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As our plane began its descent toward the Phnom Penh Airport in Cambodia, we got our first glimpse of the city – and it wasn’t quite like we had imagined. Through the hazy air and under the murky glow of the sun, the close-quartered dwellings sprawled from the city center as far as our eyes could see. That part we had anticipated. It was the towering skyscrapers in Phnom Penh (accompanied by countless cranes quickly completing several more) that threw off our visual expectations.
To see the hallmarks of a massive, modern metropolis from above crushed our pre-conceived notions of a riverside city slowing awaking from a long and recent tragedy. Based on it’s size alone, we were already mentally readjusting our Phnom Penh Itinerary. Additionally, we were certain we were going to find many more things to do in Phnom Penh than were mentioned in guidebooks or Cambodia travel blogs. They’re simply building quicker than those can be updated!
Planning 3 Days in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Our trip to Phnom Penh marked our second visit to the country. The first time through Cambodia we bypassed Phnom Penh in favor of Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor Wat. At the time, all we knew of Phnom Penh was the Killing Fields and S21 Prison – and we just weren’t feeling compelled to join in the Dark Tourism of Cambodia.
However, on our previous stop in Singapore, friends raved to us about the delicious food and enthralling nightlife in Phnom Penh. Their tales piqued our interest…and two weeks later, we landed at the Phnom Penh International Airport ready to experience it all for ourselves!
Save, Pin or Bookmark our Phnom Penh Travel Guide to plan your visit to Cambodia!
3 Day Phnom Penh Itinerary
We had a full week in Phnom Penh to discover the top sights, best markets, interesting neighborhoods, tasty food and fun Phnom Penh bars. We condensed our experiences into a 3 Days in Phnom Penh Itinerary for other travelers looking for the Best Phnom Penh Things To Do.
We include helpful information for attractions in Phnom Penh along with a Phnom Penh map of sights. At the end of the article, we’ve included additional Cambodia travel tips; like where to stay and other important information for your Phnom Penh Tour Itinerary.
Day One in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Spend the first day sightseeing the top Phnom Penh attractions – and a few hidden spots – in the city center.
Central Market in Phnom Penh
Start your Phnom Penh sightseeing at one of the most iconic buildings in the city, The Central Market. Built in 1937, the art deco, domed structure has served as a market hall for Phnom Penh shopping since its inception. Inside, glittering jewelry cases surround a centerpiece clock, while stalls selling everything from cheap t-shirts to fine art, are cluttered close together in the lanes that extend away from the central hall.
Phnom Penh Street Art (Street 93)
Street Art is a risky form of artistic expression in Phnom Penh – and any tags and wall murals are quickly painted over if they do appear on building walls. However, in the district known as Phnom Penh Lakeside, street artists have been sprucing up the walls of dilapidated buildings with thought-provoking and colorful art. Lakeside was once, in fact, next to a lake, but it was filled in by developers with big plans for the area (i.e. giant malls and more skyscrapers).
The absence of the lake had left businesses that catered to lake visitors (guest houses, cafes, shops and restaurants) without patrons – and, except for the families that still reside there, the district became somewhat of a ghost town. The Phnom Penh street art, however, is worth a walk through the neighborhood. At first, we felt intrusive to the tight-knit community that lives there, but were warmly welcomed by the residents who seemed pleased to have tourists visiting their neighborhood.
Top Tip: It’s a bit of a walk from Central Market to the Phnom Penh 93 Street Art. Consider taking a tuk tuk – and tell them to take you to the old Lakeside or the big mosque in Phnom Penh…or show them this map location.
Al-Serkal Mosque in Phnom Penh
The palatial white mosque with two slender minarets rising high above the dome was completed in 2014 (replacing a mosque of the same name that opened in 1968). The Al-Serkal Mosque in Phnom Penh is the largest mosque in Cambodia, which is home to approximately 300,000 Muslims.
Raffles Hotel Le Royal
The Phnom Penh boutique hotel, Le Royal, was built in 1929 and has welcomed famous guests from around the world (such as Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Onassis). The Raffles Phnom Penh was also home to journalists who covered the Cambodian Civil War in the early 1970s.
During the time of Khmer Rouge, Le Royal was closed, but reopened as a 5-star property under the management of Raffles Hotels in 1997. The classic and elegant Elephant Bar hosts traditional High Tea in the afternoons (just as it did when the hotel first opened) and in the early evening, posh patrons partake in a fancy Phnom Penh happy hour (which makes really expensive cocktails just a bit less expensive).
Daun Penh Avenue
Stroll the length of Daun Penh Avenue east toward Wat Phnom. The street-center garden is flanked by grand government buildings, such as the Cambodia National Library, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the extremely fortified United States Embassy.
Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh
Perhaps the most popular Phnom Penh temple, Wat Phnom is a Buddhist place of worship that sits on a hill in the very center of the city. The religious site dates to the year 1372 when, according to legend, locals raised the hill to house four relics found in the Mekong River.
The temple stands 88ft/ 27m above the ground – the tallest religious structure in Phnom Penh – and is accessed via a steep staircase. In addition to the temple (which was last refurbished in 1926), visitors will find a stupa holding the ashes of King Ponhea Yat, statues and shrines. Wat Phnom is a Phnom Penh must-see!
Lady Penh Statue (Yeay Penh)
Just south of Wat Phnom is a statue dedicated to Lady Penh, the woman credited with the city’s origin. Legend has it that it was Lady Penh who found those relics inside that tree trunk floating in the Mekong and decided to create a hill and temple to house the treasures. The relics attracted devoted worshipers and a town grew around the hill. Translated into English, Phnom Penh means: The Hill of Lady Penh.
Old French Quarter (Post Office Square)
Very little colonial architecture remains from the years of French rule (1863 to 1953), but those interested in Belle Epoque and Art Deco buildings from the past can find a few examples (some is dire condition) on Post Office Square. The best-preserved building is the yellow Phnom Penh Post Office, which dates to 1890 and is still used in the same capacity today.
Nearby is the Commissariat (Old Police Station), which is crumbling and appears to be inhabited by squatters, the Old Indochina Bank (now a restaurant) and the former Chamber of Commerce.
Top Tip: Interested in learning more of the history of the buildings in Post Office Square? Join a Phnom Penh architecture tour! (Details here)
Old Market (Phsar Chas)
The Old Market in Phnom Penh is frequented by both tourists and locals. The stalls on the eastern perimeter feature picturesque displays of fresh fruit and hanging bird houses. Meanwhile, the west side of the market is occupied by the chaotic and cramped wet market, where locals mostly shop – choosing produce and raw meat that is much less-aesthetically displayed than on the eastern side of the market.
If you can handle the scents wafting through the air, we highly recommend walking through the PP Old Market just once!
Phnom Penh Riverside Park (Sisowath Quay)
On the western bank of the Tonle Sap River is a 1.8mi/3km riverside park, Sisowath Quay. Although it is nowhere near a serene escape from the bumper-to-bumper, horn-honking traffic that clogs the avenue, Sisowath Quay does provide a little green space to comfortably walk around free of hazards.
The palm tree-lined pedestrian zone is used by joggers, shuttlecock kickers and evening strollers. Benches and lawns provide a place to sit and watch the cargo ships and Phnom Penh tour boats float up and down the river.
Kandal Market (Phsar Thmei)
If the scene at the Old Market piqued your interest in where and how local Cambodians shop for food, a walk through Kandal Market should definitely be a stop on your Phnom Penh Itinerary. Not for weak-stomached or hygiene-concerned travelers, the Kandal Market is as real as it gets. (Stop reading here if you are squeamish!)
Wriggling fish are kept barely alive in mere centimeters of water. Blood-dripping, fly-covered carcasses dangle from rusty rods. Women squat over low tables using butcher hatchets to portion raw meat; with every strike loose pieces of flesh are hurtled through the air.
Of all the markets we’ve visited, this is the first time I’ve had to cover my mouth and nose with my shirt. As we clumsily tip-toed around in flip flops, trying our best to avoid pools of swirling excess, we darting for the first exit we came across in a hurry. That being said, the Kandal Market is an intense glimpse into real-life Cambodia and one of the best things to do in Phnom Penh if you can bear it.
Established in 1443, Wat Ounalom serves as the Buddhist headquarters of Cambodia; the complex is comprised of 44 structures including houses for monks, classrooms and meditation halls. Wat Ounalom is one of Phnom Penh’s five original monasteries and is held in high regard for its prize-possession: a sacred Buddha eyebrow hair.
Before the Khmer Rouge, it housed more than 500 monks and had a collection of some 30,000 books in the library, but sustained severe damage from 1975-1979. Restoration is an on-going project, but visitors are invited to explore the grounds.
Phnom Penh National Museum
The National Museum in Phnom Penh houses the world’s largest collection of Khmer Art. With more than 14,000 artifacts, which span history from prehistoric times to the present, the National Museum of Cambodia Phnom Penh is the top archaeological museum in the country.
Not limited to the displays inside, the building itself (which dates to 1920) is one of the top Phnom Penh things to see, as it is a fine example of traditional Khmer architecture.
Royal Palace (and Phnom Penh Silver Pagoda)
Since the year 1866, Cambodian Kings have resided at the Royal Palace (the exception being the duration of Khmer Rouge) and rightfully tops many lists of Phnom Penh places of interest. The massive complex, which features the Silver Pagoda, the Palace, Throne Hall and Inner Court, was continuously built over time and features beautiful Khmer architecture, with a flair of French influence.
Visitors (with paid entry) are invited to tour the grounds of the Phnom Penh Royal Palace, but most buildings are off limits.
Top Tip: Tourists who don’t want to pay to go inside, can get a peek – and snap a picture – of the palace grounds through the gates.
Sunset Drinks in Phnom Penh
After a full day of visiting top downtown Phnom Penh sights, cool off with a drink at one of the elevated, riverside bars. Two of the most popular spots for a drink-with-a-view in Phnom Penh are FCC Phnom Penh (Foreign Correspondents Club) and Le Moon Rooftop.
- FCC – The bar at the FCC Phnom Penh Hotel, which opened in 1993, has seen a slew of journalists and celebrities, but still offers a good happy hour and a nice view of the river.
- Le Moon – The Le Moon Rooftop Cocktail Lounge is a spacious place with incredible views of Wat Ounalom and the Tonle Sap River. It is a bit expensive for Phnom Penh (even at happy hour), but you’re paying for the view. The tables along the south railing give patrons an excellent vantage point looking right down Preah Sisowath Quay, where traffic moves in a mesmerizing rhythm.
Dinner in Phnom Penh
There is no shortage of options for dining in Phnom Penh; a wide range of restaurants are found throughout the city. On a mission to find the best food in Phnom Penh (well, at least the best cheap food in Phnom Penh), we followed the crowds to David’s Noodles…and we weren’t disappointed.
The made-to-order dumplings and hand-pulled noodles (a fascinating culinary art created before our very eyes) were delicious. We highly recommend David’s Noodles as one of the best places to eat in Phnom Penh!
Top Tip: Just across the street from David’s Noodles is F3 (Friends Future Factory). An NGO-supported entertainment hub in Phnom Penh, they’re known for their diligent work in the community and with the youth of Cambodia.
Phnom Penh Nightlife
Phnom Penh nightlife ranges from expat hangouts to craft cocktail lounges to entertaining karaoke joints and the ever present hostess bars – all of which are mostly clustered together on a few streets around the city. Some of the clubs – and even a few pubs – are open until dawn and checking out a few of these hot spots is definitely one of the top things to do in Phnom Penh at night.
- Phnom Penh Riverside – The bars lining Sisowath Quay are a good place to start the night. As mentioned, many of these establishments offer balcony views of the river and cheap happy hour drinks.
