Penh is a graceful capital, a small city of old Asia,
unlike the developing metropolises in nearby
countries. Situated at the confluence of the Mekong,
Bassac and Tonle Sap Rivers, the city retains much
traditional and colonial charm. French villas hidden
among tree-lined boulevards remind the visitor that
the city was once considered the pearl of Asia. The
riverfront area remains one of the most attractive in
the region and is great for a late afternoon stroll.
Recent political changes have encouraged a boom, with
new hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs springing
up around the city.
graceful structure is very much a focus of the city.
Standing on the site of the former citadel, it was
built for King Norodom in front of the Mekong.
Inside its walls are the Throne Hall, the Chan Chaya
Pavillion, the Napoleon III Pavillion, and the
King's and Queen's residential quarters. Today, only
the Silver Pagoda is open. The Silver Pagoda is a
gilltering chamber of royal treasures, also known as
the Pagoda of the Emerald Buddha, Inside, its floor
is made up of 5,000 silver blocks. In the centre of
the pagoda, there is a magnificent 17th century
emerald Buddha statue made of baccarat crystal. The
walls enclosing the pagoda are covered with ancient
frescoes depicting episodes from the Ramayana.
elegant city landmark, the museum is housed in a
terracotta-roofed structure of traditional Cambodian
design, which was built in between 1917 and 1920. It
offers a charming setting for a stunning collection
of Khmer art. The intricate sculptures date from
both the Angkorian and pre-Angkorian eras,
complimented by recent examples of Cambodian art and
a wooden Buddha collection.
atop a small hill is the 15th century stupa
containing the ashes of an early monarch. Wat Phnom
is a city landmark and a place for worship.
the Tonle Sap near the Royal Palace, this pagoda
serves as the headquarters for one of Cambodia's
Sleng and Choeng Ek
the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975 they converted
a former high school in the suburbs of Phnom Penh
into a detention and torture centre known as Tuol
Sleng, or S-21. A genocide museum was established at
Tuol Sleng after 1979 and today it remains as it
looked when abandoned by the Khmer Rouge. Hundreds
of faces of those tortured line the walls inside the
old school. Most of the 17,000 people detained at
Tuol Sleng were eventually transported to Choeung Ek,
a mass grave site located 15km outside Phnom Penh.
Known to locals as the Killing Fields, Choeung Ek
serves as a memorial to those killed under the Khmer
Rouge rule. These sites can be extremely
distressing, but are an essential part of
understanding Cambodia’s tragic past.
island on the Mekong River is home to traditional silk
weaving villages and can be visited as part of a
half-day boat trip.
Cruise on Mekong River
one-hour cruise takes in the daily life of the
people living near the river. The sunset is
spectacular, as the reflected rays of the dropping
sun cast a golden glow across the water.
Baset is home to a small pre-Angkorian temple, called
temple of the Perfect Woman, and a kitsch, cement
replica of Angkor Wat. It is 32km to the north-west of
served as the country's capital under several
monarchs from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Royal
ruins stand upon a hillock offering panoramic views
of the countryside. It is situated about 40km north
of Phnom Penh.
Bati has two important 12th century temples. Ta Prohm
was built by Jayavarman VII and is consecrated both to
Buddha and to Brahma, and is interesting for its
refined bas reliefs. It is 35km southeast of Phnom
known as the temple of the Black Virgin, it may once
have served as a sanctuary to Kali, the dark goddess
of destruction, it is situated about 55 km south of
Chisor is an 11th century temple set upon a small
mountain offering a panoramic view of the Cambodian
countryside. It is located 59km southeast of Phnom
Penh, just off National Highway 2.