Bucket List: Top 15 Best Things to Do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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Phnom Penh Bucket List: Amazing Places to Visit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, is steeped in rich history. It was once known as the ‘Pearl of Asia’, a truly delightful French-city at the heart of Indochina. If you’re up for an adventure, here’s what you can expect to enjoy from Phnom Penh:

Understand the root of Phnom Penh’s name

Wat Phnom Main Pagoda in Phnom Penh By Olaf Tausch – Own work, CC BY 3.0, CC

Wat Phnom, also known as the Hill Temple, is Buddhist wat that stands 88.5 ft above the ground. Apart from being a beautiful and iconic temple, its value to history is unparalleled.

According to legends, a wealthy widow named Lady Penh found a Koki tree floating by the Tonle Sap River. To her surprise, the tree contained a statue of Vishnu and four statues of Buddha.

Shortly after, the construction of a Koki tree-made temple happened, and it became the new home to the recently found statues. This temple is known today as Wat Phnom.

Simultaneously, the hill came to be known as Krong Chaktomuk Mongkol Sakal Kampuchea Thipadei Serey Thereak Borvor Inthabot Borei Roth Reach Seima Maha Nokor. The hill’s long name famously means the “City of Four Faces,” also known as Phnom Penh.

Be mesmerized by the king’s palace.

Royal Palace in Phnom PenhRoyal Palace in Phnom Penh

If you are amazed by all things architecture, the Royal Palace is a must-visit! Apart from being the home to the Royal Highness of Cambodia, this residence’s beauty is just unfathomable.

This palace is made up of different vast halls and gardens. You can expect the king’s abode to be restricted. This palace is frequented by many tourists who can’t help but be amazed by this home that was established in 1866.

Appreciate Cambodia’s Khmer art

National Museum of CambodiaNational Museum of Cambodia

If you want ‘the most’ and ‘the best,’ the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh will surely delight you. Not only is it Cambodia’s largest museum, but it is also the country’s most relevant.

With over 14,000 masterpieces, this museum houses one of the largest collections of Khmer art in the world. Preserving the Cambodian culture and tradition to enrich its pride and identity gives life to this historical and archaeological museum.

This said, visiting the National Museum is easily one of the most culturally immersive places in the country!

Visit an interesting and historical marketplace.

Central market landmark Art Deco exterior in Phnom Penh Cambodia via DepositphotosCentral market landmark Art Deco exterior in Phnom Penh Cambodia via Depositphotos

Art deco is a visually appealing architectural design that first appeared in France. Today, you can find an art deco landmark at the heart of Phnom Penh when you visit the Central Market.

You know you’ve reached your destination once you see a domed bright yellow building, housing many food stalls. If you’re looking for beauty and purpose in one destination, the Central Market, also known as Phsar Thmey, is the place for you!

Cruise through the rivers of Mekong and Tonle Sap

Tourist boat on sunset cruise in Phnom Penh Cambodia Mekong River photo via DepositphotosTourist boat on sunset cruise in Phnom Penh Cambodia Mekong River photo via Depositphotos

The beautiful city of Phnom Penh is surrounded by bodies of water that make a grand cityscape. If you want a more mesmerizing way to discover the surrounding cities, a cruise by the river banks is perfect.

Enjoy the sunset as you dig into the ship’s delectable menu—an unforgettable getaway indeed.

Buy Khmer Products

Handicraft shop at Toul Tum Poung Market or Russian market in Phnom Penh photo via DepositphotosHandicraft shop at Toul Tum Poung Market or Russian market in Phnom Penh photo via Depositphotos

If you’re looking for anything Khmer, the Russian Market is a gold mine. Here, you can buy the sweet yet strong Khmer coffee.

You can have it warm or iced; whichever you choose will surely give you a boost of energy like never before. You will also find ceramics that will elevate your home’s look or accessories that will make your outfit stand out for fascinating reasons.

Celebrate Cambodia’s Independence

Independence Monument in Phnom PenhIndependence Monument in Phnom Penh

Erected at the Phnom Penh center is the Independence monument, which celebrates Cambodia’s freedom from France since 1953. The design of this 37-meter tall monument is both religious and secular.

