48 hours in Phnom Penh

If you feel adventurous and are an experienced 2-wheel driver in cities, rent a scooter to go around. It is a great alternative to the omnipresent “tuk-tuk, tuk-tuk, tuk-tuk!” and will give you a lot of flexibility. Careful: traffic is hectic!

S-21 [the Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum]

In the heart of the city, this high school is where some of the most horrendous exactions of the Khmer Rouge regime were taking place. The visit is a must and it will shake you. Plan half a day to take in the disturbing exhibits and try and process such inhumanity.

The National Museum of Cambodia

After grabbing a pho if you still have appetite, head to the relatively nearby National Museum of Cambodia to lighten up your day and witness the beauty of Khmer art over the centuries.

A cruise on the Mekong [Kanika Boat]

Leaving the museum, stroll the bank of the Mekong and take in the atmosphere of the vibrant and ultra-dynamic capital. After centuries of making history as a great empire at the world scale, a few years of one of the most repressive dictatorship hardly a generation ago, feel how Cambodians are hungry for growth and development.

Hop on board of Kanika Boat for sundowners on the Mekong with skyscrapers and cranes lighting up and towering fishermen in long-tail boats living aboard or in basic shacks on stilts on the opposite bank. Phnom Penh is a city of contrasts…

The killing fields

We recommend you to go back to S-21, and drive from there to the killing fields. This is the last road thousands of victims of Pol Pot took before being slaughtered. The killing fields are unspeakable. Also plan half a day to stroll the place, listen to testimonies on the audio guide that we strongly recommend you to take, and reflect once more on the darkest days of Cambodia – and how this is happening today in other countries…

Vann Nath art gallery

Vann Nath was arrested and taken to S-21 where he was interrogated and tortured. His life was spared because he was a painter and the prison chief liked his drawings. He survived the Khmer Rouge regime and devoted his life to painting to describe the atrocities of the regime of Pol Pot. In his gallery, you will recognize the S-21 buildings and the shocking scenes described there, and see photos of Vann Nath traveling the world as an ambassador for peace. Plan about half an hour to tour the gallery.

The royal palace

If you have not visited the royal palace of Bangkok in Thailand or are not planning to do so, it may be interesting to pop in the royal palace of Phnom Penh.


Travel tips:

  • All relevant information to visit these landmarks can be found in the corresponding articles.
  • Regarding the sunset cruise, please be aware of the fact that Kanika Boat is the safest boating company operating in Phnom Penh, and the only fully insured cruise boats.
  • To download the content of this article and to self guide with a map, please refer to GPSmyCity.
  • Check out this interactive map for the specific details to help you plan your trip and more articles and photos (zoom out) about the area!

Don’t know where to start? Get inspired:

Golden silk Cambodia PIN Phare, the Cambodian Circus - PIN Amok - Cambodian food PIN - resized Phare circus, Battambang, Cambodia PIN S-21, Cambodia PIN 2 Angkor off track PINTomb Raider experience PIN Pin interactive map of Cambodia

5 thoughts on “48 hours in Phnom Penh

      • I am staying with friend in PP so I tend to visit Siem Reap temples and floating villages, and then in PP – few vegan cafes including Vive Cafe and Backyard Cafe, Russian Markets, street 93, Foreign Correspondents Club, Killing Fields and S21 Museum. And just some relaxation. We will be in Cambodia for ten days.

      • Wow, I am sure you will have a great time!! And beyond the relaxation and fun will learn more about Cambodia’s very disturbing past by visiting the Killing Fields and S21. When in Siem Reap make sure to check out the Phare circus, these shows are beyond expectations and were for us one of the main highlights of 1 month in Cambodia 🤗

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