Escorted Vietnam Cambodia Tours

Top Things to Do in Phnom Penh; Is It Worth to Visit?

Phnom Penh is Cambodia's vibrant capital, a city full of fascinating history, bustling markets, and surrounding natural beauty. With so much to do there, you might need help planning your Cambodia tour. Here are the top things to do in Phnom Penh.

Where Is Phnom Penh Located in Cambodia? The Location Map of Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is located in southern Cambodia, where the Tonle Sap, Mekong, and Bassac Rivers meet. The strategic location has long been a hub of the country's politics, culture, and economy. Beyond the tranquil riverside parks and cafes, the surrounding landscape is a picturesque vision of rice fields and small villages. The peaceful rural scenery is in stark contrast to the busy urban city center.

Getting to Phnom Penh is easy. Regular flights are available to Phnom Penh International Airport, which is only a short taxi ride from the city center. Flights from various cities in the US or UK can be found for around 450-800 USD, depending on the time of year. Flying from nearby countries like Thailand or Singapore is also very convenient.

Phnom Penh can also be reached by bus or even by boat. Popular bus routes from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam or Vientiane in Laos to Phnom Penh. Tickets can cost as low as 10-30 USD, but the trip can take a long time. You can take a boat from Chau Doc in Vietnam to Phnom Penh for around 40 USD, which takes around 6.5 hours.

The Location Map of Phnom Penh.

Is It Worth Visiting Phnom Penh, and How Many Days Recommended to Stay?

Yes,  it is worth visiting Phnom Penh. In Phnom Penh, you can visit important sites from Cambodia's ancient and recent history, experience the vibrant city culture, explore pristine natural surroundings, and have a relaxing beach experience. It is definitely worth a visit of at least a couple of days.

With two days in Phnom Penh, you can learn about formative parts of Cambodia's modern history with a visit to the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, take a leisurely stroll along the riverfront promenade Sisowath Quay, and see the imperial history on display at the royal palace.

Adding another day, you can add time to admire the colonial architecture, and enjoy the bustling Central and Russian Markets. For nature or wildlife lovers, nearby Ta Mok's Mountain has excellent hiking opportunities, and Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center is home to elephants, sun bears, and tigers.

(Must-Do): Take a Tuk-tuk Ride to Explore the Main Tourist City of Downtown Phnom Penh

A tuk-tuk ride through downtown Phnom Penh is a unique way to immerse yourself in the city's streets. You can admire the architecture of the Royal Palace and see the Independence Monument. It's a great way to get an impression of Central Market with its distinctive dome shape or to enjoy the river's view and its riverfront cafes and shops.

With the right tuk-tuk driver, their familiarity with the city will let them guide you through a tour of local neighborhoods or to popular street food stall areas. Tuk-tuks are a very local way to travel and a great way to soak in the city's charm.

Take a tuk tuk to explore the capital city of Phnom Penh.

(Must-Do): Take a Cycle Tour around the Mekong Island of Phnom Penh

Mekong Island is one of the largest islands in the Mekong River, a short ferry ride from Phnom Penh. On a cycle tour of the island, you can ride along the riverside paths, taking in the tranquil atmosphere. There are traditional silk-weaving villages where you can see the intricate process of silk production and talk with local artisans. The island has pagodas and temples like Wat Silkiram, each with its own unique history.

If your Cambodia cycling tour lasts until sunset, you can witness the beautiful colors as the sun sets over the Mekong River. Then, enjoy a dinner of local Khmer cuisine at a riverside restaurant. Cycling lets you stop whenever you find something exciting and travel off the familiar path to discover some hidden gem. It provides the leisurely and free way to uncover top things to do in Phnom Penh.

(Must-Do): Enjoy the Sunset Cruise of Mekong Island with Unlimited Beer & Soft Drinks

Mekong Island can also be enjoyed on a cruise. For as low as 16 USD, cruises set out along the river, offering unlimited beer and soft drinks and excellent vantage points for panoramic views of the city skyline.

A river cruise is a relaxed way to socialize with other travelers and enjoy the picturesque scenes as the set sets over the river. Some cruise ships have live music or other entertainment, from popular contemporary music to traditional performances.

