This sprawling capital, spread out beside the banks of both the Tonlé Sap and Mekong Rivers, is a city of wide central boulevards and skinny back alleys, where modern and old collide. The Royal Palace complex is the city's must-do, but for anyone interested in exploring Cambodia's 20th-century history, Phnom Penh is also a vital stop, for it is home to two of the country's most sobering sites.
Here are the Top 5 Places to Visit in Phnom Penh, which are worth visiting on a Phnom Penh trip:
1. Royal Palace
The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda are the most popular sights in the city. The compound in which these ornamental buildings lie is situated on the riverfront.
The Royal Palace serves as the King's residence and is used as a venue for court ceremonies. The Silver Pagoda or the Wat Preah Keo Morokat is a unique temple and is mostly known for its silver floor tiles. The Royal Palace compound also has a few couples of other Royal buildings having their own significance.
2. National Museum
The National Museum of Cambodia is located in the capital city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It is the largest and the central museum in the country, consisting of more than 15,000 collections depicting various periods in Cambodia's history. If you are interested in history, you will enjoy getting to know the past with these massive collections. It is a highly recommended attraction for tourists while traveling in Phnom Penh.
3. Tuol Sleng Museum
The visiting experience is made even more visceral by the displayed photographic evidence hanging on the walls of the sparse cells next to empty beds. S-21 was exceedingly well-managed by Comrade Duch (the head of the prison) who made sure that extensive records were kept. As the prison was hastily abandoned when the Vietnamese took Phnom Penh in 1979, the detailed notes and photographs have survived.
4. Wat Phnom
This is one of the city's most important Buddhist temples and is often bustling with locals leaving offerings here and praying at the various shrines that surround the main sanctuary. The first religious building on this spot is thought to have been constructed in the 14th century and has been rebuilt several times, with the current main temple sanctuary dating from 1926.
5. Wat Ounalom
The most important temple complex in Cambodia, Wat Ounalom is the headquarters of Buddhism in the country. A stupa within the complex contains one of the Buddha's eyebrow hairs. The wat was first situated here in 1443 and although it suffered considerable damage during the Khmer Rouge era, with many of its statues and religious iconography destroyed, it is thriving again today.