Phnom Penh

Capital of Cambodia



Phnom Penh is the vibrant bustling capital of Cambodia. Situated at the confluence of three rivers, the mighty Mekong, the Bassac and the great Tonle Sap, what was once considered the 'Gem' of Indochina. The capital city still maintains considerable charm with plenty to see. It exudes a sort of provincial charm and tranquillity with French colonial mansions and tree-lined boulevards amidst monumental Angkorian architecture. Phnom Penh is a veritable oasis compared to the modernity of other Asian capitals. A mixture of Asian exotica, the famous Cambodian hospitality awaits the visitors to the capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Best time to visit

Phnom Penh, like Siem Reap, is best explored from December to February, when the weather is dry. Furthermore, the Water Celebration, which falls on the full moon in the middle of November, is Cambodia's most important festival.

How to get there

  • By plane: The major airport in Cambodia is Phnom Penh International Airport (IATA: PNH), which is located 7 kilometers west of the city. This is a small and charming airport that welcomes approximately 1.2 million visitors each year to the Cambodian capital. International carriers such as Emirates Airlines, Lufthansa, and British Airways and many more fly into the airport. There are several ways to get from the airport to the city, including taxis, shuttle buses, public buses, trains, and tuk tuks.
  • By bus: 
    • From Bangkok: US$15, approximately 14 hours, change of bus required at the Poipet border
    • From Ho Chi Minh City: US$10, around 6 hrs, no change of bus
  • By boat: Every morning at 8 a.m., fast boats depart from Chau Doc in Vietnam's Mekong Delta and travel for 5 hours to Phnom Penh. The boats return the same day, leaving Phnom Penh around 1PM and arriving in Chau Doc in the early evening. There are three options for getting to Chau Doc by boat:
    • Hang Chau Speed Boat: departs at 12:00 noon, lasts 4 hours, and costs US$22.
    • Mekong Tour Slow Boat: departs at 7:30 a.m., takes 7-8 hours, and costs US$12.
    • Can Tho's Cawaco hydrofoil: contact directly for cost

Top places to see in Phnom Penh

  • Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and The Killing Fields - Choeung Ek

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21 prison) was previously known as Tuol Svay Pray High School. According to reports, approximately 17,000 Cambodians were sent to this prison, but only seven of them survived the regime. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, an essential stop for tourists to Phnom Penh, also exhibits 6,000 heartbreaking prisoners' portraits to help visitors truly assess Cambodia's painful history. It would be worthwhile to hire a local guide in order to hear the stories that portray the reality that these victims confronted.

The Killing Fields, also known as Choeung Ek Monument, serves as a reminder of Cambodia's tragic history. This is one of the mass burial sites caused by the Khmer Rouge regime during its rule from 1975 to 1976. It is located 17 kilometers south of Phnom Penh. The site now serves as a memorial, with a Buddhist stupa filled with human skulls recovered from the fields. Visitors can take a headset-guided walking tour of the exhumed graves and learn more about them.

  • Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda

The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda are well-known for its stunning Khmer architecture and lush gardens. Although the king of Cambodia still visits The Royal Palace on occasion (if the blue royal flag is flying, the king is in residence), some areas of the palace grounds are available to visitors who can wander around the groomed gardens and see the elaborate temples, libraries, and galleries.

The famed Silver Pagoda, which was originally built of wood in 1866, was enlarged in 1962 by King Sihanouk, who had the floor inlaid with 5,329 genuine silver tiles, thus earning it its name. This magnificent Buddhist temple exemplifies Southeast Asian culture. The Silver Pagoda, with its gleaming golden ceiling and vivid orange monks, brings tourists' visions of Cambodia to life.

  • Central Market (Phsar Thmey)

This massive golden domed market in the heart of Phnom Penh is a key landmark in the Cambodian city. Its building is distinguished by Desbois design and Art Deco style during the French colonial period,. Central Market is designed in the style of traditional Southeast Asian architecture, with a massive yellow-painted central dome and four wings leading to massive passageways brimming with shopping stalls. This is an excellent place to try a variety of Cambodian cuisine in a convenient and safe manner.

  • National Museum of Cambodia

The National Museum of Cambodia houses the cultural history of Cambodia, which dates back to the fourth century. Founded in 1920 as the Musée Albert Sarraut during the French colonial period, the museum is housed in an attractive red sandstone edifice. It is an excellent example of traditional Khmer architecture.

  • Independence Monument

The Independence Monument is a well-known monument in the middle of Phnom Penh City Center. It is known locally as Vimean Ekareach and commemorates Cambodia's freedom from the French, who ruled the country from 1863 until 1953.

  • Mekong Island (Koh Dach) near Phnom Penh

If you want to get away from the rush and bustle of Phnom Penh and into a world of serenity and tranquility, Mekong Island is the place to go. The island is located approximately 15 kilometers north of the city center. Mekong Island, surrounded by rice fields, vegetable farms, and fruit orchards, not only makes for a pleasant day trip or picnic, but also allows you to immerse yourself in the country's original culture.

This island, which covers around 10 hectares of land, is one of Cambodia's most important traditional handicrafts centers, with craftsmen working in communities on silk weaving, ceramics, woodcarving, and dyeing. One of the finest methods to reach there is by cruise boat from Phnom Penh's Sisowath Quay (usually a 2.5-hour round trip). You can also rent a tuk-tuk to take you from the city to the Japanese Bridge, where you can catch a ferry to the island.

  • Wat Phnom

Wat Phnom is a temple on a hill in Phnom Penh's northwestern outskirts. The temple was renovated and rebuilt multiple times over the years, including in 1434, 1806, 1894, and 1926. Wat Phnom is a symbol of Cambodia's capital city, and it is frequently visited by local devotees who come to worship, bring little offerings, or meditate.

  • Wat Ounalom

Wat Ounalom provides tourists with an in-depth study at Cambodian Buddhism's spiritual teachings, philosophies, and history. Wat Ounalom, the most famous and oldest of Cambodia's five pagodas, is the spiritual heart of Cambodian Buddhism and the home of the Mahanikai School's Patriarch.


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Explore in Phnom Penh

Without the golden sand beaches, illustrious hills and mountains, Phnom Penh - Cambodia’s capital is a bustling city, a hub for both the Khmer Empire and French colonialists. This place is not just a capital city, but a great destination to start exploring Cambodia with its archipelago, ancient Khmer temple, wildlife sanctuary, performing arts and many museums.

Tours from Phnom Penh

This selection of Phnompenh tours is ideal for those looking to get the most out of their holiday in the capital city of Cambodia.