Situated on the site of the former Citadel, it was built by King Norodom in 1866 on the banks of the Mekong River. Inside its gleaming yellow walls are the Throne Hall; the Chan Chaya Pavilion, specially made for performances of classical Cambodian dance; the Napoleon III Pavilion, offered to King Norodom by Queen Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, and the King's and Queen's residential quarters. Nowadays, only the Silver Pagoda can be visited.
Sothearos between Street 240 & 184 - $3.00/person, $2.00/camera, $5.00/video cam. Open everyday, 7:30-11:00 / 2:30-5:00)
Located just next to the Royal Palace, this is the most famous pagoda in Phnom Penh . It was built in 1962 to replace an earlier wooden temple. The name comes from the 5281 tiles of silver, each weighing a little above one kilogram, that cover the floor. The altar houses a life sized Buddha, made of 90 kilograms of pure gold and covered with 9,584 diamonds, the largest being 25 karats.
Admission: USD2 (included in the ticket to the Royal Palace ). Cameras are USD2 extra and videos USD5. Flash cameras are prohibited.
Located just north of the Royal Palace, the museum houses distinctive Khmer art sculptures dating from 6th-7th century and ancient pottery dating from the pre-Angkorian periods of Funan (4th-9th centuries) to the classical Angkor period (9th-10th centuries). Visiting the museum, ones will not only be enthralled with ancient artifacts but also the recent works of craftsmanship.
Walking behind the main building you will be impressed with students of the School of Fine Arts who practise traditional Khmer dances for the sake of pursuing the heritage of their forefathers
Admission USD2. Street 178 & Street 13, next to the Royal Palace - 8:00-11:30 and 2:00-5:00 , open everyday.
TUOL SLENG MUSEUM
Prior to 1975, Toul Sleng was a high school. When the Khmer Rouge came to power it was converted into the S-21 prison and interrogation facility. Inmates were systematically tortured, sometimes over a period of months, to extract confessions, after which they were executed at the killing fields of Choeung Ek. S-21 processed over 17,000 people, seven of whom survived. The building now serves as a museum, a memorial and a testament to the madness of the Khmer Rouge regime. Much has been left in the state it was when the Khmer Rouge abandoned it in January 1979. The prison kept extensive records, leaving thousands of photos of their victims, many of which are on display. Paintings of torture at the prison by Vann Nath, a survivor of Toul Sleng, are also on display. The museum's famous and controversial “skull map” has recently been dismantled.
Admission USD2. Corner of Street 113 & Street 350 - Open everyday, including holidays, 8AM-5PM Closed for lunch
CHOEUNG EK - KILLING FIELD
From 1975-1979 the ultra-Communist Khmer Rouge regime, led by Pol Pot, controlled Cambodia . During their short reign, between 1 and 2.5 million Cambodians perished, some killed outright, others dying from disease, malnutrition and mistreatment. Many of the dead ended up in “killing fields” I that can be found across the country. The memorial at 1 Choeung Ek just outside Phnom Penh was an orchard! and a Chinese cemetery prior to 1975. During the Khmer Rouge regime it became one of the killing fields the site of the brutal executions of more than 17,000 individuals, most of whom first suffered through torture and deprivation in Toul Sleng Prison. Choeung Ek is now a group of mass graves and a memorial stupa containing thousands of skulls. Combine with a visit to Toul Sleng Genocide Museum .
15km southwest of Phnom Penh - Take Monireth 8.5 km past the bridge at Street 271
An all-day-busy temple is located on the only hill in the town of Phnom Penh . As per a legend, the first pagoda on this site was used to house for statues of Buddha deposited here by the Mekong River and later discovered by Lady Penh in 1373. The present vihara (temple sanctuary) was rebuilt in 1926 and restored in 1998. Looking onto the east of vihara, one will find an enormous stupa containing the ashes of King Ponhea Yat. If you are curious about Lady Penh's look, just come to a small pavilion on the south of the passage between the vihara and the stupa, where the smiling face of hers will halt your stress instantly.
CENTRAL MARKET - PHSAR THMEI
The distinctive art-deco styling of the Central Market makes it a standout in the architecture of Phnom Penh . Phsar Thmei translates to New Market although Central Market is becoming more common; be assured that whichever name you use the moto drivers will know where you want to go. You will find a myriad of stalls offering t-shirts, jewellery, postcards, flowers, house ware, and electronic goods – in fact just about anything you could wish for!
So-named because of the prevalence of items from the Eastern Bloc in past times, the Russian Market today is a treasure trove for tourists. Particular items worth seeking out include CD’s, fabrics, jewellery, carved handicrafts and ceramics. There are also a large number of clothing outlets and adjustments can be done readily via the tailors and seamstresses. The food and drinks stalls are a good place to take a refreshment break between the bargaining.
A one-hour cruise from the capital takes you along the river to watch the daily life of the people living on and around the rivers. You'll enjoy a magnificent sunset, when the reflected rays of the setting sun cast a golden glow across the river.
You'll often be approached by touts along the river to go on an organised trip, but if you can rustle together your own group you can call the shots. Most of the boats have their own sound system -- you can bring your own music -- and some have cold storage for drinks and kitchens with Khmer cooks for hire. Splurge on some wine, bread and cheese to make it something special. Head off at around 16:30 for a two-hour trip, giving the boat driver ample time to take you down the Tonle Sap and up the Mekong, returning to Phnom Penh at sunset. Cost is about $10 per person for organized trips.
PHNOM TAMAO WILDLIFE RESCUE CENTER
This 1200-hectare animal sanctuary is located about 30 km southeast of Phnom Penh. In recent years, it has been upgraded, and the sun bear enclosure is now one of the best of its type in Asia. There are also other rare species housed here, including tigers, leopards, a lion, and several species of exotic birds. The geography of the sanctuary is quite interesting in itself. An organised day trip to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre. It costs $30 per person, which seems steep, but the price includes jeep transport, entry fee, a fantastic Khmer lunch (complete with local booze and, yes, the chance to act like an elderly Cambodian and chew the stimulant out of betel nut roots). But the invaluable thing about taking the Betel Nut trip (instead of hiring your own driver and trekking out there yourself, which is an option) is the guide. A Cambodian as well as Aussie Barb lead you through the wildlife refuge and bring you to places you could never access on your own, such as on a hike with elephants out to their watering hole. Chhouk, a baby elephant rescued from the jaws of a poacher's trap, limps along with a missing foot. When he's buoyant in the water, he's possibly euphoric and you will get wet with his splashing and spraying.