How to Spend 1 Day in Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city, sits at the confluence of three rivers, including the mighty Mekong. It’s a city where old and new collide—a city of two million people that is at once captivating and overwhelming. If you’re pressed for time, here are some tips for how to spend 24 hours in Phnom Penh.
Morning: City Sightseeing
Start your day with a city tour—you’ll get to see a lot in a limited amount of time. Depending on the itinerary you choose, you might visit the stately Royal Palace, browse the collection of Khmer art at the National Museum of Cambodia, and climb to the top of Wat Phnom, one of the city’s best-known Buddhist temples. For greater flexibility (and to tour at your own pace), climb aboard the hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus, which stops at several important landmarks in and around Phnom Penh.
Afternoon: Khmer Rouge History
Start your afternoon with a visit to the somber Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Housed in the former Security Prison 21, the museum offers an introduction to the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge, who murdered more than one million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979. Many sightseeing tours include the museum, as well as a trip south of the city to the Choeung Ek Killing Fields. While sobering, a visit to these two sites is critical to better understanding modern Cambodia as it continues to recover.
Night: Sunset Cruise
This evening, wind down with a relaxing sunset cruise on the mighty Mekong River. Choose a cruise with an open bar and fresh fruit to snack on, or a dinner cruise with a full barbecue buffet onboard. Glide past the city, see the floating villages of Tonle Sap, and watch the sun set over Silk Island. You’ll get back to the city with enough time for some shopping or street-food grazing at the riverside Phnom Penh night market.