- Phnom Penh Street 136, 130, 110, 104 – Most of the bars on these streets are hostess bars where lots of pretty girls, transgenders and prostitutes are eager to keep you company while you drink…and maybe later, too. Many hostess bars run cheap happy hours until about 9pm. The scene that unfolds under the flashing neon lights later in the evening is certainly a Phnom Penh nighttime spectacle.
- Phnom Penh Street 51 – Many clubs can be found in the vicinity of Phnom Penh Street 51, with Pontoon being the most popular dance club in the area.
Day Two of your Phnom Penh Itinerary
On Day Two, continue discovering some of the top Phnom Penh things to see and do. Start the day at a popular market before delving into the difficult recent history of Cambodia. Finish the day in one of Phnom Pen’s most exciting districts.
Phnom Penh Russian Market (Phsar Tuol Tom Pong)
Nicknamed the Russian Market due to it’s popularity with Russian expats in the 1980s, Phsar Tuol Tom Pong is a favorite for many tourists today. The dense maze of stalls (with little air ventilation) offers a wide variety of souvenirs alongside mostly knock-off items from global brands.
Beyond catering to tourists, there are also entire sections of the market dedicated to automotive parts and home goods. Near the center, there are a few food stalls with counter seating that provide an excellent spot for people-watching!
S21 Museum (Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum)
While our purpose of visiting Phnom Penh was not Dark Tourism, we did want to better understand what happened in Cambodia under The Khmer Rouge. Comprehending the Cambodian Genocide that occurred in the mid-to-late 1970s – where an estimated 1.5 to 3 million Cambodians were killed – is difficult even with proper context.
The S21 Museum – a former high school-turned-prison – provides a setting in which the story can be told and better understood. The museum is one of the top things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and we are glad we made the decision to finally visit it.
Guests can walk through the old classrooms, converted into single-person cells, and view photos of hundreds of prisoners who passed through S21, where their execution orders were signed. Gruesome details have been preserved – and are openly displayed.
Although the museum focuses on the terrible events that played out on the site, the audio guide also provides information about the Khmer Rouge, including a history of Phnom Penh during that time. After touring the facility, visitors may have the possibility of meeting with one of only seven S21 Prison survivors.
Phnom Penh Massage
Getting a traditional Khmer massage in Phnom Penh is a relaxing and rejuvenating Cambodian experience. The masseuse uses kneading techniques, working on the body from the feet, up the legs and back, to the arms and then finishing with a head massage.
There are upscale spas in Phnom Penh with more services to choose from – like facials and pedicures. Expect higher prices, but perhaps, a better experience along with air conditioning. Check reviews for top-rated spas in Phnom Penh on TripAdvisor.
Cambodian Independence Monument
Unveiled in 1962 to commemorate Cambodia’s 1953 freedom from France, the Independence Monument stands 65 feet tall in the middle of a busy intersection (Norodom Blvd and Sihanouk Blvd). Designed to look like a lotus flower, it’s best viewed from the narrow park just to the west. To the east is the Norodom Sihanouk Memorial, a 88 foot stupa protecting a bronze statue of the late King Norodom Sihanouk, who is credited with liberating Cambodia from France.
Wat Langka, Phnom Penh
Founded in 1442 for monks from Sri Lanka (hence the name), Wat Langka is one of the oldest temples in Phnom Penh. The complex is surprisingly peaceful given its location. A few days a week there are free hour-long meditation classes given by English-speaking monks. Check the schedule at the temple for times if you want to join in!
Drinks & Dinner in BKK1
Well-known as an expat district in Phnom Penh, BKK1 – or Boeung Keng Kang 1 – is flush with chic bars and contemporary eats. Hanging out in BKK1 offers many fun things to do in Phnom Penh!
Popular high-end Khmer restaurants in the area are Malis and Khmer Surin, but visitors looking for international cuisine have plenty of choices, too. Upscale French dining can be found at Topaz and Le Langka and there are also numerous Japanese sushi restaurants in BKK1 Phnom Penh.
