Unmissable Things to do in Phnom Penh to add to Your Bucket List

Discover the vibrant tapestry of experiences awaiting you in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s dynamic capital! Brimming with history and culture, this city boasts remarkable food, stunning architecture, and bustling markets that ensure an unforgettable adventure. While Phnom Penh often serves as a gateway to Siem Reap or the serene Koh Rong island, it stands as a compelling destination in its own right. This guide unveils the things to do in Phnom Penh, from exploring iconic landmarks to indulging in the flavors of traditional Khmer cuisine at bustling local markets.

Prepare to immerse yourself in the rich history and lively culture of Phnom Penh. Whether you’re drawn to architectural marvels, poignant historical sites, or the vibrant culinary scene, this guide is your key to unlocking the city’s treasures. Grab your pen and paper, and let’s embark on an exploration of the unmissable places that make Phnom Penh a standout destination in Cambodia.

Best things to do in Phnom Penh for your upcoming vacation

Discover the allure of Phnom Penh, a captivating Southeast Asian city and the thriving capital of Cambodia. Steeped in a rich tapestry of pre and post-colonial history, this city was once the capital of the French colony of Cambodia and Manchuria, contributing to its fascinating heritage. Stroll along its grand boulevards adorned with colonial French villas, while the city’s Buddhist essence is beautifully preserved in its numerous monasteries and pagodas.

As a bustling hub for commerce, culture, and economy, Phnom Penh attracts a multitude of visitors. Immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of this city, where history and tradition coexist harmoniously. Indulge in a cultural journey that unveils Cambodia’s unique charm, creating an experience that resonates like never before. Be a part of the vibrant tapestry of Phnom Penh, where every corner tells a story, and every moment promises an unforgettable adventure.

Royal Palace And Silver Pagoda

Phnom Penh Royal Palace

Nestled along the Riverside on Sisowath Quay, the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh stands as a regal testament to Cambodia’s rich monarchy, showcasing architectural splendor from the 19th century. Still occasionally employed by the King, the palace offers guided tours on days of his absence, providing an intimate view of its opulence. Don’t miss the ornate Throne Hall and the enchanting Moonlight Pavillion during your visit. 

The Silver Pagoda, located within the palace grounds, is a captivating highlight, adorned with a silver floor and housing precious Buddhist relics. While the palace gardens are accessible free of charge, a nominal fee of INR 450 grants entry to the royal interiors. Explore the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda to witness Cambodia’s royal heritage, where history unfolds in grandeur and intricate craftsmanship.

  • Location: Riverside, Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh
  • Operating hours: 8 AM – 5 PM
  • Entry fee: INR 450

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum: The Killing Fields of Cambodia

Phnom Penh Killing Field
Phnom Penh Killing Field

The Killing Fields of Cambodia, a harrowing chapter in the nation’s history, bear witness to the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime. Once a high school turned torture center, it witnessed the brutal execution of nearly 17,000 Cambodians. Preserved since the city’s liberation in 1979, the site stands as a solemn reminder of the dark past. 

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, formerly a torture center, features over 6,000 chilling photographs from labor and extermination camps under Pol Pot’s rule. Despite its somber atmosphere, this museum is a crucial testament to Cambodia’s history, making it a must-visit in Phnom Penh.

  • Location: Street 113, Tuol Sleng, Phnom Penh
  • Operating hours: 7 AM – 5.30 PM
  • Entry fee: INR 400 

Phsar Thmey: Central Market

The Central Market in Phnom Penh stands as a historical and architectural gem, setting it apart from other markets in South Asia and making it a must-visit attraction in the city. Crafted by French architects Jean Desbois and Wladimir Koundorouff, it held the distinction of being the largest indoor market in Asia upon its completion. Today, it remains a bustling hub showcasing the essence of Cambodian life, featuring a diverse array of goods such as clothing, jewelry, local produce, and handicrafts.

