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What to do in Phnom Penh?

What to do in Phnom Penh

Top Things to do in Phnom Penh Cambodia. Phnom Penh has so much to offer and we discovered some pretty cool things to do while in the city. We found three days is more than enough to explore the highlights. See for yourself and click on the Pin!

Here I compiled a photo list of what to do in Phnom Penh in 2 or 3 days. I suggest spending about 3 days in Siem Reap, a few days on the coast and the remaining days in Phnom Penh. Within 8 – 10 days you get a good first introduction to this amazing SE-Asian country.

 

1) Explore the Khmer History

 

If you are interested to learn more about the tragic history of Cambodia, and I really encourage you to explore this, then Phnom Penh should be on your list to visit while in Cambodia. Head over to the Genocide Museum (Tuol Sleng / S21) and the Killing Fields (afterwards) to learn about the shocking past the Khmer suffered under the Khmer Rouge regime.

We explored both sites in one day –  it took us a while to digest what we had seen – but we are glad we did it. We also met one of the only survivors of the the Tuol Sleng prison, Chum Mey. I encourage you to buy his book when you are there – he is there every day. After all, this is how he makes his living today.

What to do in Phnom Penh

Chum Mey – survivor of Tuol Sleng prison


What to do in Phnom Penh

Visibly overwhelmed at Tuol Sleng


What to do in Phnom Penh

Leaving a bracelet for the victims at the Killing Fields


What to do in Phnom Penh

Ben at the killing fields

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2) Watch movies ‘old-style’

 

Phnom Penh is famous for its funky cinemas. During our four days in Phnom Penh, we went to the cinema every day, sometimes twice a day. The cinemas are nothing like back at home. There are comfortable sofas and ‘beds’ to lounge on, you can drink whatever you fancy and even eat lunch or dinner which is freshly prepared for you and brought to you on a tray (how’s that for a cinema experience, hey?).

I recommend going to either Flicks (has several branches!) or Empire which both show a good mix of older and new movies.

What to do in Phnom Penh

Flicks


What to do in Phnom Penh

Funky interior at Flicks


What to do in Phnom Penh

Love the deco at the Empire


What to do in Phnom Penh

Ice-cold beer at the Empire

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3) Visit the Russian Market

 

Our favourite market was the Russian market (also the biggest). There is nothing you can’t find – honestly. I bought some really nice clothes and a few DVD’s. You can try different Khmer dishes at a really cheap price, buy fresh ingredients (if you fancy cooking something for yourself and have a self-contained studio) or simply wander around and take photographs of the hustle and bustle. I even had one of my dresses shortened – for a really good price.

Factor in at least half a day for the market – it is very big!

What to do in Phnom Penh

Is it real GAP or not?


What to do in Phnom Penh

LONDON!


What to do in Phnom Penh

Fish anyone?


What to do in Phnom Penh

Colourful clothes

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4) Visit ‘Sugar & Spice’ at Daughters of Cambodia

 

My favourite cafe was ‘Sugar & Spice’ over at ‘Daughters of Cambodia’. A project that was founded to support women who have just escaped the sex trade – many of them victims of trafficking. There is a room inside of the shop where you watch a film about the women’s past and how the project helped them, not only escape their horrible past, but also help them gain valuable skills for employment.

All accessories you see in the shop have been hand-made by those women.

Please, if you have time, head over there for a cup of tea or buy some souvenirs for your loved ones (or for yourself).

Here a few impressions of this beautiful place:

What to do in Phnom Penh

They are now free to follow their dreams!


What to do in Phnom Penh

Pretty hey?

 

What to do in Phnom Penh

So wanted this necklace!


What to do in Phnom Penh

Sugar & Spice


5) Dine in the Dark

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We concluded our stay in Cambodia, and Phnom Penh, with dining at ‘Dine in the Dark’. I think the name says it all – food is served to you in a room that is pitch black, by blind members of the society. It’s a fantastic concept and really helps those who would otherwise struggle to find employment.

You can chose between an international or Khmer menu (Ben chose both so we could taste it all) – after the meal, back outside, the friendly staff reveals to you what you had just been eating. Or should I say: tried to eat…because the simplest of tasks…like putting a fork into your mouth seems like the hardest thing in the world!

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What to do in Phnom Penh

Purple light is so cool!


What to do in Phnom Penh

Aha! That’s what I had spread all over my face


What to do in Phnom Penh

Time with the other half…priceless!

 

Note: Before you’re shocked at the ‘little’ clothes I’m wearing on these photos: Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are really relaxed when it comes to how women dress. Many local girls wear substantially less than I did – it’a not frowned upon anymore. Maybe in the country side – but certainly not in the bigger cities. However, covering up in temples etc. is still an absolute must!

 

Heart IconHave you been to Cambodia? Planning on going? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

 

Pin it!

Top Things to do in Phnom Penh Cambodia. Phnom Penh has so much to offer and we discovered some pretty cool things to do while in the city. We found three days is more than enough to explore the highlights. See for yourself and click on the Pin!

12 Comments

  • Kelly

    17.07.2015 at 18:14 Reply

    This is a really useful post. I’m off to Cambodia for a few days on route to Vietnam and really wasn’t sure of what to expect in Phnom Penh but now I am really looking forward to visiting – the Dine in the Dark sounds particularly interesting! 🙂
    Kelly recently posted…Alone in a Bivvy            My Profile

    • Serendipity Tess

      17.07.2015 at 23:42 Reply

      Hi Kelly, i’m glad you found the post helpful 🙂 Phnom Penh is a really cool city to explore. Not at all what I expected. Have fun!

  • Maro Bautista

    20.07.2015 at 06:19 Reply

    Cambodia sure is an exciting place to visit. I know a lot of tourist or soon to be tourist in Cambodia, who read your article post, related or connected with your post (if they have been there) and those who haven’t might take interest in visiting the country.

  • Duke Stewart

    26.07.2015 at 07:32 Reply

    Tess,

    I love your details and the quick guide here on Phnom Penh. My wife and I are really looking forward to this city and can’t wait to explore the Russian Market, as well as seeing those bits of history that everyone should witness. Cambodia is such a mysterious, tragic, and wonderful place all at the same time. I can’t wait to go back and thank you for sharing this guide, as a base to make some plans.

    Take Care.
    Duke Stewart recently posted…Why I’m Writing – Life Through TravelMy Profile

    • Serendipity Tess

      01.08.2015 at 09:25 Reply

      Hey Duke! Thank you for yet another lovely comment! Both, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh were delightful cities to visit! But Phnom Penh has it all in terms of history, culture etc. It will be an experience you would not want to have missed. Enjoy! 🙂

  • Ramon

    26.07.2015 at 12:19 Reply

    The Flicks are the best! 🙂

  • Kelly Dinh

    24.04.2016 at 08:47 Reply

    Thank you so much for your post. I am going to visit Koh Rong this month (I can’t have long holiday ). When I come back to Cambodia next time, I will definitely follow your guidance.

    • Serendipity Tess

      24.04.2016 at 16:00 Reply

      Thank you Kelly for your lovely comment 🙂 Please do reach out to me if you need any recommendations 🙂 Happy Holidays 🙂

  • stephanie

    09.11.2016 at 14:24 Reply

    Tuel Sleng museum was very impresive! And at the killing fields i cry for sure.
    Such a sad part of history!
    x

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