Brahman temples, verdant rice fields, and workshops where women spin golden silk and form clay pots by hand – you can find all this and much more in Phnom Penh’s backyard.

Once you’ve had your fill of the Cambodian capital, here are the 12 best day trips from Phnom Penh for a break from the big city.

Golden temples and green fields in the Cambodian countryside outside Phnom Penh.
The view from Oudong Temple, one of the best day trips in Phnom Penh.

This list includes also includes magical waterfall in the Cardamom mountains, a future UNESCO World Heritage Site as old as Angkor Wat, a floating village that’s a less-touristy alternative to the ones near Siem Reap – and much more!

To help you plan the perfect side trip from Phnom Penh, I’ve included practical information and travel tips for each destination.

Also read:
The perfect 1-3 day Phnom Penh itinerary
Best Phnom Penh city tours
51 free things to do in Phnom Penh
Best Phnom Penh restaurants
Best Phnom Penh cafes


Please note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you). Learn more.


How to plan a day trip from Phnom Penh

Day tours from Phnom Penh

Even if you’re not a group tour person, this can be the most straightforward and economical option. Having all transport and logistics organised for you is a huge bonus, and you can often find interesting itineraries that go beyond the typical day trips destinations. Most companies also offer private tours.

Choose from boutique companies such as Grasshopper Adventures (a social enterprise that organises cycling tours) or browse a range of itineraries from different operators on a website such as Get Your Guide. This is my favourite platform for booking tours – companies are vetted, online payment is secure, and there’s a generous refund policy in case plans change. Browse all their Phnom Penh itineraries here.

If you enjoy getting outdoors, the Facebook Group Phnom Penh Hike organises weekly full day excursions focused on nature and trekking. Transfers to/from Phnom Penh by minivan are included, and you’ll be accompanied by an English-speaking guide. Group sizes are more intimate so it’s a great way to meet expats, locals and other travellers too.

Hiring a driver in Phnom Penh

Another option is to hire a car and driver for the day. This will give you more flexibility to plan your own itinerary, but you’ll have to pay a bit extra for the privilege. Prices vary depending on the distance and type of vehicle. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to pay around 30-40 cents/kilometre for an SUV that seats four passengers.

I recommend finding a driver with good references from other travellers, either by asking around online or by enquiring through your accommodation.

12Go Asia offers an option to book taxis online through a number of private companies, but prices are more expensive (up to double the cost in some instances).

Renting a bicycle

For shorter trips around the countryside and Mekong/Bassac islands, you may like to take your own wheels. I rode a bicycle in Phnom Penh every day when I lived there – but I definitely had some hair-raising experiences. I only recommend riding outside the city (on the islands, for example) where traffic is sparser.

Needless to say you should exercise a high level of caution and use proper safety gear, including a helmet. For peace of mind, I recommend joining a guided bike excursion with Grasshopper Adventures.

Using public transport

Public transport in Cambodia is generally slow going and not exactly conducive to day trips. Only a handful of these destinations can be reached by bus or train.

When using buses in Cambodia, I always book a day or two in advance (longer for popular routes) either directly through the company website or on Bookaway.


Map of Phnom Penh day trips

Click here to open the interactive map on Google Maps. Click on the star icon below the title to save the map for later.


Best short day trips from Phnom Penh (< 3 hours by road)

These classic and alternative day trips require less than 3 hours of driving one-way. Remember to budget some extra time for traffic coming into or out of the city.

1. Oudong Temple – a popular day trip from Phnom Penh

  • Distance from Phnom Penh: 43 kilometres (27 miles)
  • Travel time: Approx. 75 minutes one-way by road
  • Recommended transport: Bicycle, taxi/tuk tuk or guided tour
A white stupa glimmers in the sun at Oudong, Cambodia.
Oudong Temple.

Cambodia’s former royal capital, Oudong is one of the most popular places to visit near Phnom Penh. Its close proximity to the city and the multitude of day tour options makes it one of the easiest places on this list to reach.

