Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is also called Nam Vang – the biggest city of Cambodia, the most crowded population and the capital of the country since 1434. It was well known as the pearl of Asia since 1920s in companion with Siem Reap, Phnom Penh attract internal and international tourists to Cambodia. Thanks for its wealthiest; Phnom Penh is the cultural, commercial and political centre of the country and the home of more than one million populations. Phnom Penh has 345 sqkm and the city has many constructions which influence by French style and some typical of Khmer. As a result, the city offers multi choices for visiting at attractions including temples, museums, Royal Palace, Wat Phnom…

Travel to Phnom Penh you can choose Pochentong International airport with international flights including to Hanoi and Hochiminh city of Vietnam. There are also ferry, speedboat to Chau Doc and Can Tho of Vietnam or bus to Ho Chi Minh City.

Phnom Penh Capital City gives tourists the combination between the typical character of Asia plus the gentle of Indochina as well as the hospitable of Cambodian. Being right on the land of confluence of three big rivers: Mekong River, Bassac River and Tonle Sap River, Phnom Penh is well known as the city of three rivers which Khmer people called “Four Faces River” or “Chaktomuk”. The city is as the gateway to land in the magic land of the kingdom as Angkor in the west, white sandy beach at Sihanouk Ville and Kep in the south, the highland of many minority groups with the primary forest at Rattanakiri and Mondolkiri in the east. From here it is also easy to make a visiting to remote villages, rice fields… which are waiting the discovery of visitors.

Phnom Penh also attracts for cultural tourism as Royal Palace, Silver pagoda, National Museum, Wat Phnom, Toul Sleng Genocide Museum and Killing Field, Oudong Old Capital, The Ruins of Angor in Phnom Chisor, Phnom Da, Tonle Bati Ecology Tourism Area. The city is ready to welcome visitors with variety services from luxury 5 star hotel to mini hotel and guesthouses, some good restaurants in the top of Southeast Asia, bars, clubs and nightclubs, shopping malls, traditional markets

Wat Phnom and Northern Part of the City are known as the city centre. It is the namesake and symbol of Phnom Penh which was built in 1373. The pagoda was built by a wealthy widow Daun Chi Penh on an artificial mountain after the big flood and brought Statues to this area. Legend, the introduction of Wat Phnom tied to the beginning of Phnom Penh. The Hill means Phnom and a small pagoda Wat and now called Wat Phnom. The area later called as the name of the hill Phnom and the lady built it “Penh” so the name Phnom Penh was born. The pagoda today was rebuilt last in 1926. There were many constructions for centuries. The large stupa contains the ash of Ponhea Yat King who moved the capital of Khmer from Angkor to Phnom Penh. This area is the centre for New Year Festival of Cambodia and Pchum Benh.

Psar Thmei is the biggest maret in Phnom Penh with the centre location as well as interesting art deco. This is an interesting place for visitors to walk around and see goods with all kinds. Everything you can see here from fresh food to gold, animals. Food stalls, restaurant mainly Chinese, café or bars around market is very convenient for your shopping and enjoying.

Boeung Keng Kang Market is worth to have a look where has many goods such as clothes, second-hand products, enjoy local food at local food stalls. You can taste food here until late at night.

Royal Palace in Phnom Penh was built one century before with the aim is the place for accommodation, living of King and Royal family as well as foreign visitors. This is also the place for meeting, throne, diplomatic and royal ceremonies. The Royal Palace is the symbol of the Kingdom. It connects with Silver pagoda and creates the multi including Royal Palace, constructions and gardens in the area of 500*800 meters with the wall around and has the view to a river in front of. Come closer to Royal Palace, you can see the high wall with sculpture patterns and yellow constructions by towers. Walk inside the palace, these high wall keep the noisy outside and the Palace was decorated in details and gloriously among tropical garden which are well looking after carefully rising in a peaceful island. Except for the living area of Royal Family at Khemarin Palace, other areas in Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda are opened to welcome tourists. The entrance gate is at Sothearos street about 100m to the North. Tourist guides are always available at ticket desk so visitors can contact to have a guide for introduce both Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. The daily time: 7.30 – 11.30 am and 14.00 – 17.00 pm. All Royal Palace will be closed when there is any diplomatic ceremony or traditional festival.

