What do you want to do in Phnom Penh?
There are plenty of activities to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia that is perfect for tourists, adventurers, foodies.
Siem Reap gets the majority of the yearly tourist visits in Cambodia because of the Angkor Archaeological Park. It’s true that the temples are majestic, and you need to visit it at least once in your lifetime. But that doesn’t mean that Phnom Penh doesn’t have enough activities that would entice you to stay in this lovely city as well. We’ve compiled together a list of 100 things to do in Phnom Penh. Check this out and let us know if we missed anything.
BE A TOURIST
Yes, you’re new. That means, there are many interesting places that you haven’t seen yet. Other than the usual temples, here are some more places you need to visit while you’re here.
VISIT WAT PHNOM
Even in Phnom Penh, there is a famous temple too. Built-in 1372, this temple is 27 meters above the ground and is the tallest temple in the city. It was built to house four Buddha statues found by Lady Penh (also called Daun Penh or Grandmo her Penh) inside a Koki tree. It was floating in the junction between Tonle Sap and the Mekong River. Wat Phnom is the center of the Khmer New Year and Pchum Ben celebrations. It costs a $1 entrance fee and is open every day from 8am – 6pm. You may even be greeted by the monkeys on your visit!
WALK AT THE ROYAL PALACE
Situated in a 174,870 sqm. of land, the Royal Palace is open every day from 8am-10:30am and 2pm-5pm. It had been the official seat of power of the Kingdom since the mid-19th century. Visitors can see the defensive wall, a throne hall, The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, stupas, towering spires, and mural paintings. Just remember to wear appropriate clothing when you visit because they won’t let you enter the area if you’re wearing shorts or a non-sleeved shirt.
THE TUOL SLENG MUSEUM
Tuol Sleng Museum is formerly the Tuol Svay Prey High School. The school was converted into Security Prison 21 (S-21) by the forces of the Khmer Rouge in 1975. There were approximately 17,000 prisoners held inside its walls between 1975-1978. A visit to the museum is not a cheery experience because you get to see the horrors that the country experienced. However, this experience gives you a better appreciation of the country’s culture and history. The museum is open every day from 8:00 – 17:00. A visit costs $6 and audio guides for major languages are available for $2 additional.
FEEL THE EERIE CALM AT THE KILLING FIELDS
After a visit to S-21, the next stop is the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center where the Khmer Rouge killed more than 1 million prisoners between 1975-1978. About 9,000 bodies were exhumed after the war, most of them in mass graves scattered around the former Chinese Cemetery. A visit to the Killing Fields will set you back $5, with an audio guide already included in the tour. The center is open every day, from 8am – 5:30pm.
WATCH THE SUNSET AT THE RIVERSIDE
The Riverside area is the cheeriest place in Phnom Penh and offers the best views of the sunset. The whole stretch of land on the banks of the Mekong River is lined with bars, restaurants, hostels, and a plethora of other business establishments that cater to the tourist crowd on one side. You can also walk on the other side of the street, where you can walk across the magnificent view of the river, and buy street food from the various hawkers lining the banks.
THE INDEPENDENCE MONUMENT
Built in 1958, it symbolizes Cambodia’s sovereignty from France in 1953. Located at the intersection of Preah Sihanouk and Preah Norodom Boulevards, the construction of the monument used entirely reinforced concrete and designed with the ancient Khmer Architecture. Although no one is allowed to go near the statue, the view itself can be a really great background in your photos!
TAKE A TRIP TO CHROY CHANGVAR
A peninsula in the middle of the Mekong River and Tonle Sap. It is across the river from the city and accessible only via the Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge and Cambodia-Japan Friendship Bridge. Stay in one of the coffee shops in the area and enjoy the cool air breeze and the amazing view of the river.
GO SWIMMING AT THE THEME PARK
Fantastic Water Park is the perfect place for kids and families. It is located in the biggest and most prominent satellite city called the Grand Phnom Penh International City. It offers a fun-filled day for children with its Lazy Wavy River, Relax Pools, Giant Slides and Spiral Slides, and two uniquely designed kid’s areas.
THE NATIONAL MUSEUM
Every country has its humble beginnings. The National Museum is located near the Royal Palace in an imposing terracotta building of traditional design. The museum houses magnificent pieces of Khmer sculpture, including an almost perfect bronze reclining Vishnu statue recovered from the Western Mebon temple near Angkor Wat in 1936, and so much more!
The entrance fee for the museum is $5 for foreigner children, $10 for adults, and 500 KHR for Cambodians. It is prohibited to photograph the vast collection. Multi-lingual guides are available for tours. The New Guide to the National Museum booklet is also available at the front desk for $10.
GO RUNNING AT THE NATIONAL OLYMPIC STADIUM
The Olympic Stadium is a popular spot for sunrise jogs and sunset aerobics. It can accommodate up to 50,000 people and was originally built to house the SEA Games in 1966. Nowadays, people visit the stadium to look at the splendor of the structure built by world-renowned architect, Vann Molyvann. Entrance to the area is free but they charge a minimal fee to use the facilities.
WALK THE STREETS OF PARIS
Koh Pich or Diamond Island is a Paris-inspired island located at the mouth of where the Tonle Bassac River heads towards Vietnam. It features the Elite Town, a set of buildings with the modern-day French Architecture design, an imitation of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and the Project Elysee – complete with a grand boulevard and Haussmann rows of apartment blocks. Streets are named after the streets of Paris, and structures have French-colonial inspired architecture. It’s like walking in the streets of Paris while being in Cambodia.
