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A weekend in Phnom Penh with kids, things to to in the Cambodian capital

A weekend in Phnom Penh with kids, things to to in the Cambodian capital

Explore Khmer culture and cuisine in this laid back capital city. Phnom Penh is still a relatively quiet town although some signs of development are finally showing. The town and country are still heavily supported by NGO and international aid and will you see many young volunteers in the streets of Phnom Penh. You can learn about the recent history (Khmer Rouge) at the infamous S21 prison or at the Killing Fields. However, if you’re travelling with kids, there are a few more child friendly options. Conveniently located under 2 hours from Singapore and with an airport close to the city it’s a good destination for a weekend getaway. It’s also one of the cheapest capital cities in Asia (US$1 for a beer!).


Day 1 in Phnom Penh with kids

9:30pm: Check in at your hotel, drop your luggage and enjoy an Angkor beer.

If you stay at the Kabiki, the restaurant is open till 9.30 so you can check in and enjoy a late dinner or a drink by the pool. Alternatively stroll around Street 278 to get a drink at a bar.  

Day 2 in Phnom Penh with kids

8.30am: Koh Dach Island (Silk Island)

Koh Dach island is 15 km from Phnom Penh, known for its peacefulness and traditional silk weavers. You can either get there by tuk-tuk (US$ 20 for the whole trip) which will cross the Mekong River on a barge so that you are able to explore the island on wheels. Alternatively, get there directly from Phnom Penh River side by boat and then ride a bike on the island (you can book a bicycle tour from your hotel. Exploring the island on foot is not ideal as it’s quite vast. You’ll see quiet villages, temples, traditional weavers, simple local life, and countryside. Note that there is a “Mekong beach”, however you can skip this as you will certainly not want to swim in the Mekong and the small huts are not appealing either.

1pm: Lunch at Romdeng restaurant

Romdeng restaurant is part of the TREE-Alliance NGO training restaurants. It is set in a nice colonial-style building surrounded by a lush garden and swimming pool. You’ll taste traditional Cambodian dishes with a hint of creativity. All profits are reinvested into students in training, partner NGOs or future projects. Better book in advance!

#74 St 174, Phnom Penh, Cambodia // +855 92 219 565

Open daily 11am-11pm

2:30 – 4pm: Nap or pool time at the hotel

While the younger ones are napping, reloading their batteries, chilling out by the pool at Kabiki hotel is just perfect and refreshing! It’s located in between pedestrian roads and is very quiet.

4:30pm: Snack & Shopping in St 240

Stroll into Street 240, just 2 blocks away from Kabiki hotel, and you will surely find a small bakery or a tea shop to enjoy a nice pastry. In that same street, there are also some shops to buy locally made clothes or art and crafts.

6pm: River side sunset

You can then head to the river side, to see the sun setting and feel the lively animation outside the Royal Palace. Walk up the Sisowath Quay and stop at the FCC roof top (Foreign Correspondent Club). FCC is a mythical place to sip a cold beer and watch the Tonle Sap go by while the sun goes down. Historically, this colonial style building was the place where intrepid adventurers would come and meet from around the world.

363 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh

Open daily 7am- midnight

Happy Hour 5-7pm

7:30pm: Dinner at Khmer Surin restaurant

The restaurant caters Khmer and Thai Food. You would not experience Cambodia without tasting the traditional Fish Amok or the Khmer red curry!

#9, 57 Sangkat Boeung Keng Kang I, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Open daily 10am-10pm

If your kids are up for it and able to not ask too many questions when the lights go off, you can also book an Apsara Dancers show where dinner is being served.


Day 3 in Phnom Penh with kids

8.30am: Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda

Wake up early and head to the Royal Palace before it gets crowded and too hot. If you want to get some background history you should definitely hire a guide at the entrance. Otherwise no explanation is provided, just walking around might be a little disappointing. Remember to cover your shoulders and knees when entering the Palace

3 Samdach Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Open daily 8-10:30am and 2-5pm

Entrance fee: 10USD per adult

10:30am: Market time

You can either visit the Russian Market (Phsar Tuol Tom Pong) located south west or take to stroll to Central Market (Phsar Thmei) in the center of Phnom Penh.

Central Market: Set in an art deco yellow dome shape building. Built in 1937, it was destroyed during WWII, rebuilt and completely renovated in 2011. It is the place to go if you are looking for gold, jewelry, food or souvenirs.