Royal Palace was rebuilt in Phnom Penh in 1866. In Angkor period from 802 to the beginning of 15th century, the capital of Khmer was in the north of Great Lake “Tonle Sap Lake” which is Siem Reap today. After that Ponhea Yat King leaved Angkor and moved the capital to Phnom Penh. After some changes and moves the capital to Basan, Lovek and Oudong, until 19th century the capital was moved again o Phnom Penh and there was no proof of Royal Palace in Phnom Penh before 19th century. In 1813 Ang Chang King (1796-1834) built Banteay Kev (Crystal Palace) on the land of present Royal Palace and was here I a short time before moved to Oudong. Crystal Palace was fired in the destruction of the city in 1834 when Myanmar army left Phnom Penh.

Until French colonial invaded Cambodia and enforced Norodom King 91834-1904) to sign Protection Treaty in 1863, the capital still was in Oudong about 45km to the Southeast of Phnom Penh. In the beginning of 1863, a temporary Palace was built in the location of present Royal Palace about few meters to the North. The present Royal Palace was designed by Neak Okhna Tepnimith Mak and built under French’s sponsor in 1866.

That year, the King moved the capital from Oudong to return Phnom Penh. Some constructions were built few decades later, some were destroyed and rebuilt including Chanchaya Palace and Reception Room where put the throne and the king throne. The Rotal Palace was finished in 1871 and walls around in 1873. Some special constructions of the Royal used traditional style and art of Khmer, however, it has the mixture of western art uniquely. Napoleon Palace is the typical construction which was the present of French in 1876.

Sisowath King (1904-1927) had some contributions for the basic Royal place architecture’s complex by building Phochani Hall in 1907 and finished in 1912. From 1913 to 1919 break some old houses and built and enlarged Chanchaya Palace and Reception Room as the present architecture. The architectures that bring traditional Khmer style and inspirational design of Angkor show clearly at Reception Room although it has the affect of Western. Some important constructions were made in 1930s under the reign of Monivong King such as build Worship Palace for Royal family, Vihear Suor and brea and replace the old Royal Palace by Khemarin Forbidden City in 1931. In 1953, the unique construction of Damnak Chan was built where the working place for Senior Council of the King and in 1956 built Kantha Bopha villa area for foreign visitors who visit the Royal.

After 1970 coup, Cambodia becomes republic country and during Red Khmer period (1975-1979) and communist since 1980s. Till 1993 when the monastery was restored, Royal Palace sometimes was used as the museum or closed. During the periof of Red Khmer, Sihanouk King and family were arrested as prisoners in the Palace.

In the middle of 1990s some palaces in Royal Palace area were restored and rebuild thanks to the support from international.

The Reception Room is the important place of Royal Palace where celebrates Crown, diplomatic and traditional rituals. It was rebuilt twice, the first time by wood in 1869-1870 under the time of King Norodom and was broken in 1915. The present Reception Room was built in 1917 and finished in 1919 by Sisowath King. The room has the area of 30*60m with the summit of tower 59m. Similar as other houses and constructions in Royal Palace, The Reception Room is the East direction and receives the sunlight in the morning. The throne Reach Balaing is formally put in the middle of the room and the ceiling has the motif of dome structure decorated brilliant patterns and decribes Reamker legend (as Ramayana epic of Khmer).

Chanchhaya Stage today is the construction which was built the second, the first under Norodom King by wood. In 1913-1914 Sisowath King, this Stage was rebuilt as the same motif as the previous construction. Chanchhaya Stage is also called Moonlight one. The front face of the Stage faces to Sothearos River. It is the place to celebrate Royal dance, the stage for the King has the speech to citizens as well as organize events and big party of Royal. In 2004, on the occasion of Norodom Sihamoni got on the throne, the stage was used for the big party to happy the new King.

Hor Samran Phirun is the relaxation and leisure palace of Royal family where the King waited to ride elephant on Royal festivals built in 1917 and kept music instruments to perform. Nowadays, the Palace is for displaying mementos of foreign leaders.

Hor Samrith Phimean was built in 1917 where kept clothes and symbol objects of Royal. Today, it is on the first floor.