BRING OUT THE CHILD IN YOU
When you get tired of walking the Paris streets of Koh Pich, drop by the carnival to indulge the child in you. You’ll see the traditional Carousel, Kiddie Rides, Bump Cars, Roller Coaster, and many other attractions. At the back of the Children’s Park, there is a walkway with a fenced railing where you can watch the view of the river while enjoying the fresh cool breeze. The walkway is a famous sunset hangout where families walk around while sipping milk tea or slurping ice cream. The sunset view is amazing here!
If a 45-minute cruise is not enough, you can visit the nearby Silk Island on a 4-hour boat tour. The tour leaves at 8:15 am and 1:15 pm every day. It takes an hour to reach the island, 2 hours to tour the silk weaving villages, and an hour going back to the city. It’s a cultural tour that you absolutely don’t want to miss!
CITY HOP ON, HOP OFF BUS TOUR
The City hop on and hop off tour is a service that provides cheap bus tours around the city and in the nearby countryside. It offers private transportation to groups that want the convenience of being able to move around the city at their own pace. The tour fees include hotel pickup and drop off, free WIFI and drinking water, audio guides while en-route to the destinations, entrance fees, and an English speaking tour assistant.
GO ON A WALKING TOUR
If you want to tour the city at your own pace, it’s also very doable. Just download a city map or follow Google Maps and you can go on a self-guided walking tour of the city. Start off in BKK1 and walk towards Independence Monument. Along your way you will see a Pagoda and the park across Independence Monument. Walk towards AEON Mall or go left towards the Riverside. Along Sisowath Quay you’ll see the facade of Royal Palace and you can go all the way to the Night Market. So many places to see, you just have to know where to look.
SHOP, SHOP, AND SHOP
Did you really think Bangkok is the only place where you can get cheap finds? Think again! Cambodia’s manufacturing sector comprises ⅓ of the country’s economy. This is actually where famous clothing lines are manufactured. Check out our list below on where you can get Authentic Brands at 50% or more discounts. Drop by any of the best markets in Phnom Penh for food items, jewelry, and electronics.
Russian Market is famous among the tourist crowd. It has rows after rows of tourist souvenirs and trinkets that you can buy for your loved ones back home. Take your pick among the sculpted Buddhas, Khmer silk scarves, cheap bags and accessories, and the many spices and seasonings you will find. Around 5 pm the parking space outside becomes a Foodie Haven where dozens of stalls are set-up offering traditional Khmer delicacies.
Central Market was built in 1937 and designed by Jean Desbois. Also known as Phsar Thmey, it’s a famous tourist attraction in itself with its huge central dome painted in sunshine hues and four wings panning out into huge hallways. Each hallway is full of shopping stalls and an assortment of goods including tourist souvenirs, food, jewelry, and electronics.
The night market located right in front of Sisowath Quay is a haven for clothes fanatics. Here you can find items of clothing for as low as $1 a piece. Bring your haggling skills with you and you’d end up with as many jeans, shirts, and bags you can carry. At the back of the market, there are also food stalls where you can find local food items that you can eat cross-legged on floor mats in the middle of the food stations.
Looking for cheap finds? The BKK Market is smack in the middle of the busy central business district. Like Orussey, BKK is a local market where you can find cheap food items like fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, local food delicacies, household items, jewelry, clothing, and even local money changers. Bargain as much as you can because prices are never fixed.
The Old Market, as the name implies, is the oldest market still operating in Phnom Penh. Here you’ll find various tropical fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, spices, clothes and jewelry, and all the items that you need at home. Also known as Phsar Chas, Old Market is more famous with the locals than with the tourist crowd. Drop by here and with good negotiation skills, you’ll find that the items are about 50% cheaper than Russian and Central Markets.
EAT AND DRINK LIKE A CAMBODIAN
When you’re in Cambodia, eat like a Cambodian. This is the land of herbs and spices and of the famous Kampot pepper used by 5-star hotels. Seafood, meat, vegetables, and fruits are abundant and cheap – which makes food in restaurants budget-friendly as well. Here’s a list of the items you absolutely need to try!
TRY THE STREET FOOD
Cambodia is a street food haven. Some would say that the food you see on the streets is even better than what you can get from restaurants, and a lot cheaper too! Along the riverside, there are rows of hawkers selling fresh fruits, quail eggs, roti, flavored crepes, fried bananas, sweet potatoes, dumplings, Khmer noodles, and more. Price range from KHR 1,000 and above.
BUY FRUITS FROM A LOCAL VENDOR
The fruits in Cambodia is organic and all-natural. Their fertile land is ideal for growing root crops, rice, and fruit trees. You can find fruit stands in local markets and there’s also street vendors selling ready to eat, peeled fruits with a free salt mixture. Don’t miss the unripe mangoes with shrimp paste… it’s a must try!
TRY THE FISH AMOK
As the National Dish of Cambodia, not trying this food is insane! It’s like going to Japan without trying karē raisu (curry with rice). Fish Amok is made from white fish goby, snakehead or catfish. It uses kroeung, a traditional Khmer herb/spice paste made from a variety of spices and pounded using mortar and pestle. The original fish amok is steamed in a banana leaf basket, with some coconut cream, finely sliced kaffir lime leaves, and chili on top.
TRY THE LOCAL COFFEE AND MILK TEA
It’s true that there are many international coffee brands that are already operating in Phnom Penh, but the regular coffee stalls are still in high demand. Why? The local coffee in Cambodia tastes great, if not better than foreign brands. For less than a dollar, coffee aficionados can get brewed coffee with a splash of milk (and sugar if you want).
Local coffee shops offer frappes with the same quality as that of Starbucks at half the price. Milk tea shops are also everywhere. You can get $1 milk tea at any of the local markets or food stalls splattered around the city. Or buy tea leaves at the market for less than a dollar, and make one on your own.