Our favorite BKK1 restaurants, however, are on Phnom Penh Street 308: Mama Wong’s Dumpling and Noodles and the inconspicuous Khmer Women Food. Mama Wong’s offers high-quality traditional cuisine with an inventive twist and seriously good fresh-made dumplings.
Khmer Women Food, on the other hand, sticks to the basics and dishes up incredibly flavorful (and inexpensive) Khmer meals prepared by young women in the outdoor kitchen. We ate the Fish Amok and Bai Sai Chrouk at Khmer Women Food – and it was, hands down, the absolute best meal we ate in Phnom Penh!
BKK1 is also a hotspot for stylish bars catering to Phnom Penh expats and foreign visitors. Bassac Lane (off Street 308) is filled with themed microbars, such as The Den, Welsh Embassy Pub, The Library and you can even find some tropical vibes at Thmor. Most of the bars in this hip Phnom Penh enclave offer excellent happy hour deals.
Another uber-cool spot for drinks in Phnom Penh is the hidden lane off Street 51 between 282 and 294. Those who make the effort to seek out BattBong speakeasy are rewarded with hand-crafted cocktails, live music (after 0730pm) and hopefully chatting with Roman, the enthusiastic Ukrainian owner. Hint: Look for the Coca-Cola machine…it doubles as the front door!
Phnom Penh Street 278 also has a high-concentration of places to imbibe, but with a more laid-back ambiance. For a fancy Bangkok-style rooftop with a view, check out Sky Bar Tower on the 43rd floor of the Penthouse Residence.
Top Tip: Many travelers believe BKK1 is the best area to stay in Phnom Penh for affordable accommodation and proximity to nightlife. BKK1 is home to many of the top-rated Phnom Penh hostels and Phnom Penh budget hotels (more on where to stay in Phnom Penh at the end of the post).
Day Three in Phnom Penh
On Day Three, take a half-day trip for Phnom Penh, then embark on a self-guided Phnom Penh city tour to a less-visited neighborhood. Finish the day on a Phnom Penh boat cruise.
Phnom Penh Day Tours
Although there are many things to see in Phnom Penh, there are a few intriguing sights outside the city center, which can be visited on Phnom Penh day trips. Day tours from Phnom Penh vary from visiting villages to seeing historic sites to helping at animal sanctuaries. You can book all of these Phnom Penh Day Tours on Viator.
- Koh Dach Silk Island – Learn about the local silk production and watch weavers create beautiful silk material on nearby Silk Island. Book now
- Oudong, Cambodia – The former capital of the Khmer Empire, Oudong (also spelled Udong) features beautiful temples. On the tour, you will learn the history of the Khmer Empire, receive a blessing from monks and eat a traditional lunch. Reserve your space
- Killing Fields of Choeung Ek – For a continued education of the horrors of Khmer Rouge, visit the Killing Fields, where thousands of Cambodians were murdered and left in shallow graves. On the site, visitors will find a memorial and 5,000 human skulls – all victims of Khmer Rouge. Get additional details
- Wildlife Rescue Center – Spend a full day at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC) where you can get up close and personal with rescued animals. Book it now
- Ta Prohm and Phnom Chisor – Travel with a knowledgeable guide to visit Ta Prohm – a temple that pre-dates Angkor Wat – then dine lakeside before arriving at the final destination, Phnom Chisor. Join this tour today
- Kingdom Brewery – It doesn’t get much better than free flowing beer at a brewery, which is exactly what you get on a Kingdom Brewery tour! Reserve a spot
- Angkor Wat Tours from Phnom Penh – Traveling from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap to see the Angkor Wat temples in a day is possible, but expensive and exhausting. We didn’t actually see any tour companies promoting this tour and it would probably be best to coordinate the trip on your own. We would suggest flying to Siem Reap in the morning, hiring a driver to pick you up at the airport and Tour the Temples of Angkor, then drop you back at the airport for an evening return flight to Phnom Penh. It would be a very long day, but if you are trying to decide between Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, it is one way to visit them both (but you’d certainly miss Angkor Wat at Sunrise!).
