Your tour begins as your private guide meets you at your hotel.
First up, visit Pshar Kandal and enjoy local delights such as mi char (fried noodles), sach kor ang (barbecue beef with papaya salad), noodle soups, and small traditional snacks. Then move on to Pshar Chas, where you can try banh srung, a small noodle dish with coconut milk, and chek ktis, a sweet dessert.
After this breakfast, walk to Phnom Penh’s old French quarter, home to fine examples of colonial-era architecture where you can admire Belle Epoque and Art Deco designs, including the post office and French administration building. Then walk to Wat Phnom, meaning ‘Mountain Pagoda,’ a Buddhist temple located in the heart of the city. Built in 1373, it is the tallest religious structure in the capital.
Walking onward, pass by the national library and Raffles le Royal hotel with its colorful history; opened in 1929 by the French, the hotel has hosted such various figures as Jackie Kennedy and Pol Pot. Between 1970 and 1975, most of the journalists working in Phnom Penh stayed here, as it was the last refuge before the Khmer Rouge forced all foreign nationals into the French embassy.
Next walk to the train station, a colonial-built structure, and continue to Cambodia’s largest market and a Phnom Penh landmark—Psah Thmey, aka Grand Market. This amazing Art Deco building built in 1937 by French architect Louis Chauchon teems with stalls that sell a range of goods, from silver to seafood. In the market, you have the chance to meet a traditional Cambodian fortune teller, if you wish (own expense), and try some of the local snacks, depending on what’s available.
Continue to the French embassy, reopened in 1996 on the same site that housed the former embassy until it was sacked by the Khmer Rouge in 1975. When the communists took the city, 1,400 Cambodians and foreigners sought shelter in the compound. Under threat that the Khmer Rouge would overrun the embassy, the French agreed to hand over more than 600 Cambodians to the new authorities. Soon afterward, the regime expelled all foreigners and sealed off Cambodia's borders.
In the early afternoon, your tour ends with the transfer back to your hotel by tuk-tuk.