Must-See Attractions in Phnom Penh

Must-See Attractions in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s vibrant and bustling capital, is the country’s beating heart. This huge metropolis spread out over the Tonlé Sap, and Mekong Rivers is a city of wide central boulevards and small back lanes, where new and old meet. The sheer volume of destinations coupled with diverse Cambodian culture makes this Phnom Penh one of the must-see destinations in Southeast Asia.

This fascinating and irresistible city offers plenty of sightseeing opportunities, modern attractions, shopping venues, excellent culinary delights, and entertainment. Every traveler will discover something charming and intriguing here. The markets are always crowded, there is a constant hum of activity along the river, and you can always hear traditional music being played over speakers throughout the city.

Cambodia’s capital city is full of surprises and offers a lot of things to do. A combination of Asian exotica, the famous Cambodian hospitality awaits the visitors to the capital of Cambodia. The city is also conveniently located just south of the border, making travel possible by plane, land, or river. With French colonial mansions, tree-lined boulevards, Angkorian architecture, and a blend of colorful traditional Khmer markets, Phnom Penh is a veritable haven compared to the rest of Asia. Let’s check out some of the most popular and must-see attractions in Phnom Penh.

Royal Palace

The majestic Royal Palace – the home and residence of Cambodia’s royal family since the 1860s – is the showpiece of Phnom Penh. The complex’s spired-roof pavilions are a fine example of classic Khmer architecture. Both the Throne Hall area and the Silver Pagoda, which are placed among manicured grounds, are open to the public. The Throne Hall was constructed in 1917 to replace an earlier wooden construction.

The Silver Pagoda is famous for housing the Emerald Buddha statue as well as a massive 90-kilogram Gold Buddha statue adorned with hundreds of jewels. The Silver Pagoda was spared the wrath of the Khmer Rouge regime and hence retains several exquisite treasures. The Reamker, a Cambodian epic poem based on the Indian Ramayana, is depicted on the inside ceiling mural.

Independence Monument

This tower was built in 1958 to commemorate Cambodia’s five-year independence from French colonial rule. It is modeled after the central tower of Angkor Wat, the country’s most famous ancient temple, and portrays a lotus-shaped Stupa that also remembers Cambodia’s war dead. The monument is located near a park that features a number of other significant statues honoring war heroes and peace treaties with neighboring countries such as Vietnam. It is sometimes decked with flowers during celebrations or enjoyed by park-goers during concerts, outdoor martial arts sessions, or other recreational activities.

Cambodia National Museum

The traditional Khmer structure that holds the national collection was constructed in 1920. The magnificent assortment of ancient Khmer workmanship on show within, with over 1,800 pieces on display, is a must-see for anybody interested in Cambodian history.

The Vishnu head excavated near the vast temple complex of Angkor Wat; the incredible Angkorian collection, with statues from the temples of Koh Ker and Angkor Thom; and the large exhibit of pre-Angkorian artifacts that trace Cambodia’s Funan and Chenla periods are the major highlights of the museum galleries.

Choeung Ek (Genocidal Center)

The Choeung Ek Killing Fields are a gloomy reminder of the Khmer Rouge’s terror, whose cruel dictatorship ruled Cambodia between 1975 and early 1979, with the goal of transforming the country into a socialist agrarian community. During Pol Pot’s dictatorial dictatorship, it is estimated that between one and three million Cambodians were killed in less than four years.

Many Cambodians died as a result of famine and disease, but hundreds of thousands were slaughtered, including intellectuals, educated individuals such as teachers and doctors, government opponents, and even anyone suspected of being an opponent. It is estimated that 17,000 people died here at Choeung Ek. The victims here were taken from S-21, the Khmer Rouge’s high-security jail, which is now the Tuol Sleng Museum. There are 129 mass graves here, with 86 of them excavated and the bones of 8,985 persons exhumed.

A memorial stupa with over 8,000 skulls stands in the heart of the region. A visit here is a really somber experience that will help you comprehend this turbulent chapter in Cambodia’s contemporary history. Choeung Ek is located just off Monireth Boulevard.

Wat Phnom

This city’s hilltop temple bears the same name as the city itself. According to legend, the widow Penh discovered a tree on the riverbank with four sacred Buddha sculptures inside and built a shrine to maintain its holiness. The temple is famous for its historical significance rather than its architectural form, although the park is a nice green space and a favorite gathering spot for people. For those seeking a little luck, it may be worthwhile to pray for success in business or other endeavors, as many Cambodians do here.

Tuol Sleng Museum

Some of the Khmer Rouge’s most heinous torture atrocities were committed here, in Security Prison S-21. Between 1975 and 1978, over 17,000 people walked through these gates, accused of undermining the revolution in some fashion. Almost all of the convicts sent here were once Khmer Rouge members who were turned on during one of the regime’s many internal purges.

The presented photographic proof hanging on the walls of the scant cells next to empty beds heightens the visceral nature of the visit. S-21 was extremely well-managed by Comrade Duch (the prison’s head), who ensured that detailed records were preserved. The thorough documents and images had survived despite the fact that the prison was quickly abandoned when the Vietnamese invaded Phnom Penh in 1979.

Sisowath Quay

For generations, this riverbank strip has been an important commercial, public space. This region, which borders the Mekong River and is bounded by the Royal Palace, is teeming with street vendors, stores, restaurants, and hotels. It is one of the greatest places to witness the boat races during Phnom Penh’s (and much of Southeast Asia’s) renowned water festival, which takes place in mid-April to mark the Buddhist new year. Sisowath Quay has a fairly westernized, multinational feel to it because it is home to several colonial-style buildings and a lot of embassies. The ferry terminals leave from here for people intending boat travel to Siem Reap.

Phsar Thmei (Central Market)

Four pearl-white wings full of active traders stretch from beneath a gleaming central golden dome into various hallways and a cloud of sounds, sights, and scents. This art deco relic of the French Colonial architectural era was formerly thought to be Asia’s largest market, and it has remained open (save during wartime) since it was built in 1937. Regardless of what they are shopping for, shoppers are likely to find a good deal here. From burned CDs and DVDs to bargain tees, lush batik, and brocade textiles to gold and gemstones, there is something here for everyone.

Whether you’re heading to Phnom Penh for business, pleasure, or both, we hope this guide will assist and help you in making the most out of your trip. The Cambodian capital is a world away from other Asian capitals and strikes a refreshingly provincial tone that is among the most endearing in the continent. While the city continues to evolve, it has plenty of attractions to keep tourists busy and interested over a few days and nights. Whether you only have the time to scratch the surface or want to spend more time exploring, there is something for everyone here in Phnom Penh. And if you thought we missed something in this guide, let us know in the comments section below!

Author: Vinz

Robin Vinz Salvador is a part-time travel blogger, part-time digital marketing specialist, and full-time dreamer. He loves the photographic medium for expressing what he loves about life. He always finds himself lost during travel. But he loves unfamiliar territories and finding his way around. Aside from his taste for adventure, he loves two things while traveling - meeting new friends and food.

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