Central Lowland - Phnom Penh, Culture & Heritage, Regions

Journey through time in Cambodia’s Capital

The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, official residence of the King of Cambodia (shutterstock)
The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, official residence of the King of Cambodia (shutterstock)

From Cambodia’s lively and chaotic capital city to surrounding areas, a journey to Phnom Penh is enriched with modern and historical wonders.

As important as it is to visit sites commemorating Cambodia’s turbulent past, it’s also worth dedicating time to explore other heritage attractions. On the banks of the Tonle Sap River stands the Royal Palace. The Khmer-style complex is the official residence of the King of Cambodia. Formal French-influenced gardens adorn the palace grounds while the Silver Pagoda, with its gleaming silver-tiled floor, is a showstopper that also houses the famed Emerald Buddha.

North of the palace lies the National Museum of Cambodia — a treasure trove of Khmer art and artefacts spanning from prehistoric to post-Angkorian periods. Extend your journey to nearby Wat Phnom, a sacred Buddhist temple rising from a serene, tree-covered hill.

Just a short tuk-tuk ride away is the Central Market, an enormous Art Deco landmark. A perfect spot to seek shade on a hot day, the four-winged market overflows with trinket, jewellery and clothing stalls along with an array of vendors displaying savoury dishes and fresh produce.

Performance by the Princess Buppha Devi Dance School (Florent de Warren)

Beyond the classic sights, contemporary life in and around Phnom Penh is constantly evolving. The state-of-the-art Sosoro Museum offers an original look at 2,000 years of the kingdom’s history through an interactive scenography supported by multimedia animations.

Young Cambodians have built up an exciting art scene around modern galleries and live performance venues. Connecting past and present is the Cambodian Living Arts, where performers inspire with art forms that are thriving once again.

Travel north to the former capital of Oudong, where the revered Oudong Temple and the Sontte Wan Buddhist Meditation Center still stand. South of Phnom Penh, Angkor Borei archaeological ruins and the nearby temples on the mount of Phnom Da are important landmarks representing ancient Khmer culture.

Give yourself the gift of spending quality time in Phnom Pehn, and get to know the nuances of this lively capital and its surrounding areas from the inside. The stories you uncover and the locals you encounter promise to leave a lasting impression.

What to read next