Located in modern-day Kandal Province north of Phnom Penh, Oudong is an ancient settlement that was established in the 17th century during the post-Angkorian period. It served as the royal residence and capital of the empire for more than 250 years, right up until 1866. In 1992, Oudong was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.

The site consists of a ‘royal necropolis’ comprising dozens of gilded and gleaming white stupas strewn across a mountaintop. A visit to Oudong involves admiring the spires of these edifices old and new, and taking in the magnificent views of the Cambodian countryside from the crest of the tallest peak.

At the base of the mountain you’ll find a Buddhist Meditation Centre with yet more twinkling pagodas. Note that appropriate dress (covered shoulders and knees) is a requirement if you want to explore the grounds. If you have time to come back, the centre hosts popular Vipassana retreats.

Most visitors to Oudong also stop off at the nearby village of Por Touch, where up to 70% of families are involved in the art of silversmithing. Here, you can watch artisans bend and beat beautiful objects from the metal.

One of the best ways to experience Oudong is to cruise up the Tonle Sap river from Phnom Penh in a chartered boat.

Day tours to Oudong

This half-day tour to Oudong departs Phnom Penh in the early morning and visits the silversmith village as well as the main stupas. The price includes door to door transfers by van, an English-speaking guide, and lunch at a local restaurant on the way back.


2. Angkor Borei & Phnom Da

  • Distance from Phnom Penh: 85 kilometres (53 miles)
  • Travel time: Approx. 2.5 hours one-way by road
  • Recommended transport: Taxi
Carved stone and crumbling bricks at Angkor Borei temple.
Angkor Borei.

Located due south of Phnom Penh in neighbouring Takeo province, one of Cambodia’s least-visited provinces, Angkor Borei is one of the most important but lesser-visited archaeological sites in Cambodia. Materials unearthed here date back to as early as 400BC and include the earliest known dated inscriptions in Khmer and some of the oldest examples of Khmer sculpture.

The site covers a whopping 740 acres and is surrounded by inner and outer moats and a defensive wall. In ancient times, when Angkor Borei served as both a Funan and Angkorian capital, a network of canals linked the citadel with other important centres that now lie across the border in present-day Vietnam. Set on a low-lying plain, this part of Cambodia is underwater for up to six months of the year – thus during the rainy season the site can be accessed by boat.

The Angkor Borei Museum is set inside a beautiful old Buddhist temple and catalogues objects unearthed in the area. Many antiquities were relocated to the National Museum in Phnom Penh.

Nearby, Phnom Da mountain features an 11th-century temple that also dates back to the Funan period, a second Brahman temple constructed from basalt rock, and several caves that were used as cremation sites during the Khmer Rouge regime.

There are two ways to reach Angkor Borei: Either by road (year-round) via Phnom Chisor – another temple you’ll find next on this list – or by boat (rainy season) from Takeo via the lakes. The second option is more scenic and takes around an hour for the round-trip.


3. Phnom Chisor, Ta Prohm & Tonle Bati

  • Distance from Phnom Penh: 53 kilometres (33 miles)
  • Travel time: Approx. 2.25 hours one-way by road
  • Recommended transport: Taxi
The ancient Phnom Chisor temple, a day trip from Phnom Penh.
Phnom Chisor.

Phnom Chisor is an 11th-century Brahman temple set atop Chi So mountain. The sandstone galleries – 60 metres long in some parts – are extremely elegant and reminiscent of the temples at Angkor.

The views of pancake-flat Takeo province – a patchwork of rice paddies – are spectacular and well worth the climb up.

View of the Cambodian countryside, with green rice fields under a blue sky.
View from Phnom Chisor.

Built later in the 12th-13th centuries, Ta Prohm (not to be confused with the temple of the same name near Siem Reap – this one is in Takeo) features intricate narrative bas-relief carvings depicting snippets from daily life and celestial scenes. Fringed by tall palm trees and set on the shore of Tonle Bati lake, it’s one of the loveliest temples in all of Cambodia.