ALL NATURAL FRUIT SMOOTHIES
Fruit smoothies in the city are not the fruit concentrate variety. It is a true, honest-to-goodness, fruit blend that you can actually see being prepared in front of you. They don’t use sweeteners or preserved fruits from the can – everything is au naturel. For $1, you get a blended fruit of your choice, with or without milk and sugar, depending on your preference.
GO GREEK ON THURSDAYS
Greek Souvlaki Restaurant offers $1 samplers every Thursday. Drop by any of their outlets in Toul Kork and Toul Tumpoung to experience Authentic Greek and Mediterranean recipes that you would surely enjoy. Try their Pita Bread made fresh daily, mouthwatering Hummus, traditional Greek Moussaka, and Pastichio.
VISIT THE CAT CAFES
Fond of felines? There are many cafes in the city where you can sip your favorite drink while cuddling these attention-seeking furbabies. There’s the Chhma Catfé in BKK where you can sip their famous “Cambodiano” blend and Ministry of Cat Cafe where you can sip a brew amidst gorgeous cats and kittens rescued from the streets of Cambodia.
There’s also the Zoo Café where you can order the best-seller Zoo Oreo Frappe and play with their collection of animals including the marmoset, a rare type of monkey native to South America. And lastly, check out Cat U House, with its wide variety of drinks available and dozens of cats to interact with.
GORGE ON BUFFETS
Have a big appetite? Buffets are abundant in Phnom Penh. Master Suki and Sou Sou are the most famous suki soup restaurants in Phnom Penh. Both offer unlimited servings of seafood, vegetables, and wagyu beef slices that would fill up your hungry stomachs. Tonle Bassac II is a favorite among locals as it serves traditional Khmer cuisine, complete with desserts and fruits in season. Sakura is also worth visiting, with its wagyu slices and hotpot offerings.
TRY THE STREET MI CHA / LORT CHA
Phnom Penh is brimming with all sorts of street food. One of the most popular is the stir-fried noodles called Mi Cha or Lort Cha – depending on the type of noodles that you choose. You can choose whether you want your noodles to come with vegetables, beef strips, fried egg, luncheon meat, or all of it. The sweet and spicy flavor of the sauce is what makes the dish special.
MI SOUP (Kuy Teav) ON COLD DAYS
On rainy days, what better way to start your day than with a bowl of hot soup? In Phnom Penh, you will find early morning Kuy Teav stalls selling a steaming bowl of broth filled with noodles, beef, and aromatic vegetables. They’ll serve it to you without the broth first, and let you put your choice of spices. Try it with some sweet sauce, oyster sauce, some lemon juice, and a few chili slices for that perfect flavor.
TASTE THE SWEETNESS OF CHEK JIN
Fried bananas have never been more interesting anywhere else in the world. In Cambodia, chek jin is a popular afternoon snack. The bananas are thinly sliced and rolled in a thick batter of mixed flour and black sesame seeds. The sweetness of the bananas combined with the flavor of the sesame seeds goes well together.
CRAFT BEER TOUR
Are you a beer lover? Join a craft beer tour during your visit. Viator Tours start at 6 pm and it includes a sampling of tasty appetizers and beer chow, as well as 10 different craft beers and a shot or two of the local rice wines infused with natural herbs and spices. Craft beer is slowly becoming a trend in the city where Hops Craft Beer, Riel Brewery, Himawari Microbrewery, and Cerevesia Craft Brewhouse are the biggest players.
BE HAPPY WITH A PIZZA
You got it right! Happy Pizza is available in one of the Riverside Restaurants, in Pub Street Phnom Penh, and sometimes, even at brick-oven pizza stalls around the corner of where you’re staying. If you don’t know what a Happy Pizza is, it’s Pizza drizzled with cannabis (don’t worry, you’re not doing anything illegal!). A few slices, and you’ll get that happy buzz and laugh the night away.
DIP INTO THE CAMBODIAN CULTURE
Cambodia is rich in culture and tradition. Everywhere you look, every scene you see – each one tells its own story. From the language they use to communicate, to the abundant street art and building architecture, it tells a story of how the country had surpassed its dark past and rebuilt it into what it is now. Learn the country’s culture by enjoying any of these activities in our list.
WATCH THE MONKS
In the morning as early as 5 am, orange-robed Buddhist monks leave their temples and walk the streets towards houses and businesses to offer prayers and chants in exchange for food or small money. Locals believe that these prayers will give their business good luck and high income for the day. Try to be as respectful as possible by bowing a little and not looking them in the eyes because they are considered holy money in Cambodia.
ATTEND KHMER CLASSES
What better way to embrace a country’s culture other than learning its language? The good thing about it is that there’s a weekly group Khmer classes in BKK1 and it’s free! Join any one of The Phnom Penhian sessions, teach or learn a new language, and meet friends as well. They have free Khmer classes every Wednesday from 19:00 – 21:00 at Kaifun Restaurant, Sundays from 16:30 – 18:30 at Eleven One Kitchen, and Couchsurfing Meet-Ups every Friday from 20:00 onwards at Teddy Bear Restaurant.
GO ON A CYCLO TOUR
There are many tour companies offering half-day and full-day cyclo tours in the city. Instead of the usual tuk-tuk, you ride alone facing the street with a driver pedaling behind you. You can use the Grasshopper Adventures, which allows you to explore the city like a local or the self-guided tours from Viator. These kinds of tours range from $30-$50, depending on the itinerary and time that you’ll spend sightseeing.
