What to do in Siem Reap & Phnom Penh for Short Trip

Cambodia is home to a perfect blend between modernity and the distant past. At the forefront of this are two cities representing the new and old eras: Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, respectively. These cities are also the most popular ones to visit, especially if it’s your first time in Cambodia. It’s recommended to explore both of these cities but this depends on what kind of adventure you’re looking for and how much time you have during your vacation.

To know which one you should visit, continue reading below to see the major advantages of exploring Phnom Penh and Siem Reap city.

Phnom Penh

Known to be the heart of Cambodia, Phnom Penh is one of the main tourist destinations because you can experience the modernity of the country right in this city. Phnom Penh is the capital of the country, boasting a population of more than 2,140,000 people, converging and thriving within this city.

Not only can you soak in the culture of modern Cambodia here in the city but activities abound to keep you on your toes during your vacation. Explore Phnom Penh completely by reading key sections of what makes it the heart of the country.

Attractions

Plan your itinerary prior to visiting Phnom Penh since there’s a lot of attractions you need to see! Here are some of the attractions you need to visit first thing:

  • Wat Phnom → Know where the city’s name came from when you visit the Buddhist temple Wat Phnom. Not only does it symbolize the city but it fully represents the Khmer empire and the culture was at that time.
  • Royal Palace → The Royal Palace of Cambodia is a great place to visit when you go to Phnom Penh since this is the official royal residence of the country’s King.
  • National Museum of Cambodia → See the full history of the country from the treasures located in the National Museum of Cambodia. 
  • Silver Pagoda → Situated close to the Royal Palace is the Silver Pagoda, a picturesque temple containing numerous statues of Buddha and national treasures.

Nightlife

Phnom Penh has one of the most active nightlife within Cambodia, boasting numerous bars and clubs with a variety of themes. Some of the most popular nightlife scenes in the city are in Street 51 and Riverside, where you can get drinks from $0.75 cents up to $1.50. Additionally, you can meet and socialize with other tourists and locals when you enjoy the nightlife, making it an ideal place to relax and have fun!

Activities

Pack your vacation with numerous activities in Phnom Penh since you can go on a cruise, paint in an art bar, or even visit performances held by the Cambodian Living Arts. Whatever activity you can think of, from beer tasting to tours, all of them can be found in the city!

Siem Reap

If you want to get away from the city and get a glimpse of how Cambodia looked centuries ago, Siem Reap is the place for you. It’s teeming with forests, wildlife, and traditional activities that will allow you to fully experience the rich culture of Cambodia.

Packed with more than just attractions and activities, Siem Reap is also thriving with its nightlife and the places where you can shop all you want. Discover more of the city and why you need to visit it when you read its key advantages below.

Attractions

Home to numerous temples and wildlife, there are a lot of attractions you can explore in Siem Reap but you can visit these two most popular ones first:

  • Angkor Wat → One of the main reasons why people all over the world visit Cambodia is because of Angkor Wat. It’s the largest religious structure in the world that has stood tall since the early 12th century. Since this is a World Heritage site, there are also no structures allowed in the city to be higher than Angkor Wat.
  • Angkor National Museum → Housing numerous artifacts to preserve the glory of the Khmer Empire, the Angkor National Museum is definitely one of the top attractions you need to visit.

Activities

Besides going on a tour of the temples, Siem Reap is home to the traditional cultural arts. You can learn silk weaving, pottery, dances, and more. Boat rides and visiting the floating village in the city is also a good idea because you can experience something outside the norm of modern city living. Make sure to plan which activities you want to do so you spend a productive and relaxing vacation in Siem Reap!

Nightlife

While there are more attractions than you can visit in a day in Siem Reap, there’s also a nightlife that you can experience. There’s a pub street where you can grab drinks or check the resort you’re staying in since most of the time, they hold parties where you can socialize with other tourists and locals as well.

Plan your itinerary now 

All in all, there is no competition between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. These two cities boast of the two fundamental cultural concepts in Cambodia, modern living while keeping tradition and history alive.

When you want to explore culturally-rich and historic sites, Siem Reap is perfect for you. On the other hand, if you want a fast-paced and thrilling adventure, then Phnom Penh is the city you should visit. While you can visit these cities alone, it’s best to experience both to make more memorable memories of your vacation!

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