Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, is a bustling city filled with rich history, delicious food, and plenty of exciting activities for families with kids. From exploring ancient palaces to playing in the park, there is no shortage of things to do in Phnom Penh with kids.
We’ve been in this bustling city for almost a month. We’re sad to say goodbye, but we wanted to share the amazing things we’ve done in this beautiful country.
I’m surprised more family travel blogs don’t mention Cambodia as one of the best destinations in Asia for kids. There are so many things to love about Phnom Penh.
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The people are generous, honest, and kind-hearted. Phnom Penh has so much to offer families traveling throughout Asia. Here is a comprehensive guide to exploring Phnom Penh with kids.
Planning Your Trip to Phnom Penh with Kids
When planning a trip to Phnom Penh with kids, you must consider a few key factors to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for everyone. Here are some tips to help you plan your trip:
Most tourists need a visa to visit Phnom Penh, even with kids. Fortunately, the visa process for Cambodia is easy, straightforward, and affordable.
You can apply through the official site for a tourist visa here. I initially stumbled onto a visa service website, thinking it was the official site and the visa cost nearly triple the price.
The price (at the time of writing this) for the visa is $36 – $42, depending on how long you plan to stay in Cambodia.
We applied for our visa in Rio de Janeiro. It was processed and approved in three or four days.
You can wait and apply for a visa upon arrival, but getting everything done ahead of time, especially with kids, will get you out of the airport quicker.
Accommodation in Phnom Penh with Kids
Choosing the best accommodation is crucial when traveling with kids. Look for family-friendly hotels or apartments that offer amenities such as a pool, playground, or restaurant.
Choosing the best accommodation is crucial when traveling with kids. Look for family-friendly hotels or apartments that offer amenities such as a pool, playground, or restaurant.
There is always traffic in Phnom Penh because there are few traffic lights, so everyone is just trying to get to where they are going with little organization.
Staying near the city center will make it easier to get around Phnom Penh with kids, especially if you plan on visiting Siem Reap.
Our Airbnb was far from city center, so we had to take a tuk-tuk 30 minutes into the city when we wanted to explore.
During our last week, we stayed at hotels to knock out some of the best things to do in Phnom Penh with kids.
Arrival in Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh International Airport is the main airport. The airport is only 6 miles (10 kilometers) west of the city center. When you leave baggage claim, it will be hectic.
There are several transportation options when leaving the airport. Taxis, tuk-tuks, and private transfers are the best way to explore around Phnom Penh.
I recommend using Grab (similar to Uber and Lyft) to arrange a ride to your hotel. Grab will offer the best price, or give you an idea of how much you should pay if you opt for a private transfer or a taxi.
If you are traveling with several bags or a large family, arrange transportation in advance to avoid any hassle.
Getting Around Phnom Penh with Kids
Getting around Phnom Penh with kids, we found that tuk-tuks are the most convenient and affordable mode of transportation.
Tuk-tuks are three-wheeled motorized vehicles that can seat three to four people, although we saw a family of four on a motorbike.
They are common in Southeast Asian cities and are a fun way to get around Phnom Penh with kids.
Our son loved riding in them, except for the rainy days. We recommend negotiating the fare with the driver before getting in.
Grab is a lifesaver because you can request a tuk-tuk via the app, without trying to communicate your destination.
Most tuk-tuk drivers aren’t familiar with some parts of the city, so using Grab will make your life easier. My wife didn’t use it today, and the tuk-tuk driver got lost. A ride that should have taken 20 minutes took over an hour.
The fare can vary depending on the distance, time of day, and the number of passengers. We haven’t paid more than $2 to $3 to get around the city.
Tuk-tuks don’t have seat belts, so hold tight to your little ones during the ride. We also recommend having sunglasses for younger kids to keep the dust from bothering them.
Another option for getting around Phnom Penh is by taxi. Taxis are more expensive than tuk-tuks but offer a more comfortable and safer ride.
We recommend using Grab or PassApp. Like Uber, you can pick the type of car you need and be on your way without haggling about the price. It’s the best way to get to and from the airport or longer distances.
If you prefer to explore Phnom Penh on foot, we recommend wearing comfortable shoes, bringing an umbrella, and downloading Airalo for data.
The city can be chaotic and crowded, so staying alert and aware of your surroundings is crucial, especially with kids.
Crossing the streets in Phnom Penh is hectic. Always hold your kids’ hands because the traffic rules in Cambodia aren’t rules. They are more like suggestions.
Overall, getting around Phnom Penh with kids is relatively easy and affordable. Tuk-tuks are the most popular mode of transportation, but taxis and walking are also viable options.
Remember to negotiate the price, hold on tight to your kids during the ride, and stay alert while exploring the city.
Things to Do in Phnom Penh with Kids – Quick Guide
As a parent, I know how busy you are. Although I hope you read about our experience in Phnom Penh, I included this guide to quickly see all the fun things to do in Phnom Penh with kids.
Cultural Things To Do in Phnom Penh
Kid-Friendly Attractions in Phnom Penh
When visiting Phnom Penh with kids, there are plenty of attractions to keep them entertained.
