The best of Phnom Pehn

April 22, 2018

Phnom Pehn is filled with important cultural and historical sites with friendly locals and delicious food which makes visiting an easy choice when coming to Cambodia. Below is a shortlist of the best things to see in Phnom Pehn.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum – This former high school turned into the secret centre where the Khmer Rouge tortured and imprisoned somewhere between 12000 and 20000 people who were against the Pol Pot regime. Visitors will be able to see equipment that was used for torture, different cells such as the interrogation rooms and holding cells and a collection of vivid photographs of the soldiers as well as the prisoners. There are only twelve confirmed survivors which makes this devastating museum an important place to visit to ensure things like this do not happen again.

Jet containers – A night out at Jet Containers consists of blaring music from various bars, delicious cocktails, local beer and plenty of options to eat. Next to one of the roads, you’ll find Phnom Pehn Seafood. Here you’ll be able to pick from a variety of seafood which then gets grilled at your own table. Staff at Jet Containers are very friendly, almost begging you to eat and drink at their restaurant and if you want to do some shopping, there is also a small market.

National Museum – Located near the Royal Palace; this museum houses numerous sculptures and artifacts in a beautiful red building with a lush garden and ponds at its center. Entrance is $10 and hiring a guide is recommended as you will then better understand what you are looking at.

Royal Palace – The Royal Palace consists of a complex of beautiful architecture with large buddhas and various historical, solid gold and bronze relics. Entrance is $10 and I recommend hiring a guide. Don’t forget that modest dress is required.

Markets – Phnom Penh has three markets to choose from each selling various pieces of clothing, jewellery, curios, and food. The markets are not as interesting as other markets in the country or in other Asian cities but it’s always nice to have a look and enjoy some local food. There is the Night Market which isn’t too interesting for shopping but you can sit on carpets at the back of the market to enjoy some food. The Central Market is housed in a large dome with a lot of jewellery and clothing on the inside and plenty of fruits, vegetables, and seafood on the outside. There is also the Russian Market located further away.

The Choeung Ek Genocidal Center – 15km southeast of the city you’ll find the shocking “killing fields” where thousands were killed by the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. Entrance is $6 and includes an audio tour which takes you passed the mass graves and glass cases filled with victims’ bones, teeth, and clothes. The tour ends at the Memorial Stupa where the victim’s remains are preserved behind glass and it is where there is an annual memorial in memory of those who have been killed here. In the corner, near the entrance is a small museum where you can gain a better understanding of those at the top-level of the Khmer Rouge. As terrible as it is to get a glimpse into what happened here, it is an important historical sight which should not be missed.

Food – Sit next to the river at Bopha Phnom Penh Titanic Restaurant and enjoy items such as vegetable curry, spicy tempura prawns, fried noodles and more. Staff are very friendly and the décor is beautiful. Another restaurant not to be missed is Black Bambu which offers guests the opportunity to share a variety of small plates such as chickpea fries, skewers, calamari, delicious prawn taco’s or to enjoy their own large plate. Dessert consists of a wide range of ice cream flavour such as tiramisu or turmeric or opt for the sweet butterscotch coconut cup. Happy hour is from 5PM but the restaurant only gets full later in the night.

For those who have more time, there are various monuments scattered throughout the city. Alternatively, visitors can end their time in Phnom Pehn with a quiet river cruise while watching the sun dip below the horizon.