A city of both bittersweet history and a glimpse of modern development, Phnom Penh bores a lot of characteristics for both local and international tourists to explore. If you think you know Phnom Penh know well, Check out the list of 25 things to do in Phnom Penh and see how many you can check off from the list.
25 Things to do in Phnom Penh
National Museum of Cambodia
The National Museum of Cambodia is Cambodian largest archaeological and historical museum. Definitely should be at the top of the 25 things to do in Phnom Penh, the museum houses a great deal of artifacts ranging from prehistoric times to the modern history of Cambodia. Moreover, the museum also hosts the largest collection of Khmer artifacts in the world, and oversees other museums in the country as well. Additionally, one of the newest additions to the museum is a Moon Rock from the Apollo 17, which was given by the US government to Cambodia in 1973. The addition was to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the National Museum.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
Hiding amongst the houses and tall buildings, Tuol Sleng museum stands eerily reminiscing the ghost of the past. From the outside, it looks just like a typical high-school. During the Khmer Rouge Regime, it served as the biggest interrogation, torturing, and execution center in the country, claiming thousands of lives. Among approximately 14,000 people who have entered, only seven came out alive to tell the stories. Tuol Sleng now becomes one of the main center studying about the genocide and keeping the tragic memories alive.
Choeung Ek Killing Fields Museum
Located 17 Kilometres south of Phnom Penh, Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, or best known as the Killing Field, is one of the Khmer Rouge’s biggest execution centers, and mass graves. From 1975 to 1979, it is estimated to have claimed the lives of over a million people. It has now become one of the most important archive center and museum that will showcase the gruesome history of Cambodia during the Democratic Kampuchea. If you are keen to learn more about Cambodian modern history, is should one of things to do in Phnom Penh for you.
Preah Srey Icanavarman Museum ( Sosoro Museum)
A new addition to historical destinations in Phnom Penh, Preah Srey Icanavarman is the first national museum to showcase the Kingdom’s economic and financial revolution. This monetary museum is housed in a two-storey building next to the Cambodian Security Exchanges headquarter in Wat Phnom commune, Daun Penh district. The museum is named after King Icanavarman, Cambodian King who reigned from from 616 to 6367 of the Chenla Kingdom, which eventually developed into the Khmer Empire.
While Phnom Penh is not known for shopping spree like the neighboring Bangkok or Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur, we do have some good shopping malls that you might want to check out.
Aeon1&2 – Things to do in Phnom Penh
The largest modern shopping malls in the city, there are currently two Aeon malls in Phnom Penh. With 200 million USD investment from Japanese investors, the first AEON mall opened in 2016, located on Samdach Sothearos Boulevard. Reaching to be a world-class shopping mall, it is well-equipped with the biggest cinema complex, Major Cineplex, with VIP screen and 4DX cinema.
The second branch opened in mid 2018, and located in the suburbs of the city in Sen Sok district.
It is bigger than the first one, and is known for various cafes, restaurants, and international brands. It is a great place to escape Phnom Penh’s heat for a while.
A new addition to Phnom Penh’s shopping mall landscape, Exchange square offers both entertainment and working environment. It is equipped with a medium-sized modern cinema and various international brands of coffee shops and restaurants. If you want to go out but not to a super crowded place, you might want to give Exchange Square a visit.
Eden Garden – Things to do in Phnom Penh
If you come to Phnom Penh, the newly-emerged award winning Eden Garden should be on your list of things to do in Phnom Penh. This 24-hour one stop entertainment offers a wide range of what you can do to spend your time over there. It provides an exquisite dining experience and shopping. You can also catch a movie there if you are tired from city life with Major Cinema.
Toul Kork Avenue, more commonly known as TK Avenue, is one of the go-to entertainment destination in the city. It is equipped with well-known shopping outlets and many restaurants. It also comes with one of the popular Major Cinemas as well. Located in one of the central parts of the city, TK Avenue is a popular hang out place among university students and young adults.
Central Market – Things to do in Phnom Penh
One of the landmarks in Phnom Penh, the Central Market, or its literal name in Khmer meaning ‘New Market,’ is one of the few remaining colonial architectures. It was built in 1937 during the French colonial period, designed by a group of French architect as well. It comes in the shape of a central dome with four wings, maximizing the ventilation in the market. The market sells variously from food to electronic equipment to clothing and jewelry. The latest renovation for the Central Market was finished in 2011, and supported by the French government.
Explore the local
Despite living in Phnom Penh for almost my whole life, Phnom Penh is still a city with so much hidden beauty. To explore the local from the tourist point of view can bring you some mesmerizing picture to bring back home. From trying out the local food to immersing yourself in the local culture, it enables you to understand a glimpse of Cambodian livelihood and experience the most local of it all.
Boat at Riverside
Located on the interjection of four rivers, Phnom Penh is adorned with beautiful waterways. Cruising at riverside along the Chaktomuk River should definitely made the list of things to do in Phnom Penh. You can enjoy your a nice boat ride while gazing along the splendid view of Cambodian river and a common sight of life on water in Cambodia. Additionally, the boat ride price ranges from 5000 Riel (1.25USD) to 5USD.
