5 Things to Do in Phnom Penh Cambodia
Phnom Penh Cambodia is a city of contrasts.
Gritty, dusty, rough roads on the city outskirts.
Fine dining and high end real estate in certain corners of this urban center.
You really do have it all in this fun city sitting on the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers.
If you are traveling to Phnom Penh soon try these 5 activities on for size.
1: Stroll by the River
The riverfront along the Tonle Sap river is a happening place.
This vibrant scene includes a bevvy of restaurants, temples, and more exercise meet ups than at Venice Beach.
Strolling down the riverfront gives you a taste of Phnom Penh, from its people, to tourists, to expats, to monks, all of whom seem to converge on this area every night.
Get cardio either from the walk alone or by hopping onto one of the many exercise machines placed along the river area by the government to keep locals fit and trim.
With high energy music blaring, observe folks breaking a sweat, dancing around as they burn calories in the cooler but still very humid evening.
In a steamy, tropical setting, Phnom Penh really comes alive at night.
Spending a few hours at the riverfront will help you see this city come alive.
2: Visit Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
This is a sobering activity but strongly suggested if you want to step into an authentic experience in Phnom Penh.
Visiting the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is a sobering, heart-wrenching but very necessary reminder of how we should live in harmony and love to prevent this nightmare from ever happening again.
The former school converted into a torture center is the non-sanitized place where the Khmer Rouge interrogated and killed nearly 20,000 Cambodians.
Stepping from room to room, you can feel the pain, anguish and suffering manifest as a palpable, sad energy that permeates throughout the museum.
Black and white images of prison inmates aka victims grace certain areas through Tuol Sleng.
Even though a visit may unearth a wide range of strong emotions you can leave the museum with a sense of hope, gratitude and love for your life and for the inspired Cambodian people who both honor lost loved ones and see a bright present and future for their beautiful country.
3: Grab a Bite to Eat
Delicious vegetarian fare.
Or if you are a meat lover, huge pigs roasted on a spit, right before your very eyes.
Phnom Penh has quite the little food scene to enjoy.
The highest volume of restaurants dot the riverfront, from traditional Cambodian fare, to Italian, to other Western eateries.
But you can feast on delights throughout this charming city.
Peruse this link for a wide range of vegetarian restaurants in PP:
4: Cruise through the Central Market
As assault on the senses.
The Central Market is not for the faint of heart.
Sun dried fish can induce nausea in the less hearty souls out there.
Food – living, and dead – clothes, jewelry (yes, jewelry) and all manner of goods are sold in the Central Market.
View bicycles stacked 30 feet high in the back of flat bed trucks, showing off the ingenuity and creativity of the Cambodian people.
Watch ladies covered head to foot busily hustling and bustling in the area, carrying French bread and other delectable eats around the market for buying and selling
Feel heat stroke set in – through osmosis – when said French bread ladies are wearing hats, jackets, gloves, heavy socks, long pants and anything possible to cover virtually every square inch of their body from the brutal sun, high humidity levels and 100 plus degree temperatures.
The dames tend to believe lighter skin is a status symbol. Or that darker skin – from sun tanning – would knock them down a few classes on the social scale.
Spend one morning getting lost in the Central Market.
Bring your camera.
You will have no shortage of snaps or videos to preserve for your friends.
5: Wander the City
Phnom Penh is rich with flavor.
The city is one part gritty, one part glam in some areas, and everything in between.
Get lost. Wander. Walk around town without a fixed destination in mind.
You may come across the most brilliant little French Bakery. Or perhaps you’ll find a little store tended to by a sleeping shop owner, wearing only his tighty whities as he naps the hot, steamy day away (as we did).
Phnom Penh is a fun, fascinating and sometimes intense city that can scream at your senses while also opening your heart.
Talk to locals. Get off the tourist path.
Enjoy Phnom Penh.
Have you visited Phnom Penh?
What did you do in the city?
Email me: [email protected]
Suggested Reading: My Tales of Woe – and Wow – from My Travels through Cambodia (Amazon eBook)