Click here to enlarge
Tuol Sleng Museum (Genocide Museum)
In 1975, the Tuol Sleng high school
was taken over by the Khmer Rouge and turned into Security Prison 21 (S-21). This
became the largest prison and torture facility in Cambodia. Inmates were tortured
over long periods (even months) until they confessed, at which point they were taken
to the killing field of Choeung Ek and executed. Over 17,000 people passed through
S-21 in this way between 1975 and 1979.
Tuol Sleng has been turned into
a museum and a testament to the depravity of the Khmer Rouge. It has been kept in
a similar state to when the Khmer Rouge abandoned it in 1979. The Khmer Rouge was
very thorough in their record keeping, so each prisoner was photographed, sometimes
before and after their torture. Many of these haunting pictures are displayed, knowing
that nearly all of the people in the pictures were later executed. There are also
paintings of torture at the prison on display, done by one of the few survivors.
Tuol Sleng is a very disturbing place, but it is an important reminder about how
far humanity can sink.
The Olympic Market
Is just one of the multi-story
market complexes which, in time, will sweep the more traditional, ramshackle street
markets from the face of Phnom Penh. As well as the usual market items, this place
seems to specialize in wholesale fabrics, all too vivid glow-in-the-dark Buddha
statues and other religious paraphernalia. Those with a sense of adventure in street
food might try a traditional Khmer afternoon snack - pancakes filled with minced
pork and bean sprouts made on-the-spot, by a row of vendors stooped over their charcoal
fireplaces on the northern side of the market.
Wat Moha Montrei
Is a modern temple that is known for its interesting wall murals. These murals were
painted in the 1960s and tell the Buddha’s life story in modern terms. For example,
the officials in the murals wear white military outfits from the 1960s, and the
angels are dressed as Khmer dancers. There is also a wooden lion throne from which
Buddhist sermons are delivered.
Located near the Royal Palace, Cambodia's
National Museum offers a charming setting for a stunning collection of ancient Khmer
art. Predominantly constructed of sandstone, the sculptures date from both the Angkorean
and pre-Angkorean eras. These exhibits are complemented by more recent examples
of Cambodian art. The museum is housed in a terra-cotta-roofed structure of traditional
Cambodian design, which was built between 1917 and 1920. Apart from artistic treasures,
the building is also home to a large colony of Cambodian free tail bats. The colony
has lived in the building's rafters for years and is believed to be the largest
group of bats living in a man-made structure anywhere in the world. But visitors
need not worry about becoming a guano target, as the Australian government reinforced
the ceiling of the museum in 1997. The only time you are likely to see the bats
is when they fly from the roof en masse at dusk each evening.
(Street 178 & Street 13, next to the Royal Palace - $2.00 - 8:00-11:30 and 2:00-5:00,
open every day)
Situated on the site of the former Citadel,
it was built by King Norodom in 1866 on the banks of the Mekong River. Inside its
gleaming yellow walls are the Throne Hall; the Chan Chaya Pavilion, specially made
for performances of classical Cambodian dance; the Napoleon III Pavilion, offered
to King Norodom by Queen Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, and the King's and Queen's
residential quarters. Nowadays, only the Silver Pagoda can be visited.
(Sothearos between Street 240 & 184 - $6.25/person, Open from 7:30-11:00 / 2:00-5:00
The history of Wat Phnom is that in 1372
Lady Penh discovered four Buddha statues. She decided to create the hill (phnom)
that is today the site of Wat Phnom and atop the hill she created a small temple
(wat) to house the statues. The story continues that eventually the area became
known as Phnom Penh in recognition of Lady Penh and the hill. The current temple
contains the remains of King Ponhea Vat (1405-1467) and it was this King that relocated
the capital of Cambodia from Angkor to Phnom Penh in 1422.
The hill today is a busy site as the temple is active and draws lots of local people.
You can take an elephant ride and there are many stalls selling food and drinks.
Entrance to Wat Phnom is US$1.
(Intersection of Street 96 and Norodom Blvd. - $1/person)
Inaugurated in 1958 to celebrate
Cambodia's independence from foreign rule. It now also serves as monument to Cambodia's
war dead. At night the monument is very tastefully illuminated by red, blue and
white floodlights - the colors of the Cambodian flag. It is the site of celebrations
and services on holidays such as Independence Day and Constitution Day. Trespassing
onto the monument is illegal (sometimes). The best view is from across the street
(At the intersection of Norodom and Sihanouk)
The distinctive art-deco styling of the Central
Market makes it a standout in the architecture of Phnom Penh. Phsar Thmei translates
to New Market although Central Market is becoming more common; be assured that whichever
name you use the motor drivers will know where you want to go. You will find a myriad
of stalls offering t-shirts, jewelers, postcards, flowers, house ware, and electronic
goods – in fact just about anything you could wish for!