Our whistle-stop city guide continues with another 24 hours in the capital. Once again, we round up a mixture of ideas to best spend your time as you battle through the excitable chaos of Phnom Penh.
Missed day one? Read it here > 48 hours in Phnom Penh (Day 1)
Rapidly developing Phnom Penh is full of sights, sounds and, ahem, smells to savour. While most guide books can point you towards a fairly predictable and safe experience of this imperfect yet vibrant capital, we have what the guidebooks don’t tell you.
If you’re lucky enough to arrive at the weekend, then you make sure to take full advantage of our free weekly roundup of the best things happening in arts, music, film and nightlife from Friday to Sunday.
For you midweek travellers, there is no need to load the bus to Siem Reap just yet! Here’s how to squeeze the most out of your trip.
Day 2: Morning (7am – 10am)
Breakfast! Hopefully your first day started deliciously. We’ve got our thinking caps back on for some more suggestions.
Make it yourself : Le Table Khmère
Cooking classes start every day at 9am (duration: 3h30 incl. visit to the market, price: US$ 25) and 3pm (duration: 3h, price: US$ 21). There’s a maximum of 13 people per class, and you’re taught to cook complete dishes from scratch: starter, main dish and dessert. You’ll be given all the ingredients you need – or even select them yourself with the morning class. It’s a great way to sample local culinary classics (and feed any amok cravings once you get home!)
Side note: we’re a big fan of the creative cooking at this place. Check out our review of their “West meets East” amok burger here.
Le Table Khmère, St 278, BKK1
If you skip the class, we’ve also got a local food guide here: 7 Classic Cambodian Recipes You HAVE to Try
Breakfast with a Side of Culture: Java Creative Cafe
Near independence monument, Java Café & Gallery is a neighbourhood hub, and an icon of café culture in the capital of Cambodia, being one of the first to open after the civil war, way back in 2000. Not only is the breakfast menu fabulous (and yes, we’ve reviewed their burgers too), it’s also one of the top spaces in the city to see art by contemporary Khmer artists… some previous (100% free) exhibitions we loved include Oeur Sokuntevy and Neak Sophal.
Java Arts, Sihanouk Boulevard
Day 2: Seize the day 10am – 1pm
Get Cultural: The National Museum
Experience over one thousand year’s worth of Khmer collections, beautiful sculptures and marvels of design, all displayed within the National Museum. Spanning through the pre-Ankorian periods, Indravarman period and a large collective of more recent works there’s much to see and appreciate.
The Royal Palace is just south of the museum, and the official residence of the King. However, it’s closed between 10.30 – 2pm, you’re able to visit the silver pagoda next to the palace as long as you’re suitably covered, so this may take your fancy as an excursion option for later (2pm-5pm) if our other suggestions don’t resonate with you. Visitors must wear long shorts, trousers or skirts (covering knees), whilst also having your elbows covered by long tops/shirts. Many rural Khmer folk come into the city on Sunday to pay their respects outside the palace, so it can be a lot more manic if you’re visiting at the weekend.
Don’t be board – head to the Puzzle chamber
Phnom Penh has it’s very own board game cafe! With a shaded rooftop bar, hundreds of board games from all around the world, plus great coffee and food on offer. The staff are super helpful and happy to explain to you how to play any of the games you may be unsure about. It’s a great place to chill out and enjoy an afternoon with friends.
#1 Street 174, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
In amongst it – Central Market
Even if you’ve nothing in particular you wish to buy, it’s worth a visit to Central market for the architecture. Originally constructed in 1937, Initial design and layouts are from French architect Louis Chauchon – but after being heavily bombed during World War II, it was reconstructed in a more Modern style.
Like most of the markets, you’ll find a big mix of food, jewellery, clothing, bedding, toys and electronics. Russian Market is known for ripping off tourists, but generally Central market can contain great deals – be prepared to haggle.
Central Market (Phsar Thmei)
Day 2: Lunch (1pm – 2pm)
Back to Bassac – let’s chow down.
Bassac Lane isn’t just for a fancy drink in Elbow room, (Read about those here: Elbow Room Reveals Its Newest Cocktail Faves) there’s also some great spots for lunch.
Luigi’s offers fantastic pizza and is very popular with the ex-pat community. We’ve tried it many, many times and can see why people keep coming back. Large pizzas are between $5-9 and big enough to share, add on tasty wine for about $15 a bottle. Bear in mind that Luigis shuts between 2pm – 5pm, so don’t leave your lunch too late!
M36 St 308, Phnom Penh
Hummus house have a place down Bassac lane – and next door in the Den they’re more than happy for you to bring your food in and eat at the bar with them too, if you want to combine great eats with the smoked cocktails you maybe experienced the night before. Hummus house has very affordable Lebanese food, grab a Shawarma for as little as $3.
32 Samdech Mongkol Iem St. (228), Bassac Lane
Namaste India has a large menu with flavours to tickle the taste buds of anyone that loves great Indian food. The set meal Thali is exceptional value starting at only $5, giving you a mixed plate of excitement.
15 Norodom Boulevard, St 308
Day 1: Excursion (2pm – 6pm)
Pew pew pew – the shooting range
So you want to shoot some guns? There’s a shooting range owned by the Cambodian army, roughly 30 – 60 minutes tuk tuk journey away, depending on how mad the traffic is. When we went we were met with the delightful quote of ‘In Cambodia, you can shoot whatever you want… as long as you can pay enough’. We were never sure if the whole ‘you can shoot a cow in Cambodia’ was a myth or not – fun fact, it’s true. It’ll cost you about $400 for a cow, $250 for a pig, and double figures for a chicken. If you do decide that shooting paper targets and balloons isn’t enough for you then we’ll judge you intensely for it, but it’s your call.
