Phnom Penh, in English Penh’s hill, named after the Wat Phnom Buddhist temple that has stood high atop the city since the 14th century, is the capital of Cambodia. It is also known as Krong Chaktomuk, and is located on the banks of Tonlé Sap and Mekong River. It is the country’s economic, cultural, and industrial center. The city was once called the Pearls of Asia, because of its lovely French architecture from the colony times. There are French inspired constructions scattered along the town, so when visiting you will see a lot of it.
Anyone ever heard of a Tarantula Kebab? In Cambodia that’s a very popular delicacy and you are likely to encounter it on a trip to Phnom Penh. It does not look very appealing but it is said to taste like something between a chicken and cod. It is worth the try, but if don’t feel like it there’s a lot more to the Cambodia cuisine you can try. Don’t bother searching for a McDolnald’s in the city, because there are none.
Phnom Penh has a lot of stories to tell, and to hear those stories you should first visit the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center. The place tells the story of when two million people were killed when the Pol Pot-led Khmer Rouge took over the country. Almost 9,000 bodies were discovered at the graves of Choeung Ek, known as the Killing Field. Although a little tragic, nowadays the place serves as a memorial, featuring a Buddhist stupa filled with 8,000 human skulls. You will walk around the exhumed graves and learn about it on a headset guided tour. Also telling a lot of stories is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, located in the center of the city and a former high school transformed into a political prisoners’ camp during the Khmer Rouge reign.
Moving on we get to the National Museum of Cambodia, located next to the Royal palace. The place features more than five thousand artfacts dating back to the ancient period.
Don’t miss out on the Phsar Thmei Central Market, a daily part of life in the country with a unique Art Deco. In this place you will find food, jewelry, souvenirs and much more. The market is a very good place to spend time, since even on the hottest days the place is cool ad airy. A great place to have local food and experience local culture.