The pretty revering town of Kampot is just five kilometers from the sea and serves
the very popular seaside resort of Kep. Once a fashionable haunt of the French elite,
it was known as La Perle de la Cote d'Agathe and has stunning offshore islands and a
beautiful bay, King Sihanouk owned one of these islands and would often use it for
entertaining. This region is famous for its production of durian, the foul smelling
fruit, and reputedly has the best seafood in the country.
- Kompong Som (Sihanouk Ville)
Kompong Som, Cambodia's only maritime port is 232 kilometers from Phnompenh and
accessible via one of the best inter-provincial roads in the country. Kompong Som
is not only a seaport but an area famous for its picture-postcard tropical beaches.
Situated as it is on a headland, visitors can choose from a range of beaches, several
of which can often remain completely deserted. The most popular are Ochatial beach
and Sokha Beach due their immediacy to the town. Local fishermen will take visitors
to any one of the nearby islands where the coral, teeming with tropical fish, is
perfect for snorkeling, diving, and fishing. There are many restaurants catering
to various national tastes but its well worth trying the freshly caught crab, shrimps
and other seafood the region has to offer. The resort was established in 1964 and can
be visited all year round to appreciate the warm sands, cool breezes and clear blue skies.
- Bokor Hill Station
In keeping with the colonial practices of the time, many of the French elite,
unwilling to become accustomed to the heat of Cambodian summer, retreated to
the Bokor Hill Station set in the Elephant Mountains. At an elevation of just
over 1000m it is famous for its pleasant climate, clear streams and tranquil
surroundings. Visitors will be taken in by the stunning panoramas, forested
vistas and breathtaking views of the sea. The best time to visit is between
November and May.
- Siem Reap and Angkor
The town of Siem Reap, the provincial capital, is a pleasant sleepy backwater
serving as a base for visitors to the ancient capital of Angkor. With the recent
completion of international standard hotels including the renovation of the famous
Grand Hotel D'Angkor, the more than one hundred ancient temples and monuments in
the vicinity can be enjoyed in style and comfort. Well organized guided tours ensure
visitors make the most of their holidays regardless of length of stay. Though not
essential, a well informed professional guide will enhance any tour, providing insight
and history often not available in guide books. Many of the temples and best viewed at
different times of the day due to their geographical orientation and the angle of the
sun. The majors slights and attractions are Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Bayon, Ta Prom,
Phnom Bakheng, Banteay Srei, Big and Small Circuits, Phnom Kulen and Rolous Group.
- In/Around Phnom Penh
- Tuol Sleng Museum
Originally built as a secondary school named Tuol Svay Prey High School in 1960,
during the reign of Preah Batnorodom Sihanouk. The Khmer Rouge converted this into
a torture and interrogation centre to extract 'confessions' of anti-government
sentiment. Many victims were women and children incarcerated along with the
'suspected' father. Documents recovered indicate that over 17,000 persons had been
imprisoned there between1975 and 1978, only seven of whom are known to have survived.
The others, once the 'confession' had been extracted under torture, were transported
to Choeung Ek for execution. Records show that the highest figure was on 27 May 1978,
when 582 persons were sent to their death. The museum was established in 1979 after
the Vietnamese invasion, and the Khmer Rouge's meticulous photographic records of their
victims are exhibited as tragic testimony to those who suffered and died in their hands.
- Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda
Built in 1866, the site contains various buildings of interest, including the Khmer-style
Throne Hall, now used for special ceremonial occasions. South of the Throne Hall are the
Royal Treasury and the Villa of Napoleon III, built in Egypt in 1866, for the opening of
the Suez Canal, and was later presented to the Cambodian king as a gift. The famous Silver
Pagoda, originally constructed of wood in 1866, was expanded in 1962 by King Sihanouk who
had the floor inlaid with 5,329 solid silver tiles, hence its name. The most revered image
is the Emerald Buddha, made of Baccarat crystal and dating back to the 17th century. Behind
it, another Buddha statue was cast in 1906, utilizing 90 kg of gold, and decorated with 9,584
diamonds. Cabinets along the perimeter contain gifts presented to royalty and dignitaries.
Along the inside of the recently restored 600-metre external wall is a colorful mural depicting
scenes from the Reamker, the Khmer version of the Ramayana.
- National Museum of Art
North of the palace grounds, the building was designed in Khmer-style, in 1920,
by a French architect, and contains important artifacts and sculptures from the
Angkor era and earlier.
- Wat Phnom
On a hill to the north of the city, and restored or reconstructed in 1434, 1806,
1894 and 1926, Wat Phnom is a symbol of the capital city Phnom Penh and regularly
used for prayer, small offerings, and meditation.
- Independence Monument
It commemorates the end of French's rule over Cambodia in 1953. The one hundred nags
and motifs can be seen in historic, cultural and modern day. It is also used to commemorate
the souls of fallen to combatants who down their lives for the country's freedom.
- National Library
Itís located next to the Royal Hotel and just West of Wat Phnom. This graceful building,
another example of French colonial architecture, built in 1924 and set in floral gardens
was sacked by the Khmer Rouge and turned into a stable. Many of the discarded books were
picked up by the locals who donated them back to the library after 1979. Open daily from
8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2:30 to 5 p.m.