Top 10 unusual things to do in Phnom Penh: How to escape the crowd?

If you find yourself with a few days to spare and want to experience unusual things to do in Phnom Penh Cambodia beyond the ordinary tourist attractions, you’re in luck. Indochina Voyages presents a travel blog that will serve as your guide to the top 10 unusual things to do in Phnom Penh to discover the hidden gems of this vibrant city.

Top 10 Unusual Things to Do in Phnom Penh

1. Admire 5000 Skulls in Phnom Penh Memorial Stupa

Located at the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, the Phnom Penh Memorial Stupa is a poignant reminder of Cambodia’s tragic past. Inside the stupa, you’ll find over 5,000 human skulls, which were collected as a memorial to the victims of the Khmer Rouge regime. It’s a somber and thought-provoking experience that provides insight into Cambodia’s history.

  • Location: Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, Choeung Ek Commune, Dangkor District.
  • Opening Times: Daily, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Skull in Phnom Penh Memorial Stupa
Skull in Phnom Penh Memorial Stupa

2. Visit Wat Phnom – The Ancient Pagoda on the Only Hill in Town

Wat Phnom is a Buddhist temple located on a small hill in the heart of Phnom Penh. Legend has it that the temple was built to house four statues of Buddha that were discovered in the nearby river. Climb the stairs to the top of the hill and explore the temple grounds, which offer a peaceful respite from the bustling city below.

  • Location: Street 96, Phnom Penh
  • Opening Times: Daily, 7:00 am to 6:00 pm

3. Satisfy Your Historical Hobby with the Phnom Penh Heritage Tour

The Phnom Penh Heritage Tour offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the historical ambiance while discovering the captivating architecture of that period. Hop aboard an electric vehicle or tuk-tuk equipped with a digital tablet and headphones, and embark on a journey back in time. Explore 22 historical sites using the Phnom Penh Heritage app, which offers a unique experience with panoramic views and old photos of the past.

Delve into the fascinating stories and details of each site as you listen to their history. Plus, enjoy the exclusive opportunity to virtually enter some otherwise inaccessible places. This 2-hour and 15-minute tour is available in 10 languages, catering to your preferences.

To book this tour, you can go on Phnom Penh Heritage TripAdvisor to book or contact Indochina Voyages, our team will give you suitable advice and help you.

Phnom Penh Heritage
Phnom Penh Heritage

4. Blend in the vibrant Phnom Penh Nightlife with Bars and Clubs on Bassac Lane

One of the must-visit streets for this experience is Bassac Lane, a hidden alley located in the Chamkarmon district of Phnom Penh. It is home to a variety of stylish bars, restaurants, and shops, making it a popular destination for locals and visitors looking for a unique and vibrant experience in Phnom Penh.

Experience the vibrant nightlife of Phnom Penh by exploring its bars and clubs. From trendy rooftop bars to underground clubs, the city offers a diverse range of venues to suit every taste.

Top recommended Bar/Club on Bassac Lane for your reference:

  • The Library: A trendy cocktail bar offering a wide range of drinks in a cozy ambiance.
  • Hangar 44: A craft beer bar with a diverse selection of local and international brews.
  • The Bodleian: A stylish speakeasy-inspired bar known for its craft cocktails.
  • The Corner 302: A laid-back venue serving a mix of Western and Asian cuisine, along with drinks.
  • The Latin Quarter: A vibrant Latin-themed bar and dance club, perfect for salsa and bachata enthusiasts.

5. Watch Sports and Play Pool with the City’s People in Local Pubs

For a unique local experience, head to one of Phnom Penh’s sports bars and engage in friendly competition with the city’s residents. Cheer for your favorite team while watching live sports matches, play a game of pool, and strike up conversations with the friendly locals. It’s a fantastic way to connect with the local culture and make new friends.

Some local pubs have Bida (billiards) and TV for watching sports in Phnom Penh:

  • Score Sports Bar & Grill – Street 282
  • Paddy Rice Irish Sports Bar – Street 172
  • Sharky Bar – Street 130
  • Garage Bar – Street 110
  • Aussie XL Cafe & Sports Bar – Sisowath Quay
Pub in Phnom Penh
Pub in Phnom Penh

6. Taste the Street Food in Tuol Tom Poung Market (aka Russian Market) by Tuk-tuk

Explore the bustling Tuol Tom Poung Market, also known as the Russian Market, by hopping on a colorful tuk-tuk. This lively market is a treasure trove of local goods, including clothing, jewelry, handicrafts, and fresh produce. Don’t miss the chance to sample delicious street food from the market stalls and savor the flavors of Cambodia.

  • Location: Corner of Streets 155 and 444, Phnom Penh
  • Opening Times: Daily, 7:00 am to 5:00 pm

Must-try street food in Tuol Tom Poung Market:

  • Num Pang: Cambodian-style sandwich with grilled meat and pickled vegetables.
  • Khmer BBQ: Barbecued meats like beef skewers and marinated chicken.
  • Fried Noodles (Mee Cha): Stir-fried noodles with vegetables and a choice of protein.
  • Nom Kachay: Rice paper rolls with fresh vegetables and a choice of grilled pork or shrimp.
  • Bai Sach Chrouk: Grilled pork served with rice, pickled vegetables, and pork broth.
  • Fried Banana (Cha Chuoi): Deep-fried bananas with honey or condensed milk.
  • Fresh Fruit Shakes: Refreshing shakes made with tropical fruits.
  • Num Krok: Coconut rice pancakes with sweet or savory fillings.
  • Grilled Skewers (Sach Ko Ang): Marinated meat, seafood, and vegetable skewers with spicy dipping sauce.
  • Fried Spring Rolls (Lumpia): Crispy spring rolls with vegetable and meat fillings.

