I prefer to walk while exploring a new city. And this is what I did when I visited Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, in November 2016. But it was hot, very hot. And the traffic was hectic. If I had to do it again I would most probably hire a tuk-tuk.
Here are a few sights of the city:
- The Independence Museum: This 20 meter Angkorian style tower, shaped in the form of a lotus, was built in 1958 to celebrate Cambodia’s independence from France.
- Statue of King Father Norodom Sihanouk: He was the King of Cambodia from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 to 2004, and was known as The King-Father of Cambodia. The same man that is featured on the Riel notes.
- The Park in front of the Royal Palace.
- A Mojito at The Foreign Correspondence Club overlooking the Tonle Sap River. Pulitzer Prize winner, Sydney Schanberg and Khmer Rouge survivor, Dith Pran both stayed at this Colonial Styled building, along with many other journalists, politicians and movie stars throughout the years.
- A cow statue at Wat Ounalom. This Watt (temple) is the headquarters of Cambodian Buddhism and was founded in 1443. It is located along the Sisowath Quay on the riverfront.
- Monks – Buddhism is the official religion in Cambodia which is practiced by 95 percent of the population. Throughout Cambodia, Buddhist monks are held in high regard, not only as religious leaders but for their traditional role of helping those most in need. Cambodia is a poor country. Choosing the life of a monk brings with it access to safe accommodation, food and education. Every Buddhist male is expected to become a “monk” for a short period in his life. This is seen as a rite of passage to adulthood. A small proportion of them will take forever vows and will become ordained monks.
- Street Vendors – These are the seed pods from the lotus flower. The seeds can be eaten raw, dried or cooked. In the raw form it is delicious as a snack.
- The Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Monument – It was built in the late 1970s by the communist regime that took power after the Cambodian-Vietnamese War, which overthrew the Khmer Rouge regime. The monument is located at the Botum Park not far from the Royal Palace. It features statues of Vietnamese and Cambodian soldiers, together with images of a woman and baby representing Cambodian civilians.
- Wat Langka – situated on the busy Sihanouk Boulevard. It is reputedly one of Phnom Penh’s five original Watts (1422). First established as a sanctuary for the Holy Writings and a meeting place for Cambodian and Sri Lankan monks, the Watt was named in honour of these meetings.
- In the streets