Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia. It is located where the mighty Mekong river, Basaac and the great Tonle Sap river meet. It is became the capital city when King Ponhea Yat fled here from Angkor in 1431 after the invasion of the Siamese. But it only became the official seat of government in 1866 under the reign of King Norodom I.
Royal Palace Compound
The capital city is named after the temple Wat Phnom Daun Penh, which according to legend was built after a wealthy widow named Daun Penh. She originally built a small temple where she found a hollow Koki tree with four Buddha statues inside. It was later rebuilt and now known as Wat Phnom.
Outside the Royal Palace Compound
For me, It emanates a sort of provincial charm with French colonial structures. One of the must see in Cambodia’s capital city is the Royal Palace, the National Museum, Silver Pagoda, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21), Killing Fields and Wat Phnom. There are also several market places Russian and Central Market selling paintings, wood and stone carvings, silk, gems, silver and even antiques like the Russian. I recommend the relaxing walks along the well developed river front where you get to see a lot of locals spending their time here.
Getting around the city is easy, you can just walk or hire a tuk-tuk which you can easily see everywhere. Their persistence and insistence is equal to that of the kids selling souvenirs at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. The tuk-tuk in Cambodia is consist of a two-wheeled carriage fastened over the back of a motorcycle. It looks like a “kalesa” of the Philippines but instead of horse, it’s a motorbike.
Today, Phnom Penh is the political and commercial center of Cambodia. It is also the gateway to the beaches of Sihanoukville on the south, the temples of Angkor in the West and the hill tribe minority in the northern part. Following the devastation by the Khmer Rouge led by the notorious 1970’s communist dictator Pol Pot, Cambodia has recovered its sure footing as a constitutional monarchy. Pnom Penh still maintains considerable charm and continues to grow in popularity as one of must see destination in Southeast Asia.