WATCH THE APSARA SHOW
The Apsara dance show gives you a glimpse of the traditional Cambodian dances, reminiscent of the time when the country has not yet experienced any kind of political turmoil. The Cambodian Living Arts offers features traditional dance performances, theater shows, shadow puppets, and musical theater shows year-round in the National Museum grounds.
JOIN THE MAJOR FESTIVALS
Cambodia has 3 major festivals year. They are usually celebrated for 3-5 days and the dates are not fixed because it follows the ancient Khmer Buddhist calendars.
– Khmer New Year or Bon Chol Chhnam Thmei is the biggest and most celebrated National Holiday in the country. It is celebrated every April and marks the end of the harvest season. Part of the village celebrations are the traditional Khmer games, called Bas Angkunh, Chaol Chhoung, and Leak Kanseng. They also dance to traditional Khmer songs during the celebrations
– Pchum Ben or Ancestor’s Day is a 15-day religious celebration to appease the soul of dead families up to the 7th degree. During the celebrations, locals offer food to the monks because it is believed that it will appease the hunger of their dead relatives. Some also throw sticky rice into fields for ghosts who have no family to offer food for them.
– Water Festival or Bon Om Tuk is celebrated on the 12th day of Katdeut or the 11th Month of the Khmer Buddhist Calendar. The Festival marks the end of the rainy season and the start of the harvest season. During this time, colorful pirogues (canoes) from all provinces of the country visit Phnom Penh to compete in the annual boat racing competition.
VISIT LOCAL TEMPLES
Every Sangkat in the city has its own local temple. Other than the famous Wat Phnom temple, there are smaller temples sporadically placed around the city, and they are all worth visiting. Make sure you are wearing a shirt that covers your shoulders and you are amply covered up to your knees before dropping by one of them.
RIDE THE ROYAL TRAIN
The Royal Railway offers a fun way to travel from Phnom Penh going to Takeo, Kampot, and all the way to Sihanoukville. Travel time is a bit longer than other modes of transportation and the railway stations are a bit old, but it’s an adventure in itself as you watch the countryside unfold before your eyes while the train crisscrosses its way to the country.
TRADITIONAL CLOTHES PICTORIAL
There are shops near the Central Market that offers pictorials while dressed in the traditional Khmer garb. For $15 per person, you will be treated to a full Cambodian Makeover complete with make-up, hair dressing, accessories, headgear, and full Khmer regalia before striking a pose. It’s a fun hour-long activity. You go home with 3 pictures, that you can brag to friends back home, where you look like Cambodian royalty.
WATCH THE TIME PASS YOU BY AT THE LOCAL PARKS
Spend a lazy afternoon at the parks, people-watch, and eat a variety of snacks offered by street hawkers. Parks in the city have exercise equipment that can put a regular gym to shame – and it’s free. It also has play areas for the kids, a large area to run or bike on, and benches where you can sit down and just enjoy the morning/afternoon breeze.
EXPLORE CAMBODIAN ARCHITECTURE
The New Khmer Architecture was started by King Norodom Sihanouk and developed by famous Cambodian Architect Vann Molyvann. It flourished in the 1950s until just before the Khmer Rouge gained power in the 70s. Despite being ravaged by wars, most of the structures remained intact up to this day. The popular buildings that still remain standing today are the National Sports Complex, Chaktomuk Conference Hall, Royal University of Phnom Penh, and the Independence Monument – among others.
GO ON A HERITAGE TOUR
Check out one of the many historical buildings in the city, most of which are designed by the famous Architect Vann Molyvann before the civil wars in the 80s, and experience the country’s culture from the time when it was still under the French Protectorate.
HELP CLEAN THE CITY
Do your part in protecting the environment, wherever you are. Patronize institutions that support Clean Green Cambodia in the city and other provinces. The aim of this organization is to gather like-minded individuals, businesses and institutions to make the country greener. They organize events such as clean-ups, to positively impact the environment and raise environmental awareness.
LEARN ARTS AND CRAFTS
With Cambodia’s rich culture and heritage, being an artist is easy. There is no end to the various artistic hobbies that you can enjoy in the city. You can be just an avid fan, or a beginner artist. Learn weaving, jewelry making, pottery, and other crafts. Be inspired like the local and international artists that made Cambodia their home. Here’s a list of the activities available for you.
VISIT THE ART GALLERIES
The city’s art scene is thriving. There are many Art Galleries in the city including Sa Sa Art Gallery, DinArt Gallery, Sovannaphum Arts Association and Arts Gallery, Apsara Art Gallery, Neverland Arts Space, Kbach Gallery, Sovanmachha Artist, BongThe Gallery, Space Four Zero, Kiry Gallery, TorTim Art Gallery & Cafe, Asasax Art Gallery, Vollak’s Art Gallery, The Wide Open Spirit Art Gallery, and Vili Art Gallery, Open Studio Cambodia, Nowhere Art Studio, and the famous META House.
GET IMMERSED IN URBAN CULTURE
Urban art is not very popular in the city but for art lovers, you might find St. 93 and St. 240 a tad interesting. Located near the riverside and previously part of the Boeung Kak lake area, this street was reclaimed to give additional space for more housing developments. These streets are mostly residential, with walls painted with beautiful graffiti by famous international and local artists. A walk along these streets is free, but going there from the city center by tuk-tuk would cost you roughly $1-$3.
LEARN SILK WEAVING
Perhaps the most famous shop you need to visit is the Khmer Artisanry. They feature hand-woven and naturally dyed silk scarves and silk products created by surviving victims of war. Silk weaving has been practiced long before war ravaged the country. Khmer Artisanry revived it to provide livelihood to Cambodian women. It aims to preserve the traditional method of natural dyeing and pattern of silk and cotton fabric using handlooms. The shop may be found in Daun Penh at St 178.
