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Places to Visit in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh was known as the “Pearl of Asia” and is today the cultural, touristic and economic centre of the country. It has a population of about two million.

Phnom Penh City is located in the south-central region of Cambodia and is fully surrounded by the Kandal Province. The municipality is situated on the banks of the Tonlé Sap, Culture, Mekong, and Bassac rivers. 

Did you know: Phnom Penh is the most-populous city/town in Cambodia by population (1,501,725) and many most places to visit and points of interest, Royal Palace, Wat Phnom Penh, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, National Museum of Cambodia and more.

Find out the Top places to visit in Phnom Penh

1- Royal Palace

The Royal Palace, the residence of the king of Cambodia, is located on the shore overlooking the confluence of four rivers, the Upper Mekong, the Lower Mekong, the Bassac, and the Tonle Sap. Cambodian kings have lived here since the late King Norodom moved the royal capital from the ancient city of Oudong to Phnom Penh in the mid 19th century.

Royal Palace in Phnom Penh
Royal Palace in Phnom Penh of Cambodia

The location was originally home to a citadel called Banteay Kev constructed in 1813 by King Ang Chan (1796–1834). He stayed here briefly before upping sticks to Oudong.

The palace is an excellent example of traditional Khmer architecture and its 174,870 square meters contain the temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Preah Keo Morakot), stupas (Chedi), tall spires (Prang Prasat) and mural paintings. Also notable is the Chan Chhaya Pavillion and a French-style building that was a gift from Napoleon III.

2- National Museum

The National Museum of Cambodia was inaugurated by King Sisowat in 1920 and the red buildings remain just as striking today. Supported by UNESCO, it houses more than 1400 valuable items including sculpture, ceramics and the largest collection of Khmer art in the world.

There are ethnographic objects dating from prehistoric times as well as artifacts from the Angkor period. Because of the museum houses important Buddhist relics it also serves a religious function for the Khmer people.

National Museum Phnom Penh of Cambodia
National Museum Phnom Penh of Cambodia

3- Wat Phnom

Legend has it that a widow called Daun Penh (“Grandmother Penh”) found a log floating on the river and inside it was four statues of the Buddha. Madam Penh took them back and ordered her yard to be elevated, creating an artificial hill so everyone could come and pay respects to these holy relics. It soon became a sacred site and people from around the country soon got wind and started to settle down around it.

Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh of Cambodia
Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh of Cambodia

Hence the name, Phnom Penh (Phnom means hill and Penh, the name). In 1437 King Ponhea Yat built a prominent stupa just to the west of the pagoda. That sanctuary now contains the ashes of the king and his royal family. Today, the site has the feel of a medieval place of worship, far older and deeper than other examples in Southeast Asia. As the monkeys frolic in the tall trees, old men keep watch over the priceless Buddha statues, carvings and artwork within.

4- Independence Monument

Located at the crossroads of the large boulevards of Sihanouk and Monivong, the Independence Monument was built in 1958 to mark Cambodia’s independence from France in 1953. There are over a hundred “Nagas”, snake-like deities that protect gods in Southeast Asian mythology. The building is of a lotus-shaped stupa copied from the style of the 9th century Bakong temple in Angkor. It was designed by the father of the “New Khmer Architecture” movement, Vann Molyvann.

Independence Monument in Phnom Penh of Cambodia
Independence Monument in Phnom Penh of Cambodia

The monument is the center of national ceremonies; soldiers march before the stupa to commemorate service men and women who laid down their lives for the country. During such events the king or other high official lights the “Glory Torch” – a ceremonial flame. Flowers are laid and balloons releases into the blue Phnom Penh sky.

5- Monument of late king Norodom Sihanouk

Behind the Independence Monument, stands another monument built in memoriam of the late king, Norodom Sihanouk. It erecteto honor the late king for his many achievements including the gaining of independence from France. The 27-meter-tall shrine houses a 4.5-meters tall statue of the late king made from bronze.

Monument of- late King Norodom Sihanouk
Monument of- late King Norodom Sihanouk


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