Best way to spend a day in Phnom Penh
Things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s vibrant capital where traditional and modern living collide.
- May 2018
The early bird catches the worm and for most locals life is in full swing by dawn. Join the Cambodians who flock to upmarket Malis Restaurant opens in new window, owned by celebrity Cambodian chef Luu Meng, to fuel up for the day ahead. Sit in the serene surroundings of the sprawling tropical garden and enjoy the popular morning dish of kuy teav – Cambodian noodles with pork.
The capital’s many markets, or phsars, bustle in the morning. Instead of tourist favourites Central Market and Russian Market, head to Kandal Market. Here, fish writhe in buckets, meat swings from hooks and fresh produce is sold from vendors crammed into a rabbit-warren of narrow alleys. Bargain clothing, electrical and household items and everything in between is also on offer for anyone willing to barter.
As a rapidly developing city, Phnom Penh is a foodies’ delight, packed full of eateries serving cuisine from across the globe. For culinary creativity, head to Chinese House. Overlooking the Tonle Sap River, the former Chinese merchant’s abode is a now a stunning villa that serves fusion dishes spanning all continents. Try the black kingfish.
Spend the afternoon exploring the city by one of Cambodia’s oldest modes of transport – rickshaw. Grasshopper Adventures opens in new window has devised an itinerary combining famous and hidden gems. The 13-kilometre route includes iconic buildings, coffee shops catering to the rising Khmer middle-class youth, organic farming initiatives and riding through the heart of local communities. Rickshaws are provided, with a downloadable tour and accompanying guides available through Grasshopper’s app.
Join the masses of Cambodians who flock to Sisowath Quay, also known as riverside, at dusk. Here young lovers look out across the Tonle Sap, fitness fanatics get active at aerobic classes dotting the promenade and locals play games. Le Moon opens in new window is a relaxed rooftop bar popular with young Cambodians wanting to kick back with a post-work cocktail to enjoy the views as the sun sinks.
To miss out on Phnom Penh’s eclectic collection of bars would be a sin, so stretch your 24 hours into the night. Bassac Lane is bubbling with action, with boutique bars and eateries lining the narrow alley. Live music often features in the central courtyard at weekends. Or soak up the city lights twinkling below and the soft sounds of music at Deva, one of the latest stylish rooftop bars to open.