The lake itself is also worth a visit, and the three spots are often combined into one day trip because of their close proximity. I recommend visiting Phnom Chisor first before heading to Tonle Bati to see the second temple and eat lunch at one of the bungalow-restaurants on the lake.


4. Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center

  • Distance from Phnom Penh: 43 kilometres (27 miles)
  • Travel time: Approx. 1.75 hours one-way by road
  • Recommended transport: Bear Care Tour (includes transfers)
A leopard opens its mouth to yawn at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre in Cambodia.
One of the residents at Phnom Tamao.

For an ethical animal encounter close to Phnom Penh, Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre houses monkeys, tigers, a snow leopard and elephants rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. The centre was established in 1995 and is currently run by the Cambodian government in partnership with the NGO Wildlife Alliance.

This is not a zoo – rather it’s a large park spread out over a vast area, with animals kept in open-plains-style enclosures. Because of their background, most the animals couldn’t be released back into the wild and so live in semi-captivity. More than 1,000 rescued critters reside here, including some endangered species and the world’s largest group of Malayan sun bears.

The bear sanctuary is run separately by NGO Free the Bears (you might know them from their rescue operations in Luang Prabang). The easiest way to visit the park is by joining their Bear Care Tour, which includes transfers from Phnom Penh and a ‘day-in-the-life’ experience where you assume the duties of a caretaker, preparing the bears’ lunch and feeding them.

We did this tour for my partner’s birthday when we were living in Phnom Penh and absolutely loved it. Proceeds go to supporting the organisation’s work in Cambodia and the region.

Alternatively, the Wildlife Alliance also operates a tour to Phnom Tamao from the capital. See details here.


5. Koh Dach (Silk Island), an easy day trip from Phnom Penh

  • Distance from Phnom Penh: 14 kilometres (9 miles)
  • Travel time: Approx. 45 minutes one-way by road
  • Recommended transport: Tuk tuk or bicycle
A woman weaves on a traditional loom on Silk Island in Phnom Penh.
Silk weaving on Silk Island!

Koh Dach, better known as Silk Island, is another easy excursion from Phnom Penh. Positioned in the middle of the Mekong just up-river from Sisowath Quay, this 12 kilometre-long island is known for its traditional silk artisans who weave on upright wooden looms set underneath traditional stilted houses.

I was lucky enough to visit Silk Island with a friend who’s involved with the industry and got to meet some of the artisans who still spin, dye and loom the fibres the old fashioned way. Silk cultivation and weaving declined massively in Cambodia after the 1970s and this is one of the few places in the country where you can see the art being passed down to the next generation.

Koh Dach is accessible via local ferry from Preak Leap, which departs from a jetty north of the Japanese Bridge (see the exact location here). The fare is around 500 riel one-way for a pedestrian. Once you’re on the island, it’s better to have your own transportation as things are quite spread out. Tuk tuks can travel on the ferry from the city – or better still you can bring a bicycle to explore at your own pace.

Silk vendors will warmly welcome you into their workshops for demonstrations, and many sell small handmade souvenirs that you can buy. On Koh Oknha Tei – a second, smaller island – you’ll find a silk museum that describes the entire process from worm to loom.

Other things to do include renting a bamboo hut on Koh Dach beach, eating lunch by the water, or taking one of the many trails through the island’s interior to visit small the small villas and hidden pagodas.


6. Southern Bassac islands

  • Distance from Phnom Penh: 19-22 kilometres (12-14 miles)
  • Travel time: Approx. 1-1.5 hours one-way by road
  • Recommended transport: Bicycle
A sampan boat glides along the Tonle Bassac river at sunset.
Sunsets and sampans on the Tonle Bassac.

South of Phnom Penh, the islands in the Tonle Bassac river have a similar ambiance to Koh Dach, but are less touristy. Koh Anloung Chen and Koh Kor are particularly pleasant for an easy day out and can be reached by local ferry (see the location of the dock here).