POTTERY, JEWELRY, AND PAINTING
The Art Bar in Phnom Penh offers 2 ½ classes of pottery, jewelry-making, and painting. For $25 – $30 per person (depending on which activity you choose), you get to acquire a new skill, and bring home with you a sample of your handiwork. The shop is located in St. 45 in Daun Penh area and it is open daily from 10 am to 9 pm.
PARTICIPATE IN THE META HOUSE ACTIVITIES
META HOUSE “encourages Cambodian and international artists to explore the field of “community-based art” – an art form based in a community setting that takes a grassroots approach.” Meta house offers daily events like movie viewings, theatrical plays, art shows, and German Language Classes. Meta House supports the Cambodian Art Scene by bringing in International Art pieces and artists to interact with other aspiring local artists.
SHOP FOR PHOTOGRAPHY GEARS
Phnom Penh is an up-and-coming tech junkie’s dream because gadgets and photography gears are abundant and cheap. Drop by Laor Laor, Camera City, or Lengkheang Camera Shop for your lens, cameras, tripods, and LED light needs. There’s also Film Photography Cambodia established by photography enthusiasts trying to revive film photography by sharing practices and experiences.
GO ON A PHOTOWALK
Viator Cambodia offers an interesting Phnom Penh Evening & Night Lights photography sessions from 5:15 pm until 20:30 pm daily. These photowalks include fabulous sunset shooting that captures the nightfall and lively transformation of Phnom Penh city into the night. The Cambodia Photo Tours are facilitated by professional Photographer Michael Klinkhamer and sets you back $55 per session.
SEE FILIPINO MUSICIANS & ENTERTAINERS
Watch the Filipino musicians at Hotel Cambodiana and Riverhouse, both have Filipino house bands, and other foreign bands regularly gigging around town with at least one member from the Philippines. Also check out Raffles Hotel Le Royal where resident Filipino Pianist Roel Manalo also do nightly gigs at dinner time.
VISIT THE BOPHANA AUDIOVISUAL RESOURCE CENTER
Bophana was opened on December 4, 2006 and since then, had been collecting Cambodian films, TV documentaries, photography and sound archives from the country and around the world. The center offers free access to locals who wanted to get a glimpse of their colorful but tumultuous heritage. A trip to Bophana will let you walk down memory lane of how it feels like living in a country just before the war, during the war, and after the war.
INDULGE IN ACTIVITIES THAT YOU LOVE BACK HOME
Of course if you are staying in Cambodia long term, you will miss the lifestyle and activities in your home country. Fret now – Phnom Penh has it all for you. Scattered around the city are fun and healthy activity options where you can spend your time, meet friends, and have fun.
JUMP AT THE FLY PHNOM PENH
More popular in Singapore and the US, Fly Phnom Penh is the only trampoline park in Cambodia. Here you can free-fly, free-ball, and free-run in their large trampolines. You can shoot basketballs, play dodgeball, velcro yourself to the wall, or get your cardiovascular and lymphatic system pumping – all while jumping on the trampolines. A fun-filled day for families and friends.
GO ROCK CLIMBING AT PHNOM CLIMB
Fancy rock-climbing? Phnom Climb in Russian Market is the first indoor climbing gym in Cambodia. It has a set of challenging boulder problems that are changed every 3 weeks. It also has a lead and top rope climbing facility in the back portion of the gym. Learn bouldering, belaying, top rope climbing, join one of the outdoor trips, or just meet friends in this fun activity.
WORK AT THE FACTORY COWORKING SPACE
Co-working office space is starting to become a thing these days especially to the working millennials. Take for example, Factory Phnom Penh – a co-working space located along National Road 2, about 20 minutes away from the city center. It features fun, inspirational, and creative spaces for professionals that are currently living the Nomad life. The Factory aims to create a space where creative minds can connect and collaborate. Plus – they have great coffee too!
LAUGH AT THE COMEDY SHOWS
For a night of drinks and fun, Comedy in Cambodia offers regular stand-up comedy shows at various venues across town including The Box Office, Riel Brewing Taproom, and Java Creative Cafe TTP. They also brings in touring international comics to headline gigs, and special events have included The Brew Cruise featuring live comedy, music and craft ale on tap aboard a river boat!
SING YOUR HEART OUT ON KARAOKE NIGHTS
Aspiring and wannabe singers out there can drop by The Deck, Integrite, and Master Steak in Toul Tumpoung area, and MeMates near the Riverside, where you can sing your heart out. They have live bands that you can sing with, or Open Mic nights. Plus, they have food selections that are absolutely to die for!
ATTEND A NERD NIGHT
Each person has their own quirks and uniqueness. We all have that hobby that no one else understands, or views that we want to be heard. Phnom Penh, being a country that welcomes visitors from all backgrounds and nationalities, embraces all these quirkiness. There is no better way to express yourself than to talk in front of like-minded and open-minded individuals. Nerd Night Phnom Penh is a group that hosts a weekly gathering of fellow nerds around the city. Usual venues are The Alchemy, Hard Rock Cafe, SCORE Sports Bar & Grill, and 5 Drunk Men.
SEE A DRAG SHOW
The gay community is very much alive and widely accepted in the city. There are many bars and clubs where you can watch gorgeous gays in celebrity-inspired costumes dancing and lip synching popular songs. Drop by any one of these bars for a fun and lively night while you’re here in Phnom Penh. Pontoon offers a Tinytoones Hip Hop Bboy Dance Show every Wednesday. Heart of Darkness has drag shows daily, 9 p.m. until 5 a.m and The Blue Chilli shows are at 11 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Pride of Phnom Penh, or POPP also has shows on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays from 10 p.m. until midnight.
