20 January 2020

The 5 Best Things To Do In Phnom Penh

The 5 Best Things To Do In Phnom Penh

One thing that you can say about Asia is that there is always a place of interest around the corner, and that couldn't be truer for Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh. 

From the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge to temples, to rooftop bars and museums, this city has plenty to offer any visitor. 

Here are my top 5 things to do while you're in Phnom Penh. 



This Buddhist temple, which was built in the 14th Century and sits on the only hill in the city, can be reached by steps lined with cobra statues, and at the top, you'll find the temple and the white pagoda. The pagoda is jaw-dropping and almost seems to pierce through the clouds to the sky beyond.  

As the tallest religious structure in the city, it really packs a punch and is a peaceful oasis in the bustling city. The gardens surrounding it make a lovely detour on your way back down the hill. 

If you've been in Asia for a while and you're already templed out then I'd still really recommend going to this temple as it's definitely one of the grandest in Cambodia. 



I talked about these next two places in my best things to do in Cambodia post, so it just goes to show how much of a must-see they are in my eyes.

The Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre, otherwise known as the Killing Fields, is the site of mass graves of victims of the Khmer Rouge.

Your free audio guide takes you through the history of the fields along with stories from people who survived the genocide as you walk around the graves. 

Standing tall in the middle of the site is a commemorative stupa filled with the skulls of the victims. This is an extremely sobering sight but an example of the harsh reality that so many innocent people died there.



Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum was a high school before the Khmer Rouge turned it into S21- a security prison used to interrogate and torture prisoners. 

Again, you are given an audio guide which goes into great detail about the conditions and the lives of the people who were imprisoned there as you walk from room to room. 

Let me warn you- there are some really graphic photos on display, and at one point I had to walk out of one room as I couldn't cope with the information in front of me. Don't be ashamed to let your emotions show, as the events that happened there were truly horrific, and I saw quite a few people crying as a result. 

Before leaving the museum, they sometimes have one of the three survivors in the courtyard willing to talk to people. I seriously regret not going over to talk to them, but at the time I couldn't put into words how I felt about what happened to them. I believe all the survivors have written books about their time at S21 and I would highly recommend buying one of their books to show your support if you don't get the chance to meet them in person. 

The 5 Best Things To Do In Phnom Penh

The 5 Best Things To Do In Phnom Penh


Sure, you can do this in any city, but one thing I discovered about Phnom Penh is that it's pretty impressive from the skyline, especially near the river. 

We were staying in a great hotel (affiliate link) with a rooftop bar, and when we headed up there we discovered we had a perfect 360 view of the river, Palace, the National Museum, and the skyscrapers, creating a skyline view mixed with the old and new. 

Grab a cold Angkar, and kick back for a welcome break from the craziness below. 



Speaking of the Museum, it's up next! Housed in a stunning 1920's building whose architecture is definitely worth some of your time just to take in and admire, this museum contains many Khmer art and religious artefacts. 

A little gem to look out for in the museum is the courtyard garden in the middle of the building. With a buddha sitting in a pavilion in the centre, you feel like you've walked into the garden of a royal palace. 

Tickets are $5 (the Cambodians prefer to use the US dollar over their currency because of the exchange rate) which compared to the rate of some museums is pretty reasonable! 


Have you been to Phnom Penh? Or is it on your bucket list? If you have any recommendations on things to do in Phnom Penh then drop them in the comments below. 


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