Street 128 (Kampuchea Krom), Phsar Thmei 1 Commune, Daun Penh District, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Open daily 7am-5pm  

Russian Market: Stroll in the small maze of alleys in the market, but no worries if you get lost, there is always an exit. The market has a square shape with many entrances and exits. You can find handicrafts and handmade goods including woodcarvings, silk, musical instruments and miniature Buddhas, bootlegged dvds & music, branded clothes (that might have “fallen” from a truck). There is also a local food market inside, where you can have a fresh juice or some food. Upon reaching the food market, get ready for very strong smells as they have raw meat and fish for sale in a hot and stuffy environment. There is also another local area selling all sorts of motorbike spare parts.

Street 155, Toul Tum Poung, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Open daily 7am – 5pm

12:30pm: Lunch

If you are finished with the Russian Market, you can just take the perpendicular street and you will find some small cafes and restaurants with many options for whatever you desire, from western food to Khmer, and even Vietnamese and Thai cuisine.

Afternoon options

There are a few options depending on your mood, who am I kidding, depending on how sleepy the little one is:

Option 1: You can just relax by the pool at the hotel while your kids are napping or paddling in the baby pool of the Kabiki Hotel

Option 2: You can keep on exploring by visiting Wat Phnom (Mountain pagoda), built in 1372 at 27m above the ground (the highest hill in the city!). There is a playground nearby if your kids still have energy

Option 3: If your kids are a bit older, it is very humbling to learn about the history of the Khmer people with a visit to Toul Sleng Genocidal Museum or S-21 prison which depicts a true and sometimes unsettling history of the genocide in Cambodia. This former High School, under the brutal leader Pol Pot, became the largest center of detention and torture in the country from 1975. Later, it became a museum to stand as a testament to the crimes of the Khmer Rouge. They kept records of their barbarism, taking pictures of their prisoners, these pictures are displayed at the museum. Please use your discretion as a parent before visiting with younger, more sensitive kids.

St 113, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Open daily 7am -11.30am & 2pm to 5.30 pm

7pm: Head to the airport

Get there at least 1:30 hours early to catch your international flight back home!


Place to stay with kids in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Mid-range

Kabiki Hotel by MAADS.ASIA is a nice kid-friendly hotel to stay in when you are visiting Phnom Penh. The hotel is centrally located in a quiet private street, a few minutes away from the major attractions of the capital. Family rooms are great options when travelling with children, offering a double bed, a single bed and 2 bunk beds on a separate corner of the room. The facilities are set in a sort of tropical oasis – surrounded by the lush gardens and include a swimming pool, a children’s paddling pool and a restaurant. You can arrange tours and excursions from the hotel.

Price range: SGD 124-166 for a family room

Address: 22 Street 264, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Check for rate and availability here

High-end

For the most luxury family experience, you’ll want to stay at the Raffles Hotel Le Royal. Rooms can accommodate families of 4. It is also centrally located, surrounded by restaurants and has 24 hour room service. There’s also a swimming pool to lounge about in when you or the kids are feeling a bit tired from exploring the city.

Price range: SGD 325-450 (with 2 children)

Address: 92 Rukhak Vithei Daun Penh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Check for rates and availability here

Getting to Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Several daily direct flights with Jetstar or Silkair.

Jetstar – Singapore to Phnom Penh – 7.35 PM – 8.40PM (2h05 flight)

Jetstar – Phnom Penh to Singapore – 9.30 PM – 0.30 PM (or the earlier flight at 3.25 PM – 6.25PM)

Upon arrival at the airport, it costs around US$15 for a 20-minute ride in the car to the city or US$9 for a 25-min drive in a tuk-tuk.

Getting around Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Once you are in Phnom Penh, it is easy to explore the city by tuk-tuk, a common mode of transport in Cambodia. It is a three-wheeled motorized vehicle, which can fit up to 4 adults and the driver. It basically costs around US$15-20 a day to visit the city. The driver will wait for you at each site.

Other important notes

Time difference

Cambodia is GMT+7, which is 1 hour behind Singapore.

Best months to visit

Phnom can be visited anytime of the year. However, the October-April period works best, as the rainy season starts in May till end of September.

For more things to do in Phnom Penh check out this guide. And see our guide to Kampot for more wilderness adventures!

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