Phnom Penh, Cambodia with its own character is the perfect home base for a Cambodia Travel Adventure. It is located in the Heart of the Kingdom where the Mekong River back flows into the Tonle Sap Lake. The Mekong heads to Vietnam, the Tonlesap river reverses directions 2x a year as it fills and drains the Tonle Sap lake where Angkor Wat and Siem Reap are located.  There are plenty of fantastic sites, markets, and great cuisine to be enjoyed while you plan visits to Angkor Wat, Sihanoukville or other locations throughout the country. Most guest get around on motos or tuk tuks.  Though most venues are open most of the day, the Silver Pagoda breaks for lunch between 1100 and 1430 daily. Consequently the Russian Market is pretty warm at this time as well.  Plan activities accordingly.

Beautiful Khmer Girl

Since 2001 we have always provided our guest with travel information. We have had photo albums in our lobby and have given the "California 2 Schpeal". The lightbulb finally went off and with the country changing our website needed changing as well. We figured if you read through the following page we won't have to give the  "California 2 Schpeal" when you arrive. We give the basics. If you want the in depth version of anything these days....Google it.

Here it goes.....Once upon a time Daun Penh found some Buddha images along the riverbanks and constructed a hill (Phnom) and a shrine to house the images. Wat Phnom.  The city developed around the hill and was named in honor of Daun Penh.  Phnom Daun Penh.  Eventually the name was shortened to just Phnom Penh.

Wat Phnom

Wat Phnom viewed from the west and a Buddha image inset from the Wat.  Over the past few years many parks have been renovated. 

We cover Cambodia's recent dark past and tell our customers to get to the bad stuff first and they can have greater appreciation for where Cambodia is today and the resilience of the Cambodian people to overcome the Brutal remnants of the Khmer Rouge regime.  Many want to see the Killing Fields. A tragic place, but in some ways made 'popular' by peoples limited knowledge of the movie of the same name. The Killing Fields were where the poplulation of Phnom Penh was marched to and then murdered.  S-21 a High School turned prison is located in town and easy to get to.  The Killing Fileds are about 5K out of town.  People short on time should at least get to S-21.  Killing Fields were all over the country.   One only needs to poke around a wat in certain areas and can find shrines honoring the victims.

Killing Fields

OnSet on a map of skulls that once was on display at S-21 are images of various shrines. Top left clock wise: Half way between Kampot and Phnom Penh off of Highway 3 bones of victims in a bamboo structure. The Pagoda at the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh.  Skulls in the Pagoda. Bones housed in a the top cubicle of the adjacent photo with the monks. This shrine is south of Phnom Penh along the Basaac River. Skulls from the bottom compartment of the same shrine. A shrine from a wat at Skun 75K north east of Phnom Penh.

Khmer Rouge Atrocities

Located on the way to Skun about 50K from Phnom Penh another shrine behind a wat is full of skulls and paintings depicting the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge. 

 

Riverfront

Now that you have the bad stuff out of the way, there are the next main attractions of Phnom Penh.  Phnom Penh's Riverfront.  The Riverfront has gone through many facelifts over the past few years. The Promenade has been re tiled a couple of times and the coconut palms replaced with palms that don't carry the consequences of falling coconuts.  The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda are located at the meeting point of the Mekong and the Tonle Sap Rivers. The King's tranquil view of the penninsula across the river is seeing development.   The locals flock to the riverfront in the early am to exercise and in the evening to socialize. On the block adjacent to the Palace is the FCC. A popular tourist attraction where you can enjoy a drink while looking over the river. Take advantage of the happy hour prices. Boats for hire can take you up and down the river and around to the Mekong.   Other pictures not self explanatory above; a couple welcomes guest to the Titanic Restaurant. A colonial French building opposite the National Museum. All on a back drop of the Naga Casino which is farther south on the riverfront, near the new Diamond Island that is being developed wih houses and convention halls.

National Museum

The National Museum is next to the Royal Palace and houses many artifacts from the Khmer Empire.

 

French Colonial Buildings

Across from the National Museum a beautiful building has longed for restoration. Overlayed are The Post Office top left in the Wat Phnom Area, below a restore building across from the night market, another tower longing for restoration on Street 108 and the one time Hotel International on Streets 130 and 13.  There are plenty more buildings in Phnom Penh from the French Colonial period. Some more fortunate ones will be restored and the others unfortunately get torn down to make way for development. 

 

Independence Monument

The Independence Monument at Christmas 

 

High waters in the Market

Despite a Japanese funded project to prevent flooding in the city, Kandal Market and various other areas in the Capital suffer when there is a strong down pour. Waters usually subside with in a couple of hours. In the event you have to trudge through an area, get home and shower off all the bacteria.  