Napoleon III Palace with the Western motif at first and different from palaces as Khmer art surrounding. The Palace is the first eternal construction in Royal area which built by steel. It is the unique construction for Eugenie Queen of French, wife of Napoleon III King. In 1876 Napoleon III King gave it for Norodom King of Cambodia as present.  Coincidentally, All Royal symbols with letter “N” in windows, gates and faces of the palace to honor Napoleon King didn’t need to change when gave it for Norodom. The Palace was restored in 1991 with the support from French government. The Palace today is used for a small museum, displays pictures and memorial events of Royal. The most beautiful scene of the palace to take photos is in the early morning.

Pochani Palace is a large stage with the aim of art performance. The construction was built in 1912 and today it is used for the aim of welcoming and royal meetings.  

Damnak Chan is the working place of the Royal. It was built in 1953 for King’s Senior Council. The Palace was used for Culture Department in 1980s and National Senior Committee 1991-1993. Damnak Chan expresses the unreasonable points in the mixture of Western art motif and traditional Khmer. The unreasonable mixture shows clearly at the roof with the traditional Khmer motif but the around walls are western. It isnot opened for visitors.

Wat Preah Keo Morokat Pagoda or Silver Pagoda which was called Wat Uborsoth Rothannaream before is the place where organizes vegetarian and Buddhism festival. The name Wat Preah Keo Morokat was as the name of a Buddhist who made the statue from precious stone becomes “Keomorakot”. The pagoda was built by wood under Preah Bat Samedech Preah Norodom in 1892 as the architecture of Cambodian. Until 1902 the pagoda was broken and rebuilt by wood and brick which finished on 05th Feb 1903 under the reign of Norodom King. It is a famous pagoda in Cambodia because it has precious Buddhism statues and treasures.

The pagoda is also the place for the King prays, meditate without abbot. In 1962, the pagoda was decayed for wood. Under the instruction of Kossomak Nearyreath Queen, Sihanouk rebuilt it by cement, the column by stone; its floor is paved by 5329 silver pieces, each with 1,125kg weight by handmade. As a result, it is called Silver Pagoda. It is also called Gold Pagoda because it has Maitreya Buddha statue with gold. The pagoda has the function of culture and the place where keeps religious treasure with the function of worshipping, contain more than 1050 treasures by Gold, Silver, Bronze and precious objects which King and Queen Kossomak Nearyreath, the nobles, royal and other people attend the prayer at the pagoda offer to pray for the peace, property and happiness for the traditional preservation of culture to future generation in Cambodia.

In the middle is the Jade Green Buddhism Statue with the height of 30cm. At present, there are some countries including Thailand, Myanmar, Australia has the Jade Green Buddhism Statues as this pagoda. In front of Jade Green Buddhism Statue is Maitreya Buddha Statue which was casting by Samedech Preah Sisowath in gold in 1904 as the word of Norodom King. The Statue is 90kg weight with 2086 diamonds and especially a diamond is 25 carat in the crown and a diamond 20 carat at chest. In addition, the pagoda has many other Buddhism Statues which each is precious and curved by gold, silver, diamond and emerald.

Behind Buddhism Statues has a “throne” with a chair for 8 to 12 people hand it. The King sits here and has the parade on his throne day. In Cambodia, the King chair always is covered by gold, this chair is 23 kg of gold. When you visit this pagoda, you must wear formal without pull, short, take photos and camera.  Four walls of the pagoda have roof and display pictures of Reamker Epic with the length of 642 m and 3m height. Because of the weather, some parts of the wall picture is damaged so you cannot see it the whole picture completely.  This picture was painted in 1903 – 1904 by a group of students under the instruction of Vichitre Chea and Oknha Tep Nimit Thneak architect. It was also a place for monks study before there is Pali school in 1930.

In front of the pagoda has Norodom King Statue which Napoleon III gave which Norodom King is riding horse with a face to the front. It was made in 1875 by artists in Paris and put in this pagoda in 1892.

Ang Duong King Mausoleum was built in 1908, the King was known as the foundation for the present dynasty and he was the fourth generation of Sihamoni King now.

Norodom King Mausoleum was built in 1908 and the place where kept the body of Norodom King. Behind the pagoda has the Mausoleum of Norodom Suramarit and Kossomak Nearireath Queen built 1955 – 1960 who are parents of Sihanouk King and grandparents of Sihamoni King.

Right after the pagoda there is a model of Angkor Wat, the ruin of civilization, culture which affected by Buddhism Khmer.

