When thinking about Cambodia, Phnom Penh is often overshadowed by the marvellous temples in Siem Reap. However this charming city has a lot to offer, such as the pretty riverfront promenade, buzzing markets and beautiful colonial-era buildings. Beside that the city is loved for its laid back vibe.
Once known as the “Pearl of Asia” it was considered one of the loveliest French-built cities in Indochina in the 1920’s. Besides being the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh is rapidly developing and with 1.5 million people the largest city of the country.
The Khmer Rouge years, from 1975 to 1979, have given the city scars. The nearby Killing Fields are a grim reminder of what its people endured. However the city still retains it’s character and is standing strong to show their country’s cultural heritage.
When in Phnom Penh do make sure to visit the following sites:
Within the Royal Palace compound is the extravagant Silver Pagoda, the floor of which is covered with five tons of silver. Most of the 5,000 tiles are covered to protect them, however you can still see some of them near the entrance. Beside that you will also find an extraordinary Baccarat-crystal Buddha and a life-sized gold Buddha at this Pagoda.
Close to the Royal Palace you will find the National Museum of Cambodia, which is housed in a graceful terracotta structure. The museum comprises of four pavilions, facing the inviting courtyard garden. Here you will find the world’s finest collection of Khmer sculpture.
Tuol Sleng Museum, also known as S21 prison
In 1975, Tuol Svay Prey High School was taken over by Pol Pot’s security forces and turned into a prison known as Security Prison 21 (S-21). This soon became the largest centre of detention and torture in the country. Almost all of the prisoners held a S-21 were taken to the killing fields of Choeung Ek. S-21 has been turned into the Tuol Sleng Museum, which serves as a testament to the crimes of the Khmer Rouge.
Killing Fields of Choeung Ek
Between 1975 and 1978 about 17,000 men, women, children and infants who had been detained and tortured at S-21 prison were transported to the extermination camp of Choeung Ek. At this site a memorial has been made to honour those who were killed here.
BeenInAsia offers several amazing tours and excursions in and around Phnom Penh.
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