Olympic Neighborhood Exploration
There are several interesting attractions in the Olympic Neighborhood of Phnom Penh that you can add to your itinerary.
National Olympic Stadium
The Olympic neighborhood of Phnom Penh is centered around the Olympic Stadium, which has never been used for any Olympic games. Built in the 1960s, the 50,000-seat stadium does feature Olympic-size swimming and diving pools, a soccer field and an indoor multi-sport court. It is free to go inside and walk around. Special events and some sports matches still take place at Olympic Stadium, although the 2023 Southeast Asian Games were played at the new Morodok Techo National Stadium in Phnom Penh.
We found the Orussey Market to be one of the most fascinating markets in Phnom Penh. The two-story market is frequented by locals and spills out in all directions onto the nearby streets. On the ground floor, rows of booths sell dried, hanging fish, while another section is packed with burlap sacks containing grains and spices. The second floor features colorful fabrics.
Known for fine textiles, random fashions and accessories of all shapes and sizes, the sprawling Olympic Market is housed in a ramshackle building (with a dilapidated Olympic torch emblem) just south of the stadium.
Wat Moha Montrei
Relatively new, Wat Moha Montrei was built in 1970. The Buddhist temple, which lacks the typical bold colors, is made of cement, features intricate carvings and is topped with a 115 foot tower. We found it quite peaceful on our weekend morning visit, with stray cats lounging about the stupas and monks in their saffron robes chatting on the stairs.
Eclipse Sky Bar at Phnom Penh Tower
Office block by day, the Phnom Penh Tower comes alive at night in the Eclipse Sky Bar on the 23rd-floor rooftop deck. The bar opens everyday at 5pm and offers some of the best 360-degree views of Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh River Cruise at Sunset
Taking a Phnom Penh Mekong River Cruise at sunset is a fabulous way to wind down at the end of the day. Boats depart from the Tonle Sap River and sail to the confluence with the Mekong, providing nice Phnom Penh city views along the way. Inexpensive cruises start at around $5, but a longer cruise with BBQ dinner and unlimited drinks costs about $15 (Book a sunset dinner cruise in advance!)
Phnom Penh Night Market (Psar Reatrey)
After visiting other boisterous and raucous markets, the Phnom Penh Night Market feels extremely low-key and calm. Most of the vendors all sell the same t-shirts and traditional Khmer dresses, but it’s still worth a look around. The food stalls, however, offer a unique dining opportunity and a chance to mingle with Phnom Penh locals. Get a plate of food, remove your shoes and find a spot on the mats to enjoy your meal.
Pro Tip: If dining on street food while sitting on the ground isn’t how you envision ending your 3 Days in Phnom Penh Itinerary, try Baldwin’s for excellent local and international dishes!
Map of Phnom Penh Sights
We recommend preparing and traveling with an actual Phnom Penh city map (buy one now). The Cambodian heat can quickly drain phone batteries and holding an expensive phone out in the open can make you a target. For better neighborhood orientation, use this Phnom Penh district map.
Food in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
With so many options, we loved eating in Phnom Penh! Whether we ate at markets or restaurants, we never had a bad meal. For local cuisine, Amok Fish and Lok Lak Beef are must-try dishes (use this Phnom Penh food guide for more on Cambodian cuisine). The best Khmer food in Phnom Penh that we ate was at Khmer Women Food.
If you are craving Western food, we heard Burger Shack, Freebird and Garage Sale serve some of the best burgers in Phnom Penh. We often skipped eating lunch in Phnom Penh, as our hotel’s buffet breakfast was filling and in the heat of the day we just were not that hungry (although we did get fresh-cut fruit from markets). If you want to try the best food in Phnom Penh, we recommend joining a top-rated Phnom Penh food tour. (Reserve it now)
Phnom Penh Monks
Young, hairless men wearing saffron robes and carrying faded-to-yellow umbrellas is a common sight in Phnom Penh. Most Cambodians are Buddhist and teenage boys often join the monkhood in Phnom Penh to fund their education (in addition to the spiritual aspect).
