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The Cambodia ’s commercial and political hub. It is also the gateway to the temples of Angkor in the west, the beaches of Sihanoukville on the southern coast and the hill tribe minority in the Northern Province . Revitalized capital city with temples and French colonial architecture blended with a cosmopolitan restaurants, hotels, and night life scenes.

The capital of Cambodia dates back to an event in the year 1327. It is said that a rich widow named Don Penh found a tree with 5 Buddhas in it. She thus founded a pagoda, Wat Phnom Don Penh, The Monastery on the Hill of Lady Penh. In 1434 the city founded some years earlier by King Ponhea Yat was finished. In 1866 it became the capital.

Following its recent traumatic history, parks, gardens and elegant villas are now being restored, tree-lined boulevards still reflect the elegance of the city's French colonial past, and camera-clicking tourists sit in pedicabs ("cyclos") which weave their way leisurely through the increasing numbers of cars and motorcycles. This pleasant scene, coupled with the current bustle of optimistic commerce, belies the chilling fact that the city stood abandoned and empty from 1975-1979 during the forced evacuation by the detested Khmer Rouge


   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.


   Choeung Ek Execution Area


15km southwest of the city centre is one of the many sites of Khmer Rouge mass executions. The exhumed skulls of some 8,000 souls, arranged by sex and age, are displayed behind glass panels in the Memorial Stupa, which was erected in 1988. Although some were killed and buried at Toul Sleng, most victims were driven out to Choeung Ek at night by truck. Some were made to dig their own graves before being clubbed to death with any heavy instrument available. In addition to those exhumed, another 43 pits have been left undisturbed and the final shocking total can only be guessed. The pleasant orchard setting does little to dispel the horror engendered by this grim sight, as Choeung Ek is just one of thousands of recorded mass grave sites throughout the country, and is by no means, the largest. On May 9th each year a memorial service is conducted at the stupa, in memory of the estimated 1.7 million people who died during the genocide.


   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 Arts


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 Ounalom


Built in 1443 to enshrine a sacred hair of the Buddha, and located north of the National Museum of Arts, this temple is considered the seat of Cambodian Buddhism. When the Khmer Rouge evacuated Phnom Penh in 1975, they vandalized the building and murdered the Abbot along with many of the 500 monks who lived there.


   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 nagas 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.




Located to the north approximately 40km from Phnom Penh , and located on a hill overlooking vast plains, this site is famous for cultural patrimonies and used to be a capital city between 1618-1866.


   Phnom Tamao Zoo


This recently opened zoo and wildlife rescue centre, 40km outside the city, was set up to preserve and rescue rare and endangered local wildlife including tiger, lion, deer, bear, peacock, heron, crocodile and turtle. Eighty hectares of the total area have been established as a national zoo and up to 1,200 hectares have been reserved for its future extension and development.

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