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Things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

By Mark E Jones

There are lots of things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia ranging from historical and cultural sights to pure indulgence in shopping and pampering. To get a complete overview of the city it is nice to balance out the more serious museums with some fun and light hearted ventures. And of course, there's some wonderful food and drink to get into as well. It just wouldn't be a trip without it.

For a deeply sad experience and an insight into the history of the country a visit to the infamous killing fields is a must. This historical site can be integrated into a quad bike tour which also tours the countryside taking in the sights of small villages, temples, and the wildlife center. Riding the quad bikes is a fun experience and the guides are knowledgeable and entertaining, despite the - often personal - history they are describing.
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Aerial view of Phnom Penh by KY Geologist

To complete the sites of the Khmer Rouge era, a trip to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is important yet sad experience. The museum is at the site of the infamous S-21 prison, a horrifying torture and interrogation center where prisons were held in the time of Pol Pot. Much of Cambodian life, perhaps all of it, is informed and influenced by the Pol Pot years - this means that, although it is grim, understanding these places is essential to understanding life in Cambodia.

In vast contrast to the bleak architecture of the museum a visit to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda is a must for any visitor to the city. The two structures are separate but can be visited in one trip. They sit on the former citadel site and are both impressive examples of the beautiful royal style.

Street in Phnom Penh by Tbachner

No trip to Phnom Penh is complete without a foray into the cities markets. Visit the 1937 art deco building which houses the central market. There are plenty of things to buy from fake products to traditional handcrafts. The Russian Market is also an interesting place to buy souvenirs, plus the weekend night market where food stalls line the streets with all sorts of wares to taste.

For foodies check out a Cambodian cooking class, or take in a traditional performance of Aspara dance and shadow puppets held every Friday. After a busy sight seeing day the perfect way to relax is with a massage. The seeing hands massage is executed by blind masseurs who are able to find every little glitch. 

Asia travel is great fun, and you can find out more with Indie Travel Podcast. They have good advice in this article, things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which complements this article. 

Author: Mark E Jones

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