I highly recommend hiring a bicycle to explore the islands. As you loop around the quiet roads you’ll see colourful pagodas, small villages and typical pastoral scenes. It’s a window onto ‘real’ life in Cambodia and a great way to experience a little slice of the countryside without venturing too far from the city.


7. Cambodian Weaving Village (Takeo)

  • Distance from Phnom Penh: 84 kilometres (52 miles)
  • Travel time: Approx. 2.25 hours one-way by road
  • Recommended transport: Taxi, bus or train

If you’re interested in handicrafts, consider venturing further afield to Takeo province to visit Cambodian Weaving Village. Run by social enterprise The Weavers Project, the workshop employs women from the local community who make scarves and garments for some of the country’s biggest ethical fashion brands.

The village where the workshop is located is beyond idyllic. If you have time, consider overnighting at the Meas Family Homestay next to the weaving studio.


Longer day trips from Phnom Penh (3+ hours by road)

These longer day trips require a bit more time on the road so it’s best to either travel by taxi with a reliable driver or join an organised day tour.

There’s lots to do in each of these places so if possible, I recommend spending a night or two as part of your Cambodia itinerary rather than visiting as a day trip.

8. Kampong Cham

  • Distance from Phnom Penh: 125 kilometres (78 miles)
  • Travel time: Approx. 3 hours one-way by road
  • Recommended transport: Taxi
A motorbike travels down a colourful street in Kampong Cham city.
Kampong Cham.

The city of Kampong Cham is probably my favourite place in all of Cambodia. Although it’s technically possible to visit as a long day trip travelling by taxi or on an organised tour, I highly recommend spending the night here so you can soak up the laid-back atmosphere.

Located north of Phnom Penh on the Mekong river, this is a small city with a lot of history and character. My favourite things to do in Kampong Cham include biking around downtown, exploring the undercover market, cycling out to the ‘lighthouse’, and walking the waterfront at dusk. There are several important pagodas in the vicinity of the city, including the gorgeous Banteay Prey Nokor.

Read my Kampong Cham travel guide for detailed transport information and recommendations for where to eat and stay.


9. Kampong Chhnang

  • Distance from Phnom Penh: 93 kilometres (58 miles)
  • Travel time: Approx. 3 hours one-way by road
  • Recommended transport: Taxi
Small clay elephants for sale at a workshop in Kampong Chhnang.
A clay workshop in Kampong Chhnang.

A provincial town north-west of Phnom Penh, Kampong Chhnang sits at the base of the Tonle Sap Lake. It’s best known for its clay pottery (chhnang means ‘pot’ in Khmer), and here you can visit home-workshops where artisans mould and throw various vessels and trinkets – including those massive clay water pots you see out the front of every home in rural Cambodia.

Another must-do is to charter a boat and explore the floating villages on the lake. Because far fewer tourists visit Kampong Chhnang, this is a terrific ‘off-the-beaten-path’ alternative to the floating villages near Siem Reap. When we visited Kampong Chhnang, we were treated to a 2-hour ride around the waterways. We were the only foreigners around.

For an offbeat experience in Kampong Chhnang, the very eerie ‘abandoned airport’ built by forced labourers under the Pol Pot regime is located on the outskirts of the city.


10. Kirirom National Park

  • Distance from Phnom Penh: 114 kilometres (71 miles)
  • Travel time: Approx. 3.25 hours one-way by road
  • Recommended transport: Taxi
A green valley and thatched hut in Kirirom National Park in Cambodia.
Kirirom National Park.

Kirirom is Cambodia’s first national park. It stretches over the eastern part of the Cardamom Mountains, south of Phnom Penh on the way to the coast.

If you’re seeking fresh air and respite, this is a good place in Cambodia for trekking. Forested walking trails, lakes and waterfalls can all be found within the park’s borders. Maps and advice can be sourced from the Kirirom Information Centre when you arrive.

If you have more time, consider visiting Chambok, a commune within the national park that’s home to one of the country’s leading community based ecotourism projects. The venture includes a woman-led restaurant and 42 homestays spread across nine villages. Reservations can be made here.