Wandering through the Central Market is not merely a shopping experience but a journey into Khmer culture. Visitors can test their haggling skills, ensuring they take home the best souvenirs as mementos of their trip. Moreover, the market serves as an excellent backdrop for capturing the vibrant spirit of Cambodia, providing ample opportunities for stunning photographs. In essence, exploring the Central Market is an authentic immersion into the heart of Phnom Penh, where history, culture, and commerce converge to create a memorable and enriching experience.

  • Location: Street 130, Phnom Penh
  • Operating hour: 7 AM – 6 PM

Ta Prohm Temple

Siem Reap Ta Prohm
Siem Reap Ta Prohm

Lying in the heart of the Angkor Archaeological Park, Ta Prohm Temple stands as a captivating testament to Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage. Dating back to the 12th century, this magnificent temple provides a snapshot of the country’s pre-French colonial era. A stone marvel steeped in Hindu mythology, Ta Prohm shares architectural similarities with the renowned Angkor Wat.

As visitors explore the temple complex, they are immersed in the historical ambiance of Cambodia during the dominance of Hindu influence. The intricate carvings and towering structures create an awe-inspiring experience, drawing parallels to the grandeur of Angkor Wat.

Ta Prohm has become a must-visit attraction for tourists exploring Cambodia, particularly those staying in Phnom Penh City. Its ancient stones echo the stories of a bygone era, inviting travelers to delve into the cultural richness and artistic prowess of Cambodia’s past. The temple’s unique charm lies in the interplay between nature and ancient architecture, with tree roots weaving through the stone structures, creating a mesmerizing and picturesque setting for all who venture to witness this glancing heritage.

  • Location: 32 kilometers from Phnom Penh
  • Entry fee: INR 200

National Museum of Cambodia

Phnom Penh National Museum
Phnom Penh National Museum

Embark on a captivating journey into Cambodia’s past with a visit to the National Museum of Cambodia. Nestled in a striking red sandstone building, showcasing traditional Khmer architecture from the French colonial era, the museum stands as a testament to the country’s rich heritage. Boasting the largest collection of archaeological artifacts in Cambodia, with over 14,000 exhibits, the museum provides an immersive experience for history enthusiasts. As one of the free attractions in Phnom Penh, it’s a must-visit for travelers seeking a deeper understanding of Cambodia’s cultural evolution. 

A guided tour of the National Museum promises to unveil the heart of Cambodia, offering insights into its ancient artifacts and the intricate stories they tell about the nation’s history and identity. Explore this cultural gem to appreciate the artistry, craftsmanship, and historical significance that have shaped Cambodia into the enchanting destination it is today.

  • Location: Preah Ang Eng Street (13), Phnom Penh
  • Operating hours: 8 AM to 5 PM
  • Entry fee: Entry and guided tours are free

Cambodian Living Arts: Traditional dance performances

Experience the captivating Cambodian Living Arts by attending traditional dance performances at the Cambodian National Museum. This not-for-profit organization strives to promote Apsara and Khmer dance, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Cambodia. The performances, held within the museum, feature live musicians and authentic costumes, providing a unique and immersive cultural experience. 

Beyond the entertainment aspect, supporting a philanthropic cause while enjoying traditional arts makes this a standout and meaningful activity in Phnom Penh. Engaging with the Cambodian Living Arts not only offers a delightful spectacle but also contributes to the preservation and continuation of Cambodia’s vibrant cultural traditions.

  • Location: National Museum of Cambodia
  • Operating hours: 7 PM on Mondays, Wednesdays and weekends
  • Ticket cost: INR 1000

Wat Phnom: The Four Statues Temple

Phnom Penh Wat Phnom
Phnom Penh Wat Phnom

Located in the heart of Phnom Penh, Wat Phnom stands as a revered testament to Cambodia’s rich Buddhist heritage. Dating back to the early 14th century, this traditional temple has become an iconic destination, drawing both locals and visitors alike. Wat Phnom is distinguished by its four statues of Buddha, each embodying unique facets of spiritual teachings. As you enter the temple grounds, a lush green ambiance embraces you, creating a serene environment that transcends the bustling urban surroundings. The tranquility within Wat Phnom provides a sanctuary for contemplation and spiritual reflection, making it a cherished site for both worshippers and those seeking a moment of solace.

