Begin your tour of this charming capital with a visit to the city's namesake, Wat Phnom. Founded in 1373, the pagoda was built to house Buddhist relics washed ashore by the river. Visit the Royal Palace built in 1866 by King Norodom. See the different structures of this pagoda-style compound and stroll in its beautiful garden.
Visit the Silver Pagoda so named because of its floor that is comprised of 5,000 silver tiles. A gold Buddha encrusted with 9,584 diamonds and a small 17th century emerald and baccarat crystal Buddha are also housed here. Continue to the nearby National Museum. Built in 1917 it is an exceptional example of traditional architecture and is exclusively devoted to preserving and displaying Khmer art and sculptures. Hundreds of pieces are housed here including both pre-and post-Angkorian pieces.
Lunch will serve at a local restaurant.
Drive to the Killing fields of Choeung Ek (16 km south of Phnom Penh). Between 1975 and 1978 about 17.000 men, women, children and infants (including nine westerners) detained and tortured at S-21 prison were transported to the extermination camp of Choeung Ek. They were often bludgeoned to death to avoid wasting precious bullets. Fragments of human bone and bits of cloth are scattered around the disinterred pits. Over 8000 skulls, arranged by sex and age, are visible behind the clear glass panels of the Memorial Stupa, which was erected in 1988.
Return to Phnom Penh, visit the notorious Tuol Sleng Museum. In 1975 Tuol Svay Prey High School was taken over by Pol Pot's security forces and turned into a prison known as Security Prison 21 (S-21). It soon became the largest such center of detention and torture in the country. More than 17.000 people held at S-21 were taken to the extermination camp at Choeung Ek to be executed; detainees who died during torture were buried in mass graves in the prison ground. The museum displays include room after room of these photographs of men, women and children covering the walls from floor to ceiling; virtually all the people pictured were later killed.
Visit the Russian Market (Psah Tuol Thom Pong), a lively outdoor market where you will find antiquities, silver and gold jewelry, gems, silk, kramas, stone and wood carvings, as well as T-Shirts, CDs and other souvenirs.
Note: National Museum, Silver Pagoda and Royal Palace are open every day. However, the Silver Pagoda and the Royal Palace may be closed without prior notice while H.M. the King is in the residence.
Departure from: Phnom Penh
Return to: Phnom Penh
What to take
We suggest a small, lightweight daypack for cameras, spare film, drinking water and comfortable walking shoes.