Phnom Penh is usually treated as a stop gap in Cambodia for the throngs of tourists travelling to Siem Reap to see the temples of Angkor or the the beach and natural attractions further south in the country. However the Capital city full of attractions and memorable places to visit.
The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda are magnificent while the National Museum of Arts houses a priceless collection of artifacts and historical items in a country where history was all but erased which makes them even more valuable as links to the past. Discover and explore all this colourful splendor and reminders of the past for those with a wish to learn from it.
If you have a day or two to spend in Phnom Penh then here is AsiaTrips list of top attractions to visit.
The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda
The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda are set adjacent to each other, spanning 174,870 square metres of lush greenery and breathtaking Khmer architecture. The king of Cambodia occasionally resides in The Royal Palace (if the blue royal flag is flying, the king is in residence). Visitors can explore several buildings within the palace grounds and guided tours are available also.
Cambodian Living Arts – Apsara and Traditional Khmer Dance
The Cambodian Living Arts is a non-profit organisation that hosts Apsara and traditional Khmer dance performances at the National Museum of Cambodia. Traditional Khmer dance dates back to the 18th century, but was almost lost under the Khmer Rouge regime. Cambodian Living Arts revived the art by gathering surviving master artists to train and pass on their knowledge to younger generations. The troupe comprises live singers and musicians in traditional Khmer costumes, performing eight classical dances of ethnic minorities from all over Cambodia.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21 Prison)
Formerly a high school Tuol Svay Pray High School before it was turned into an interrogation, torture and execution centre by the Khmer Rouge regime. Also known as S-21 Prison, an estimated 17,000 Cambodians entered this notorious venue but only seven managed to survive following the end of the regime. Most rooms have been left in the state they were found in January 1979, including classrooms divided into tiny cells. An essential stop while visiting Phnom Penh, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum also displays 6,000 haunting portraits of its prisoners for travellers to understand the recent tragic Cambodian history. It is an intense experience touring the old prison and will no doubt give you plenty of food for thought.
Killing Fields (Choeung Ek Memorial)
The Killing Fields or Choeung Ek Memorial is a bone-chilling reminder of Cambodia’s tragic history. Located 17km south of Phnom Penh City, it is one of the many killing fields or execution and burial grounds used by the Khmer Rouge regime during its rule of the country from 1975 to 19767. Mass graves were discovered after the Khmer Rouge fled the city, leading to the construction of a Buddhist memorial for over 15,000 victims in The Killing Fields. Half-day tours to this memorial and S-21 Prison feature informative audio guides in many languages as well as testimony from survivors and guards of the regime.
The National Museum of Cambodia
The National Museum of Cambodia is the country’s largest archaeological and cultural history museum. It enables you to have a glimpse into the cultural side of Cambodian history dating back to the 4th century. Housed within an impressive red sandstone structure and inaugurated in 1920 as the Musée Albert Sarraut during the French colonial period, the museum stands out as a fine illustration of the traditional Khmer architecture. There are over 14,000 interesting exhibits that are arranged according prehistoric, pre-Angkor, Angkor, and post-Angkor eras, each of which comprises bronze and wooden sculptures, ceramic items, ethnographic items and stone articles. One of its most spectacular exhibits is an eight-armed statue of Lord Vishnu that dates back to the 6th century.
Kanika Boat Cruise
No visit to Phnom Penh is complete without a cruise on the Mighty Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers, and Kanika Boat offer you the perfect opportunity to experience the wonderful views and cooling breezes of these magnificent Rivers during the Sunset. Kanika is a beautiful black and white luxury catamaran and is Phnom Penh’s only luxury floating restaurant and bar. Kanika also has an on-board kitchen where our Internationally Trained Chefs have prepared a selection of superb set menus as well as our standard a la carte menu of classic Asian and Western taste.
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