The list below includes activities for kids as young as one to teenagers. Here are some of the best attractions in the city for families.
The Royal Palace
The palace is home to several buildings, including the Throne Hall, the Silver Pagoda, and the Khemarin Palace.
Our son has started to enjoy museums, but we like to make it fun for him too. While there, we played iSpy to keep him engaged as we walked throughout the palace grounds.
Luckily, there were quite a few butterflies for him to chase, and he was very interested in the paintings on the Palace walls, so we talked about that quite a bit.
National Museum of Cambodia
The National Museum of Cambodia is a great place to learn about the country’s history and culture.
One of the museum’s highlights is the pre-Angkorian artifacts, which date back to the Funan and Chenla kingdoms (1st to 9th centuries).
These artifacts include intricately carved statues of Hindu and Buddhist deities, stone inscriptions, and archaeological finds from various temples and sites across the country.
Kids will enjoy seeing the collection of artifacts, including sculptures, ceramics, and textiles.
The museum has a kid-friendly audio guide for older kids to listen to and learn.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21)
When exploring Phnom Penh with kids, it’s crucial to understand the country’s history. Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is the perfect place to start the learning process.
Cambodia’s recent history is marked by a dark period of the Khmer Rouge regime, led by Pol Pot, which lasted from 1975 to 1979.
During this time, an estimated 1.7 million people died from the regime’s policies, including executions, forced labor, and starvation.
One of the most important sites to visit in Phnom Penh is the Genocide Museum, also known as Tuol Sleng or S21 Prison.
This former high school was turned into a prison and torture center by the Khmer Rouge. It’s estimated that at least 20,000 people were imprisoned and tortured here.
Today S-21 serves as a museum and memorial to those who suffered and died during the regime.
Families with teenagers should take their kids to this museum to learn about what the Cambodian people endured.
I recommend watching the movie First They Killed My Father. This movie provides a better understanding of what happened while the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia.
Everyone knows about Hitler and the Nazis, but Pol Pot was able to fly under the radar for decades, and his atrocities need to be known.
The audio guide will walk you through the museum. You will go through an emotional rollercoaster. Be prepared to talk to your kids about the experience.
While the Khmer Rouge regime is a dark chapter in Cambodia’s history, the country has made significant progress in the decades since.
Today, Cambodia is a peaceful and welcoming country. We can appreciate Cambodia’s rich culture and traditions while acknowledging its past.
I recommend visiting the Killing Fields after the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. You will have a better understanding of what the Cambodian people endured.
The Killing Fields in Cambodia refer to several sites across the country where the Khmer Rouge regime carried out mass executions and burials of an estimated 1.7 to 2.2 million people between 1975 and 1979.
The most well-known and notorious Killing Field is Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, located just outside Phnom Penh.
Choeung Ek was the main execution and burial site where countless Cambodians were executed.
Choeung Ek now serves as a memorial and a place of remembrance for the victims. It features a Buddhist stupa filled with thousands of human skulls and bones, serving as a chilling reminder of the horrors that took place.
Visitors can learn about the history, listen to survivor testimonies, and pay their respects to the victims.
Again, this site will evoke many emotions, but it’s an important topic to discuss with your kids.
Our son is too young, but we plan on returning to Cambodia for him to learn about what happened here.
Much like slavery in the United States, the impact of this brutal time period is embedded into the fiber of Cambodia, and the impact of this dark period will be felt forever.
Wat Phnom is a beautiful temple located in the heart of the city. It is the tallest and most significant template in Cambodia.
Kids will love seeing the colorful architecture and the monkeys that call the temple home.
Our little guy loves learning new things, so we didn’t have to bribe him to climb the steps to see the temple. He was fascinated by the snake and statues at the bottom of the stairs.
We learned from our driver on our way to Siem Reap that the snake represents the King Cobra, and it is there as protection from bad things.
Nevertheless, when we arrived at the top of the hill, we removed our shoes and entered the temple. Tourists are not allowed to light incents for prayer.
We walked around the template and admired the intricate artwork on the walls. It didn’t take long. We were there for 5 – 6 minutes and exited.
Our son asked to go back again to see the “museum”. We walked through one more time before going down the hill.
When we got to the bottom, we saw the clock, then headed to the mall to get out of the sun and have lunch.
There is a playground across the street from the temple for kids to play.
We decided to skip playtime outside since it was so hot, but we got a decent picture on our way out.
Garden City Water Park
The Garden City Water Park is a fun way to cool off on a hot day (there are plenty in Phnom Penh).
It’s only 20 minutes away from the city center. You can take a tuk-tuk from your hotel.
Kids will love the water slides, surfing, splash pad, lazy river, and wave pool.
Garden City Water Park is one of the best water parks we’ve visited.
Our son loved it so much that we went twice before leaving Phnom Penh.
There are a lot of water slides for kids of all ages. The Edwin Water Kingdom has slides exciting enough for toddlers and teens.
The more thrilling slides for older kids and parents after Kid’s Splash.
We rented a cabana our first time, and although it was convenient, it wasn’t necessary.
If you have a large family, a cabana is a great place for everyone to meet or rest.
If not, you can easily snag a few chairs and set your stuff there or rent a locker for the day.
