Situated at the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers, Cambodia’s capital city is a vibrant mix of wide boulevards, Khmer style temples, crumbling colonial buildings and lively riverside cafés.
Phnom Penh is full of history, both ancient and modern. The National Museum now holds many key artefacts from Angkor dating back over a thousand years and is the country’s leading archaeological museum. The Royal Palace dates back to the nineteenth century and is still the official residence of the Cambodian king. Inside the palace complex, the Silver Pagoda is the country’s most important place of worship and houses many national treasures.
Monuments also remain to Cambodia’s more turbulent modern history. The Tuol Sleng Prison Museum is a chilling reminder of the atrocities carried out during Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge era. There is also a peaceful and moving memorial to the victims of the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek. It is important to visit such fascinating sites, if only to marvel at how far the friendly and welcoming Khmer people have come in overcoming their tumultuous history.
Phnom Penh is now emerging from the shadow of its past. There are now plenty of lovely restaurants, cafés and bars along Sisowath Quay, which runs the length of the river, including the famous Foreign Correspondents Club. Street #240 is also fast becoming one of Phnom Penh’s most fashionable destinations with its galleries, cafés, boutiques and bars. With easy access to Saigon, to the adventurous Northeast of Cambodia, to the beaches of the South and of course to Siem Reap and Angkor, Phnom Penh has now become more than a jumping off point and is a must-see destination in her own right.
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