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Central Market

This unique, art deco building is a Phnom Penh landmark.Prior to 1935, the area was swamp/lake known as Beng Decho that receive the runoff during the rainy season. The lake was drained and the market constructed in 1935-37. Phsar Thmey is currently undergoing a refurbishing project - the interior reconstructed, new stalls are being constructed, etc. Many of the vendors have moved to temporary buildings on either side of the market building. The souvenir vendors are is in the temporary building on the south side of the market. Even with the construction, Phsar Thmey is still well worth a shopping visit.(Phsar Tmey means New Market, but Central Market has caught in English)

Independence Monument

(At the intersection of Norodom and Sihaknouk), the Independent Monument (Vimean Ekarich) was inaugurated in November 9, 1962, celebrating Cambodia Independence from foreign rule. Renowned Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann was the architect of the monument which is patterned on a lotus flower bud,adorned with Naga heads (multi-headed cobras,) and obviously reminiscent in design of the towers of Angkor Wat. The Independence Monument now also serves as a monument to Cambodia's war dead as well as her independence.

River Cruises

Short river cruises and sunset cruises along the Phnom Penh riverfront are easy to arrange and offer an interesting view of the city. A cruise typically takes about 1 - 2 hours and runs up the Tonle Sap River along the central riverfront area providing a picturesque view of the Royal Palace, National Museum, parks and Phnom Penh skyline, and then across the Tonle Sap and up the Mekong River to view floating fishing villages. (Photography note: Best lighting in the early morning as the low eastern sun illuminates the front of the Royal Palace.) Tourist boats of varying size and quality wait along the riverfront, usually between Street 144 and Street 130, and at the Passenger Port near Street 104. Just look for the cluster of boats and advertising placards. From about 4PM-5:30PM you can get a sunset cruise for $4-$5/person on a shared tour boat. If you want a private boat, or arrive anytime other than the sunset hours, boats run about for $10-$15/hour for a whole boat and offers a standard tour itinerary. Bring your friends and split the price. Prices go up for larger boats. Kanika A unique catamaran - spacious, modern, fully outfitted. Docked at the Passenger Port. Private parties, dinner cruises, charter. Proceeds go to the Seametrey NGO projects.

Royal Palace and (Silver Pagoda)

(Sothearos between Streets 240 & 184 - $3.00/person, $2.00/camera, $5.00/video cam. Open everyday, 7:30-11:00 / 2:30-5:00) Marking the approach to the Royal Palace along Sothearos Blvd the high yellow crenellated wall and spired Chanchhaya Pavilion stand distinctively against the riverfront skyline. Inside the Palace grounds street sounds are silenced by the high walls and the royal buildings sit like ornate islands rising from the manicured gardens. The Royal Palace serves as the residence of the King, a venue for court ceremony and as a symbol of the Kingdom. It was first established at its present location when the capital was moved from Oudong to Phnom Penh in 1866 under King Norodom and the French protectorate, though the Palace did not attain its current general form until about 1920. Khmer and European elements as well as distinct architectural echoes of the palace in Bangkok are present in the design of the various buildings. Attached to the Palace compound, Wat Preah Keo Morokat (the 'Silver Pagoda') is unique amongst pagodas. So named for its silver tiled floor, it is where the King meets with monks, Royal ceremonies are performed and it houses a collection of priceless Buddhist and historical objects including the 'Emerald Buddha.' And, unlike most pagodas, no monks live at the pagoda. The temple building, library and galleries were first constructed between 1892 and 1902.

The River Front

Some of Phnom Penh's most important cultural sites as well as dozens of pubs, restaurants and shops sit along the picturesque park-lined riverfront overlooking the chaktomuk - the confluence of the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Bassac Rivers. The Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda and the National Museum are clustered together between Street 178 and 240 and restaurants and pubs line the riverfront road Sisowath Quay, stretching north from the Royal Palace area all the way to Street 104 near Wat Phnom. Visit the Royal Palace and National Museum and stroll up the riverfront for a drink or a meal or to do some shopping. Just off the riverfront, Street 240 behind the Royal Palace harbors several restaurants and high-quality boutiques and Street 178 next to the National Museum is known as 'Art Street' and is dotted with interesting little art galleries and silk shops. Early risers, check out the spectacular sunrise over the river in front of the Royal Palace area.

Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21)

(Corner of Street 113 & Street 350 - $2.00 - Open everyday, including holidays, 8AM-5PM - Closed for lunch) Prior to 1975, Toul Sleng was a high school - a set of classroom buildings in a walled compound. When the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975 they converted into the S-21 prison and interrogation facility, administered by Kaing Guek Eav, a.k.a. 'Duch,' who is currently on trial for his actions at S-21. Inmates at the prison were held in tiny brick cubicles and systematically tortured, sometimes over a period of months, to extract the desired 'confessions,' after which the victim was inevitably executed at the killing field of Choeung Ek just outside the city. S-21 processed over 17,000 people, less than a score of whom survived. The Tuol Sleng compound now serves as a museum, a memorial and a testament to the madness of the Khmer Rouge regime. Much has been left in the state it was in when the Khmer Rouge abandoned it in January 1979. The prison kept extensive records, leaving thousands of photos of their victims, many of which are on display. Paintings of torture at the prison by Vann Nath, a survivor of Toul Sleng, are also exhibited. For more on the S-21 check out Chandler's book, 'Voices from S-21.' See page 32 for more on books.

Wat Phnom

(Sothearos between Streets 240 & 184 - $3.00/person, $2.00/camera, $5.00/video cam. Open everyday, 7:30-11:00 / 2:30-5:00) Marking the approach to the Royal Palace along Sothearos Blvd the high yellow crenellated wall and spired Chanchhaya Pavilion stand distinctively against the riverfront skyline. Inside the Palace grounds street sounds are silenced by the high walls and the royal buildings sit like ornate islands rising from the manicured gardens. The Royal Palace serves as the residence of the King, a venue for court ceremony and as a symbol of the Kingdom. It was first established at its present location when the capital was moved from Oudong to Phnom Penh in 1866 under King Norodom and the French protectorate, though the Palace did not attain its current general form until about 1920. Khmer and European elements as well as distinct architectural echoes of the palace in Bangkok are present in the design of the various buildings. Attached to the Palace compound, Wat Preah Keo Morokat (the 'Silver Pagoda') is unique amongst pagodas. So named for its silver tiled floor, it is where the King meets with monks, Royal ceremonies are performed and it houses a collection of priceless Buddhist and historical objects including the 'Emerald Buddha.' And, unlike most pagodas, no monks live at the pagoda. The temple building, library and galleries were first constructed between 1892 and 1902.