11. Chreav Waterfall

  • Distance from Phnom Penh: 113 kilometres (70 miles)
  • Travel time: Approx. 3 hours one-way by road
  • Recommended transport: Taxi

Also located on the edge of the Cardamoms, this waterfall lies in the shadow of Phnom Aural, Cambodia’s tallest peak. Chreav Waterfall (sometimes called Chreav Rapids) is a seven-tiered cascade and can be accessed via road or on a 7km walking trail.

The area is packed with local visitors on holidays and weekends. Small restaurants and shops set up in the area to cater to picnicking guests. This is an important source of income for the local community – but you may find it a touch too touristy.

Because of the distance and remote location, it’s only recommended to go by car or on an organised day tour.


12. Phnom Bayang Temple

  • Distance from Phnom Penh: 132 kilometres (82 miles)
  • Travel time: Approx. 3.25 hours one-way by road
  • Recommended transport: Taxi

Phnom Bayang is located south of Phnom Penh just before the Vietnam border. Built in the 7th century AD by King Pavavarman II, the Brahman temple has sustained significant damage over the years but is a magical place nonetheless.

This day trip is only for the intrepid or temple-obsessed! If you’re travelling south to Kampot and Kep by car, you could potentially plan your route to pass through Kiri Vong and visit the temple on the way.

Four more stupas from the same era can be found in the area, as well as a lake and a series of small villages.


Which of these Phnom Penh day trips makes your wish list? Do you have any alternative excursions to add? Please let me know in the comments below!


More Cambodia travel resources

5 things to pack for Cambodia

  • A reusable water bottle. Absolutely essential in Cambodia for minimising plastic waste and staying hydrated. I love my S’Well water bottle – it’s vacuum insulated to keep water icy cold for the whole day, and it doesn’t sweat. If you like your mango smoothies, pack a reusable smoothie cup as well.
  • Rehydration tablets or sachets. At the end of a long day bike riding or exploring temples, your body will be crying out for electrolytes (believe me!). I prefer Hydralyte tablets because they come in a handy tube. If you forget to bring some from home, the Double D brand is sold at most pharmacies and grocery stores in Cambodia.
  • Rain jacket and travel umbrella for the wet season. Wet season is my favourite time to travel in Cambodia because the countryside is so verdant. Downpours come out of nowhere, so it’s essential to have a rain jacket with you at all times (I love the packable rain jackets by Lomon for women and EZRUN for men). I also carry a travel umbrella in case it’s too hot and steamy to wear a jacket. This one is UPF 50+, making it great for sun cover as well.
  • A sturdy day pack. An anti-theft backpack is particularly good for the cities, especially Phnom Penh. Opt for a minimalist backpack that doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb.
  • Cambodia guide book. I prefer Lonely Planet’s dedicated Cambodia guidebook or regional guidebook that also covers Laos, Vietnam and Northern Thailand.

Cambodia essentials

Planning a trip to Cambodia? Here are some of the resources and tools I personally use to organise my travel plans in the Kingdom.

– Find affordable flights to Cambodia on Kiwi.com, a booking site that mixes and matches airlines to find the best route (there’s a money back guarantee if you miss a connection).

– Use iVisa to check if you need a tourist visa for Cambodia and apply for an expedited visa online.

– Pre-book your hotel transfer from Phnom Penh Airport or Siem Reap Airport.

– Find the best hotel deals in Cambodia on Agoda or book a Cambodia hostel.

– Buy your Cambodia bus tickets online in advance through Bookaway or organise a private car and driver through BookMeBus.

– Download Pass App to book tuk-tuks and taxis on the go.

Find the best cooking classes and foodie experiences in Cambodia.

Find the best city tours and day excursions in Cambodia.

– Try an alternative tour or DIY experience with social enterprise Backstreet Academy.

– Pick up a copy of the latest Lonely Planet guidebook for Cambodia.

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