Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh, the bustling capital city of Cambodia is located at the confluence of three rivers, the Mekong, Bassac, and Sap. Although years of war and poverty have left it somewhat worse for wear, the French colonial architecture and broad tree-lined boulevards still create a unique ambience. Most of the sites of interest are located along the Sap River, which makes finding your way easy and allows for refreshing breaks in the numerous cafes and restaurants that line the river.

The Royal Palace is a compound of diverse building styles, including Khmer, Angkorian, and even an authentic French pavilion, imported in pieces as a gift from the French emperor Napoleon III in the 1870's. Adjacent to the palace lays the Silver Pagoda, the most revered Buddhist temple in Cambodia. The nearby National Museum houses a magnificent collection of Angkorian art. Another interesting Buddhist temple is Wat Phnom, from which the city takes its name. It is located on a small hill with views over the city.

Phnom Penh’s more modern attractions include a variety of markets, notably the Central Market and the Russian Market, which offer a stunning variety of textiles, jewelry and handicrafts. For those so inclined, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former Khmer Rouge prison, and the Killing Fields at Choeng Ek, give a chilling glimpse at that sad period of Cambodian history.