Infact, Silver Pagoda is beautiful both art and architecture. It expresses the typical architecture of Tower Pagoda in Cambodia and keeps a lot of precious Buddhism Statues.

National Museum Phnom Penh is  the collection of Khmer sculptures since from pre-Angkor period 04th century to post-Angkor period in 14th century. It was built by red bricks in 1917 as Khmer style by French – a style of Pseudo Khmer which was built around a courtyard.   Located in corner of 178 street and 13 street, open from 8 am to 17pm daily with the cost of 3 usd/per person. The typical character of this museum to compare the differences is the museum has red brown color right at Royal Palace built in 1920. There are more than 5,000 objects which are being displayed including Statues, Reliefs, Linga and handicraft products of Angkor period. The most attention is the Statue of Leprosy King magically. Although the museum has the title to concentrate into handicraft art of Angkor period, there are typical objects of later periods including a collection of Buddhism Statue uniquely. Firstly you visit Angkor and then visit the museum you will have more experiences when learning of the handicraft art of Khmer people. At the museum there is available guide with different languages, souvenir shops and bookstores. It is limited to take photos in the museum at some areas. The National Museum is also famous for bats in the ceiling which is rarely to see them at day time. However, when the sun set, bats fly as group and make spectacular scenery.  On March 2002, the ceiling of the museum was rebuilt and since then there are no bats appear again.

Cambodia and Vietnam Friendship Monument is the cement construction, built in the end of 1970 at Phnom Penh near Royal Palace of Cambodia to celebrate the Union of Vietnam and Cambodia, after Vietnamese Army landed in Cambodia and overthrow Red Khmer Genocide. The Monument was  also near the residence of Mr Hun Sen. Mr Hun Sen and Cambodian People Party leadership is ally of Vietnamese Communist Party. He was the President of Cambodia during fifteen years Vietnam army was in Cambodia. The Monument carved the picture of Cambodia solider and a Vietnamese solider stand to protect a woman and her child as the motif realism socialist which develop in Soviet Union in 1930s. 

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is a Genocide museum of Red Khmer during the period 1975 to 1979. This was a high school before become a concentrate camp of Genocide Red Khmer. In 1975, it changed into a prison with the name Security Prison S21. During the time four years of Red Khmer which kept about 17,000 people with most of members or previous solider of Red Khmer who were convinced treason. The school was made by building new barrier in electric; school rooms were converted into prison interrogation and torture chambers. The museum now lies hidden in a small town Toul Svay Prey in the south of the capital city Phnom Penh and lonely with the surrounding scenery for its old by steel fences. It displays the pictures, photos and documents about Red Khmer crimes which make people shudder. The museum still keeps artifacts which were found after Red Khmer was controlled on January 1979. The prison kept a lot of photos, documents and most of them are displaying in the museum. By pictures, artifacts, documents…the museum attracts more and more tourists visit all over the world. However, in some points, the museum is a afraid to some tourists for its crimes.

Oudong Old Capital is also called Udong or Odongk, was an Old Capital city of Cambodia from 17th to 19th century. It was also known as the last capital before Khmer Kings decided to choose Phnom Penh is the capital. It is the humble sites compared with other constructions in Cambodia. Lying in front of Phnom Penh, Oudong is soon forgotten and covered by jungle, the architecture remaining has no special and wasnot built glorious as other ancient capital cities.   At present, it only has Gropa towers left. From the summit of the tower has the sculpture. These high towers were built as tower in Old Ayuthaya of Thailand and now they are ruins.

Casino Nagaworld is the biggest casino of Phnom Penh. At night the light is as daylight which is a building with 13 floors and divided into 4 areas with casinos and restaurants, hotels. It is very easy for you to see the bodyguards when you visit the casino. You can come here and try your luck.

The Independent Monument is at large square in Norodom Avenue and Sihanouk Street and is free to everyone. It opens all days and not allow tourists visit on holiday of independent. It was built in 1958 and finished on 09th Nov 1962 with the aim to  mark nine Independent years of Cambodia from foreign invaders. This construction was the work of Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann which used traditional motif of Khmer. The monument has the lotus shape which shows Angor Wat and other visiting sites in Cambodia. On national holiday, this is the key place to have events and activities. 

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