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The capital city of Cambodia boasts vibrant colours, ornate monuments and dark history. It has many things to see and do. A 2-day Phnom Penh itinerary gives you just enough time to get a taste of the city. Experience the hustle and bustle of the city, with busy streets filled with motorbikes and tuk-tuks, the Royal Palace with embellishments both inside and out and aromas of all sorts from the local markets.
2-Day Phnom Penh Itinerary
Many tourists visit Cambodia for the sole purpose of visiting Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. But with Cambodia’s history, Phnom Penh is also important. Follow this 2-day Phnom Penh itinerary for a guide on how to spend two days in the city.
Day 1 History and Shopping
There are two attractions you cannot miss during your trip to Phnom Penh; the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum. One thing to bear in mind is the first half of the day one itinerary will be a heavy one. But it will be an eye-opening unforgettable experience.
The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek
The Killing Fields are an execution site and mass grave of 20,000 innocent Cambodians. It is one of the few hundreds that were present in the 1970s during Pol Pot’s reign.
Tickets cost $6 USD (£4.80) including an audio tour which is incredibly informative. Start early in the morning, as the heat of the day in combination with the gruesome recollections can be a lot to bear.
Phnom Penh Russian Market
Phsar Tuol Tom Poung, more commonly known as the Russian Market is a major tourist attraction and a must-see in Phnom Penh. The bustling bazaar is the best place to buy souvenirs in Phnom Penh.
For me, the best part about the Russian Market is the street food. Sample all the great snacks including grilled banana, Khmer coffee, and if you dare, fried insects and pungent durian.
The market is only a 15-minute walk from the next stop on the itinerary, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. So, a visit to the market will also help to break up the day from both genocide exhibit
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21 Prison)
The ticket will cost you $8 USD (£6.40) with the audiobook. The audiobook is also incredibly informative and highly recommended.
Daughters of Cambodia Visitors Centre
Daughters of Cambodia was established to support the victims of sex trafficking. Make a stop here for lunch, then learn more about the organisation at the visitor centre. Finish up with a look round their gift shop. This is another great place to buy souvenirs to take back home.
The funds raised helps with the rescue, medical support and counselling of the girls.
The National Museum of Cambodia is the best place to learn about the history of the Khmer empire. You’ll find bronze, ceramic, and wooden artefacts that date back hundreds of years, some of which date back to the Angkor era.
Entrance fees are $10 USD (£8) per person. Once again, the audiobook provides an informative experience and I recommend it
Drinks by the Preah Sisowath Quay Waterfront
The evening is the best time to visit Preah Sisowath Quay Waterfront. The sun is lower in the sky, so strolling around is more pleasant. Find a bar with a great view of the Mekong River, and have a drink or two as you watch the sun go down.
Instead, you could choose to take a Mekong River Cruise. Drift down the tranquil Mekong River as you watch the sunset while feasting on delectable Khmer cuisine.
Dinner at David’s Restaurant Homemade Noodles
We were going to dine at world-famous Friends the Restaurant when we stumbled upon David’s Restaurant Homemade Noodles across the road. We saw the chef working outside underneath a parasol making his own homemade hand-pulled noodles. We loved the authenticity, so we stepped right on in and sat at a table in view of the chef cooking.
The food is amazing! And the cheapest I’ve seen right in the heart of the tourist area. Try the Amok curry and of course, the homemade noodles
Day 2 Sightseeing and Culture
On the second day of your 2-day Phnom Penh itinerary it’s time to see some of the main sites in town and to explore nearby Koh Dach (Silk Island).
Visiting the Royal Palace is one of the most popular things to do in Phnom Penh. The current king of Cambodia, King Sihamoni actually lives at the Royal Palace today.
The buildings are astonishingly ornate with extraordinary architecture. Walking through the grounds makes you feel as though you’ve entered a different era. Be sure to visit the Silver Pagoda within the grounds too.
Silk Island Tour
Locally known as Koh Dach, Silk Island is a place of rich traditions in silk production and weaving. Spend half a day learning about the history of silk weaving in Cambodia, including raising of silkworms and farming of silk. Visiting Silk Island also gives you the opportunity to visit a more rural town, a great contrast with Phnom Penh.
Silk Island is located one hour from Phnom Penh City. Half-day tours are available and usually run from midday to 4 pm. The tour will include lunch. This gives you time to visit the Royal Palace in the morning and still have the evening to watch the sunset from Wat Phnom.
If you prefer to go around the island yourself, take a tuk-tuk to the ferry terminal. Take the ferry across the river, then hire a bike at the ferry terminal once you arrive on the island
On your way to Wat Phnom, stop by Central Market. The building, designed by a French Architect, is very impressive. The yellow building features a domed structure with four long extensions, all filled with stalls.
Grab some snack at the market – try the rice cakes and coconut milk desserts.
Perched atop a hill, Wat Phnom is a great place to visit in the evening, around sunset. You’ll be able to view the city from the top, and when the sun is lower in the sky, it won’t be so difficult climbing the stairs!
As you climb the hill to the temple, you’ll be greeted by lion and serpent statues. This attraction gets quite busy in the evening, so if you prefer to beat the crowds, come first thing in the morning.
Dinner at Phnom Penh Night Market
At the Phnom Penh Night Market, you’ll find tourists and locals picnicking on colourful woven mats.
The food is very reasonably priced. Choose between all types of skewers and noodles. There isn’t too much of variety in the dishes between stalls, but the noodles sure are tasty. It goes down a treat with a refreshing sugarcane juice. For dessert, check out the ice cream stalls for coconut ice cream.
Food isn’t all that you can buy here. Stop by the stalls for clothing, accessories, and handicrafts.
Visit Juniper Gin Bar
Gin lovers, this is the place for you. Juniper Gin Bar opened recently in 2018. This sophisticated rooftop bar offers the best views of the city and an excellent way to spend your night.
Happy hour is from 5 pm – 7 pm, so you could head here prior to the night market for some fantastic drinks deals.
If you’re not such a fan of gin, there are other rooftop bars situated around the area. It’s a fantastic way to spend your last night in Phnom Penh.
Where to Stay in Phnom Penh
Being the capital city of Cambodia, there are lots of places to stay in Phnom Penh ranging from budget hostels all the way up to 5-star hotels. There should be something to suit everyone and can be booked below.
Being a country devastated by the Pol-Pot-led Cambodian genocide, visiting Phnom Penh is a great way to pay tribute to those affected by Cambodia’s bitter past. Together with its history, Cambodia brims with culture, vibrance, aromas and splendour.
Cambodia Travel Resources
Planning your trip to Cambodia? Here are some of our recommended useful resources to help you have the best time possible:
|● DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE. If you’re travelling long-term like us and from the EU True Traveller is best. If you’re from other countries worldwide, World Nomads is good.
A new contender for long-term travel insurance is SafetyWing, which you can pay for on a month by month basis. This is also a good option for shorter trips.
Have you been to Phnom Penh in Cambodia? What other things did you discover to see and do there?