LOUNGE AT SKY BARS
Watch the sunset creep over the city in one of Phnom Penh’s sky bars that can be found around the city. Eclipse is perhaps the highest, with its location being the rooftop of Phnom Penh Centre. Sora is another stylish skybar built on top of the Rosewood Phnom Penh. Foreign Correspondent’s Club, 5 Drunk Men, and Chow are all rooftop bars sitting atop tall buildings surrounding the Riverside area. The Fifth Element is located on the rooftop at La Maison D’Ambre’s Hotel. There’s also the Skybar at Lumiere, Sundown Social Club in the Russian Market, and Le Moon Terrace Bar near the Royal Palace.
WATCH A THEATER SHOW
The Cambodia Living Arts is an organization tasked to bring traditional arts back back to life by honing the skills of young musicians, dancers, singers, and other performers. They provide training so that these artists can earn a living from their art. Catch any one of the daily shows hosted by CLA at the National Museum from 7pm to 8pm.
The major roads outside Central Market are teeming with jewelry stores where you can find authentic gold and silver jewelry at more than half the price of those you can find in malls. Cambodia has its own gemstones mining industry, and you can easily find anything from zircon to rubies and diamonds in these shops. Just make sure you check out the gem certificates in of the stones you want to buy to be sure that you are not getting ripped off. For display jewelry though, this is not a major concern.
TRY YOUR LUCK AT THE NAGA WORLD CASINO
Phnom Penh has an opulent casino that puts Las Vegas to shame. NagaWorld Hotel and Casino is 2km from the Royal Palace and boasts 1,658 luxurious rooms with scenic views, Wi-Fi, and flat-screen TVs, complete with 24/7 room service. It also has many gaming halls, 16 restaurants, 2 spas, 2 nightclubs, a gym and a rooftop pool with bar. It’s a taste of extravagance, all in one sleek and stunningly-designed complex in the middle of the city.
PARTY AT BASSAC LANE
Bassac Lane was once a decrepit back alley until it was transformed into an energetic street filled with bars and restaurants that comes alive at sunset. St 308 in Tonle Bassac is a place frequented by foreigners and locals who wanted to grab a beer or two after a long day at work. Some of the best restaurants and bars in Bassac Lane are Mama Wong’s, Hangar 44, Piccolo Italia, Red Bar, Paper Dolls & Paperboy, Chez Flo, and Lemon Tree. Grab a bite to eat in any one of these places or simply get a beer and make friends.
For some late night or early morning party places, check out the EPIC Club, a high end club that attracts high-rollers and A-list celebrities. It has a huge dance floor, plenty of private VIP rooms, a top-class sound system, 3D mapping, exclusive cocktails and quality table service. Other go-to party places are Riverhouse Cambodia that features a scenic view of the River, and crowd favorites Vito and Club Love. For all-night partying, check out Pontoon Vibe, the city’s only after hours club, which will allow you to party until 7am!
PLAN A QUICK GETAWAY/STAYCATION
There are many Boutique Hotels and Guesthouses scattered around the city where you can stay for a quiet weekend. Most of these establishments offers cheap to medium range accommodations with access to a swimming pool and a poolside bar. Expats in the city usually book these accommodations during holiday breaks like Christmas, Khmer New Year, Pchum Ben, and Water Festival. Prices range from $25 and above per night.
DANCING ON LATINO NIGHTS
It’s never too late (or too early) to start learning Salsa! Salsa/Bachata Phnom Penh holds Latino Classes from Wednesday to Saturday in different Clubs in Phnom Penh. Intermediate classes run from 7pm-8pm and Beginners from 8pm-9pm at Club Love. After that, it’s free for all Social Dancing. Partners are not required as there are many would-be visitors just waiting for another dancing partner. Bring your dancing shoes and dance the night away at Duplex, a Belgian tavern on St 278, on Wednesdays, or Cloud – famous artistic bar in St. 9.
ENTER TRIVIA NIGHTS
There are many places around the city that hosts trivia nights, often with liquid prizes in the form of free beers. HOPS Brewery, Lazy Gecko, Botanico, Long After Dark, and The Box Office are popular places to geek out, meet friends, compete wits, and earn free beers. The Deck in Russian Market holds pub quizzes every Tuesdays too!
ATTEND A BLOCK PARTY
Block Parties are quite becoming a thing in Phnom Penh! Every now and then, the craft beer breweries in the Kingdom holds Street-wide Block Parties – mostly in Russian Market. If you ever find yourself in Phnom Penh during one of these gigs, attend one. It’s a night of booze, parties, games, prizes, and fun.
LAUNCH AN RPG AT THE CAMBODIA FIRE RANGE OUTDOOR
Cambodia Fire Range Outdoor Phnom Penh is an indoor/outdoor shooting range where you can experience shooting live RPG and satisfy your adventurous soul. They have AK47, M16, K57, PKM Machine Guns, RPD, M79, Hand Grenades, and 50 Caliber well known as Dooshka. Clients can shoot an RPG II and RPG 7 (Bazookas and B40 Rocket Launcher) into a house loaded with barrels of fuel, or blow up three traditional houses, or a car full of petrol barrels. You can play all day or for half a day, whatever suits your needs.
