Phnom Penh Travel Guide

National Museum ©

Legend has it that in 1372, a local widow named Penh discovered four Buddha statues that had been washed up by the waters from the Mekong River. She saw them as bearers of good fortune and erected a temple on the hill to house them, and so the city grew around this structure, known as the Hill of Penh (Phnom Penh).

Once considered to be the loveliest of Indochina's French-built cities, this untidy capital sprawls at the confluence of the Mekong, Bassac and Tonlé Sap Rivers. Now, concrete buildings in need of repair, unsealed roads riddled with potholes, and a confusion of boulevards crammed with traffic, all make for less inviting first impressions of the city. However, upon investigation, charming traces of the Khmer and colonial eras can be found in the little details, redeeming those first hasty conclusions. The heart of the city, where French villas and street-side cafes perch along tree-lined boulevards and the occasional majestic Khmer building catches the eye, is still very appealing.

Phnom Penh has a number of Wats (temple-monasteries), museums and other places of interest in and around the city, as well as sunset cruises on the Mekong and Tonlé Sap Rivers, and a bustling market place. There has also been a recent boom of new hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs sprouting up through the city and the nightlife promises fun and excitement.

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