Phnom Penh lures visitors with its ancient relics and temples, deep and turbulant history and modern day energy.
Phnom Penh’s complicatedand brutal history makes it a fascinating place to visit. Wander thestreets and witness a city that is slowly bouncing back from decades ofturmoil. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia and later theheadquarters of the French colonial administration. In 1975 it was taken overby the Khmer Rouge and subject to years of brutal rule, before the Vietnamesetoppled the regime in 1979.
Today it is the economicand political capital of Cambodia and is home to some of its most spectaculartemples and harrowing museums. You’ll see bustling street markets, wildtraffic, and buildings from throughout its history. Check out Wat Phnom to seethe temple that gave the city its name. For a look at some of its moreimpressive structures, visit the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda. Wanderthrough immaculately-maintained gardens, among gold and crystal Buddha statues,and over silver floors.
To see more ancienttemples, visit Wat Sarawan or Wat Ounalom. Brush up on your local history withsome time at the National Museum of Cambodia. There are statues and artifactsfrom the Angkorian era and beyond. Anyone looking to understand the country’stroubled recent past should head to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Inside theschool Pol Pot converted into the infamous S-21 Prison, you’ll see movingexhibits and what remains of the cramped cells.
Take a trip out to theKilling Fields of Choeung Ek to learn more. There are pits where murderedprisoners were buried, as well as a Buddhist stupa packed with victims’skulls.
Back in the city, take atrip to the Art-Deco Central Market. Shop for everything from clothes andjewelry to flowers. For a nice evening stroll, head to Sisowath Quay. There aresome good restaurants, decent cafés, and a few bars.