Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia and its largest city. It has been the capital since the French colonisation of the area and is now the culture and economic centre. It is known as the ‘Pearl of Asia’ and this means there are lots of amazing Phnom Penh tours to see the best of the city.
Phnom Penh Tours of the City
The city is located on the banks of the Mekong River but also the Tonle Sap and Bassac rivers. It has many colonial era buildings on its grand boulevards. It is home to the National Assembly of Cambodia as well as many historic buildings.
Phnom Penh: Mekong River Sunset Cruise with BBQ Buffet
The Mekong River is at the heart of Phnom Penh and there’s no better way to see the city than from a cruise on it. This tour is on a boat that once belonged to a prince of the Cambodian Royal family and can reach places that other tour boats can’t manage while offering comfort and style. The journey includes passing the Royal Palace, the city centre and the place where the Mekong meets the Tonle Sap river. It includes a finger buffet and unlimited drinks.
Phnom Penh Small Group City Tour
There are lots of Phnom Penh tours but this one is a comprehensive one that includes no more than 12 people and transports you in either a tuk or an air-conditioned vehicle. Your English speaking local guide will take you to the palace complex, the banks of the Mekong River and to see the Silver Pagoda with its 5329 silver tiles.
Learn about the Khmer kings, see the jewelled Buddha statues and also the Bell Tower with its Angor Wat-style architecture. The tour also includes the Tuol Sleng Museum, the former Security Prison 21 and learn about the notorious Killing Fields.
Phnom Penh: National Museum, Russian Market & Wat Phnom
This tour is a great way to learn about the art and culture of the Khmer Empire and is a half day tour. It starts at the National Museum of Cambodia with its arts and sculptures from Cambodian historic periods including over 14,000 items. Next travel to the Russian Market, named for when most of the foreigners living in the city were from Russia. Finally, visit Wat Phnom, with its shrines, pagodas and murals telling the story of Reamker, the Cambodia version of Ramayana.
Experience Cambodian Living Arts, Dance Show
When you visit the Cambodian capital, it is a great idea to experience some of the local arts culture and this experience is a perfect way to do it. You will see 30 artists perform folk and classical dances in the grounds of the National Museum of Cambodia. It is presented by Experience Cambodian Living Arts which works with local people to maintain and develop arts and folk activities around the country to keep alive the traditions of the Cambodian people.
If you are looking for Phnom Penh tours that focus solely on the history of the city, then these dedicated tours are just what you need.
Phnom Penh: S-21 Prison and Killing Fields Half-Day Tour
The recent history of Cambodia is one that makes up a big part of any journey around the city and this tour shows the true horror of this period. The first stop is the Killing Fields of Choueng Ek, to the south of the city. This was the final resting place for some 17,000 men, women and children who were killed between 1975-78. In total, the Khmer Rouge regime is believed to have killed between two and four million Cambodians during their four year control of the country.
The tour then visits Tuol Sleng Museum, a former high school taken over by the Khmer Rouge and made into the infamous Security Prison 21 or S-21. It became the largest detention and torture prison in the country. Today is a museum dedicated to those who died in the location and their stories.
Phnom Penh’s Past – Small Group Tour
This small group tour looks at the turbulent times in Phnom Penh’s history and visits locations most associated with them. It starts with the location where journalists camped out in 1975 as the Khmer Rouge took over, where a burnt out and bullet-holed building remains today. Then visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Choueng Ek Memorial, a pagoda made with 8000 human skulls and part of one of the infamous Killing Fields. It finishes with a look at the modern city and how it has overcome this terrible time.
Half Day Royal Palace, National Museum and Wat Phnom Tour
This half day tour includes three of the highlights of Phnom Penh. It starts with Wat Phnom, the 14th-century Buddhist temple which, at 27 metres high, is the tallest religious building in the city. Next, you will travel to the Royal Palace. Build in 1866 by King Norodom, it has beautiful gardens with pagodas including the Silver Pagoda with its 5000 silver tiles. It is also home to a gold Buddha with over 9500 diamonds adorning it! Finally, visit the National Museum which is dedicated to the Khmer period and contains art and artefacts from this period.
Tours from Phnom Penh
If you are staying in Phnom Penh a little longer, there are also tours from the city to some of the best locations nearby. Here are a couple that caught my eye.
Full-Day Tour to Kampong Cham – Wat Nokor Bachey
This tour involves visiting Kampong Cham province, around 2 hours from the city. It is known for its beautiful scenery and for Wat Nokor, a 12th century temple. The tour includes a look around the temple and a walk around the town before taking lunch at a local restaurant. See a local rubber plantation established during French colonial times before returning to the capital.
Full Day Udong Stupas Sightseeing
The Udong Stupas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and this tour takes you to see the various temples and three large stupas on the site. Perhaps the most impressive is the Vihara of the 18-Cubut Buddha with its 30 metre high structure. You will have lunch in the area and visit a silver smith in a local village before returning to Phnom Penh.
Following your Phnom Penh tours, why not travel to Siem Reap for a view of the Angkor Wat Sunrise.