Wat Phnom is almost always included on the itinerary of half- or full-day Phnom Penh tours, along with stops at the harrowing Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, and the Royal Palace. If you prefer to customize your own sightseeing itinerary, visit Wat Phnom as part of a hop-on hop-off bus tour; you’ll have the freedom to disembark whenever an attraction captures your attention and travel around in air-conditioned comfort.
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Things to Know Before You Go
During national holidays, the temple can be very crowded.
Watch out for the wild monkeys that like to steal food and bottled drinks.
Be mindful of your belongings at busy periods.
There’s a small admission fee.
How to Get There
Wat Phnom’s close proximity to the US Embassy, the French Colonial post office, and Raffles Hotel on Michael Howe Street makes it an ideal starting point for a tour of the city. The easiest way to reach the temple is by taxi or tuk-tuk, or as part of a guided tour.
When to Get There
The temple’s elevated position above the sprawling city makes it a great place to watch the sunset. However, bear in mind that sundown is the busiest time of day. If you want to beat the crowds, head to the temple in the early morning.
The Legend of Wat Phnom
Local legend says that in 1373, following a flash flood, a wealthy widow named Daun Chi Penh found four bronze Buddha statues inside of a floating tree on the Tonle Sap River. She rallied the nearby residents and had them create an 88-foot (27-meter) mound, and then erected a shrine on top to hold the Buddhas. The hill is said to be the origin of modern Phnom Penh, which translates as Penh's Hill.
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- Kandal Market (Phsar Kandal)
- Sisowath Quay
- Wat Ounalom
- National Museum of Cambodia
- Royal Palace
- Silver Pagoda (Wat Preah Keo)
- Phnom Penh Independence Monument
- Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21)
- Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Monument
- Phnom Penh Central Market (Phsar Thmey)
- Phnom Penh Russian Market (Toul Tom Poung Market)
- Choeung Ek Genocidal Center (Choeung Ek Killing Fields)
- Silk Island (Koh Dach)
- Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC)