Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia and the largest city. It was once known as the “Pearl of Asia” and one of the loveliest French-designed cities in Indochina. If you have time after visiting Siem Reap, it is definitely a travel tip worth exploring with its ornate temples and grand boulevards with French colonial buildings. You might also want to subscribe to our newsletter to be informed about future articles.
Here are suggestions of the top 5 things to do in Phnom Penh Cambodia
The Royal Palace
Why: A relaxing place to escape from the chaotic streets of the capital, the Royal Palace offers stunningly ornate buildings and peaceful manicured gardens.
Description: This is the official residence of the King of Cambodia and was constructed in the 1860s. This lovely complex has plenty of impressive Khmer architecture to explore and you could spend hours wandering through the buildings. Be sure to wear long pants and cover your shoulders so that you will be able to get in.
The Killing Fields
Why: It is a truly devastating experience, but knowing about the tragic past of the Khmer Rouge regime is important to comprehending Cambodia and its culture.
Description: Hire a tuktuk driver for the day to take you out to the village of Choeung Ek, the site of the Killing Fields. This incredibly sad location is one of many sites in Cambodia where large numbers of people were murdered by the Khmer Rouge regime and buried in mass graves. The area now looks like a peaceful meadow filled with trees, but when you walk through it you will be able to see the indentations in the ground where hundreds of men, women and children were buried. A guided tour headset will tell you the stories and the history behind the site and a commemorate stupa displays the bones and skulls of many victims.
You can still see bones and clothes of victims at some places.
Tuktuk ride in Phnom Penh back from the killing fields. Good to see everything full of life after that experience.
Tuol Sleng / S21
Why: Some of the photos and information is disturbing however, just like the Killing Fields, it is important to understand this period in history.
Description: Tuol Sleng (which means “poisonous hill”) is also known as Security Office 21 and it was the former Tuol Svay Prey high school, In May of 1976 the Khmer Rouge set up a prison at this site where they detained individuals who were accused of being in opposition of the Pol Pot regime. In these cold grey rooms, the prisoners were tortured and beaten. The location is now a museum telling the stories.
VIP prisoner cell and interrogation room
Normal prisoner cell. They were chained in cells of 2 metres length and 0.5 metres width and ammunition boxes served as “toilets”.
Why: It’s a fun place to pick up a souvenir or the odd item that you forgot to pack.
Description: This Art Deco building, constructed in 1937, is a landmark within the city. When you wander into the large complex you will find numerous stalls featuring a selection of goods of all kinds, from clothing to jewellery to accessories to electronics and much more.
Why: It is an iconic temple of the city with a fascinating history.
Description: The name of this landmark means “Hill Temple”, as it is located on a hill within a small park. The architecture of the temple itself isn’t as grand as its historical importance, as legend says that the first pagoda was built on the site in 1373 to display four statues of Buddha that had washed up on the shores of the Mekong. Today, many local people will visit the temple to pray for good luck.
These are just a few ideas of what you can see and do during your visit to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Have fun exploring!
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