What to Do and See in Phnom Penh on a Budget when Your Time is Limited

Pnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, will welcome you with the Royal Palace, national museums, golden temples and more.

It will also take you back to 1970s when Cambodia suffered a lot under Pol Pot’s regime.

This city is extremely interesting in terms of Khmer culture and history and there are many places worth seeing. However, you might not have days or weeks to get to all of them, so here is the list of places you definitely must see (according to us) and things you definitely need to do when visiting the “Pearl of Asia” also known as the “City of Four Faces” (situated where the Mekong, Tonle Sap and Bassac rivers collide).

Temple in Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh will welcome you with various Buddhist temples

Must see in Phnom Penh

The Royal Palace

  • Opening time: it is usually open in the morning (between 8am and 10 am) and in the afternoon (from 2pm till 5 pm) and it is surrounded by amazing square from where you can take some photos and enjoy the view of busy streets and locals passing by.
  • Why go there? It attracts tourists with its stunning architecture with some French influences and the Silver Pagoda will take your breath away by its beauty.
  • How much does it cost? The entrance costs about US$6 and you can stay there as long as you wish.
  • Things to remember: you can get to the Silver Pagoda at the same entrance fee and you should wear decent clothes without showing your arms, legs and shoulders etc.
The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh
The Royal Palace

The National Museum of Cambodia

  • Opening time:  from 8 am till 5 pm.
  • Why visit it? You can explore a stunning collection of Cambodian art from its golden age and enjoy your time at courtyard at the center.
  • Admission fee –  US$3.
  • Things to remember: You might be asked to pay additional $1 for taking photos inside the museum.
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Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21 Prison)

  • Opening time: it is open every day between 7:00-11.30 and 14:00-17:30
  • Why go there? This place is for everyone who is interested in horrific Cambodian history. The place used to be a prison where thousands of people were tortured before they were murdered.
  • Admission fee – $3.
  • Additional info – there is a documentary movie available to purchase for $2.
A skull in Cambodian museum
A photo of dead people in Cambodia, Phnom Penh
Horrific photos you can see in the museum

Must Do in Phnom Penh 

Go cycling across the busy city

You can rent a bike from a hostel for $2 per day and explore the city with your camera on a bike. It is a great way to get to local places where not all tourists go to and easily access any hot spots.

A bike in Phnom Penh
Make your day in Phnom Penh active!
Busy streets in Phnom Penh
Busy streets

Go for a cruise on the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers

Take a bunch of fellow travelers and go for a cruse together. You can take awesome photos and enjoy the stunning scenery.

3 Cambodian monks sitting at the river
You can always spot some Cambodian monks somewhere around

Take cooking classes

There is a restaurant called Frizz (telephone no. is 012-524801) where you can take a cooking class and make some delicious Cambodian dishes. Classes are held every day, from Monday to Sunday, on a rooftop terrace. You will be taken to a local market for a small shopping to get what you need and then you can start cooking with some professional Cambodian chefs (you will make 2 or 3 dishes).

Two Cambodian ladies carrying plated on head
They are my heroes!

Enjoy Khmer massage

For $3 you can get a 30 minute relaxing massage which is not that expensive. Well, depending on the type of massage, it may not be relaxing. If you think those little skinny girls have no strength -you’re wrong. When they start to twist your limbs and fingers, you’ll beg them to stop. Nevertheless, afterwards your body will thank you and you can really feel that you had a massage.

Cambodian tuk tuks
Taxi anyone?

As you can see there are plenty of things to do in Phnom Penh on a budget. Don’t waste your time and go explore it!

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Picture of Agness Walewinder
Agness Walewinder
Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"
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20 thoughts on “What to Do and See in Phnom Penh on a Budget when Your Time is Limited”

  1. Avatar of The Guy

    Another great review Agness. I love those little buggy taxis in that last picture :-)

    I’ve never been to Cambodia but it seems very cheap and reasonable. Sadly the country is tainted with a horrific recent past and it is good to see that this is addressed and not ignored by the locals.

  2. Avatar of Craig

    Why not try one of the blind masseurs in Phnom Penh, we had a wonderful massage from a blind fully trained masseur. It was probably one of the best massages I have ever had – and not too painful.

  3. Avatar of Franca

    We are thinking of maybe going to Cambodia after Thailand and this post comes really handy.
    The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum sounds very interesting, we usually look for art museums or similar, but this one might be a good exception.
    Thanks Agness! :)

    1. Avatar of Agness

      My pleasure Franca. Cambodia was awesome, we lived there for 2 months renting a house in Siem Reap. You should definitely go there!

  4. Avatar of Mary {The World Is A Book}

    Some very good ideas for Phnom Penh. Cambodia has always been under the radar for most Asian cities. The Royal Palace looks beautiful. I can’t get over how cheap those massages are and would definitely do a cooking class if we ever make it down there.

    1. Avatar of Agness

      Wonderful! Cooking classes are fantastic but I bet you are good at cooking Asian food anyways after travelling to so many countries with your family :)

  5. Avatar of OCDemon

    Taking cooking classes is a great idea I would never have thought of. If you love being there so much because the food is great, well then you might as well bring it back home in your brain.

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