LOOK FOR ROMANTIC DATE PLACES
If you’re traveling with a special someone, Phnom Penh has no shortage of romantic date places. You can sail on the Mekong River at Sunset, or a moonlight stroll along Riverside. You can go to The Balé Phnom Penh for a romantic dinner, or hang a lock at Koh Pich island. You can also trek to the ancient city of Oudong, go on picnics at many of the parks in the city, or get drunk on tequila in Bassac Lane. You will never run out of places to smooch and cuddle in this beautiful city.
Thousands of people of different nationalities and various backgrounds fall in love with Phnom Penh, its beautiful tree-lined streets, and its smiling people. If you’re one of them, don’t worry. Aside from the usual touristy activities, you can also indulge in these long term hobbies included in our list.
GO HOUSE HUNTING
Find your perfect home in the city. Check out the properties available in the website of IPS-Cambodia for your home away from home. It’s the biggest, most reputable real estate company in the city. Just give your requirements to any one of their property specialists and they will be the one to look for the home and location that is best for you.
BUY A PLANT
Once settled, you need a little greenery to cheer up your new home. Most of the apartments in the city have a balcony that you can brighten up with a plant or two. You can go to Ly Ly Garden near the Cambodia-Japanese Friendship Bridge, KL Garden Shop in Chroy Changvar, and Heng Heng Garden to buy small to big plants. Or you can also go to the O’Russey Market where you can get pots and small ornamental plants or fertilizers.
WATCH A MOVIE AT THE FLICKS
The Flicks Community Movie House is an independent movie theater that showcases blockbusters, documentaries, foreign films and international film festival winners on the big screen. For $4 a day, you can comfortably watch in an airconditioned room filled with sofas with cushions. It’s a one of a unique, one of a kind way of watching the cinema.
SEE A MOVIE IN MAJOR CINEMAS
If you are looking for a regular cinema inside the malls, there’s Legend Cinemas at the City Mall and Major Cineplex at the AEON Malls. They offer regular 2D screening, 3D, and VIP Lounges where you can literally watch while comfortably lying down on a plush sofa with a blanket to warm your feet. This is like watching movies in your own home, with a server bringing you drinks and popcorn.
WINDOW SHOP AT THE AEON MALLS
AEON Malls have 2 big branches in the city. AEON Mall Sothearos Blvd is a 68,000 sq.m. property built in June of 2014. AEON Mall 2 was built in May 2018 in Sen Sok district and it is currently the biggest shopping mall at 151,000 sq.m. Both malls get as much as 30,000 visitors a month and features international retail outlet brands that you cannot see anywhere else in the country.
Unlike the “for the rich”, snobby, and exclusive golf clubs in your country… golf in Phnom Penh is available for everybody. You can go to the 18-hole semi-private Garden City Golf Club located 15 km northeast of downtown Phnom Penh, between National Road 5 and 6. There’s also the 9-hole City Golf Club, which even holds nighttime schedules, in Russey Keo district. Other golf ranges are Vattanac Golf Course, Grand Phnom Penh in Sen Sok district, and HUIONE Golf Club in Koh Pich Island.
LEARN TO COOK KHMER DISHES
Love that fish amok dish? You don’t have to spend so much in restaurants. If you are planning to stay in Cambodia long-term, then learn how to cook it yourself! And the best way to do that is to attend the cooking sessions offered by Phnom Penh Cooking Class, a restaurant that offers half-day and full-day cooking classes that allows you to fully understand and appreciate Khmer cuisine by learning how the dishes are cooked and prepared the traditional way.
VISIT LITTLE EUROPE
Experience a slice of Europe and feast your eyes on samples of European Architecture in this little amusement park called EuroPark inside Borey Peng Houth, a gated community along National Road 1. This $60M project is divided into Scottish areas, German Middle Age, Holland and France, Italian River, and many others. Each area features architecture reminiscent of that country and era. Bring a picnic, admire the building designs, lounge in the benches and grass around the park, or snap a pic with the Eiffel Tower as your background.
BUY AT JAPANESE 2ND HAND SHOPS
Fancy some shopping but short on the budget? We got that covered. Don Don Down Wednesday clothes shop has 2nd hand Japanese clothes selling for as much as 80% discount! They even have days when you can get 3 pieces for $5. And these are not just hand me downs – they also have new clothes with that same discount. They have 9 shops scattered around the city where you can drop by and find that nice little black dress or skirt you that you want.
FEED THE PIGEONS RIVERSIDE
On those days when you’re feeling homesick and sentimental, the pigeons will chase the blues away. Buy corn kernels from the kids selling near the riverside for $0.25, and let the pigeons feed directly from your hand. Or you can also toss them on the ground and watch as the birds swoop down to peck at them. It’s a very relaxing and enjoyable activity.
ADOPT A PET
Wanting some love? The animals around the city need some love too. Cats, dogs, and many other animals need homes to stay and parents to look after them. Visit Animal Rescue Cambodia, Animal Mama, and Ministry of Cat, and the Phnom Penh Animal Welfare Society.They have feline and furry friends just waiting for the right people to love and care for them.
On weekends when you want some outdoor adventure, go fishing with Phnom Penh Fishing Tour. This group has been offering non-commercial lakes, rivers, and sea fishing trips since March 2013. Go on a private tour with friends or join a shared tour for as little as $35/person. This fee already includes 3 beers, lunch, cold water, fishing equipment, bait, and all the fish you can catch.
DRIVE INTO THE COUNTRYSIDE
Motorbikes and Scooters are the primary form of transportation in Phnom Penh. For foreigners, they can be rented daily or monthly in any one of the motor shops around town for as long as $50/month. Rent a motorbike from one reputable shops like Lucky Lucky Motorcycle Rental, EMC Motorbike Rental, 99 Motor, and Victory Motorcycle Rental. Hop and the bike and travel through the countryside to Oudoung or the outskirts of the city. Enjoy the wind on your face while watching the beautiful countryside pass you by.