We, however, stuck to just the inanimate objects to shoot. It’s $50 for an Ak47, and $80-120 for the machine gun. As cool as it is to get the protective camo jacket and fire a big meaty machine gun – be aware that your experience will be over super quickly. With that in mind, your best value for money is to take the Ak47 on the single shot setting for a literal bang for your buck.
The money from the range goes directly to the army, so again, you can decide how you feel about that political hot potato, it’s not our place to make that decision for you – just to make you aware.
There’s quite a few different places to shoot, most hotels and hostels will direct you to their preferred choice.
On the big Screen: The Flicks & Meta House
There are many cinemas dotted around the city, we’ve two particular diamonds in the rough to recommend for an afternoon movie session.
The Flicks Community Movie Theaters has an eclectic weekly line up of feature films, for only $3.50 you can enjoy these films in a laid back atmosphere – you can even find somewhere to lie down and really kick back. You’ll find their full listings on their website: http://www.theflicks.asia/
#39b, Street 95, Phnom Penh 12304
Meanwhile Meta House is known for a huge range of Documentaries, showing daily. These are almost always free to go and watch, often including Cambodian culture as the centre point of the content. It’s not purely about the big screen at Meta House, you’ll also be able to stumble across various exhibitions and immerse yourself in an arty, cultural afternoon.
Find out more from their website: http://www.meta-house.com/
#37, St Sothearos, Sangkat Tonle Basak, Khan Chamkamon
Day 2: Dinner (6pm – 9pm)
Khmer Surin blends Cambodian flavours with Thai creations. Round the corner from the popular 278, you’ll find this stunning restaurant awaiting your custom. If you’re lucky, there’s a prime table over looking their koi pond that’ll give you a hugely photogenic view while you dine. The pineapple fried rice, served within a pineapple, felt bottomless as we indulged in it alongside their take on Amok.
House #9, 57 Sangkat Boeung Keng Kang I
Note: ‘Thai-ger Woods’ didn’t actually join us for food. We know, shocking.
Friends – the restaurant – is another social enterprise that helps train young, local chefs. The tapas cuisine allows you to sample various flavours from across the land as friends link up with various sister restaurants around Cambodia and across the borders.
#215 Street 13, near national museum
Malis offers up high-end dining in a stunning, romantic setting. If you’ve reached your last night and have a lot of riel left to splash out with, Malis is an excellent place to indulge. Try the discover menu ($30) if you want to delve into local flavours and leave the restaurant to immerse your taste-buds.
136 Norodom Boulevard, Phnom Penh
Day 2: Drinks & Dancing! (9pm – Late)
Hit the tables!
Nagaworld offers a luxury night as this super casino draws you in with it’s stunning architecture, it’s all glitz and glam here. Whilst, obviously, the main attraction here is the gambling culture with all the games you’d expect – you can also head to the bar and get an exquisite cocktail and pretend you’re an extra from a James Bond movie.
Samdech Techo Hun Sen Park, Phnom Penh
Riverside – let’s go!
We feel a bit uncomfortable at the sheer amount of ‘girly bars’ at Riverside, where bars essentially become brothels. It’s an eye opener to see the sheer extent of this culture – however there are also some bars in the area with charm and great live music.
FCC is famous, and usually Tuk Tuk drivers are well aware of it as it’s been recommended highly for years. You can grab a rooftop cocktail, and look out at the River Mekong. Happy hour is 5pm – 7pm, with their exquisite creations becoming buy one get one free.
363, វិថីព្រះស៊ីសុវត្ថិ, Phnom Penh
Oscars on the corner entertains with live music in the evenings, often hosting Khmer and English Rock’n’Roll. You’ll also find great live Rock cover bands over at Sharkey’s, which is another big name in the city that’s been around for over 20 years.
12202, Phnom Penh & 126, NH 5, Phnom Penh
278 (again) – other options
If you still haven’t checked out 278, there’s some more places there (and nearby) we’d recommend. The fabulous Tusk embraces the elegant chaos of Phnom Penh, with a mixture of chilled out poolside vibes and wild DJ sets, live music and general party atmospheres at night. It’s recently been refurbished – read more over here: Tusk is Back with a Bang This Friday
278 street #2, bkk1
Round the corner from Tusk, you’ll find Blue Dog – which offers a big mix of cocktails at reasonably low prices. Pub crawls from the popular hostel Mad Monkey stop here, so it’s likely that 50 people will suddenly pile in, covered in face-paint, and rave away for 20 minutes. You’ll spot ‘Happy milk’ on the menu, which often seems to be out of stock, we’ll let you figure out what that may be…
No. 13, Street 51 (Pasteur), Sangkat Boeung Keng Kang 1,
A Tuk tuk bar sets up in the late hours at Wat Lanka, providing some last liquor treats before home-time. Whilst Siem Reap has rows upon rows of Tuk Tuks with flashing LEDs and blaring speakers, the vibe here is much more chilled and sociable.
There’s so much more on offer in the city too – if you sampled a lot of our recommendations you just might feel the need to extend your stay. If you do stay longer, be sure to keep an eye on our website for weekly guides to the best events and offerings.
Why not check out our Facebook for up to date events:
What’s On Phnom Penh
Miss day one? Head back there from here: 48 hours in Phnom Penh (Day 1)