24 Hours in Phnom Penh

  • Bunnik Tours
  • 16 Sep 20

Cambodia’s capital is a captivating mix of bustling streets, traditional architecture, European influence, Buddhist culture and so much more. The meeting point for the Mekong, Tonlé Sap and Bassac Rivers, Phnom Penh was once regarded the Pearl of Asia before it was tainted by war and hardship. Today, the city continues to evolve offering visitors a hip café and restaurant scene, incredible history, and warm hospitality. The city is also the gateway to some of Cambodia’s most poignant landmarks and sights.

Phnom Penh by Dennis Bunnik

Phnom Penh by Dennis Bunnik

Spending 24 hours in Phnom Penh will leave you captivated by the Cambodian capital.


8am - 1pm

Spend the morning just outside of the city learning about the country’s heartbreaking and tumultuous past. Visit the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and be reminded of the atrocities committed under the Pol Pot regime, when thousands of people were killed between 1975 and 1978 and buried in mass graves. Next, visit Tuol Sleng the former high school and site of the notorious Security Prison 21, converted by the Khmer Rouge during their rise to power where an estimated 17,000 people were imprisoned.

Photo credit: Marcin Czerniawski (Unsplash)


2pm - 6pm

Phnom Penh was the royal capital of Cambodia from 1432 to 1505 before being abandoned for 360 years until 1865. It wasn’t until the 1870s when the current day Phnom Penh started taking shape. The French transformed what was a riverside village into a city by building office buildings, hotels, schools, houses and more. By the 1920s, Phnom Penh was booming and considered the Pearl of Asia.

Spend the afternoon in a rickshaw as you pass by the city’s architecture and busy streets that tell the story of the city from then until now. Stop in at the Royal Palace, still the official residence of King Norodom Sihamoi, and admire its incredible grounds and architecture that dates back to 1866. Next, pay a visit to the Silver Pagoda that is dripping in jewels and houses ancient art, golden Buddhas and more. To end the afternoon, enjoy a trip to the elegant National Museum and learn more about Cambodia’s rich culture and history through the many exhibitions.

Photo credit: Jennifer Calnin


Meal times

In recent years, Phnom Penh has built up a reputation for a world class food scene. From bustling markets that serve up delicious street food, to restaurants and cafes that celebrate the diverse nationalities that have influenced Cambodia, there is no lack of good food in the country’s capital! 


While your mind may go to the incredible sight of Angkor Wat when you think of Cambodia, the country’s capital should sit in the back of your mind as something not to miss. 24 hours is the perfect amount of time to get a taste of the city, delight your senses and create some memorable travel experiences. Our Vietnam & Cambodia In Depth or Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos In Depth small group tours will take you to Phnom Penh and many more incredible destinations.