Best things to do in Phnom Penh
Find out more about those top places in Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s capital and busiest city. With a population of over 1.5 million people the city has grown to be the nation’s economic, cultural and industrial center.
A lot can’t be said about Phnom Penh without mentioning the country’s sad past – the Khmer Rouge era that led to the death of many Cambodians and the fall of its economy.
The city of Phnom Penh has since bounced back to be one of the rising tourist destinations in Asia and with its diversity in culture and several attractions, it is certainly worth a visit.
The intricately built Wat Phnom is the main worship center of Phnom Penh Buddhist community, it stands at 88.5 ft (26.97 m) above sea level making it the tallest religious building in the city. Cambodian legend says the Wat Phnom was founded by a widow named Penh, who discovered four bronze statues of Buddha inside a Koki tree on a river. She decided to place the statues in a shrine – eventually it turned into a sanctuary where people come to pray and ask for blessings.
Tied tightly to Cambodia’s history is Choeung Ek, the former orchard and mass grave of the Khmer Rouge victims of 1975-1979. The killing fields contain the remains of about 8,985 Cambodians including men, women and children – brought to executed from different detention camps around the country. It has a Buddhist stupa built as a memorial, the stupa has more than 5,000 human skulls, it is opened during the day for visitors to see.
The Royal Palace is the official residence of the Kings of Cambodia, and it has been so for several centuries. Built in the 1860s using Khmer architectural style, it covers an area of 174,870 square meters and it is part of a main complex that contains several other buildings. The main attraction of the Royal Palace is the throne room where official duties of the Cambodian rulers happen and also Royal ceremonies. It is opened to visitors, but they must adhere to a strict dress code.
The Silver Pagoda is one of the many buildings situated in the Royal Palace Complex, the golden roof Buddhist temple is the most enchanting place in the city. Also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha mainly due to the fact it houses the Emerald Buddha which is adorned with many diamonds. The Emerald Buddha sits next to a bronze Buddha, silver Buddha and gold Buddha. Its other main attraction is the floor covered with 5,000 silver tiles, visitors can’t walk on the tiles but can look at them.
Established in 1920, the museum is dedicated to showing all what Cambodia’s history has to offer. The museum contains over 5,000 artifacts dating back to the 5th century, including Khmer sculptures and Angkor collection of statues. Outside the building is equally impressive, with a beautifully designed courtyard that is littered with several stone statues - notably that of the Leper King and Ganesha.