We only stayed in Phom Penh one day, so I can’t really give you a proper ‘full-on’ guide. But here are a few suggestions of things to do in Phnom Penh.
Killing field, Choeung Ek
Find a tuk-tuk driver (shouldn’t be too difficult, you’ll probably meet one when you first arrive) and visit Choeung Ek, a former Khmer Rouge killing site, where today you can learn a bit about the history of Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime. It’s heart-breaking, but it’s really worth the visit, not only to learn about Cambodia’s history but also as a way of honouring th ose who lost their lives during the regime.
The site is 17km front the city centre, and it gets quite crowded (and hot), so I’d advise going earlier.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
If you still want to learn more about the Khmer Rouge regime and what Cambodia went through, head to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Once a school, Tuol Sleng was taken over by the Khmer Rouge and transformed into a horrible prison where unspeakable atrocities were committed.
I have to say, we did both on the same day and it was a bit too much for us. I’d advise on either visiting the sites on different days or sticking to one of the two (in which case, I’d recommend Choeung Ek over Tuol Sleng).
Located on the only hill in Phnom Penh, Wat Phnom is a beautiful Buddhist temple right in the middle of the city. (Cheap entrance too).
Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda
The Royal Palace complex includes the Palace itself, the Throne room, the Silver Pagoda and more. It’s similar to Bangkok’s Royal palace but on a smaller scale.
Plan ahead as it has very specific visiting hours (8-10.30am and 2-5pm) and may close on special days or national bank holidays.
There’s a nice riverside path that goes from the Night Market place (close to the Old Market), and passes in front of a Buddhist temple, the Royal Palace, and boasts great views of the river and the city. There are loads of restaurants and bars too.
You could for instance, take the river path on your way to the Palace from Wat Phnom or vice-versa (should only be about 25min walk).
When in Phnom Penh watch out for bag snatchers and don’t walk around holding your smartphone as that will make it easier for a someone on a motorcycle to steal it from you – never to be seen again. Also watch out for your belongings when you’re in a tuk-tuk or in a crowded space.