Two days in the Cambodian capital gives you enough time to explore the city’s past, including the dark days of the Khmer Rouge, as well as its modern culinary and cultural scenes. Here are our recommendations for how to spend the ultimate 48 hours in Phnom Penh.
Day 1: History and Heritage
Morning: Get oriented with a city sightseeing tour of Phnom Penh this morning. Choose between the flexibility of a private tour and the value of a small-group tour as you make your way from the Royal Palace to the National Museum of Cambodia to the hilltop Wat Phnom temple. Alternatively, make use of the hop-on hop-off bus to explore at your leisure.
Afternoon: To fully understand Cambodia, you have to learn about the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge. This afternoon, learn about a dark chapter in Cambodian history as you visit two critically important sites, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, housed in a former high school that was used as a death camp, and Choeung Ek, one of the Killing Fields where altogether more than a million Cambodians were murdered.
Night: After a long day of sightseeing, unwind this evening on a sunset cruise on the waters of the Mekong River. Sip cocktails or enjoy a dinner buffet as you float past the banks of Phnom Penh and the villages of Tonle Sap.
Day 2: Food and Culture
Morning: This morning, head to the rural community of Silk Island (Koh Dach) for a glimpse of day-to-day life in rural Cambodia. Cruise to the island to visit a silk plantation, or take a walking or cycling tour of the island’s villages to learn more about its farms and silk weavers.
Afternoon: Treat your tastebuds to some of Phnom Penh’s best bites this afternoon on a tasting tour. Sample local specialties such as fried noodles, spicy papaya salad, Khmer curries, barbecued meats, and exotic fruits from markets, cafés, restaurants, and street-food stalls.
Night: Wrap up your trip with a special night at the National Museum of Cambodia for a cultural performance as Cambodian mythology comes to life through music, dance, and beautiful costumes. For something a bit more low-key, explore the city’s burgeoning beer and cider scene with a pint at a local brewery.