 

Central Market

There are many markets in town and good shopping.  Kandal Market, P'sar Chaas, P'sar Orussey are local markets and usually serve their respective local community needs. The Main Tourist Markets are the Russian Market, The Central Market (P'sar Thmei) and the Night Market which is open on weekends. At these you can get local handicrafts and souvenirs. Regardless of the season, do your Christmas shopping, You'll save a bundle.

Old and New Buildings

Off of the Central Market old buildings are dwarfed by new high rises that are going up in record times.

Wat Sarawan

Wat Sarawan on Street 19 is one of Phnom Penh's overlooked tourist sites. It is one of the if not oldest wat in Phnom Penh.

 

Water Festival

Scenes from right out front of our door steps. Fireworks from the Water Festival November 2003, Two pictures of our 2004 team, a float. One of up to seven large beautifully lit barges that make their way up and down the Tonle Sap River along Phnom Penh riverfront every evening after the boat races.  Fireworks from King Sihamoni's coronation. A boat from Mondolkiri looking for a pot of gold. Crowds on the riverfront and greeting the winners. A woman on the front of a boat who sways in Khmer Traditional Dance fashion maintaining a proper cadence for her rowers.

 

There are plenty of holidays in Cambodia therefore if you are planning on obtaining a foreign visa, double check the holidays and don't put it off until the last minute. Our guest are always invited as we celebrate a local holiday. Two of the more prominent holidays are Khmer New Year, April 12,13,14 when a cleansing takes place. Though not as intense as in Thailand, you can expect to get a little wet.  It is one of the hottest periods of the year so sometimes it's welcome. During the full moon night in November is the Water festival where a 3 day celebration marks the end of the rainy season. Vendors and people from all over the country swarm upon the riverfront and two by two boats race from the Japanese friendship bridge to the Royal Palace. We have supported a team from Kampong Cham since 2002. Sometimes our staff is celebrating a birthday or we might take a party trip on the river, plenty of our visitors have joined in the fun.

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More pictures around Phnom Penh from our original website dating back to 2000. Click on the pictures for a larger view then hit your back button to return to this page.

Apsara Arts Association Clicking this picture will take you to more pictures of the Apsara Arts Association School of Khmer Dance.
Central Market Central Market.
Riverfront Phnom Penh Riverfront view to the south with FCC to the right.
Royal Palace Phnom Penh Royal Palace.
Royal Palace Phnom Penh Royal Palace.
Royal Palace on a Holiday Royal Palace lit up for a holiday.
Independence Monument Independence Monument with Hun Sen Park in the foreground. View from the east.
Independence Monument Independence Monument at night. View from the west.
Wat Phnom Making merit at Wat Phnom.
Tonle Sap River A View along the riverfront.
Tonle Sap River A View along the riverfront.
Toul Sleng or S21 prison Toul Sleng Museum.  It is recommended that you visit this and Choeung Ek Killing fields early in your stay to have a greater appreciation of the Warmth of the Cambodian People despite the suffering they have endured.
Victims of S21 Documented victims at Toul Sleng.
Wat Ounalom Wat Ounalom.
Phnom Penh Cambodia Outside of Wat Phnom.
Great Food in Cambodia A few meals. Top: Giant Prawn and Bar B-B-Q Frog, Middle: Frog legs, Catfish, Vegetables,  Rice and Antelope, Bottom: Bancheau and a meat soup. The meal in the Center including rice and Angkor Beer, about $13.00US
P sar Kandal Kandal Market just around the corner from Wat Ounalom.  Khmer CDs, Hardware, Cosmetics, Household items, food and $1.00 haircuts.
Pigs Pink Floyd didn't have this in mind with their Animals  release...off to market and yes they are alive.
The former King HM Sihanouk at the end of Hun Sen Park.
Elephant Strolling along the riverfront. He goes to work at Wat Phnom in the morning then strolls past again at quitting time in the afternoon.
Psar Toul Tom Pong Russian Market. Plenty of bargains to be had. As with most temples and markets, Land mine victims will be present so it is always a good idea to carry some small Riel with you.
Psar Toul Tom Pong Inside of the Russian Market.
Bang Bang Shooting range east of Pochentong Airport. Here you can fire an AK-47, M-16 or various other rifles and hand guns.  Prices vary depending on the weapon.  A clip of 30 rounds will run you about 20 dollars for the AK-47.
Arun Suarsaday Sunrise in front of Cafe California.
River Boats on the Tonle Sap In September 2000 the river levels were so high that the riverboats could pull right up to the edge of the riverwalk walls. Great for the commerce as seen in this picture but not so good for many areas along the river that suffered from severe flooding.

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