1. Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (Security Prison 21)
Between 14,000 and 17,000 Cambodians (men, women and children) were interned and killed in this prison under the totalitarian regime of the Khmer Rouge. Only 8 survivors were recorded.
Even if this is not the happiest visit you can do in Phnom Penh, it is an important stop to make in order to truly understand the country's recent history.
2. The Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda
These two monuments are perfect examples of Khmer architecture. You will have the opportunity to visit the Royal Palace, in which the King still stays sometimes. At the Silver Pagoda, you can see the Emerald Buddha. It weighs nearly 90kg and is set with 9584 diamonds.
3. The Central Market
Built in 1937, this covered market of small and varied stalls will please everyone who likes to shop and bargain: food of any kind, objects of decoration or clothes, let yourself be seduced by this gigantic shambles!
4. The Cambodian Living Arts
This non-profit organization regularly organizes demonstrations of Khmer and Aspara dances at the National Museum of Cambodia.
5. The National Museum
Located near the Royal Palace, this museum holds the most impressive collection of Khmer pieces of Art. This exhibition covers nearly 1000 years of History.
6. Cheung Ek Killing Field
Choeung Ek is a former Chinese cemetery, located about 17km from the centre of Phnom Penh. It is sadly known for being the execution field of Tual Sleng prisoners. Today there is a Buddhist memorial where more than 8000 skulls are gathered behind transparent windows.
These skulls were exhumed in 1980, after excavations undertaken in mass graves not far away. 49 mass graves near it have not yet been dug up by the authorities.
7. Massages and spas
Massages and spas are popular in Cambodia. We advise you to pay attention to the place you choose by referring to specialized travel sites for example.
There are some very trustworthy places in Phnom Penh which prices are far below from what we can find at home. One of our favourites is the Seeing Hands Massage, a spa which only employs blind masseurs, allowing them to find a job and a stable situation.
8. Bars and restaurants along the River
The banks are a pleasant place to stroll, especially at sunset. To enjoy it even more, we invite you to settle on outside one of the numerous bars and restaurants in this area. Food and drinks are delicious and above all, affordable!
9. The responsible shopping
Many shops scattered around the city are selling only products that have been made by Cambodians in need. Many are produced through cooperatives, and are of excellent quality. The profits are paid directly to the craftsmen. Cambodia Handicraft Association, Mekong Blue and NCDP Handicrafts are among the most well-known.
10. Bon Om Tuk (Water Festival)
If you are lucky enough to be in Cambodia in November, you will be able to attend this 3-day event. It has a double significance: on the one hand, it commemorates a historic naval victory in 1777 and on the other hand, it celebrates the fact that every year at that time, the currents of the Tonle Sap reverse at the end of the rainy season.
A giant festival is organized in Phnom Penh, with no less than 2 million spectators. They all come to see the dragon boat races.