Here is a full review of Garden City Water Park. You must add it to your itinerary when visiting Phnom Penh with the kids.
Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre
The Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center is a great place to see animals up close and learn about conservation efforts in Cambodia.
Kids will love seeing the tigers, elephants, and other animals that call the center home.
Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre is a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facility south of Phnom Penh.
The primary goal of Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre is to provide a safe haven for rescued and endangered wildlife species native to Cambodia.
The center serves as a refuge for confiscated animals from the illegal wildlife trade, orphaned, or injured for various reasons, such as habitat loss, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict.
It provides a semi-natural environment where animals can live and recover, and it aims to rehabilitate and reintroduce animals back into the wild whenever possible.
Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre is home to a range of wildlife species, including sun bears, Asian elephants, gibbons, tigers, leopards, crocodiles, various species of primates, and numerous bird species.
Visitors to the center can observe these animals from a safe distance and learn about conservation efforts and the importance of wildlife protection.
We are always conflicted when it comes to zoos and sanctuaries. Humans started this problem by capturing wild animals, and now there needs to be a way to care for them, which takes money.
One-third of the expenses for caring for these animals come from admissions, which is why supporting these types of organizations is a necessary evil.
If you are traveling with little ones, I recommend bringing a carrier. You will spend a lot of time on your feet.
See a Movie at Kid’s Cinema
Typically, I wouldn’t recommend going to a movie theatre while traveling, but Aeon Sen Sok has a fun cinema for kids.
The theatre has a massive ball pit, couches, blankets, a slide, and a small play area for kids. It’s the perfect place to take time to relax on your vacation.
There may be subtitles in the native language, but most of the movies are in English. We watched Elemental and enjoyed it.
Our son spent most of the time running and playing with the other kids.
He sat and watched the movie in the ball pit every once and a while.
I wish they had theatres like this in the US for kids. It allows kids to be themselves while parents hang out and relax.
EU Park is the perfect place to relax with your little ones. It’s a great place to take a stroll and see some of the most iconic landmarks in Europe in miniature form.
This gated residential seems like a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city center.
There are restaurants lining the area to have lunch outside next to the lake.
If your kids are up for it, you can ride on a gondola, similar to the ones in Italy.
This park is a beautiful recreation of the atmosphere in Europe.
For those who have never been to Europe, a small piece of you feels like you are there while walking around the park.
I must warn you, the café and restaurants here are much more expensive than in the city.
This area is where wealthy Cambodians reside.
While walking around the park, we saw a Bentley, G Wagon, and Rolls-Royce. Now that’s living large.
Urban Playground & Café
If you are traveling with a toddler, play areas are the best way for your little one to play with other kids.
We look for toddler-friendly play areas for our son to release some energy and socialize with kids.
Urban Playground & Café is a restaurant with a play area, pool, and jungle gym for kids to play while parents eat or have coffee.
The food is inexpensive, and I enjoyed the beef stew. Our four-year-old had fried rice and ate every bite.
If you are looking for a place to relax while your little one plays, this is the perfect place. Plus, the staff speaks English, which makes things easier.
One of the many things we love about Southeast Asia is how toddler-friendly it is.
There are so many play areas inside the malls for little ones to have fun and release energy.
Even better, they are affordable, so you pay less than $10 for your kids to have fun.
Our Airbnb was close to AEON Sen Sok, so our four-year-old spent a lot of time at that mall.
There was a play area for $4 for the entire day, so we’d have lunch, then he’d play for a few hours.
Markets in Phnom Penh with Kids
If you want to go shopping in Phnom Penh, markets are the way to go. You can find everything you need at a great price.
The atmosphere is bustling, colorful, and full of unique finds.
You’ll find name-brand items for 60% less than the usual price, and the items are authentic, as many of the most popular name brands have factories in Cambodia.
Here are three of the most popular markets in the city.
The Russian Market, also known as Toul Tompoung Market, is a must-visit for any souvenir or handicraft hunter.
You’ll find everything from silk scarves and silver jewelry to wood carvings and pottery.
The market is also the best place to get traditional Cambodian clothing, like the krama scarf or the sampot skirt.
One of the best things about the Russian Market is that it’s not just for tourists.
You’ll find plenty of locals shopping here, which means that prices are generally more reasonable than at some of the other markets in the city.
We purchased clothes for our son for an upcoming Disney cruise. I recognized the brands immediately.
We got shirts we usually purchase from Children’s Place for $6 each for $2.50. I also got a new sling and slippers for the cruise.
Be prepared to haggle, though – it’s all part of the fun!
Tip: There is a local restaurant stand on the corner near KFC with delicious kimchi rice for $2. You have to stop there for lunch. It is amazing.
The Night Market, located along the riverside, is a great place to shop after dark.
You’ll find a mix of food stalls, clothing vendors, and souvenir shops. It’s a great place to grab a bite to eat, listen to live music and pick up gifts for friends and family.
Many items sold here are mass-produced. If you’re looking for unique, handmade souvenirs, you may want to check out the local markets instead.
It is the perfect place to stop at night for sweet treats. Exploring the night market is more for the experience itself.