A Walk at Riverside Path – Things to do in Phnom Penh
Boat ride or Cruising is not the only thing you can do at Phnom Penh’s riverside. The riverside is also one of the rare green spots in the city as well. Moreover, despite being one of the rare green spots in the bustling city, it is also alongside one of the busiest streets. From taking a long walk or evening jogging along the dawdling traffic on the street, it should be one of the 25 things to do in Phnom Penh.
Street Food in TTP area
Toul Tom Poung area is undoubtedly one of the most popular gathering areas in the capital. From souvenirs to fashion to food heaven, TTP has it all. One thing you should definitely not miss when you are in the area is to try the street food. Toul Tom Poung Market (Russian Market) would make a good starting point. In addition to that, the area is also bombarded with an abundance of restaurants from various cultures.
The recent addition to Phnom Penh’s skyline, RoseWood shifted the capital’s hotel landscape. Seated modestly behind Vattanac Tower building, the small Rosewood hotel is decorated with beautiful design and adorned with splendid paintings under classy yet cozy environment. One of the most fascinating features of the hotel is a statue of the Monkey King “Hanuman” from the legend of REAM KER, standing confidently in front of the hotel as if to remind that the legend lives among the people.
Visit Bassac Lane
Once situated in the quiet neighborhood of Tonle Bassac, the area is now developed into a bright spot for exciting drinking, dining, and fashion phenomenon. Dropping a visit to one of the boutiques or bars/pub is definitely one of the 25 things you should do in Phnom Penh. Trip to Phnom Penh would not be completed if you do not get to do that.
Find out more about Bassac Lane here!!!!
Visit the Olympic Stadium
The National Olympic Stadium is the first modern multi-purpose sport complex in Cambodia. It was designed by Cambodian renowned architect Vann Molyvann with his impressive earthworks and modern Cambodian design. The stadium serves as a home to the national athlete teams. and
major sport events are hosted there. Outside the stadium, there are also various food carts and stalls that you can enjoy.
Go to Sovannaphum Arts Association & Art gallery
Sovannaphum Arts Association & Art gallery is one of the most active performing art association in Phnom Penh. It is specialized in various types of Khmer arts. But the most frequent and recommend would be Sbek Thom Dance (The Shadow Dance). Traditional shadow-puppet dance and occasional classical dance are regularly held on Friday and Saturday night at 7:30pm.
Golf at Royal Cambodia Phnom Penh golf club
Famous for its local fauna and green habitat, the Royal Cambodia Phnom Penh Golf Club has been one of the most popular golf course in Phnom Penh since its opening in 1999. There, being surrounded with numerous local plants and palm can make you forget about the neverending city life for a while. If you enjoy golfing and want to experience it in Phnom Penh, this is one of the things to do in Phnom Penh you could consider.
Visit Wat Phnom
The legend has it that there was a well-respected old lady named Penh who resided near the soon-to-become capital. One day, she came across four buddha statues stuck in the trunk of a tree that came to rest on the Mekong Rivers bank. Upon that, she gathered people from the village to build a hill so that the Buddha statues could be housed properly. The small town soon grew into what we know as the Capital of Cambodia these days. The hill is now known as ‘Wat Phnom’, which has become the heart of Phnom Penh. It is one of the most relaxing places in Phnom Penh with a tint of green and embedded with a deep history of the Capital.
Go to Night Market at night
Located along Sisowath avenue near the riverside. Night Market is another destination that you shall not miss if you were to come to Phnom Penh. Like any regular night market, it allows you to sit down with locals, enjoying food and drink at reasonable prices.
Explore local cafe at TTP – Things to do in Phnom Penh
It turns out that the beloved TTP area is popular not only with street foods but also abundant cafes as well. Here are a few recommendations to check out here or click: Best Cafe in Toul Tum Poung!!!
Backyard cafe is a multipurpose cafe that specializes in vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free food in the capital city. This vegan-friendly cafe serves a wide range of cuisines and drink ranging from meat dish to vegan options to vegan desserts. The food is well-labeled with sample items provided.
Ministry of Cats
If the loves of your life include cats and coffee, then this should make the list of 25 things you must do in Phnom Penh. Having been operated since early 2019, Ministry of Cats serves as a home for coffee and lovely shelters for more than ten cats. It is also on a mission to find a permanent home for those breathtakingly adorable cats too.
Brown coffee is one of Cambodian most pride and recognisable cafe chain. Operated since 2009, Brown has grown into multiple chains across Phnom Penh city. Known for its peaceful environment and good food, Brown is very popular among university students and office workers.
Visit Eclipse sky bar
Situated at the top of Phnom Penh Tower along the busy boulevard, Eclipse Sky Bar is one of the city’s phenomenal sky bar. It is Phnom Penh’s highest bar and restaurant. Up there, you can enjoy a splendid 360 degree view of the bustling capital. You can also enjoy sightseeing from the top with prominent landmarks, such as Independence Monument, Royal Palace, and etc.
Though Phnom Penh is not a big city, it is filled with amazing places and location awaited to be explored. Therefore, one of the place that you should not miss is definitely the cat café Ministry of Cats, where you can drown in cat heaven and enjoy good drinks.