Cambodia is a football country. If football is the sport that you enjoy, you can easily join any of the existing sports clubs in the city. Riel Phnom Penh Football Club is a group of 100 footballers consisting of expats and Khmers that had been playing together since 2013 while Phnom Penh Crown Football Club is mostly for Khmer players. There’s also football schools for amateurs and kids like Elite Soccer-Coaching and Future Football Pro.
GET FIT AND HEALTHY
After a few months gorging on delicious Cambodian food and partying at night, it’s time to get those calories controlled again. Stay fit and healthy while living in Phnom Penh by indulging on any health and fitness activities on our list.
Visit the Ancient city of Oudong and traverse the mountainous trails with a group of hiking enthusiasts with you. Join Phnom Penh Hike Group for hiking trips on weekends and discover areas in the city that you would not otherwise see while riding on a tuk tuk.
VISIT THE DENTIST
Of course, it’s not enough to take care of your health. You must take care of your teeth too! Many tourists come to Cambodia to take advantage of the low cost of medical and dental care. And there’s good news. Dental Holidays provides top-quality dental treatment and free flow advise on all things hotels, transport, restaurants, tours, and activities dependent on the client’s time and budget to provide the perfect dental holiday. Whether you are in the country for work or vacation, your teeth will be in excellent hands.
ATTEND YOGA/MEDITATION EXERCISES
Wat Langka near Independence Monument offers meditation classes to the general public. It’s an hour of calm and quiet meditation with only the birds chirping and the leaves swaying in the wind disturbing the silence.
There is also yoga classes held in the city in multiple locations throughout the day. Nataraj Yoga Studio offers ashtanga, yoga basics, yoga focus, Sivananda yoga and Thich Naht Hanh Meditation Classes. Azahar Foundation Center for Peace Yoga and Arts Cambodia offers day and evening regular yoga and FlyFit yoga classes. There’s also the The Art of Living Cambodia that holds a meditation and silent retreat called Sri Sri Yoga and Kundalini Yoga Cambodia offering yoga, healing meditation, meditation weekends, full moon meditation and other workshops. Other popular yoga centers are The Place Gym BKK, Physique Club, Phokeethra Sports Club, Angkor Yoga Company, and Enso Healing Space.
JOIN A FIGHT CLUB
Put your gloves on and get ready to shed those extra carbs you got from those $1 beers. Prokout Gym is a 1,000 sq.m. sports facility where you can practice (or train for) Kun Khmer, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Boxing, MMA, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Grappling, and Self-defense. You can also check out Paddy’s Fight Club where they teach Western boxing and Pradal Seray (Khmer Boxing), and Kingdom Fight Gym where they bring back Kun Khmer, mixed with K1 kickboxing.
DANCE ZUMBA AT THE RIVERSIDE
For a few dollars, you can also join sunset zumba classes at along Preah Sisowath Quay and dance to popular Khmer/western music. If you don’t know where it is, listen to the loud music blaring from the speakers, and you will find the group of ladies dancing together. Don’t be shy, it’s a fun way to perspire.
JOIN A FITNESS CENTER
If yoga, zumba, or fight club is not your cup of tea – there is still a gym ideal for you. You can try the more affluent The Place Gym, Intercontinental Hotel, Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, and The Physique Club at Cambodiana Hotel. There’s also the Superfit Fitness and Health Club, Phnom Penh Chey Mongkul, and Muscle Fitness Centre along St 95 for the general public.
TAKE A SWIM AT HOTEL POOLS
Better yet, drop by any of the hotels, and boutique guesthouses in the city. Most of them have rooftop swimming pools and jacuzzis that you can use (for a fee) on hot summer days. Additionally, most rooftop pools are beside sky bars. So you can also get a beer or two to cool off.
TAKE A RELAXING DAY AT A SPA
For $10 an hour, sometimes less, you can get a full traditional massage anywhere in the city. The most popular places are Bodia Spa, Samatha Health and Wellness Studio, Aura Spa, Nika’s Seeing Hands Massage Center, Anna’s Spa, Let’s Relax Spa, and Bliss Spa. There are places that are open 24/7 like Gold Coast Spa, Elephant Spa and Massage, Tulip, Lavender Spa and Massage, and Blue Spa in BKK1.
GET YOUR NAILS DONE
Like Spas and Massage Centers, Nail Salons are also abundant in Phnom Penh. You can find them at any street, in any district. Salons that cater to foreigners are generally pricier, where a simple manicure and/or pedicure can cost more than $10 for each. You can get the same treatment at any local nail salons for as little as $3 as well.
No judgments, just for health reasons. There are many clinics around Phnom Penh that provides free HIV testing for anyone brave enough to get tested. Institut Pasteur du Cambodge is an organization that supports and provides anonymous voluntary counseling and free testing in their clinic located along Monivong Boulevard. AHF Cambodia is partnered with the Ministry of Health and provides free HIV testing, and HIV education. They also distribute condoms for free at clinics and during events.
ENJOY PHNOM PENH
Being in a different country, far from home, is lonely. Make the most out of your stay by attending group activities and meet-ups where you can meet locals and fellow expats. You don’t have to while away your time cooped up in your room until it’s time to go to work or time to go back home. The adventure and fun of traveling is to learn about the country you’re visiting and meet its people.
Most of the activities in the list we gathered are free, or for a very minimal cost. You don’t need to spend a lot to have fun. All you need is an adventurous spirit, a cheerful smile, and a mind open to accept the cultural differences of each individual you meet. Tick each activity on the list as you complete them. And don’t forget to have fun!