At temples, monks are often found lounging on steps or benches engaged in conversation. Freshly-washed robes hang from windows to dry in the sun. In the mornings, some monks participate in a traditional Almsgiving, walking through the streets of Phnom Penh in bare feet to accept food donations in exchange for a blessing.
Unlike the ceremonious almsgiving in Luang Prabang, in Phnom Penh monks wait until mid-morning when shops are open to make their rounds, stopping at businesses rather than being greeted by waiting Buddhists (and tourist) in the street.
More Things To Do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Now we have just a few more suggestions of things to do in Phnom Penh on your trip to Cambodia!
Cooking Class in Phnom Penh
Although there are many choices of Phnom Penh places to eat, none are quite as interesting as cooking a traditional meal yourself alongside a professional local chef. The Phnom Penh Culinary Delights Tour allows participants the opportunity to shop for local ingredients at the market and then prepare Khmer specialties for lunch. Book now on Viator!
Cinema in Phnom Penh
Going to the cinema is one of the popular things to do around Phnom Penh for both locals and tourists. Modern movie theaters show first-run movies on 4D screens. Phnom Penh arthouses, like Meta House, show indie films in more intimate settings.
Phnom Penh Happy Pizza
Marijuana is technically illegal in Cambodia, but some establishments still skirt the law. Eating a Happy Pizza in Phnom Penh means the pizza will be topped with cannabis (which is hardly distinguishable from oregano). Pink Elephant and Amazing Pizza Pub are known for their edible pot treats. Be warned: the potent pot packs a punch and we personally don’t recommend the experience unless you are a pro.
Phnom Penh Sightseeing Tours
In this Phnom Penh guide, we have provided a ton of useful information and facts. However, joining a professional tour can offer deeper insight into the history of Phnom Penh. There are many sightseeing tours in Phnom Penh, which can be booked in advance of your trip.
Phnom Penh Facts and Cambodia FAQ’s
A few facts about Phnom Penh and answers to common questions about the capital of Cambodia.
Phnom Penh Pronunciation
Exactly how do you pronounce Phnom Penh? That’s the first question of many visitors to Phnom Penh. After getting it wrong the first few times, we can happily report that the correct pronunciation is puh·nom pen.
Phnom Penh Temperature
The average year-round temperature in Phnom Penh is in the mid-80s Fahrenheit (high 20s Celsius). Plan on it being much hotter and feeling very humid. We suggest wearing loose clothing, a sun-protective travel hat, sunscreen and make sure to carry a water bottle with you. Check temperatures in Phnom Penh online before you pack!
History of Phnom Penh
The history of Phnom Penh is both lengthy and complex – and recent years have seen rapid changes and almost limitless building. Before traveling to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, we brushed up on the history of the city.
Phnom Penh Safety
Many fellow travelers wonder Is Phnom Penh Safe? While we experienced no issues on our visit, we were constantly reminded of the high rate of pickpocketing and bag snatching. We recommend only riding in tuk tuks with siding doors or at least curtains to deter theft. Use common sense, don’t wear flashy jewelry and don’t ever leave anything unattended or unzipped. Wear a money belt or bra stash to conceal cash and phones.
Phnom Penh Currency
The currency used in Phnom Penh is the US Dollar and the Cambodian Riel. Both currencies can be withdrawn from Phnom Penh ATM machines. Most items are labeled with prices in USD, but for items less than a dollar (like bottled water), it is often just in Riel. Also, since they don’t use US coins, change is given in Riel. Before you leave on your Phnom Penh Itinerary, check USD to KHR current conversion rates.