The cultural significance and architectural beauty of Wat Phnom make it more than a historical landmark; it’s a living testament to Cambodia’s enduring religious traditions. Visitors can immerse themselves in the spiritual aura, explore the intricate details of the temple, and witness the devotion of the local community. Wat Phnom is not just a place of worship; it’s a harmonious blend of history, culture, and spiritual resonance that adds to the cultural tapestry of Phnom Penh.

  • Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • Operating hours: 7:00 AM-6:00 PM

Phsar Chas: The Old Market

Embark on a sensory journey at Phsar Chas, the Old Market in Phnom Penh, where vibrant sights, sounds, and flavors converge. Nestled in the historic Old French Quarter, this traditional Cambodian market is renowned for its organic mangoes and serves as a culinary haven. Delight in breakfast and explore an array of collections, from local treasures to delectable delicacies. Phsar Chas is not merely a market; it’s a cultural tapestry where the legacy of Cambodia unfolds, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking an authentic and immersive experience in the heart of Phnom Penh. 

Immerse yourself in the ambiance, relish the local offerings, and discover the charm of Phsar Chas as it weaves together tradition and modernity, creating an unforgettable experience for all who wander through its bustling aisles.

  • Location: Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • Operating hours: 7:00 AM-8:00 PM

Phocea Mekong Cruises

Joining on an unforgettable journey with Phocea Mekong Cruises, transforming your Cambodian vacation into a magical experience. This two-and-a-half-hour excursion promises cherished memories, especially for couples seeking a romantic adventure. As you leisurely cruise along, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views, including a pass by the majestic Royal Palace. The cruise not only offers scenic beauty but also a tranquil escape, providing an intimate setting for relaxation and enjoyment. 

Whether you’re savoring the romance or simply appreciating the serene ambiance, Phocea Mekong Cruises crafts an idyllic experience on the water, allowing you to soak in the essence of Cambodia’s beauty in style.

  • Operating hours: 5:00 PM-10:00 PM
  • Price: INR 1600 onwards

Long After Dark bar

Witnessing the nightlife of Cambodia at Long After Dark is one of the most fun things to do in Phnom Penh. Featured on Lonely Planet, this great bar in the Russian Market has some interesting drinks to offer and a trendy patron base. You can find single malt whiskies that are so hard to find these days here, and also different Cambodian craft beers that can get you spinning. Happy hours apply after 5 PM on Fridays. If you’re looking for things to do in Phnom Penh at night, exploring the nightlife will blow your mind like none other.

  • Location: Russian Market
  • Operating hours: 12 PM to 2 AM

Final thoughts

Delve into the enchanting tapestry of Phnom Penh with Viland Travel’s customized tours, curating an extraordinary exploration of Cambodia’s capital. Beyond iconic landmarks like the Royal Palace and the somber history of the Killing Fields, Viland Travel ensures an immersive journey with top things to do in Phnom Penh, unveiling the city’s rich cultural tapestry. Wander through centuries-old pagodas, witness the fusion of Khmer and French colonial architecture, and meander along the scenic riverfronts. 

Viland Travel’s expertise crafts a personalized adventure, offering a seamless blend of historical insight and contemporary vibrancy. Discover the myriad things to do in Phnom Penh, from savoring traditional Khmer cuisine in bustling markets to absorbing the spiritual aura of revered monasteries. Embark on an unforgettable odyssey, where every moment resonates with the cultural splendors and hidden gems of this captivating city. Viland Travel transforms your visit into an immersive experience, ensuring Phnom Penh’s allure unfolds in a unique and unforgettable way.