After a three-week itinerary in Vietnam, we reach the fourth country of our tour of Southeast Asia, I named: Cambodia! We begin the discovery of this country by Phom Penh, its capital. Ideal to take the pulse of this place deeply marked by its past. We took advantage of these three days in Phnom Penh to learn more about Cambodia’s history and culture. On the program, a visit to the S-21 museum, witness to the horrors perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge and the Royal Palace, a little taste of what we will discover later, the famous temples of Angkor. Not to mention a small detour to the market to taste the local specialties. If you are looking for what to do in Phnom Penh in 3 days, this is where it goes;).
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21)
For some, traveling is like seeing landscapes and taking pictures in front of monuments. Sometimes you have to invest a little more. It’s trying to understand the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime that we decided to visit the S-21 museum. A trying but necessary visit. A former high school, Tuol Sleng (or S-21) was one of the most secret prisons in a network of more than 200 Khmer Rouge prisons across the country. Today transformed into a museum, S-21 makes it possible to not forget trying to explain the madness of the Pol Pot regime. As soon as we enter, we are struck by the silence that reigns in this place where the violence of torture still reverberates. In 1975, the Khmer Rouge enter Phom Penh. First welcomed as a hero by the people, the regime imposed by their leader Pol Pot, will sow death and be responsible for one of the greatest genocides of the last century.
To better understand, I advise you to opt for the audio guide. Your visit will take you into the torture rooms left as they are to measure the madness of the executioners. The frame of a bed on which the prisoners were attached and a case of ammunition to make needs. In the courtyard, a wooden structure formerly used in gymnastics classes now serves to torture prisoners by hanging them by the arms. Between 12,000 and 20,000 men, women and children, both Cambodian and foreign, lost their lives. Their crime? Be suspected of conspiracy. Under Pol Pot’s command, simply wearing glasses makes you an enemy of the regime. Upon its discovery in 1979 by the Vietnamese army, the last prisoners have been emptied of their blood by their torturers who have fled. Their graves, white and nameless, were installed in the garden. Only 12 people survived the horror S-21.
If you have a good heart, you can continue your history course by going to Killing Fiels, a few kilometers from the city center. Fields of execution as there were several in the country during the three years of terror Pol Pot. We chose to save ourselves this visit.
Price : 5 US$ without audio guide and 8 US$ with. We took one for two and we were able to use both thanks to the headphones we had in the bag.
The Royal Palace
One of the most visited places in Phnom Penh is the Royal Palace. Like the one in Bangkok, it houses the royal family. The whole site is home to several beautiful buildings including the throne room or the famous silver pagoda which contains the Emerald Buddha. It is a richly decorated pavilion paved with more than 5,000 silver tiles. Inside, you will also find beautiful statues of Buddhas encrusted with precious stones. As usual go early preferably to avoid crowds of tourists (Chinese) but especially the overwhelming sun from 10 in the morning.
Price :$ 10. It’s a bit expensive, it’s true but the visit is nice!
Wat Ounalom temple
This temple attracts the eye from the seaside with its pretty shapes and bright colors. You will not find anything special or tourist, but you will not pay anything. Just for that, it’s worth taking a look. The sunset on Wat Ounalom, one of the most important of the city, from the seaside promenade is quite nice too.
Price : Free
The Phar Reatrey Night Market
True to our habits, we avoided restaurants to discover Khmer culinary specialties directly in the night market. And we were not disappointed! Subtle mixtures of spices, fish or curry, you’ll find what you’re after. And to savor your dish, sit on the floor, like locals. The experience is pleasant, trust me