Phnom Penh: Cambodia’s compact capital city

Wat Ounalum
Wat Ounalum is near the National Museum and the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) of Cambodia
Wat Phnom
Phnom Penh got its name from Wat Phnom, arguably its most important temple

Cambodia is very much in the news again these days, mainly due to tensions with neighboring Thailand.

However, I won’t discuss here their strained relations.

I’d rather talk about the sights that I’ve personally seen in the two kingdoms.

I’ve already written three posts about Bangkok, the capital of Thailand.

So it’s only fair that I write something about Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, this time around.


One of my simplest pleasures in life is walking.

That’s why for me, Phnom Penh is such a fun city to explore: almost all of the major attractions are located near the meeting point of the Mekong, Tonle Sap and Bassac Rivers.

Independence Monument
Victory Monument. Cambodia gained independence from France in 1953

A good place to start a walking tour of Phnom Penh is at the Independence Monument or Victory Monument on Preah Sihanouk Boulevard.

Preah Sihanouk Boulevard, Sothearos Boulevard and Sisowath Quay contain most of the city’s must-see sights.

Cambodia-Vietnam Monument

On Sothearos Boulevard is the Cambodia-Vietnam Monument, a symbol of the friendship between the two Southeast Asian countries.

Also on Sothearos Boulevard is the Royal Palace compound, the number one attraction in the seat of power of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Some of the major sights inside are the Throne Hall, the Preah Tineang Chanchhaya and the Silver Pagoda.

Visitors are required to pay a fee of 25,000 riels or 6.25 US dollars each before they are allowed to enter the Royal Palace compound. That was the rate in November last year, I don’t know whether it has changed or not.


Of all the sights shown in this post, only the Central and Russian Markets are relatively far from the major roads mentioned in the preceding paragraph.

That could mean the end of a walking tour, and the start of a shopping spree! Shopaholics would love the cheap but quality products that Phnom Penh’s markets offer.

100 Riels. 1 US dollar is worth about 4,000 riels

One thing though about money in Cambodia: it’s not really necessary to change your US dollars to the local currency, the riel. The locals prefer the greenback.

But make sure your US dollars are crisp and clean, especially the Franklins and the Grants. The locals would reject damaged and/or dirty bills.


The Russian Market is about one-and-a-half kilometers away from the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, a reminder of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot in 1970s Cambodia.

A visit to the museum could be combined with a trip to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, about 12 kilometers south of the city.

This will be the subject of a post in the future.


4 thoughts on “Phnom Penh: Cambodia’s compact capital city

  1. Nice post. Phnom Penh is a very best place to see. They attract thousand of tourist national as well as international. You can see Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, buddha is situated in the center of the silver pagoda. Must visit National Museum near Royal palace, Cambodian art, Thunder Ranch, Cheoung Ek Mekong Island, Phnom Chiso, Koh Dach, prasat Neang Khmao, Oudong, Angkor Borei.

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