Phnom Penh the capital of the Kingdom

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Phnom Penh the capital of the Kingdom

Wat Phnom
Wat Phnom or Daun Penh Hill has become a popular destination for locals and visiting tourists. Here, one can enjoy the calmness of a gentle stroll in the lush gardens, visit nearby museums, climb up the steps for a view of the city, or feed Sambo, everybody’s favourite elephant.

Legend has it that a wealthy widow name Yeay Penh (Grandma Penh) was walking by the Mekong River. One day she spotted a Koki tree (a type of Khmer tree) log floating in the riverbank and to her amazement, discovered four Buddha statues tucked inside. In 1372 AD, Lady Penh rallied her neighbours for the construction of a shrine to be built on top of the current day Wat Phnom. In the present, a pagoda remains at the peak where the four relics brings Buddhist followers together.

In 1434 AD, King Ponhea Yat escaped the great city of Angkor and relocated to Toul Basan now found in present-day Kampong Cham province. A year later, the capital was moved again to Phnom Penh and the vicinity around Wat Phnom became the heart of a new developing city.

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The original shrine has gone through several phases of construction. From the early days of French rule, the most beautiful stupa retains its original shape and decorations, where the King Ponhea Yat’s bones remain. Also inside the stupa, there are Buddha statues from the Angkorean era.

National Museum
National Museum of Cambodia building commence in 1917 and upon completion on April 13, 1920, was officially inaugurated under the high auspices of His Majesty Preah Bat Sisowath, King of Cambodia. Located by the north of the Royal Palace, the National Museum is built on an area of 12,690 square metres of land adjoining the Royal Ploughing Field Park. The Museum is surrounded by a haven of lush gardens and planted trees. It attracts many international visitors, ranking second after the Royal Palace as the city’s most popular attraction.

The National Museum offers a charming backdrop for a stunning collection of ancient Khmer art. Predominantly constructed of sandstone, these sculptures date from both the Angkorean and pre-Angkorean eras. The exhibits are complemented by more recent examples of Cambodian art.

Today the museum contains a wealth of precious artifacts and ancient objects relating to Cambodian history. In addition to its historical treasures, the building is also home to a large colony of Cambodian free-tail bats.

Royal Palace
The Royal Palace was built in 1866 during the reign of King Norodom and French colonial administration. The Palace is divided into several key areas, some the private quarters of the Royal family, others functions of state and open to the public.

The principle buildings are:
Preah Moha Prasat Khemarin or Khemarin Palace: The Royal Palace and Royal residence of their Majesties the King and Queen. A Blue Royal Standard flies from a flag pole outside the Palace when the King is in residence.

Preah Tineang Tevia Vinichhay or Throne Hall: Completed in 1919, and replacing an earlier wooden 1869 building, this hall is used for coronations and formal audiences with the King. It is also used for other official functions, such as the presentation of diplomatic accreditation. The ceiling of this grand hall is decorated with magnificent frescoes.

Ta Prohm Temple and Tonle Bati
Down National Route 2, only 35 kilometres from Phnom Penh, this area provides the chance both to visit a beautiful temple and enjoy a typical Khmer picnic nearby. The turnoff from Phnom Penh is marked by a large picture of a ruin. There is an entry fee.

Built by King Jayavarman VII (of Angkor Wat fame) in the 13th century, Ta Prohm temple is a small but impressive laterite and sandstone structure.

About 300 metres away is the second, smaller temple, Yey Peo. Further down the road are picnic huts on stilts in the shallows of Tonle Bati Lake. These huts can be rented and meals of chicken, frog and other delicacies brought to you. Check prices first. Like most popular tourist spots, it is a little more expensive than Phnom Penh and confusion can arise over the bill.

Phnom Preah Reach-Trop or the ancient Capital City of Oudong
Phnom Preah Reach-Trop or better known as Phnom Oudong, is a group of small mountains where the royal city of Oudong, the ancient capital of Cambodia, is located. The area is a mix of natural mountain beauty, a serene natural lake and the ruins structure of the 17th -19th capital. Many of the historic buildings survive, including pagodas, Buddha statues, currency coin moulds, and traces of the cities old infrastructure such as its road and water supply system.

To get to Oudong historic area, take National Road 5 from Phnom Penh towards Kampong Chhnang. At kilometre 37, turn left onto a road signed ‘Budda Stupa Tower’. After 3 kilometres along this smooth road you will reach Oudong mountain tourist attraction place.

Khmer noodle soup (nom-banhchok somlor prohoer)
The elderly master chef from Ta Khmoa town in Kandal province wowed them with her versions of traditional Cambodian favourites such as Toek Somlor Broheo Nom Banhchok (aromatic Khmer noodle soup), and simple but stunning Khmer-style noodle salad.

Here she shares her versions of three of her most popular recipes with Cambodian Scene readers:

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Big-mouth fish (trey san dai) meat evenly mixed with giant snakehead fish (trey chdau) meat and “small giant” snakehead fish (trey rors). Prahok (Khmer fish cheese).

Finding Hotels, Guesthouses
Phnom Penh has a plethora of accommodation choices. If you are the frugal type or wishing to indulge yourself to five star treatments, the city will fit your budget and needs. Below are some recommended choices varying from location and prices.

Le Royal — Raffles Hotel Phnom Penh
First opened in 1929, with an inspired blend of Khmer and French colonial architecture, Raffles Hotel Le Royal has now been resorted to its original splendour. This timeless architecture was one enjoyed by Somerset Maugham, Jacqueline Kennedy and Charles de Gaulle, Naturally, all the modern requirements of hectic travellers have been seamlessly blended with the old-world details and charm of this historic hotel. Located in the heart of Phnom Penh, Raffles Hotel Le Royal is within easy reach of the city’s attractions like the Royal Palace, Central Markets, Russian Markets and the Nationl Museum.

Cambodiana Hotel
The Cambodiana Hotel is considered Phnom Penh’s first luxury hotel. Located on the riverfront, this large multi-story building is a Khmer architectural gem. It’s popularity grew during its early years of the Sangkum Reastr Nyum of the 1960s to the present – a place symbolic of class and luxury. For more information please visit

Inter-Continental Hotel
InterContinental Phnom Penh is the city’s first international hotel and a striking symbol of its growth and modernisation. Part of a landmark development in the newly defined business district, the hotel is minutes from the Phnom Penh Cultural Centre, the National Museum, the Royal Palace, the Central Market and the vibrant riverside promenade.

Inaugurated in 1995, The Inter-Continental Hotel is remains the biggest hotel in Phnom Penh. The hotel’s structure is a mixture of old Khmer and modern aesthetics.


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