Top 12 Things to Do in Phnom Penh

Having an excursion to the Land of Wonder, almost visitors can’t wait discovering Phnom Penh once known as the Pearl of Asia first. The capital of Cambodia becomes one of the popular travel destinations due to its beautiful and classic architecture as well as the harmony of the past and the present showed in the life of local people. The following Top 7 things to do and see in Phnom Penh partly help you expand your understanding about this city

1. Admire Impressive Architecture at Royal Palace 

The Royal Palace complex built in 1860s is a must-see site for any visitor. 9 buildings located in this complex are great examples of the splendid, beautiful and detailed Khmer architecture, especially, the Throne Hall on the left of the main entrance.  It is well-known for its 59-meter tower which has beautiful roof decorated with golden colored tiles. Beside visitors have a chance to contemplate sculptures, busts of the Kings, 3 Thrones and an entirely golden sculpture. This building is still used for official celebrations and religious events nowadays.

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2. Wander around Silver Pagoda

The proper name of Silver Pagoda is Wat Preah Keo Morokat which means the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It has the common name Silver Pagoda because of its solid silver floor tiles. A special thing that makes Silver pagoda different from others is no monks live there, but it is the place where King converses with the monks. In addition, visitors can feast their eyes on several beautiful buildings, statues and gardens around this pagoda such as model of Angkor Wat, Stupa of HM King Noradom or Keong Preah Bath containing Buddha footprints.

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3. Back in the Time with Wat Phnom Temple

Cambodia is famous for several unique and beautiful temples. The particular one is Wat Phnom which is situated in Phnom Penh. Wat Phnom or Mountain pagoda in Khmer was built in the 14th century in order to dedicate to Buddha. It is considered as the highest religious structure in this city which is 27 meters in height. It attracted visitors by the stairway decorated with Buddha statues on two sides, the altar inside it, the beautiful gardens and paintings which depict stories of Buddha or worship on the wall. 

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4. Learn about Cambodia History at National Museum

If you want to have a close glimpse into the culture of Cambodia, you should not miss a visit to this destination. The National Museum of Cambodia makes impression on travellers by its red roof, traditional Khmer structure as well as the beautiful garden. Moreover, visitors can see over 14,000 exhibit including bronze and wooden sculptures, ceramic items from prehistoric to the decline of Angkor, for example, the statue of Lord Vishnu from the 6th century.

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5. Memorize the Hard time of Cambodia at Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocidal Crimes

One of the testaments to the crime of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia is Tuol Sleng Museum which is located in the southwest of Phnom Penh. Before Khmer Rouge had power, it was Tuol Svay Prey High School. Later, it became prison known as Security Prison or S-21. Visitors can find many tiny cells in classrooms as well as the portrait of prisoners which partly support them to understand more about the tragic time in Cambodian history.

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6. Pay a Visit to The Killing Fields

Another place where visitors can see the horror of Khmer Rouge is the Killing Fields. It is usually referred as Choeung EK Memorial and 17 km far from the south of Phnom Penh city. A mass grave of 17,000 people who had been detained at S-21 and the skulls put on the Memorial Stupa really revealed the darkest time in Cambodia’s history. Beside visitors can have a chance to listen the stories recorded by those who survived from the slaughter of Khmer Rouge.

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7. Go Shopping at Central Market

Have you ever thought of getting your hairstyle designed at an ordinary marketplace? Or maybe, having your nails well painted? Or better yet, purchasing a great golden necklace at the food market?

It is worth noticing that the majority of local markets in Cambodia provide you all of the above. Hence, when comparing with other Asia markets, you – a shopping lover will quickly find out that Phnom Penh's marts are somehow out of your imagination. Actually, all of them are full of hustle and bustle releasing from sounds in varying multi-hued stalls like unusual and unexpected mazes. 

To be honest, paying a visit to the Central Market (also called Phsar Thmei) where lures your attention from far as you approach it with a distinctive central dome combining with four wings, definitely meets all of your needs. Without a doubt, once being in harmony with effervescent crowds from one end to the other by strolling around, you will find it awesome with a massive section dedicated to mouth-watering cuisines, jewelries, handicrafts, designed handbags, local silverworks, household furniture, as well as other accessories like electronics, and even secondhand stuffs. As a result, why don’t you make use of chances to check how good your haggling ability is by purchasing a few souvenirs with bargain prices from this urban area? Be full of the joys!

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8. Be Harmonic with Local Celebrations

Never in the history of Cambodian culture have other things replaced the significance of traditional festivals; as a result, only local celebrations have enough power to embody its diverse norms and values. It also means that the best way to experience, gain background knowledge and even get proficiency in long-lasting customs of Cambodia is to participate in some of great festivities. 

