Every first trip to Phnom Penh should include a visit to the legendary Wat Phnom.
The legend says Miss Penh found a large koki tree in the Mekong which inside had 4 bronze buddhas. A shrine was built on a man-made hill to protect the statues. In Khmer, phnom means hill which translates Phnom Penh to Hill Penh.
Once free the Wat Phnom now costs $1 for foreigners if you choose to visit the hill.
The almost 100-year-old Central Market has a long history. The market is a popular destination amongst tourists, but also commonly used by the locals. In the market, you will find everything from souvenirs, household utilities, and of course a food court.
The market was built with a circular center and 4 corridors. Today, between those corridors, outdoor markets have been established.
Just behind the Royal Palace, you will find the National Museum. If you are interested in old artifacts with some factual information, this museum might be for you.
For me it's not the actual museum that is interesting, the building and garden are beautiful and every day they host an hour-long traditional show. I have attended this show several times and I always bring my friends there the first time they visit Phnom Penh. The show displays local arts and culture in terms of theatre, music, and dance.
The show runs every day at 19.00 (7 pm), the cheap seats are just fine as the space isn't big, but cushions are not provided for those.
If you had the opportunity to arrive in Phnom Penh by boat on the Mekong one of the first things you might see is this astonishing grand palace that stretches all the way to the riverside.
Today it serves as the resident for the king and queen, but also a popular museum for tourists. The most famous part of the palace is the 150-year-old Silver Pagoda with its entire floor covered by 5,329 hand made silver plates.
The palace has strict rules for clothes, this means no visible knees or shoulders. I recommend hiring a private tour guide when visiting the palace.
The wonderful wide riverside in Phnom Penh, stretching 2.5 km from Naga ferry point to the night market, is a wonderful place to experience the vibrance of the city.
In the morning hours and after sunset the locals do their daily exercises in the form of aerobics, and everyone is welcome to join in for free. Along the route, there will be plenty of street vendors in case you need a refreshing drink.
If the walk itself isn't enough, you may take boat trips for about $5 for 1 hour or hire the entire boat for a private trip for $40 for 2 hours. Remember to bring all the foods and beverages you can consume and just enjoy the breeze and wonderful view of the skyline.