A museum, a palace, a garden, a memorial and a diamond!
Phnom Penh is the heart of Cambodia’s economy, education, and history. There is so much to do and see in this beautiful city. The following five places range from tourist attractions everyone should see to a place where locals can go to relax!
1. Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
St 113, Phnom Penh 12304
If you were not already aware, Cambodia experienced an attempted Communist takeover in the 1970s called the Khmer Rouge, in which people were forcibly removed from their homes or killed for wrongdoings. This museum carries the rich history so Cambodians will never forget the atrocities that happened here. During the Pol Pot Genocide, this site was used as a security prison and torture. You can purchase an audio set, which will highlight important areas on site and provide more details. The photos and historical artifacts will leave you with a heavy heart and deep appreciation for the progress Cambodia has made today.
2. Eden Garden
City Center Boulevard, Phnom Penh
This is a shopping center where both tourists and locals go to hang out. The bougie decor is perfect for beautiful photo ops and great food. It has a movie theater, a mini waterfall, and a dim sum eatery all within 50 feet from each other! At night, you can see the central umbrella light up the night sky. Best of all, right next door is the most popular club in Phnom Penh: Club Epic. Talk about best of both worlds!
3. Diamond Island
Koh Pich, Phnom Penh
Diamond Island (or Koh Pich in Khmer) is a large region which is basically the Cambodian version of Beverly Hills. You can find all the largest brand name stores, no pollution, and two of the fanciest hotels the country has to offer. Nagaworld I and II is a must see, as the building’s walls light up with a neon Cambodian flag at night. They each contain restaurants, clubs, and famous casinos everyone is dying to see!
Its history lies in tragedy: in 2014, the annual “Koh Pich Stampede” of Phnom Penh caused a poorly built bridge to collapse, killing 37 people. In loving memory, the city created a memorial and new bridge, as well as a beautiful new city with towering skyscrapers. All city lights and beautiful nights here!
4. Royal Palace
Samdach Sothearos Blvd (3), Phnom Penh
This is a classic place for tourists to learn about the history of the Cambodian kingdom. This site contains several gold-painted buildings and treasured artifacts belonged to the royal family. Fun challenge: when you’re there, try finding which buildings were used to let the king sit on his elephant!
You can also hire an inexpensive tour guide in various languages: French, English, Vietnamese…and more. However, I must warn you: a common mistake for tourists is missing out on the dress code. Since it is a royal palace with respect for the royal family, all visitors must wear pants/skirts/dresses below the knee with no show of shoulders or chest. All in all, this is a beautiful place with intricate architecture that every visitor should see!
5. Win Win Memorial
The Win Win Memorial is a huge building meant to commemorate Cambodians who lost their lives throughout history and during the civil war. Cambodia Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen sees it as a sign of peace and remembrance of the Khmer Rouge. It is surrounded by five poles, representing the five-pronged strategy for defeating the communist regime: divide, isolate, finish, integrate, and develop. At night, colorful water cannons light the path to the memorial. On holidays, you can find food shops and small stores to buy inexpensive trinkets. Don’t be afraid to practice your bargaining skills! The Win-Win Memorial is a site of meaning that you shouldn’t pass up if you want to learn more about Cambodian history.
Celine spent 6 weeks in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.