Phnom Penh is a gem of a city where the quaint atmosphere of Old Asia and a vibrant energy happily mingle. Here are our suggestions to go about town, explore Cambodian culture and art and discover new spots in an ever changing urban surrounding.


Khmer Cultural Initiation

Have fun while throwing yourself into Khmer language and culture

Khmer Architecture Tours

Guided cyclo or walking tours that explore Phnom Penh’s heritage buildings


Poolside Restaurant And Bar

Western, Asian and Khmer cuisines meet for a relaxed, inventive menu.

Red Pool Lounge

A stylish space with a large plunge pool, sundeck and bar area.

Going out

Central and Russian Markets

Shopping through the maize of these two famous Cambodian markets is an experience by itself. The Central Market concentrates under its spectacular Art-Nouveau dome a breath-taking amount of junk, with some hidden gems in it. Indulge in the pleasure of bargaining for garments or house ware, and don’t miss a quick lunch at one of the super-busy restaurants, where discerning locals come to enjoy their favorite dish of soup or grilled eel.

At the Russian Market, genuine handicraft is slowly but surely receding behind the wave of standardized, manufactured souvenirs but some young craftsmen and women are offering more exciting creations, and the manicure artists here at sought-after. Around the market itself, casual and relaxing coffee shops abound, and several stores stock high-quality Cambodian silk.


Phnom Penh started as a humble riverside market along the Tonle Sap. Today, the city is busting out of its traditional boundaries, conquers vast expanses of land westward, but the district surrounding historic monuments by the river retains the charm of days past.

Just a stroll along the renovated riverside promenade allows visitors to immerge themselves in Cambodia’s daily life, from street food peddlers to open-air aerobics classes to team sports players. More and more rooftop bars provide excellent chill-out spaces and magnificient views on the two rivers.

From the Royal Palace to Psar Rithreay (the colorful night market with shopping, eating and listening to live music available), narrow streets leading to the main drag, Sisowath Quay, are alive with karaoke spots, massage parlors, bars and little restaurants. Reaching the Post Office area, clubbing is soaring at night, with several new and fashionable discos recently opened.

Wat Phnom

Built in 1373 and standing 27 meters above the ground, the “Mountain Pagoda”, as it reads in Khmer language, is a sacred place and an ancient landmark for the city of which it symbolizes the central point.

Legend has it that Daun Penh — Grandmother Penh, as Khmer people still lovingly call her —, a wealthy widow in ancient times, found four precious Buddha statues inside a tree trunk floating on the nearby river. She built a shrine to host the statues, and that is how Wat Phnom started. King Ponthea Yat, the founder of Phnom Penh Royal Palace, had the mount raised higher and several buildings erected upon.

The sanctuary was rebuilt many times in the past centuries, and modernized in 1926. The central altar presents a majestic bronze seated Buddha and other statues, as well as items of devotion and worship. Murals are particularly eye-catching, and those interested in Khmer history will focus their attention on the vividly colored scenes from the Reamker, Khmer version of the Hindu epic Ramayana.

The temple bustles with worshipers and visitors during the two major Khmer festivals, New Year and Pchum Ben.

Royal Palace

Apart from the dark years when Cambodia was submitted to the Khmer Rouge regime, the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh has been occupied by kings and queens since its construction in 1866.

Built atop an old citadel by King Norodom, the palace faces east and the Mekong River. It is subdivided into four compounds, the Inner Court being the most secluded of them. The buildings, among them the Moonlight Pavilion, are a fine example of “French-Khmer” architecture.

The esplanade in front of the palace is a popular destination for Khmer people, who like to gather there for family outings or public celebrations. Every evening, visitors can stroll among groups and feel Cambodians’ strong bonding with their royal heritage.

A little further north along the river, the Silver Pagoda is an impressive display of precious gems, carved crystals and gold. King Norodom Sihanouk, whose cremated remains were laid in Kantha Bopha stupa on the compound, ordered the floor of the sanctuary to be inlaid with around 5,000 silver tiles, hence the modern naming of the place.

National Museum

Tucked among trees at the back of Phnom Penh’s Royal Palace, the impressive building in so-called Traditional Khmer style was designed by historian and explorer Georges Groslier, under the supervision of King Sihanouk.

Nowadays, the Museum houses one of the world's largest collections of Khmer art, including sculptures, ceramics, bronzes, and ethnographic objects. The Museum’s collection includes over 14,000 items, from prehistoric times to periods aftter the Khmer Empire. It is renowned for its fascinating fund of Pre-Angkorian art.Exhibitions devoted to historical, archeological and sociocultural themes are regularly held here.

The association Cambodian Living Arts offers traditional Khmer dance shows on the grounds of the Museum. Classical and folk dances are to be enjoyed four times a week. Check schedules at http://www.cambodianlivingarts...