Phnom Penh the capital of magnificent Cambodia and counts about two million inhabitants. Phnom Penh is a city of extremes. The city was seen as one of Asia’s finest, before the Khmer rouge took power. The Khmer rouge regime, with Pol Pot as its leader, were responsible for a very volatile period in Cambodian history, of which traces can be found to this very day. This history is a stark contrast with the friendly population. The traffic can be a big hustle, but in the evening a relaxed atmosphere descents upon the city. In general, the people are very upbeat and this gives the city it’s pleasant atmosphere. What are the must do’s in Phnom Penh?
The 5 must do’s in Phnom Penh.
1. Killing Fields, Phnom Penh
The Killing Fields are a 15-minute drive outside the city and therefore easy to reach. It’s for sure one of the most interesting must do’s in Phnom Penh. Audio tours in English are available, explaining what happened during the Pol Pot regime in a very clear and impressive manner. The Killing Fields have a monument which contains 8000 skulls of people who were killed by the regime. Truly an impressive sight, which is a must see to be able to truly understand the history of this country. Saddening and impressive at the same time.
“Pol Pot became Cambodia’s ruler on April 17th, 1975. During his reign he imposed agricultural socialism, forcing urban citizens to move to the countryside to work on collective farms and to provide forced labor. The combined effects of forced labor, malnourishment, bad medical care and exactions resulted in the death of about 21% of the Cambodian population. An estimated 2 to 4 million people died during his leadership”.
2. Tuol Sleng prison
During the Khmer Rouge regime all educated citizens and their family members were captured and held in Tuol Sleng prison. The former Tuol Sleng prison is now turned into a museum with pictures and stories. You’ll see how and where the inmates where held and tortured. Survivors are there almost every day, who are happy to talk to you about this period. It’s recommended to first visit the Killing fields and afterwards the prison. Simply because the Killing Fields provide much more information.
3. Royal Palace & Wat Preah Keo
These to sights are within walking distance from each other. Do visit the Cambodian Royal Palace, with Wat Preah Keo ‘the silver pagoda’, next to it. It was given this name because of the 5000 silver floor tiles in the temple. This temple has a reclining Golden Buddha. The statue is made from pure gold and covered with over 1500 diamonds.
The Royal Palace is not only magnificent from the outside, but inside there is plenty to see to. A visit to the palace require you to cover your arms and legs. Many people will gather near the end of the afternoon on the large grass field in front of the palace to have a picnic and that brings about a very pleasant atmosphere
4. Seeing Hands Massage Center
In the city there are several locations where you can have yourself massaged by blind people. Feet massages are definitely recommended! A very special experience which also ensures that blind people can get ahead in life. Just next to the Royal Palace is massage parlor: ‘Seeing Hands Massage’ for example, where you can just walk inside and get a massage straight away. The prices are comparable to regular massage parlors.
5. Boat tour on the Mekong
Phnom Penh lies on the Mekong river and a boat tour is something you definitely need to do. Just walk to the harbor and rent a boat for an hour-long, halve day or evening private tour. It will give you a great view on Phnom Penh from the water and there are fishermen everywhere.
These are my favorite must do’s in Phnom Penh! What are your must do’s in Phnom Penh?
Hotel Phnom Penh
A great place to stay is the Okay Boutique Hotel. The staff is kind and helpful, great buffet breakfast and the rooms are big. It’s really good value for the money. The location is perfect, just across the street from National Museum and Royal Palace complex. The rooftop pool is good and looks over the city, and that’s where the restaurant is as well.
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