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Phnom Penh & Nearby Cities Experiences

Phnom Penh through the local’s lens: TakeMeTour’s Review 

You won’t be hard-pressed to find what suits you in Phnom Penh. It’s where you can experience sophisticated fine-dining in one moment, and munch on addicting street food the next; where you can shop in modern shopping malls or bargain at the bustling wet markets; where you can drive past sleek skyscrapers or stroll around old buildings. It’s a city of variety and contrast, and that’s its charm.  No doubt, visits to the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum and Choeung Ek Genocidal Center are a must to learn about the mass killings under the Khmer Rouge regime. However, we’d also like to show you the local side of the current Phnom Penh that you shouldn’t miss. Check out our list below for activities to add to your trip!

8 Fun Local Things To Do in Phnom Penh:

1. Check out the contemporary art scene

The art scene in Phnom Penh is blooming, fueled by young and old artists alike passionate to revive it. Keep a lookout for art fairs and exhibitions for a captivating way to dive into the present and past of Cambodia through the eyes of locals. Some hot spots to keep tabs on are Java Creative Café, META HOUSE, The Plantation, the gallery of Institut Français Cambodge and ARTillery. Street art is also dispersed throughout the city, catalyzed by the Cambodia Urban Art community, so make sure to hit the streets too!     

2. Cafe hop the eco-friendly way 

Quality coffee shops are everywhere in Phnom Penh, but put your conscious at ease by going to ones that also care about the planet. Eco-friendly cafés are popping up in the city, spurred by growing environmental awareness, especially among youth. Sip from bamboo or metal straws and enjoy the chill vibe. Some cafés to check out are Lot369, Backyard Cafe, VIBE, ARTillery and The Factory. They also have great vegetarian options, and if you’re looking for eco-friendly restaurants, check out Farm to Table and Eleven One Kitchen too. 

3. Cook like a local 

Have you ever had that moment of tasting a dish from your childhood and you’re instantly flooded with nostalgia? Maybe it’s a dish your mom always made, or what you ate every day in school. Wouldn’t it be nice to have this same experience for the local food you had in Phnom Penh? Reminisce any time once you’re back home by learning to cook your favorite Cambodian dishes. You can easily do so at Feel Good Cooking School.  

4. Dance at the Olympic Stadium  

What if you could have fun exercising and learning Cambodian dances at the same time? That’s exactly what you can do in the aerobic dance groups that gather every evening in the Olympic Stadium. Though there is a mix of international music, look for groups that also dance to the traditional tunes and hop in for new muscle memories! The Olympic Stadium is also one of the works of famous Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann, so while you’re at it, walk or jog around to admire the buildings too. 

5. Shop at the wet markets 

Here’s another fun thing to do - shopping! Forget the same old air-conditioned shopping malls and head to the bustling wet markets for a true local taste. At first, you’ll probably be overwhelmed by the commotion, but the chaos will soon make sense and you’ll find an array of food and goodies to try. Also found potential souvenirs? Put your bargaining and Khmer language skills to the test! Great markets you can go to are Toul Tompong Market and Central Market. 

6. Boat ride on the Mekong River  

This is definitely the local’s way to cool down! The Mekong River flows right in front of the Royal Palace, and there’s a small port nearby that lets you take a boat ride to the bank across and back again. The boat ride usually starts in the evening when you can watch the sunset color the sky. As the night comes, the glittering city lights also make for a fantastic view. If you’re not comfortable bobbing on the water, you can always enjoy a stroll around or join another aerobic dance group for some more fun!    

7. Enjoy traditional performing arts 

Wondering what else to do in Phnom Penh at night? Then, head to the National Museum to watch the amazing traditional dance performance held there every night. From classical to folk dances, experience the elegance and joyful rhythms that are sure to leave you mesmerized. Other traditional performing arts you shouldn’t miss are Sbek Thom and Lakhon Khol, both intricate art forms that are on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. 

8. Chill at rooftop bars 

Finally, wind down at the many rooftop bars around Independence Monument and the riverside. Watch the city go by below and let the day’s moments sink in. Often, there are also live bands for you to bob to, so you’re set for a relaxing night. It’s a great way to end the day, sharing stories and memorable moments of the day with friends old and new. 

Heading to Siem Reap after or other parts of Cambodia? Check out our local trips for memorable ways to spend your time! 

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