Top Attractions in Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is the capital and most populous city in Cambodia. Once described as the "Pearl of Asia”, the city was considered as one of the most beautiful cities in the whole Indochina back in the 1920’s. The four-year reign of the Khmer Rouge however left its traces.
Today, the city is leaving its dark past behind and is rapidly developing into a modern Southeast Asian capital. With its unique mix of culture, history, spiritualism and modernity, Phnom Penh offers countless things to do for every taste.
The National Museum is a must-see for all history lovers. It houses a rich collection of Khmer sculptures, relics and artefacts. The four galleries are arranged chronologically. Visitors should allocate at least an hour to indulge in Cambodia’s glorious past.
The Royal Palace is another one of the capital’s prominent landmarks that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Located on the western bank of the Tonle Sap River, visitors can admire traditional Khmer architecture combined with French-style landscaped gardens.
Located in the same complex as the Royal Palace, is the Silver Pagoda. With its complex golden roofs and tranquil gardens, the pagoda offers a calm oasis away from the busy streets of Phom Penh.
Souvenir hunters and architecture enthusiasts will also enjoy a visit to the Central Market (Phsar Thmei). It was built in 1937 during the French colonial period in Art Deco style. The building consists of four wings dominated by a central dome.
In and around the building, travellers will find a bustling bazaar. From handicrafts, over local art to jewelry, flowers, food and fruits, the busy alleys filled with vendors offer almost everything that a travelling heart desires.
No visit to Cambodia is complete without learning about the Khmer Rouge. The Toul Sleng Museum and Killing Fields of Choeung Ek explain the country’s darker part of history very well.
The Toul Sleng Museum used to be the Toul Svay High School. Between 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge took over the school and turned it into the country’s largest prison also known as S-21. Today, the building serves as a testament to remember the crimes that were committed by the regime. Visitors should consider hiring a guide who can share the stories behind the photos and documents that serve as silent witnesses of Cambodia’s cruel past.
For the execution, the prisoners from S-21 were transported to the killing fields of Choeng Ek. Today the area serves as a memorial and a reminder of the cruelties committed by Paul Pot’s regime.
To learn more about Cambodia’s wildlife, the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center is the perfect address. Both adults and children will enjoy a visit to the biggest rescue and rehabilitation centre in the country. Many of the animals are endangered or rescued from illegal wildlife trafficking. The money of the entry ticket is used to rescue more animals.
Towards the evening, when the sun is less hot, a walk along the river promenade can be very enjoyable. It becomes especially lively during the night. Street vendors populate the streets and locals come to the promenade to enjoy the evening breathe near the river.