7. Admire the Charming Sunset of the City with a Boat Trip

Take a leisurely sunset boat ride along the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers to witness the beauty of Phnom Penh from a different perspective. As the sun sets over the city, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Royal Palace, Wat Ounalom, and other iconic landmarks. It’s a romantic and memorable way to experience the charms of Phnom Penh.

Sunset boat trip in Phnom Penh
Sunset boat trip in Phnom Penh

8. Find out your romance by having a Dinner Cruise

For a romantic evening, embark on a dinner cruise along the Tonle Sap River. Enjoy a sumptuous Khmer meal as you glide along the river, surrounded by the enchanting lights of the city. With live traditional music and dance performances, the dinner cruise offers a perfect blend of romance and cultural entertainment.

9. Cycling around Koh Dach Island and Have Lunch with Locals

Koh Dach Island is located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Rent a bicycle and explore the island’s scenic countryside, passing through traditional villages and lush greenery. Immerse yourself in the local way of life and enjoy a traditional Khmer lunch with friendly locals, creating unforgettable memories.

Besides, in Koh Dach, you can experience:

  • Traditional Weaving: Witness the art of silk weaving, a renowned skill on the island, and learn about the intricate techniques used to create beautiful textiles.
  • Riverside Stroll: Take a leisurely walk along the banks of the Mekong River, enjoying the tranquil atmosphere and scenic views.
  • Fruit Orchards: Explore lush fruit orchards, where you can sample and indulge in a variety of fresh tropical fruits.
  • Floating Restaurants: Dine at one of the floating restaurants along the river, savoring delicious local cuisine while enjoying the peaceful surroundings.
  • Handicraft Shopping: Browse through local markets and shops, where you can find handmade crafts, souvenirs, and unique island specialties.
cycling in Koh Dach Island
Cycling in Koh Dach Island

10. Conquer Oudong Mountain to Visit the Sontte Wan Buddhist Meditation Center

Oudong Mountain is located about 40 kilometers from Phnom Penh. An adventure to climb about 509 steps to the top of the mountain and visit the Sontte Wan Buddhist Meditation Center will be one of the most memorable experiences in Phnom Penh. Here, you can learn about meditation techniques and experience a moment of tranquility. The panoramic views from the mountaintop are also worth the trek.

  • Location: Oudong Mountain, approximately 40 km from Phnom Penh
  • Opening Times: Daily, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Some Helpful Travel Information

Before exploring other sides of this colorful city, you may want to know more to prepare before the journey. Here is some helpful travel information to enhance your trip to Phnom Penh:

Phnom Penh Highlights (for your reference)

For the highlights, you’ll know more about a typical Phnom Penh City Tour with:

The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda: Discover the grandeur of the Cambodian royal residence and marvel at the exquisite Silver Pagoda.
The National Museum of Cambodia: Explore a rich collection of Khmer art and artifacts that showcase Cambodia’s cultural heritage.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum: Gain insight into Cambodia’s tragic past at this former Khmer Rouge prison turned museum.

Independence Monument: Admire the iconic symbol of Cambodia’s independence from French colonial rule.

Royal Pace and Silver Pagoda in Pnom Penh
Royal Pace and Silver Pagoda in Pnom Penh

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Phnom Penh is during the dry season, which runs from November to March. During this time, the weather is pleasant and rainfall is minimal, making it ideal for exploring the city and engaging in outdoor activities.

However, it’s worth noting that Phnom Penh can be quite hot and humid throughout the year, so be prepared for the weather conditions.

Best Way to Get Around

Phnom Penh offers various transportation options to get around the city:

  • Tuk-tuks are a popular and affordable option for short-distance travel and can be easily found in the city.
  • Motodops, or motorcycle taxis, are another quick transportation alternative in Phnom Penh.
  • Metered taxis can be booked through ride-hailing apps like PassApp and Grab, but it’s important to negotiate the fare or ensure the meter is used to avoid problems.
  • For a more adventurous option, consider renting a bicycle to explore the city at your own leisurely pace, taking advantage of Phnom Penh’s flat terrain.

Is the Airport Available in Phnom Penh?

Yes, Phnom Penh has an international airport called Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH), which serves as a major gateway to Cambodia. It offers domestic and international flights, connecting Phnom Penh to various destinations around the world.

The airport is located about 7 kilometers west of the city center, and you can easily reach your accommodation by taxi or tuk-tuk.

Phnom Penh is a city that offers a captivating mix of history, culture, and unique experiences. By exploring these unusual activities and following the helpful travel information, you’ll be able to delve into other fascinating sides of this city, create lasting memories, and make the most of your trip to this vibrant Cambodian capital.

With the help of local travel experts from Indochina Voyages Team, you can customize your journey and discover an array of unique activities beyond the ones mentioned above. What are you waiting for? Let us tailor-make your trip to Phnom Penh with insider advice and an array of extraordinary things to do.

From Hue Nguyen and Indochina Voyages Team

Hue Nguyen IV Travel Consultant

There is a saying that the most pleasant way to travel is to travel with the one you love. What is greater than spending the precious time, sharing precious moments with your life partner, family and friends? Bearing it in mind, I enjoy my roles planning the trips with my guests and make their trips lifetime journeys. 

Blog Categories

Article Submission

If you would like to submit an article or a travel story, please contact:

[email protected]

Tripadvisor Reviews