Travel, Teach, Live in Asia
Whilst still having plenty happening, Phnom Penh isn't quite as hectic as some of the other capital cities around south-east Asia. Phnom Penh provides the best night-life in Cambodia, and also has plenty of other things on offer for tourists. The city isn't quite as developed as other cities in the region, which is understandable considering it was abandoned during the Khmer Rouge regime. However the city is now busier than ever, but still has a relatively more authentic vibe than Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh city.
S:21 - Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
S:21 was just an ordinary high school until the Khmer Rouge took over, when it was turned into a brutal and torturous interrogation center. Much of it has been left just how it was found, when the Vietnamese came through and ended the regime. Blood stains line the walls and floors, as testament to the horrors that occured here. S:21 is one of the most visited attractions in Phnom Penh.
The Killing Fields
The killing fields at Choeung Ek are another one of the most visited attractions in Phnom Penh. Choeung Ek is one of the largest, of hundreds of "killing fields" around Cambodia. Approximately 17,000 people were taken here, killed, then buried in mass graves. A stuka is now in place here, with 5000 exhumed skulls from the surrounding graves filling it, to serve as a graphic and confronting reminder of the atrocities that occurred here.
The Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda
The royal palace in Phnom Penh is very similar to the royal palace in Bangkok. However, even if you've been to the palace in Bangkok, it's still worth visiting this one while you're in Phnom Penh. Some of the architecture is stunning, and the gardens are immaculate. The silver pagoda gets its name from the floor being covered in silver tiles. It also houses an emerald Buddha, which is covered in thousands of diamonds.
The Russian market has pretty much anything you could want from a south-east Asian market. It has souvenirs, clothes, handicrafts, carvings, cloths and materials, and on and on. It's also generally a bit cheaper than markets in Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh city, so it's a great place to pick up presents for people on your journey through the region. Remember to bargain hard, or you'll get ripped off.
You can also pick up some great, cheap food around here. If you're a bit more adventurous, definitely try to check out some of the street vendor food. It's ridiculously cheap, and very tasty indeed.
Phnom Penh National Museum
The museum is located right next to the royal palace, and is housed in a building that seems to match with the palaces architecture. The big draw of the museum is definitely the sculptures and statues it holds, from all eras of Khmer civilization. Entry is $3
Most people who go to Cambodia end up falling in love with the food. So why not learn to cook it for yourself? Adults and children both welcome, for a fun, relaxed day. You are also given a booklet with recipes s you can cook Khmer food even after you go home.
The half-day cooking class (9am-1pm) is $12.50 per person.
Take a tour
Ask a scooter or tuk tuk driver to take you on a tour of the city. Sometimes they'll act a bit confused at first, but should be more than willing to do it after they understand. They will take you to see the main attractions, and it gives you a real feel for the vibe of Phnom Penh.