"Phnom Penh" Top 5 Page for this destination Phnom Penh by Tina-Perth

Phnom Penh Travel Guide: 1,459 reviews and 3,835 photos

Phnom Penh is named after the temple, Wat Phnom Daun Penh which was built after a wealthy widow Daun Penh found a hollow Koki tree with 4 Buddha statues inside it . She originally built a small temple which was later rebuilt and now known as Wat Phnom. Phnom Penh is the Capital City of Cambodia and became so when the King Ponhea Yat fled here from Angkor in 1431 after the invasion of the Siamese. It only became the permanent seat of government in 1866 under the reign of King Norodom I.

Phnom Penh is the home to 1 million people and is the most heavily populated city of Cambodia. There are around 11-13 million people in the country. Phnom Penh is situated at the junction of three rivers, The Mekong, Tonle Sap and Bassac. Phnom Penh was previously also known as Krong Chaktomuk which means "City of Four Faces" in reference to the cross formed by the 3 rivers.

There is a very strong French influence in Cambodia, particularly Phnom Penh. The French formed the Indochinese Union in 1887 which included 3 areas of Vietnam, Cambodia and later Laos. The French developed the canal system, ports, roads and buildings, and from what I can make out were responsible for much of the development of the country at the time.

By the 1920's Phnom Penh was known as the "Pearl of Asia".

By 1975 there were 2 million people in the city as people flocked as refugees from the country during the Vietnam War. It was at this time - on April 17th (Cambodian New Year) that Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge 'liberated' the city and took over. The people were forced out of the city just 3 hours after he came to power and then sent to labour on farms, or the educated and their families sent to Tuol Sleng for torture before being sent to the Killing Fields to be executed.

Phnom Penh was the headquarters of the Khmer Rouge and where they exacted a high toll on the people and the country.

The main tourist attractions in Phnom Penh are:

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
The Killing Fields
The National Museum
The Royal Palace
The Silver Pagoda
Wat Phnom

Aside from the Palace or Museum etc, we only saw one other landscaped area like this and it was out the front of the Palace along the river.

It's a shame to sound so negative on the intro page to a country, but I must admit I did not find Phnom Penh to be a beautiful city by any stretch, nor did I feel particularly good about being there, as I usually do when I travel. I did not enjoy the feeling of constantly having to be ultra-vigilant with my bag and camera, watching what every person told me or being constantly surrounded by beggars, neither did I enjoy seeing the vast amounts of rubbish everywhere. To be honest, I did not enjoy the Phnom Penh experience at all. If we hadn't gone to visit our baby bear nearby at Phnom Tamao, we would not have visited.

  • Last visit to Phnom Penh: Jul 2005
  • Intro Updated Aug 3, 2005
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Reviews (24)

Comments (40)

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Aug 19, 2013 at 9:58 PM

    Nice tips

  • goutammitra's Profile Photo
    Feb 26, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    Tina, excellent observation! I shall finish reading today itself!

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo
    Feb 25, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    An interesting, useful and unvarnished view of Phnom Penh. Very possibly heading that way later this year, so this is great background.

  • easterntrekker's Profile Photo
    Jan 4, 2011 at 5:35 PM

    Great pages. We are taking your advice toprepare before our visit later this month to the Killing Fields.

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Dec 8, 2010 at 9:24 PM

    great tips

  • 850prc's Profile Photo
    Nov 28, 2009 at 7:11 PM

    Interesting and brutally honest look at Phnom Penh and Cambodia, Tina. I enjoyed my visit to your page.

  • roamer61's Profile Photo
    Jun 16, 2009 at 5:48 AM

    Great pages on Phnom Penh. As Cambodia and Angkor is high on my list, I will surely make a side trip here.

  • junecorlett's Profile Photo
    Mar 3, 2009 at 11:51 AM

    A well written tip Tina..Killing Fields was not my kind of movie, very gruesome!

  • DennyP's Profile Photo
    Feb 25, 2009 at 2:01 AM

    Thanks for sharing this really informative page with great honest tips and pics...as this is on my itinerary this info has been excellent thanks again.and will get in touch about the sun bear sanctuary..cheers Denny

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Dec 22, 2008 at 1:35 PM

    I can relate to your last paragraph, it was exactly the same for me in Vietnam, couldn't let my guard down, have a look at my pages.

Tina-Perth

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