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How to Spend 3 Days in Phnom Penh

How to Spend 3 Days in Phnom Penh

Cambodia is a nation rich with history and ripe with beauty, and Phnom Penh offers travelers an ideal starting point to experience the best of both. With three days to spend in the Cambodian capital, you can see the city’s top attractions, learn about the Khmer Rouge, and explore a bit beyond the city. Here are some suggestions.

Day 1: Phnom Penh City

For your first day in the city, get oriented with a sightseeing tour around town. Go shopping at the Russian Market (the largest in Cambodia), stroll the manicured gardens of hilltop Wat Phnom Temple, and marvel at the ornate architecture of the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. Choose between a half-day morning tour and a full-day tour that includes an exploration of the Khmer Rouge history in the afternoon. Whether you go with a guide or on your own, you won’t want to miss the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, which together tell the story of the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge during the 1970s. If you’d prefer to explore the Cambodian capital at your own pace, consider the hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus, which stops at major city landmarks, as well as the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Refuel with an evening food tour through the city by tuk-tuk. 

Day 2: The Mighty Mekong

The Mekong River and vast Tonle Sap Lake are critical to life in Cambodia. Today’s your opportunity to spend some time on the water to get a feel for day-to-day life in rural Cambodia. For a full day of activity, opt for a Mekong River cruise from Phnom Penh. Hop off at Silk Island to learn more about the area’s silk-weaving heritage, and soak up the unique landscape of Tonle Sap, the biggest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. For a more intimate look at life on the river, spend the afternoon with a local fisherman learning how to throw nets to snag catfish and giant freshwater Mekong prawns. Whether or not you catch anything, you’ll still enjoy a simple seafood dinner prepared right onboard. If you haven’t yet sampled some traditional Khmer food, tonight is a good opportunity to do so.

Day 3: Cambodian Day Trips

Phnom Penh makes an excellent base for exploring other areas of Cambodia. Animal lovers might want to escape the heat and support a good cause with a visit to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center to observe rescued pileated gibbons, Siamese crocodiles, and Malayan sun bears. Those interested in Angkorian temples will find a quieter alternative to Siem Reap on a day trip to Phnom Prasith and Phnom Reap temples, while nature lovers can opt to spend a day hiking the trails of Kirirom National Park. Another popular option is a trip to Mt. Oudong with its reclining Buddha statue at Phnom Baset. No matter which option you choose, you’ll be back in Phnom Penh in time for a relaxing dinner at a riverside restaurant or for a cultural performance at the National Museum of Phnom Penh.

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7 Tours and Activities

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Experience Cambodian Living Arts, Dance Show

Experience Cambodian Living Arts, Dance Show

star-5
156
Discover a night of traditional Cambodian dance during a performance by the Cambodian Living Arts on Stage. You'll have time to tour the stunning gardens of the National Museum of Phnom Penh as part of this memorable evening of culture and tradition that is perfect for the whole family.
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  • 1 hour
From
$15.39
From
$15.39

Historical Phnom Penh Small-Group Tour, including Genocide Museum and Killing Fields

Historical Phnom Penh Small-Group Tour, including Genocide Museum and Killing Fields

star-4.5
258
Discover the history and horror of Phnom Penh’s past on this half-day, small-group tour. Follow the path of one of the most tragic times of the 20th century – the rise and fall of the Khmer Rouge – and see how the country has been rebuilt.
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  • 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$58.00
From
$58.00

Phnom Penh’s Culinary Underground: Local Food Tour by Tuk-tuk

Phnom Penh’s Culinary Underground: Local Food Tour by Tuk-tuk

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88
Enjoy unlimited beer or soft drinks as you explore Phnom Penh by tuk-tuk on an evening food tour of Phnom Penh street food, local restaurants, and beer. Visiting local spots with a food-loving guide is a great way to go beyond the well-known dishes at tourist restaurants; get the back story on each bite as you try local specialties, from the Cambodian national dish to more modern varieties.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$60.52
From
$60.52

Full-Day Phnom Penh Sightseeing Tour

Full-Day Phnom Penh Sightseeing Tour

star-4.5
25
Explore Phnom Penh on a full-day private tour of the vibrant capital. Admire the stately columns of the Royal Palace, visit the National Museum, and climb to the hilltop Wat Phnom. Then learn about Cambodia’s tragic past at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, the former site of the Security Prison 21 (S-21) established by the Khmer Rouge regime. Your personal guide shares insightful commentary on a visit to the Killing Fields at Choeng Ek. Lunch and a market tour are included.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$75.90
From
$75.90

The Pre-Angkor Temples near Phnom Penh

The Pre-Angkor Temples near Phnom Penh

On this full-day temple tour, experience ancient Khmer temples without detouring to Siem Reap. This tour offers a good opportunity to see art and architecture from the sixth to twelfth centuries, including bas reliefs and stone carvings; enjoy a similar experience to visiting the UNESCO listed Angkor Archaeological Park without the stress of visiting Siem Reap’s busiest tourist destination.
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  • 11 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$162.83
Price varies by group size
From
$162.83
Price varies by group size

Private Prasith and Reap Temples Day Trip from Phnom Penh

Private Prasith and Reap Temples Day Trip from Phnom Penh

star-4.5
3
Although Phnom Penh isn’t the first port of call for travellers looking to explore Angkorian temples, many visitors to Cambodia underestimate this city’s historical and cultural significance. On this private tour, enjoy a quieter temple experience - these temples don’t attract the big crowds found in Siem Reap.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$97.44
Price varies by group size
From
$97.44
Price varies by group size

Udong Mountain Tour - Old Capital Tour including Silversmith Village

Udong Mountain Tour - Old Capital Tour including Silversmith Village

Get out of Phnom Penh for a half-day to see the Cambodian countryside. Travel to Oudong, the former Cambodian capital, and stretch your legs walking to the summit of the hill. At the bottom of the hill, the van takes you to the silversmith’s village, where you can see the traditional craft at work. This tradition has been handed down through families through generations.
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  • 5 hours
From
$46.16
From
$46.16