Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, has an interesting history for those who wish to discover it. Just like other major cities in Cambodia, you will find that Phnom Penh; which is the largest city in the country, is located on the banks of Mekong, Tonle Sap and Bassac rivers. It has been the national capital since colonialism when it was considered one of the best cities in Indochina.
Phnom Penh History
Phnom Penh first became the capital centuries ago after the king of the Khmer empire moved the capital from Angkor Thom. It was later abandoned only to become the permanent seat of the government of Cambodia in 1866. French colonialists put a lot of effort into building the city in the 1900s and it was later called the Pearl of Asia. Phnom Penh still has its colorful appeal due to its function as a center for cultural heritage.
During the Vietnam war in 1975, the city fell into the hands of the Khmer rouge which was the communist party of Cambodia. You will learn that the history of the Khmer rouge is grim characterized by the S21 prison camp formerly Tuol Sleng high school.
Things to do in Phnom Penh
If you are a history enthusiast, then visiting Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum would interest you. The museum represents a grim period in Cambodia's history during the reign of the Khmer rouge. This is the site where people were held prisoners and tortured. Only 15 kilometers away from Phnom Penh is the Cheoung Ek (killing field) where prisoners were murdered and buried in shallow fields. Beginning your visit with these areas does not necessary set the tone for the rest of the tour since there is so much more to enjoy!
Well, you will not have learned anything about the history of Phnom Penh if you fail to visit the National Museum of arts. It is the largest cultural and archaeological museum with history dating back to the 4th century!
Though Phnom Penh is not as active as Siem Reap when it comes to art and entertainment, there are many hotels and art schools that showcase the famous Aspara dances. As you enter the city from any direction, you will be greeted by the magnificent sight of the majestic independence monument. The monument dominates the city center. Another interesting attraction at the city center is the central market structured beautifully to showcase the aesthetic character of the Cambodians. 5.7 kilometers from Wat Phom lies the Russian market. Though it is of less architectural interest compared to the central market, it has a wide variety of souvenirs and curios.
The Royal Palace built in 1866 using the Khmer Style architecture is a good place to visit in Phnom Penh. The hall served as the residence of the king of Cambodia and hosted various foreign dignitaries. Its history is worth the trip. On the south side of the Royal Palace is the Silver Pagoda Buddhist temple. Silver Pagoda houses many national treasures among them jeweled Buddha statues.To escape the hustle of Phnom Penh, visit Mekong Island. The Island is located 15 kilometers north of the city center and is a major attraction where people go for day trips and picnics. The island, occupying an area of 10 hectares stands out due to its unspoiled surroundings. Phnom Penh presents the thrill of learning new history and enjoying beautiful sceneries; the perfect place to spend your holidays!
“Angkor Tours by a Local” is part of Siemreaprooms Tours & Guesthouse. A British/Khmer managed tour operator based in Siem Reap, Cambodia. All of our tours are led by a local Angkor Tour Guide. Copyright 2013