Left: Royal Palace Right: Silver Pagoda
MARVEL AT KHMER ARTISANSHIP
Behind the yellow walls of the royal compound stands the stunning Royal Palace. Featuring classic Khmer roofs and elaborate golden decorations, the palace is home to the current ruler, King Sihamoni and his family. While some areas are off limits, there is still enough to explore within this massive compound. Check out the Throne Hall, boasting a 59-metre-high tower crowned with golden-coloured tiles, and is used for coronations and official ceremonies. The Silver Pagoda is another must-see. Named after its silver-tiled floor, this stunning architecture is a meeting place for the King and monks, and houses a collection of historical objects, including the extraordinary 17th-century Emerald Buddha sculpture made of green baccarat crystal and a Golden Buddha decorated with 2,086 diamonds.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
Torture rooms in the prison
Left: Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum Right: Torture rooms in the prison
VISIT TUOL SLENG GENOCIDE MUSEUM
Pay a visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum for an honest view of a sad, but significant chapter in Cambodian history. Chronicling events that took place during the Khmer Rouge regime, the site was a secondary school that was converted into a security prison and interrogation facility during that period. The buildings within Tuol Sleng have been well preserved, many rooms left in the exact state they were in when the site was abandoned in 1979. Join the guided tour or opt for an audio tour for greater insight as you explore the various buildings. Brace yourself as you enter rooms lined with black and white photographs of prisoners. Also on display, are paintings of torture at the prison by Vann Nath, a Tuol Sleng survivor. Watch documentaries about the Khmer Rouge for a deeper understanding of events during this era. Expect this to be a sombre experience, but it is a visit well worth your time especially if you are a history buff.
Enjoy an Espresso Martini at Bassac Lane
Wine and tapas
Left: Enjoy an Espresso Martini at Bassac Lane Right: Wine and tapas
BAR HOP AROUND BASSAC LANE
To immerse yourself in Phnom Penh’s buzzing nightlife, Bassac Lane is the place to be. Home to a slew of trendy micro-bars and restaurants that sit shoulder to shoulder, each hangout has its own theme and style. Perfect for a quiet drink and a chat, standout bars in this little stretch include Hangar 44, a chic, bike-themed bar that doubles up as a motorcycle showroom. It is also known to serve up a mean Espresso Martini. Red Bar, a watering hole for the creative types, is another top pick thanks to its unpretentious ambiance and cheap drinks. Meanwhile, the charming, French-run Chez Flo is perfect for wine and tapas lovers.