In this day and age, notwithstanding more and more cutting-edge cultures coming from Western countries has relatively modified the way of festival organization, the capital’s citizen still flexibly celebrate and keep their own their distinct style in each special event. For instance, the two biggest festivals namely annual three-day Bonn Om Touk (Water Festival) and the Khmer New Year non-stop come in all colors featuring Cambodian manners. Particularly, while the Water Festival draws visitors' attention by more than 400 boats getting ready for competition on the race with the presence of well-trained oarsmen, the Khmers creatively welcome their New Year with purification ceremonies, praying for happiness in spiritual temples as well as joining customary games. With all cultural charms, Phnom Penh deserves being regarded an ideal destination for enjoying the festival time!

9. Call on the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center

As you can partly see from its clearly name - the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, this site is not established for the purpose of making money from animal lovers like a zoo, by contrast; it has genuinely existed for rescue animals’ wellbeing such as sun bears, tigers, monkeys, wide pigs, and even an albino deer or an elephant only having 3 legs… that are on the edge of extinction. Hardly can your full-day trip planned to take place in an ideal destination like this sanctuary that offers you numerous opportunities to endlessly interrelate, feed, wash, and even take a stroll with sociable animals around their natural and peaceful habitat. Undoubtedly, nothing can express your feeling of encouraging this ethical center to do something out of charity rather than adding fuel to some cruel Asian zoos aiming at keeping rare animals away from their wildlife.

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10. Have the Sense of Trekking 

Only when you spend time taking part in explorative activities requiring high energy such as trekking and rock-climbing in this spectacular land, do you feel how nice this excursion is. In your exciting full-day trip, carefree smiles coming along with risk-taking moments will certainly blow all of your blues away. As long as you keep patient and whole heartedly believe that you are totally able to conquer any challenges emerging along your paths, nothing can prevent you from finding out rarely-touched city’s corners. 

Note: Due to the diverse kinds of terrain ranging from gently sloped mountains to rugged jungles, trekking in Phnom Penh requires you to hike with a group or hire a tour guide for guaranteeing that you can follow to right trails. 

To avoid suffering from Phnom Penh’s stifling tropical climate which can result in terribly high temperature in the midday, you ought to put the amount of water in storage, say 'no' to ultraviolet rays by using sun blocker, and also wear light clothing items to protect your skin from the phenomenon of thermal radiation. Funny trekking and discovering!

11. Set Sail along renowned Rivers

What are you planning to do for escaping from noisy streets of Phnom Penh in peak hours? 

Here, participating in a boat trip to delight in the spectacular sunset moments on both Tonle Sap and Mekong River is really a great option. As schedule, it takes each cruising trip about 1 – 2 hours to sail up the Tonle Sap River, which passes by central areas typically offering the scenic image of the Royal Palace. Afterwards, you need to continue setting sail across the Mekong River which is always willing to give you a glimpse of peaceful rural areas bordered by an orange glow that evokes the comfortable warmth. Unlike other lands in terms of floating villages, in reality, Phnom Penh metropolis also has its distinctive version known as Kompong Chhnang. 

Note: It is easy for you to book in advance the tickets for short river and sunset cruises, which have reasonable prices about 15$/h for boats in the small size (up to 20 passengers), 20$/h for medium boats (up to 30 passengers), and 25$/h for big ones (up to 40 passengers).

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A Fascinating Trip on Jayavarman Cruise

12. Dining on Kampot Pepper Crab

No matter what kind of impressive coffee you drank, which restaurants you stepped foot into, or where you paid a visit, you cannot totally indulge in the mealtime without dinning on Kampot Pepper Crab! Deriving from a small riverside town named Kampot, pepper crab is carefully processed in Kep preferring to use unripe peppercorns that is extremely difficult to harvest outside of Cambodian borders. Interestingly, the reason tends to be kept secret the secret that they will quickly get dry and turn into other flavor only after about two days.

Thanks to a unique recipe, this marine cuisine is well prepared with freshly-caught crab fried in a appetizing garlicky-chili sauce that is attractive by pepper's scent. In spite of being exceedingly spicy, this delicacy with the hard-to-describe sweetness in crab meat and the chili's warmth is sure to dispel all of your stressful things in the daily life. Yum!

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In a nutshell, there will be hard-to-describe emotions inside individuals when saying the farewell to Phnom Penh metropolis, where surely meets the need of traveling lovers from the first to the end in 9 top-listed things to delight in. Needless to say, this Southeast Asia’s “unpopular capital” has never stopped awaiting everyone over the globe with its warm welcome.

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