Phnom Penh Itinerary Tips
We’ve outlined a Phnom Penh Itinerary for 3 days, but what if you only have 24 hours in Phnom Penh? Or are just in Phnom Penh for 2 days? Here are our recommended tips to maximize your Phnom Penh visit.
One Day in Phnom Penh
Combine days 1 and 2 to create a Phnom Penh One-Day Itinerary. Start the day at the S21 Museum, then pick up the sightseeing on Day One at Wat Phnom and continue viewing our suggested Phnom Penh sights in order the rest of the day.
2 Days in Phnom Penh
If you are limited to 48 hours in Phnom Penh, simply follow days 1 and 2 of the above outlined 3-day Phnom Penh itinerary and skip day 3 altogether.
Getting To Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Phnom Penh can be reached by plane, bus or boat. We prefer flying (we are JetSettingFools, after all!) and when we buy plane tickets, we start our search for the best-priced flights on SkyScanner. We flew to Phnom Penh after housesitting in Singapore, and departed on a flight to Kuala Lumpur. The airport in Phnom Penh (PNH) is located just 10 miles west of the center, but it takes about an hour to travel into the city with traffic. There is a Phnom Penh Bus Station at the southwest corner of the Central Market and a second bus station next to the Night Market.
- If you are traveling from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh, the Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh bus is an inexpensive option that will take about 6 hours.
- For transportation options from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap (and vice versa), read this article.
- For travel information from Phnom Penh to Koh Rong, use this handy guide.
Our Guide to Visiting the Temples of Angkor
Getting Around Phnom Penh
Whether on foot or on wheels, it isn’t exactly easy to get around Phnom Penh. Sidewalks are often cracked and crumbling, overtaken by parked scooters and food vendors or simply don’t exist. That means those traveling on foot need to stay alert of the traffic. Phnom Penh taxi cabs, while usually air conditioned, will likely result in a slow ride through the congested streets.
On the other hand, information about taking Phnom Penh public transport is minimal, at best. During our stay, we relied on transportation by tuk tuk (usually arranged by our hotel). Rides cost only a few dollars to just about anywhere in the center (and a few more at night when leaving popular Phnom Penh bar areas). When we did want to ride in an actual car, we used the Grab app for the best prices.
Where to Stay in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
During our visit we stayed in the SIM Boutique Hotel. For us, Sim Hotel was the best place to stay in Phnom Penh – as it fit both our style and our budget. The chic hotel is located near the Olympic Stadium, which allowed us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a less-touristy neighborhood.
SIM Hotel features include a rooftop pool and bar (16th and 17th floor) and a fabulous breakfast buffet (made-to-order eggs, traditional kuyteav, sausage, bacon, salad, fried noodles/rice and even pizza!). The staff were friendly and eager to help with tuk tuk services to all Phnom Penh, Cambodia attractions. Other top-rated hotels in Phnom Penh are: The Pavilion, Palace Gate Hotel and Resort and Aquarius Hotel and Urban Resort.
Budget travelers will find many hostels in Phnom Penh – including the wild Mad Monkey Hostel. Whatever your budget and style, start your search for Phnom Penh accommodations on Booking.com, like we do!
Best 1 Week Cambodia Itinerary
Before You Travel To Cambodia
- Wearing the right shoes is essential in Phnom Penh! Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes for your trip. I (Sarah) have always packed these shoes by Columbia, Skechers and Reef. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell and Sanuk.
- We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip to Cambodia. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos. We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures and is a slim and lightweight budget camera).
- It’s easy to get turned around in any foreign city…especially Phnom Penh! Make sure to have a good city map and/or guidebook before arriving.
- If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip to Cambodia, consider traveling protected with World Nomads.
- Whether you travel with a backpack or a suitcase, you’ll also want a great day bag to organize and secure all your everyday travel essentials in.
- Get (and stay) organized for all the best things to do in Phnom Penh by using our Travel Planning Printables!
We want to know: What are your favorite things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia? What would you add to our 3-day Phnom Penh itinerary? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!
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