A flame is lit on its pedestal every time a national celebration happens. With or without these esteemed celebrations, the Independence monument reminds Cambodian’s of a beautiful memory.

Visit a genocide museum.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh photo via DepositphotosTuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh photo via Depositphotos

Commemorating the history of Cambodia won’t be complete without visiting Tuol Sleng, a genocide museum.

Around 20,000 people were imprisoned at Tuol Sleng, with only 12 known survivors. Find out what facilitated their survival and how their abiding to the ten strict rules from their concentration camp helped.

Spend a day at Phnom Penh’s most important temple

Wat Ounalom is a buddhist temple located on Sisowath Quay near the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh Cambodia via DepositphotosWat Ounalom is a Buddhist temple located on Sisowath Quay near the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh Cambodia via Depositphotos

Being close to the Royal Palace, the temple in Ounalom is the most important in Phnom Penh. It was established in 1442 and survived the damage brought by the Khmer Rouge.

Its name, Wat Ounalom, perfectly describes what the landmark is famous for. Its temple is believed to contain the eyebrow hair of Buddha. Lom translates to hair, and Unna translates to the whorl between the eyebrows.

Visit a historical burial place.

The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek in Phnom Penh, Cambodia via DepositphotosThe Killing Fields of Choeung Ek in Phnom Penh, Cambodia via Depositphotos

After the communist Khmer Rouge has fallen, a mass grave containing over 8,000 bodies were discovered at Choeung Ek.

Today, this burial place is preserved and protected to pay respects to history. More than 5,000 skulls, some of which have been smashed and shattered, can be viewed directly from Choeung Ek.

See the world-famous emerald-crystal Buddha.

Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh, Cambodia via DepositphotosSilver Pagoda in Phnom Penh, Cambodia via Depositphotos

Adjacent to the Royal Palace is the Temple of the Emerald-Crystal Buddha, also known as the Silver Pagoda. There are many interesting finds in this temple, including the jewel-adorned Buddha statues and numerous golds.

This temple is intricately designed with many lavish and religious things to see. If you must see just one thing, it is the small green crystal Buddha making rounds worldwide and throughout history.

Bond with loved ones at an amusement park

If you want an amusing time in Phnom Penh, Children Park Koh Pich is a must-visit. It has a Kids Park and Discovery Park that blends science, math, and art, a perfect avenue to learn and have fun.

Enjoy golf in the city.

Golf and Country ClubGolf and Country Club

Whether it’s a fun, challenging, or customized game you’re up for, Cambodia Golf & Country Club has the right golf course for you!

They also have stayed and play packages for that, ultimately relaxing me-time. Here, you can experience golf and Cambodia through one of the country’s leading country clubs!

Spend a day at a wildlife rehabilitation center

Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue CenterPhnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center by @phalinn via Flickr CC

Phnom Penh has one of the best rehabilitation rescue centers for illegally traded wildlife.

If you want to see the most exquisite and sought-after species being cared for and nurtured, Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center will make you appreciate wildlife even more.

Chill by the riverfront

Sisowath Quay in Phnom Penh photo via DepositphotosSisowath Quay in Phnom Penh photo via Depositphotos

The riverfronts in Phnom Penh offer one of the most exhilarating views from daybreak to nightfall. You can stroll by the 3-kilometer riverside that’s Sisowath Quay while enjoying the panoramic view.

You’ll see sailing boats atop the glistening water on one side and the beautiful restaurants, hotels, and bars on the other. Imagine enjoying the best of both worlds at the heart of Cambodia.

Phnom Penh Travel and Tour Packages

To help you plan out your visit to Phnom Penh, we listed places to visit and other amazing tours in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We also listed some of the best travel deals and tour packages and excellent flight deals and accommodation.

Searching for the best hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of affordable Phnom Penh hotels and resorts via Agoda, Booking, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

Want more updates about new package tours and tourist spots in Phnom Penh, Cambodia? Follow #TeamOutofTown, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bloglovin, and Pinterest for more travel ideas.

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