hnom Penh is the capital city of Cambodia, but it’s one of the smaller capitals in the region, with a population of only 1.5 million people. Compared to Bangkok (8.2 million) and Hanoi (7.7 million) it can be considered downright tiny. Indeed, on a tuk-tuk or motorbike, getting to any place in the city should take you no more than 15 minutes.
Most of Phnom Penh’s sights can be taken in in just a few days. Most tourists coming to Cambodia tend to stay here for less than a week. In that time frame, we suggest checking out some interesting places in and around town.
Phnom Penh tourist highlights
The following map shows the proximity of various tourist attractions from YK Art House.
Phnom Penh Riverside
The Phnom Penh Riverside has witnessed generations of Cambodian tradition and tourism growth. It is considered as point zero as it has the oldest structures around. It has the perfect view of both the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers that form the Bassac right in front of the Royal Palace. In November, many tourists flock here to celebrate the Water Festival. On top of that, the riverside is conveniently right beside the Lycée Preah Sisowath where tourists can find a variety of shops selling souvenirs and other local items.
Shopping in Phnom Penh
Like any other growing city, Phnom Penh meets the shopping needs of its tourists with its very own AEON Mall and Central Market. The former offers many pleasantries to both tourists and locals, including a cinema, a bowling alley, and an ice rink. Furthermore, there are local and international Automated Teller Machines as well as currency exchange shops inside the mall.
Meanwhile, the Central Market is a hub for shopping local goods which makes it the busiest market around Phnom Penh. It offers a huge variety of clothing, footwear, and even handcrafted souvenirs. On top of that, it has one specific section for local food. Tourists can feast on all the Cambodian delicacies including exotic dishes there.
Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields
Tuol Sleng was once a prison and an execution center but is now a museum that recounts the Cambodian genocide. Tourists get to see the actual human skulls of past prisoners in cabinets along with a Cambodian map made of skulls. To this day, razor wires still surround the perimeter and cells that held many prisoners are still standing. This grim relic holds records and rich information about its previous occupants and the torture they’ve been through.
Aside from the Tuol Sleng, tourists can also get a tour of the Killing Fields in Choeung Ek. It is the resting place of about 20,000 people killed by the Khmer Rouge. Tourists can walk around the field and see the markings of the shallow mass graves as well as the Pagoda that has the skulls of some victims.
Wat Phnom, Royal Palace, National Museum
The Golden Buddha at the Royal Palace Pagoda is another must-see. It is covered with over 9,500 diamonds making it the center of attraction. Aside from that, there is the Wat Phnom Buddhist temple, one of the tallest religious structures in Phnom Penh at 88.5 feet aboveground. Compared to the two previous temples, the National Museum offers more of the artistic side of Cambodians featuring classic Khmer art pieces, artefacts, and live traditional stage performances.
Tourists can indulge themselves in the rich history, artisan local products, and amazing views of Phnom Penh. To wrap the day up, they can come home to the YK Art House for a night of relaxation.