Admire the spectacular sunset on a Mekong Island cruise.

(Must-Do): Explore the Local Night Market of Phnom Penh

The local night market in Phnom Penh is a hub for city culture and delicious foods. Phsar Chas, the old market, transforms into a lively array of local products, street food, and traditional crafts in the evening. Located near the Riverside area, it's one of the best places to find unique items like handmade textiles, jewelry, and local artwork.

Around the Cambodia market area, you can often find live performances of traditional Khmer music and dance and later retire to one of the bars along the Tonle Sap River for a relaxing drink. The characteristic performance lists a unique experience for things to do in Phnom Penh.

Visit traditional Khmer dance
Visit traditional Khmer dance.

(Optional): Enjoy a Traditional Cambodian Cooking Class

Food is an integral part of Cambodian culture, and one way to deeply immerse yourself is by taking a traditional Cambodian cooking class. Places like La Table Khmer offer classes that are a way to discover local flavors and cooking techniques. Classes often include a trip to a local market to learn about choosing the best ingredients, and local chefs will then guide you through a hands-on cooking experience with delicious Cambodian food.

Khmer cuisine
Enjoy a cooking class to make Khmer cuisine.

(Optional): Explore the Traditional Cambodia Culture in the Cambodia Living Arts

Cambodia Living Arts is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting Cambodia's cultural heritage. They offer opportunities for the public to experience local arts through performances, workshops, and educational programs.

Supporting organizations like Cambodia Living Arts helps preserve local traditional arts with the training of new generations of artists. It is an excellent example of sustainable tourism that is working to ensure the country's cultural heritage stays strong for future generations to enjoy.

(Optional): Take a Trip to the Silk Island of Phnom Penh

Koh Dach, known as Silk Island, offers a peaceful retreat from the busy city with opportunities to explore traditional culture. Located a short ferry ride from Phnom Penh, the island is known for its silk-weaving villages and serene pagodas. It's a great place to buy handmade souvenirs or relax by the river and take in the natural beauty of the Mekong River.

Visit traditional Silk Island
Visit traditional Silk Island of Phnom Penh.

(Optional): A visit to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre

Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre is home to over 1,200 animals, including tigers, elephants, gibbons, and sun bears. The center is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating animals subject to the illegal wildlife trade or other dangerous situations. 

The guided tour gives photography opportunities and learning about their mission and work. Some interactive or feeding sessions may be available. Inquire in advance to find out more.

Elephant in Tamao Wildlife Rescure Centre.

(Optional): Escape from the Hustle and Bustle of Phnom Penh

There are many options for escaping the busy urban center of Phnom Penh. Northwest of the city is the Oudong Mountain. Visitors can climb to the top for panoramic views or explore the peaceful temples and stupas.

A leisurely Mekong River cruise is a getaway that can be booked as a day trip or longer. You can relax on the water and enjoy the scenic views.

For freedom and escape, explore the rural country by motorbike. Motorbikes can be rented by the day or week, and you can explore the surrounding villages, rice fields, and pagodas on your own.

Oudong Mountain in Phnom Penh.

More Tips for Phnom Penh Tour

● Khmer cuisine is delicious. Make sure to try the local street food and traditional dishes like Fish Amok, Lok Lak, and Nom Banh Chok.
● Visit during a traditional festival for a unique cultural experience. Khmer New Year (April 13-16, 2024) and the Water Festival (November 14-16, 2024) are particularly exciting and joyful times, with many activities taking place in the city.
● Remember to bargain when shopping at local markets. Stay friendly, but don't accept the first price you're told.
● The weather in Phnom Penh can be very hot. Make sure to use sun protection and stay hydrated when exploring outdoors.
● Choose the right travel agency. A good travel agency will offer local expertise, language support, immediate support, and good insider tips.


Phnom Penh is a fascinating city with much to offer to all kinds of travelers. With a vibrant urban culture, rich history, delicious food, and nearby natural getaways, it's worth a visit to discover some of top things to do in Phnom Penh and Cambodia. Contact us to learn more about our Phnom Penh tour, and let us start you on an incredible journey.

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