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National museum (1 1/2 hr)

Phnom Penh museum
King Sisowath dedicated the distinctive rust-red National Museum next to the royal palace in 1920. Over 5000 objects are on display including Angkorian era statues, lingas and other artifacts. There is also a good collection of pieces from later periods including a special exhibition of post-Angkorian Buddha figures.

It is a great place to learn about Cambodian history, but you see as well that most important pieces come from the Siem Reap area. So if you haven’t been there, after your visit to Phnom Penh, go to Siem Reap for sure. The opening hours of the museum are daily from 8 am to 5 pm. The entrance fee is us$ 3.

Royal palace (1 hr)

Phnom Penh royal palace
The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh was constructed twice. The first construction took place took place in 1434. Then the royal family moved to Oudoung, north of Phnom Penh. In 1866 the second palace was build and this one stands to the present day.

A leading Khmer architect constructed the palace following the conventions of traditional Khemr architecture. The palace and the silver pagoda are definitely worth a visit.

The opening hours are from 8 to 11 am and from 2 to 5 pm. Sometimes the palace is closed for a private ceremony of the king, but the silver pagoda is always open to the public. The entrance fee is us$ 6,25.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (2 hrs)

Phnom Penh tuol sleng
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is situated in the former security office 21, which was created by Pol Pot in 1975. Office 21 was called S-21 and was designed for detention, interrogation, inhuman torture and killing after confession from detainees were received and documented.

In 1979 the government collected all evidence in S-21 such as photographs, films, prisoner confession archives, torture tools, shackles and the fourteen victim corpses. Now the evidence of the criminal ‘Khmer Rouge’ regime is at display for visitors in the genocide museum.

It is a very impressive museum and after seeing stories about this horrific period in Cambodian history you definitely need to unwind.

The museum is open daily from 10 am to 3 pm. The entrance fee is us$ 2. The address is: Street 113, Sangkat Beoung Keng Kang III, Khan Charmkarmorn.

Wat Phnom (1 hr)

Phnom Penh Wat Phnom
Perhaps this is not the most important temple for the Buddhists of Phnom Penh, but it is certainly the most visited temple in the city. It is located on a small hillock and it marks the legendary founding place of Phnom Penh.

In 1372, Lady Penh fished a floating tree out of the river. Inside the tree were four Buddha statues. She built a hill (Phnom means hill) and a small temple. Later the surrounding area became known after the hill (Phnom) and it’s creator (Penh). The Lady Penh statue is located down the hill, facing the temple.

You should make a us$ 1 donation to the temple when you enter. The temple is open 24 hours, so if you suffer from insomnia because of a jetlag, this is a more respectable pursuit then going to a bar.

Choeung Ek Killing Field (3 hrs)

Phnom Penh Choeung Ek
Many of the Cambodians who perished under the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979) ended up dumped in one of the dozens of ‘killing fields’ that can be found scattered across the country.

Choeung Ek is one of those fields just outside Phnom Penh. This killing field is the site of the brutal executions of more than 17.000 men, women and children, most of whom had first suffered through interrogation, torture and deprivation in the S-21 Prison.

The Choeung Ek Memorial is now a group of mass graves, killing areas and a memorial stupa containing thousands of human skulls and long bones. Although the memorial displays a very sad period of Cambodian history, it is an absolute must see.

It is a 20 to 40 minutes drive from the centre of Phnom Penh. You can go there by organised tour, but best is to arrange a taxi in Phnom Penh to go there. Us$ 20 should be more than enough for a return ride. The entrance fee to Choeung Ek is us$ 2. The opening hours are from 7 am to 5:30 pm.

Boat tour (1 or 2 hrs)

Phnom Penh boat tour
Phnom Penh is located on the banks of the Tonle Sap River, so a great way to chill out from all the sightseeing is to take a boat on the river and enjoy the view on the city.

Actually Phnom Penh is located at a crossing of Tonlé Sap, Mekong and Bassac rivers, so a simple boat ride can bring you to three rivers.

The boats depart at Sisovath Quay opposite La Voile Rouge Hotel. You’ll have to bargain with the boatmen, but a one-hour boat tour should cost approximately us$ 15 – 20. And that’s not the price per person. That’s the price for the rent of the whole boat.

Wat Ounalom (1 hr)

Phnom Penh Wat Ounalom
Another important temple in the centre of Phnom Penh is Wat Ounalom. The official name of this temple is Wat Ounalom but locals just call it: Pagoda.

According to the monks this is the most important temple for Buddhists in Phnom Penh. The entrance is free, but feel free to donate some money to the temple of course. It is open daily from 7 am to 5 pm. It is also nice to see the old buildings around the temple where the monks are living.

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Language of the world

Of course you like to speak a few words of the local language onboard the plane or at your destination. Here you find some simple basics of the main language spoken in Phnom Penh.