Phnom Penh is the Capital and largest city of Cambodia. Historically known as Krong Chaktomok - meaning ‘city of four faces’ – the name refers to the junction where the Mekong, Bassac, and Tonle Sap rivers cross to form an X shape where the Capital is situated. The city was founded in 1434 and is known for its beautiful and elegant architecture, due to its many surviving French colonial buildings scattered around.
The climate here is a tropical one and is usually hot all year round – with only small variations. Rainy season usually happens from around May to October, and is dependent on the tropical monsoons.
The street food on offer in Phnom Penh is unlike that seen anywhere else in the country. It includes French influenced dining and a fusion of Thai, Vietnamese and Indonesian dishes, and a typical meal will cost between 2-4 USD. Keep your eye out for a number of exotic treats to be found here; including duck embryo eggs, chicks and frogs.
While planning to visit Cambodia, most tourists are thinking of Angkor Wat, but the central attractions and variations in culture make Phnom Penh worth a visit.
The Killing Fields (Choeung Ek Village)
Another reason Cambodia is famous for many people around the world is because of the notorious Khmer Rouge regime that ruled the country from 1975-1979. This sobering location pays tribute to the thousands of Cambodian citizens that lost their lives during this time, victims of their own government’s regime. Although this is not an especially exciting visit – it is a must see for any visitor to the country.
Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre
Get behind the scenes access to some of Asia’s greatest animals at Phnom Tamao. The rescue centre is home to over 1200 animals including elephants, tigers, bears, crocodiles and many others - and the personalized tour will take you around the park and explain the stories of the animals. Opened in 1995 - it is now the largest zoo in the country and can be visited in a single day tour from Phnom Penh centre. All proceeds from the park entry go directly to the rescue and care of the wildlife.
National Museum of Cambodia
The National Museum provides an excellent insight into the varying ways of life in Cambodia. It presents many differing opinions and insights into both Hindu and Buddhist religions with carvings and statues representing both. Infact, the museum boasts over 14,000 items and was initially created in 1920, with a later renovation in 1968. The buildings were built between 1917 and 1924 using the traditional Khmer temple architecture.
Every Friday and Saturday evening at 7pm, the museum grounds are opened to host the Plae Pakaa shows. The three rotating shows feature a wide-range of performing arts and demonstrates the charm and diversity of Cambodian culture.
The best time to visit is in the winter, between December and January. During this time, the temperature is cooler but it is still hot and tropical with the average temperature of 30-32 degree centigrade
The rainy, monsoon season consists of varying amounts of rainfall. Most rain falls as showers; sometimes, it is difficult to appreciate all the sights in and around the city as the rain is intense and many streets are flooded and muddy. Thankfully the showers pass quickly; but you might be unlucky and have a few days of continuous rain; but that is more likly to happen in May and September.The summer season especially between February and March is when the weather tends to get scorching hot with unbearable levels of humidity.
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