Killing Fields" are a stark reminder of Cambodia’s dark history. The fields are a memorial to the thousands of people who were murdered during the Khmer Rouge regime. It’s a difficult visit, but a crucial one. “Let it never happen again.”

If you think you might be more sensitive, we suggest visiting S-21 and Choeung Ek over two different days to provide yourself space to breathe and process.



$6 per person including the audio guide



3. Psar Thmei (Central Market)
and the Night Market

Psar Thmei is a labyrinth of shops fanning out from the art-deco style dome at its center. Here, you'll find clothing, souvenirs, jewelry, flowers, and fresh food, and experience the energetic daily life of Phnom Penh.

Another market popular with locals is the Night Market for clothes-shopping, food, and live music. These markets are ideal places to soak up the local culture and get a taste of Cambodia.



4. The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda

This stunning complex of buildings is home to the current king of Cambodia and was built in the 19th century. It features many beautiful buildings, including the Throne Hall, the Silver Pagoda, and the Khemarin Palace. The Silver Pagoda is the most famous stop in the complex, housing precious Cambodian artifacts, including a gold Buddha statue adorned with 9,584 diamonds.



10 USD for entrance

Hire a guide at The Royal Palace to provide context.



5. National Museum of Cambodia

Across the road from the Royal Palace, the National Museum of Cambodia has an extensive collection of Khmer art. Learn more about Cambodian history and culture to provide context for your trip to Angkor Wat. Some of the artifacts in the museum are thousands of years old.



10 USD for entrance



6. Support Local at F3

F3 (Friends Futures Factory) showcases Cambodian artists and designers, who specialize in creating handmade products. From hand-woven scarves to handmade ceramics, and hand-stitched bags to intricate jewellery, everything in F3 is a beautiful representation of Cambodia.


7.  Try hand-pulled noodles

Across the street from F3, is Phnom Penh's best hole-in-the-wall restaurant, David's Restaurant Homemade Noodles. It's a small, unassuming restaurant that serves some of the best noodles in Phnom Penh. The noodles are fresh, chewy, full of flavor, and made right in front of you. It may not look like much from the outside, but once you try their noodles, you'll be coming back for more.


8.  Tatie's Bakery

You'll never want to leave the street home to F3, David's Restaurant, and Tatie's Bakery. Tatie's Bakery is the go-to spot for expats and travelers looking for a taste of home. From sourdough bread to croissants, macarons to tarts, everything here is made from scratch with high-quality ingredients. The bakery is cozy and inviting, with a small seating area to enjoy your treats with a cup of coffee or tea just like a local.



Their bakery items are buy one get one after 5 PM! 😍


9.  Independence Monument

The Independence Monument commemorates Cambodia's independence from France in 1953. It was built to resemble traditional Khmer architecture and the shape represents a lotus flower. At the top of the monument, a statue of a woman holds the flame of independence. The park surrounding the monument is the perfect places to join locals and tourists alike for a walk and to see a different side to Phnom Penh.

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