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Day 1 in Phnom Phen

Welcome to Phnom Phen! Upon arrival at the airport, you will go through customs and immigration. Should you opt to purchase a transfer to your hotel; a representative will be waiting for you as you exit immigration. Arrive at your hotel, check in and do not give in to jet lag! There is so much for you to see and do!

We recommend you get acquainted with the city by taking a stroll around the city or a tuk-tuk ride to see the sights. Phnom Penh`s city center is strategically laid out and easy to navigate, the core of the city is brimming with open-air eateries, shops, and other attractions.

Check out the Central Market which is a major landmark in the city dating back to the 30`s. This large covered marketplace is the ideal location to grab some lunch and shop for all kinds of goods. Explore the four wings that span out from the massive central golden dome that are lined with stalls selling everything from gold to flowers and antiques. Pick out some souvenirs and enjoy some tasty local cuisine at the food court.

Make your way to the National Museum of Cambodia, the largest archeological and cultural history museum which houses the national collection and more than 5,000 artifacts that date back to the ancient Angkorian period. Located next to Royal Palace in a 1920 traditional Khmer building displaying rare statues, lingas and other items including the Leper King from Siem Reap. Be sure to check out the stunning verdant central courtyard surrounded by blooming gardens and four lotus pools.

As Evening time approaches, make your way to the bustling `riverside` area of Sisowatch Quay which is the place to be at night in the capital. The popular area hosts an ample amount of restaurants, cafes, shops, and galleries where you can dine on delicious cuisine, see vibrant artwork and shop for the softest silk. Walk along the lively strip and see all the action including getting your fortune told by one of the many fortune tellers on the Esplanade, check out the abundance of bars and clubs with live music and a vibrant atmosphere.

Day 2 in Phnom Phen

Start your day bright and early with a visit to the spectacular hilltop pagoda of Wat Phnom. Climb the staircase that leads to the enchanting Buddhist temple guarded by mythical naga serpents, once you reach the temple you can have your fortune read. The temple stands 88.5 feet tall and is the tallest structure in the city, it was established in 1372 and features a seated Buddha in the central complex surrounded by flowers and candles.

Head for some breakfast along the riverfront promenade, which has an abundance of cafes and restaurants to choose from. A short walk along the riverfront down a cobblestone path will lead you to the vibrant Wat Ounalom, one of the oldest and largest pagodas in Phnom Penh.

Wat Ounalom is a vibrant pagoda in the city and the headquarters of Cambodian Buddhism situated close to the Royal Palace, it is the seat of Cambodia`s Mohanikay order and the most important Wat in the city. There are 44 structures here established in 1443 which were damaged during the Khmer Rouge period and have since been restored. The main complex here features a stupa which is believed to contain an eyebrow hair of Buddha and an inscription in Pali.

Make your way to the magnificent Royal Palace one of the most lavish buildings that dominate the skyline of Phnom Penh. The beautiful palace boasts classic Khmer roofs and ornate gilding, it serves as the official residence of King Sihamoni and has been home to the royal family since 1860. There are some sections of the palace open to the public, walk through the vibrantly manicured lawns and gardens, explore the ornate temples, libraries, and galleries all located within the palace grounds.

Grab some lunch at one of the many eateries situated around the palace and take in the beautiful surroundings before making your way to the Silver Pagoda. This prominent temple sits on the banks of the river and is known for the 5,000 silver tiles that adorn the floors. Wander around the extravagant pagoda which houses a number of religious relics such as the Emerald Buddha, the five stories of the pagoda are covered by five tons of sparkling silver along with an Italian marble staircase and the Baccarat-crystal sculpture. Be sure to check out the life-sized golden Buddha decorated by 2,086 diamonds, the largest weighing in at 25 carats.

As afternoon approaches make your way over to the solemn site of the Tuol Sleng Museum. During the Khmer Rouge regime, this was a high-security prison (Security Prison 21 S-21) in the 1970`s, where more than 14,000 Cambodian`s were imprisoned, interrogated, tortured and killed (only seven prisoners survived). The Museum features graphic photographs of some of the victims as well as rooms and cells with boarded-up windows, there is an audio tour available that provides visitors with information about the prison and its horrific uses during the genocidal crimes of the Khmer Rouge regime.

Head over to the Russian Market just south of the city center, this recognizable landmark is a covered marketplace dating back to the early 80`s when it was a popular place for foreigners, especially the Russians. Wander around the bustling market and purchase highly discounted items such as handicrafts, jewelry, silk and much more. Enjoy some snacks and refreshments at the large food court brimming with food stalls.

As evening time approaches, enjoy `Plae Pakaa` a traditional performance at The Cambodian Living Arts Center held in a small outdoor theatre. Performances are held in the gardens of the National Museum from October to March, where artists express the rich and vibrant culture of Cambodia through traditional arts inspired by the time of Angkor. There are a series of three rotating performances including `Children of the Bassac`, `Yike Opera` and `Passage of Life` all featuring Apsara dances, music, and vibrant colors. The shows are performed twice a week at 7 pm (no show on Sunday).

After the show, enjoy some dinner at one of the many restaurants found along the bustling riverfront promenade and then head to the high concentration of bars situated along Street 104 and 136. There are bars, discos and plenty of nightlife opportunities concentrated around this area that stay open into the early hours.

Additional Days in Phnom Phen

If you are able to spend additional days in Phnom Phen be sure to see the majestic Independence Monument which was built in 1958 to celebrate Cambodia`s Independence from the French Colonial rule. The Buddhist style sandstone structure represents an Angkorian temple crowned by Khmer Nagas (multi-headed snakes) and dominates the heart of the city standing 65 feet tall with 5 levels which are illuminated at night.

The somber sights of the Choeung Ek Memorial and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek are both situated about 11 miles south of Phnom Penh. The mass graves and killing fields are where 17,000 people were brutally executed during the Khmer Rouge regime. The memorial stupa erected in 1988 is filled with over 5,000 human skulls found in the killing fields. There is a guided walking tour with headset around the exhumed graves and a small museum on site showing documentaries.

There are many festivals held in Phnom Penh including the Chaul Chnam Thmey (April 13th - 15th) when the Cambodian New Year is celebrated in the city. During this celebration (and hottest time of the year) water is thrown around during a large water fight on the streets, there are dancing and music held during this three-day festival.

Pchum Ben (October 11th - 15th) translates to `gathering together` and is a very important aspect of the Cambodian culture where people make offerings and reunite to express love and appreciation for one`s ancestors. Food and good karma are offered to those who are possibly trapped in the spirit world.

Your Last Day in Phnom Phen

Depart from your hotel to the airport for your return flight home. We recommend that you purchase a private transfer to the airport if so the representative will meet you at your hotel with plenty of time to get you to the airport for your flight out.