The capital, Phnom Penh, which still has some beautiful sights, has since recovered from its ghostly existence during Pol Pot’s rule. The most famous attractions include the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda, which houses an emerald Buddha. The Wat Phnom Temple, which gives the city its name, is worth a visit. The former Pol Pot interrogation center is now the Tuol Sleng Museum of Mass Destruction. In the National Museum there are interesting collections of regional art. The famous National Ballet was re-formed by the surviving dancers and now performs classical dances such as the Ramayana saga for visitors. Buddhist temples have also reopened and several festivals, notably the Khmer New Year, are celebrated here. Outside of Phnom Penh is the Choeung Ek camp, also known as the “Killing Fields”. Here stands a memorial made from the skulls of over 8,000 people who were murdered here by the Pol Pot regime.
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Antiques, wood carvings, masks, brass figures and jewelry (made of gold or silver with precious stones) are best bought in the markets. The Bijouterie d’Etat also sells jewellery, and the Art School sells some of the items on display. In the Central Market there are typical clothes and fabrics. Visitors should note that the export of antiques and precious stones is subject to strict controls.
There are numerous restaurants in Phnom Penh. Food stalls are mainly found at Central Market, O Ressai Market and Tuol Tom Market.
Buddhism (95%) is the state religion; Islamic and Christian minorities.
Social Rules of Conduct
Diplomacy in conversations on political issues is appropriate. Lèse majesty is a criminal offense punishable by a fine or imprisonment. Women should wear clothing that covers the body. Photography is usually allowed. People should be asked for permission beforehand. Be careful at the airport: the outdated X-ray machines are harmful to films. Tipping: Small amounts are readily accepted in hotels and restaurants, as well as by tour guides.
Best travel time
Tropical monsoon climate; Monsoon from May to October. Cool winters in the north, otherwise hardly any temperature differences. Most pleasant, coolest travel time from November/December to January.
Area (sq km)
16,718,965 (Source: homosociety)
Population density (per square km)
Population statistics year
Main emergency number