In the north of Phnom Penh, Wat Phnom lies atop a hill as Cambodian capital's highest point at end of Norodom Boulevard. The city was supposed to be centered here and therefore, Phnom Penh was named after the woman Penh who built the ancient temple. Locals still visit the Wat to pray for luck so visitors should be respectful of this area. Tourists can climb the old, crumbling façade, ride Sam Bo the Elephant or sip on fresh fruit juice and read a book on this hilly park area.

 

To the east of Wat Phnom is the French Quarter, which houses some of town's most impressive surviving colonial architecture. Nearby Hotel Le Royal once housed the world's most famous war correspondents, as seen in the movie The Killing Fields.  Also in this area is Boeng Kak Lake, which also contains many backpacker, hostel options and budget bars and restaurants along with the Royal School of Fine Arts, which regularly stages Khmer classical dance performances.

Psah Thmai, which means new market in Khmer, is known as Central Market to foreigners. It offers a host of goodies from meat, flowers, video games, snakes and sneakers

 

In the east, the Tonle Sap river runs slowly along the city; Along side, open-air restaurants and bars delicately loom from the Riverside, with music filtering lazily from their open windows and the smell of Khmer cuisine hangs in the breeze.  The two-kilometer strip beginning at the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda and ending just east of Wat Phnom includes some of the best food and nightlife options in the city. Visitors can sip Pimms or Sherry at the Foreign Correspondents' Club or fries and beer at the The Rising Sun. Wat Ounalom, one of the oldest and probably the most influential in Phnom Penh, lies amongst these restaurants.

Across the river, using the impressive Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge, lies Prek Leap with its scrumptious, Khmer-style restaurants and Karaoke shows.

 

The grand Hotel Cambodiana Phnom Penh and Independence Monument are the main sites in the Southern side of town. The Naga Casino provides 24 hours of gambling every day.


In the West lies Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21), a former high school turned torture center by the Khmer Rouge is open for visitors to view the gruesome torture techniques employed by the regime between 1975 and 1979.