Phnom Penh, translated in English to “Penh’s hill,” is named after the Wat Phnom Buddhist temple that has stood high atop the city since the 14th century. It is the capital of Cambodia, and is located on the banks of the Tonlé Sap and Mekong River, serving as 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, so make sure to be on the look out for it!
Have you ever heard of a Tarantula Kebab? In Cambodia it is a very popular food item that you are likely to come across in Phnom Penh. It may not look very appealing, but if you like chicken, you’re in luck! It is said to taste something similar to chicken or cod. A tarantula kebab is worth the experience, but if you don’t feel like trying something that exotic, there is so much more Cambodian cuisine to uncover- just be sure to avoid searching for a McDonald’s because there are none!
Phnom Penh is a city of numerous stories, and to hear one of those stories you should make a trip to the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center. This place, often called the “Killing Field,” tells the story of when two million people were killed after the Pol Pot-led Khmer Rouge took over the country. Almost 9,000 bodies were discovered at the graves of Choeung Ek, which now serves as a memorial, featuring a Buddhist stupa filled with 8,000 human skulls. You can walk around the exhumed graves and learn about the event through a headset guided tour. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, located in the center of the city, is also a place of story telling in Phnom Penh. The museum served as a former high school before being transformed into a prisoners’ camp during the Khmer Rouge reign.
Another fun and educational place to tour in Phnom Penh is the National Museum of Cambodia, which sits directly next to the Royal Palace. This museum features more than five thousand artifacts dating back to ancient times.
Don’t miss out on the Phsar Thmei Central Market, a daily part of life that features a unique art-deco. In this place you will find food, jewelry, souvenirs and much more. The market is a great place to spend time; even on the hottest days it’s cool and comfortable, and who doesn’t want that when they are trying local food and experiencing the Cambodian culture?