Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia and with around 2 Mio inhabitants a mid sized city but still the biggest one in this country. The shape of the city is clearly defined by the river Mekong floating through it and has an atmospheric river bank area where a lot of the nightlife is happening.
Despite that you will find nice architecture still from French colonization times and a uplifting city life. The downturn side is that many places reminds of the terror regime of the Khmer Rouge in the 70ties.
Sights to see
Royal palace & silver pagode
Both sights are unfortunately closed for visitors for quite some time but you can still get a good impression of the two objects from the outside.
Update Feb 23: Both royal palace and silver pagoda are open again for tourists. The entry fee for both is 10$ and you should plan around 1h to walk the entire area. In my case some buildings at the palace were still closed so most time was spent at the pagoda. besides the religious buildings you can find there also some small exhibitions on way of life and religious traditions.
The central market can be found in an area after the left Mekong riverside and has despite of its size also nice architecture to offer. As typical Asian markets you can just find anything there.
Independence monument, Sihanouk norodom & samdech Chou nath statue
On the long boulevard to the independence monument there are also two more monuments to spot.
The national museum documents the history of Cambodia from its roots, to the big Angkor empire and to the modern age with the terrifying regime of the Khmer Rouge.
Tuol Sleng Genozid museum
Being a former middle school during the Khmer Rouge regime this area has been a prison and political correction building known under the code S21. Only 12 people survived the horror of this place and the museum is trying to document the things happened here and that it will be remembered. The things you will see are not easy to take, so be aware of that.
Also part of the terror the Khmer Rouge did to the country was an area where thousands of people like political resistors were systematically killed and buried in mass graves. A big monument covered in skulls reminds of the exhumed bodies and the people that lost their life at this place.
Around Phnom Penh
Koh Dach & Koh Dach beach
Koh Dach is a small island around 15km north of the main city on the Mekong river. It is a very nice contrast to the loud and hectic city life just a few minutes drive away. To get to the island you will need to use a ferry. Located at the north end of the island there is the Koh Dach beach, which is a small sand dune and a set of huts built into the shallow water. Also food is served there so it has everything to spent a relaxing day.
Silk island is basically a silk farm and production located at the small island of Koh Oknha Tei. You can get a tour where all the steps of silk production get explained. The area itself is rather open and offers also various places to sit and rest.
Food is really great in Cambodia coming with an influence of their surrounding neighbors. So typical dishes are rice, noodles or curries. Amok Trei is a unique dish from Cambodia you should try (lower dish in picture). It is green coconut curry usually with fish served with a portion of rice. The other dish in the image is Tom yam, a soup from the Thai cuisine with fresh seafood in it.
A very nice and exquisite place to stay is he eclipse sky bar on the 23th floor of the Phnom Penh tower (don’t get confused the elevator will only bring you to floor 22, the last one you have to walk on stairs upwards). The bar is really nice with live music and a great 360 degree view all around the city.
Another options for an amazing view is the sky bar on top of the SORA Vattanac Capital Tower / Rosewood hotel.