Stopping by on this charming capital city of Cambodia is a wonderful kick off to understand more about the drift of its culture and history. Situated right at where Tonlé Sap and Mekong River meet each other, Phnom Penh can be more fascinating and fetching to every visitor who made wonders on the streets might it be for glimmering spires, monks dressed in orange robes, bulging bars or world-class food setting, you can find it all! Here are the top 5 spots to visit in Phnom Penh to guide you.
The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek
A museum about 14 kilometers southwest of central Phnom Penh where most of the detainees held at S-21 Prison were executed. As the way of killing and to avoid wasting bullets, much of the prisoners were truncheon summary and slowly. Killing fields have more than 10 stations (each has a sad story) and is equip with audio headset for each visitor with variety of languages to choose from. The last station is the memorial stupa with 8,000 skulls of victims and their scraggy clothes enshrined.
The best way to get to the Killing Fields is on a moto/tuktuk (motorcycle taxi) for $10-15 – round trip (usually S-21 Prison is included after). Museum’s entrance fee is $5 (audio set included).
Tuol Sleng Museum (S-21 Prison)
An educational institution (Tuol Svay Prey High School) before then turned into a security prison that soon became the largest detention and torture center in the country. Documented to be at least 100 victims of any age or gender were killed every day! Some prisoners were thrown at Choeung Ek Killing Fields. Then, it was converted into a museum to serve as a witness to the crimes of the Khmer Rouge. Like the Killing Fields, Toul Sleng Museum also has an audio tour.
A trip out here is constantly together with the Killing Fields. Admission fee is $2 (audio set included).
One of the main attractions in the city, Wat Phnom or Hill Temple is a Buddhist temple located on the top of the only hill in Phnom Penh. Local Cambodians are going here every day to pray for good luck. It was believed according to the legend that the temple was built by Penh, a lady, to keep the four Buddha statues she found floating in the Mekong river nearby.
Admission to the temple is $1.
Another Buddhist temple that highlights the religion as this place is the headquarters of Cambodian Buddhism. There’s not much interest on this place rather than just visiting a temple, sneak and see what’s around and a stupa containing the brown hair of Buddha with an ancient Indian (Pali) language inscribed over the entrance.
Wat Ounalom is open for everyone who wants to visit and it’s free of admission.
The Royal Palace
The one that you should not miss in Phnom Penh, the Royal Palace rules the city skyline with its classic golden Khmer style roof and gleaming ornaments. Some sections of the palace is closed and prohibited to visitors. For that case, people can only drop in the throne hall and other buildings surrounding it. On the other side, there’s a lot more to see on the neighboring Silver Pagoda complex which is also open for all. Take note that prescribe outfit must be worn upon visiting, such clothes that covers the knee and elbow or else you’ll be required to rent an appropriate covering.
Entry fee is $6 with inclusion of the Silver Pagoda (there are also Guides available for $10 per hour). Opens from 8-11am and resumes at 2-5pm every day.
_____ * _____
I took a bus from Siem Reap going to Phnom Penh with 6-7 hours travel duration. It’s the cheapest way to get to the capital and most of the bus companies operate from any parts of Cambodia to the capital. I would recommend (if you came from Siem Reap) to book the early morning schedule so that you’ll arrive in Phnom Penh by afternoon. Bus tickets can be book right on your accommodation’s front desk, just approach and ask the personnel.