Things To Do in Phnom Penh

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Phnom Penh is the largest and the most flourishing city in Cambodia and holds a history that dates back to centuries. As a traveler, there are countless things to do in Phnom Penh because there are a variety of attractions. 

This cultural and commercial capital is undeniably modern with sky scraping vistas, but its old charms remain, poignant and beautiful as ever. 

Learn history by heading to the Tuol Sleng museum or explore culture by visiting sacred pagodas. You can also come across many markets offering interesting items like carvings, gems, and antiques. 

Here are the places that you must visit when you are in Phnom Penh.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

One of the things to do in Phnom Penh is to visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum or the former S21 prison to witness the brutal history of Cambodia.
One of the things to do in Phnom Penh is to visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum or the former S21 prison to witness the brutal history of Cambodia.

The Khmer Rouge was the name given to Cambodian communists who are infamously known for their deadly crimes. This former prison was used by them to hold, torture, interrogate and eventually kill the detainees. 

Out of the 14,000 prisoners, only seven were able to escape from the Khmer Rouge Genocide. The cells here still show many traces of the brutal past as you will come across bloodstained walls and floors. 

The Genocide Museum Phnom Penh holds horrific photos of many victims who suffered in this S21 prison. You will also come across some graphic paintings done by a survivor to demonstrate how people were tortured. 

Read more: What to Do in Vientiane

The place is opened every day from 8AM-5PM, and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum price is $5.

Silk Island

Silk Island, or Koh Dach, is a traditional silk weaving village in close proximity to Phnom Penh.
Silk Island, or Koh Dach, is a traditional silk weaving village in close proximity to Phnom Penh.

Cambodia is a famous place for silk, and its long history starts from pre-Angkorian times. Stray away from the buzzing city and head to this tranquil and interesting island located within a short distance. The Silk Island otherwise known as Koh Dach is a traditional silk weaving village. 

Read more: Visit Silk Island or Koh Dach

This place will give you the opportunity to learn how silk production works from the beginning to end. It is fascinating to watch how silk is being woven into intricate patterns using a manual method. 

The intense effort of these weavers and the elegant scarves and other garments they produce is impressive. The Koh Dach silk island is a place you mustn’t miss on your tour to Phnom Penh.

Royal Palace

Royal Palace in Phnom Penh is the royal residence of the current king of Cambodia.
Royal Palace in Phnom Penh is the royal residence of the current king of Cambodia.

Royal Palace Phnom Penh is an icon situated at the confluence of 3 great rivers- The Mekong, Tonle Sap, and Bassac. The Palace which is the royal residence of the current king of Cambodia is of great historical and architectural value. 

One of the most striking buildings found here is the Throne Hall which has a 59-meter tower decorated elegantly. Also, the palace compound is full of symbols that portray the religious heritage of the country. 

The place is open to visitors from 8AM-11AM and again from 2PM-5PM daily and Royal Palace Phnom Penh entrance fee costs $10. 

If you are interested in exploring Cambodia’s history, this is one of the things to do in Phnom Penh.

Silver Pagoda

The Silver Pagoda is located in the Phnom Penh Royal Palace complex and holds many magnificent national treasures.
The Silver Pagoda is located in the Phnom Penh Royal Palace complex and holds many magnificent national treasures.

This magnificent temple is located within the Royal Palace premises, and it holds many national treasures. The pagoda is also known as Wat Preah Keo Morakot and was initially constructed using wood. 

There are over 1000 art objects inside the Silver Pagoda Phnom Penh, and most of them are Buddha statues of gold, silver, and bronze and some are decorated with diamonds. There are also other objects of interest like the glass cabinet which is said to hold the ashes of Buddha brought from Sri Lanka

The walls of the pagoda are decorated with frescos which portray the Khmer version of the Ramayana. Silver Pagoda Phnom Penh opening hours are also from 8AM-11AM and 2PM-5PM, and the pagoda is inclusive of the $10 entrance fee paid to visit the Royal Palace.

Wat Phnom

Wat Phnom is known as the iconic symbol of Phnom Penh.
Wat Phnom is known as the iconic symbol of Phnom Penh.

Located on top of the only hill in the city, Wat Phnom is renowned as the iconic symbol of Phnom Penh. Many legendary stories explain the Wat Phnom history and one of them states that a woman built this to house the four Buddha statues she found inside a tree. 

Read more: Temples to See Before Visiting Angkor Wat

You have to enter the temple via a broad staircase with Naga and Lion shaped statues on either side. The interior is decorated with bright murals that portray the life of Buddha and other stories. 

The flower clock is also another striking structure which is nearly 20-meters in width. The area around Wat Phnom is usually crowded with visitors who come seeking good luck, vendors, beggars and even children selling caged birds. The place is open every day from 8AM-6PM, and Wat Phnom entrance fee is just $1.


So, what to do in Phnom Penh? Whether you are a pilgrim, cultural traveler or even a thrill-seeker, there are many things to do in Phnom Penh. You will surely be entertained and curious to know more about this exotic capital of Cambodia. The Angkorian and French colonial architecture make it a picture-perfect destination ideal to spend a relaxing holiday. You will also love the warm hospitality of its people who are usually eager to answer any questions. The places mentioned above will aptly answer your question on things to do in Phnom Penh. While you can explore most of Phnom Penh within a short span, it is good to spare a few days to get the best out of it.

Raeesha Ikram freelance content writer for aSabbatical
Travelling isn’t a mere journey to different places. Instead, it’s an eye-opener revealing how beautifully diverse the world is.