While lesser known than Bangkok and Hanoi, Cambodia’s capital is quickly becoming a top destination in Southeast Asia for its world-class food scene, fascinating cultural institutions, royal palaces, and temples. If you’ve spent all your money seeing Angkor Wat, take a look at these 15 free things to do in Phnom Penh.
1. Independence Monument
Modeled after the central tower of Angkor Wat, this monument marks Cambodia’s independence from France in 1953. During national celebrations, the monument is often the center of activity.
2. Meditation classes
Wat Langka offers free meditation classes four days a week. Sessions last for an hour as participants sit cross-legged on the floor. Be sure to cover your knees and shoulders and remove your shoes before entering the wat.
3. Wat Moha Montrei
This pretty pastel temple isn’t just a place to pray; it’s also a monastery, school, and community center. Located directly behind the Olympic Stadium, the temple is open daily from 9am to 9pm.
4. Monks in the morning
Every morning at 6am, monks from the local temples go from door to door to collect morning alms and food offerings.
5. Wat Toul Tom Poung
This Wat is located between the Russian Market (Toul Tom Poung Market) and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in south Phnom Penh.
6. Street 13
Wander down Street 13, which connects the National Museum and Chinese House. Pass markets, historic buildings, and exciting street life as you make your way toward the pretty Post Office Square.
7. Friendship Monument
Situated in a popular park in the center of Phnom Penh, this monument commemorates the former alliance between Vietnam and Cambodia.
8. Street art
See Phnom Penh’s emerging street art at its best on Street 93 and Street 240.
10. Central Market
Housed in a 1937 Art Deco structure, Central Market in the city center hawks jewelry, clothing, and flowers to locals and tourists.
9. Russian market
The Russian market, named after the influx of Russian tourists in the 1980s, is Phnom Penh’s most popular market to buy souvenirs and discounted name-brand clothing.
11. Night Market
This outdoor market takes place every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening and offers a glimpse into Khmer life. Sample Cambodian sausages and spring rolls as you peruse the different vendors. Bargaining is encouraged!
12. Sisowath Quay
This historic riverside running along the Tonle Sap River is the perfect place for a stroll. Pass top landmarks like the Royal Palace, Throne Hall, and Silver Pagoda.
13. Freedom Park
Often the site of protests, Freedom Park is a long stretch of tiled public space near Wat Phnom. In late 2016, it was announced the park would be moving locations.
14. Buddhist holidays
There will be plenty cause for celebration during Cambodia’s Buddhist holidays like Visaka Bochea Day, Bonn Pchu, Ben Day, and Bonn Om Touk.
15. Royal Palace Parks
While entry into the Royal Palace isn’t free, its beautiful parks are! Take pleasure in strolling the grounds that are the official residence of King Sihamoni.