THE CAPITAL PHNOM PENH
Reasons to visit
Also known as “The Pearl of Asia”, Phnom Penh is ideally located at the confluence of the Mekong, Tonle Bassac and Tonle Sap channel and is the cultural center of Cambodia. The city with its wide avenues planted with trees, very lively, the docks lined with bars and restaurants encourage strolling. The Royal Palace, the National Museum, the bustling markets, the Khmer architectural treasures and the colonial buildings of the French Protectorate period, often loaded with the sad history of Cambodia, are all occasions to appreciate the rich Khmer culture.
Phnom Penh has often suffered from contemporary troubles that occured in Cambodia. From 1963 to 1975, the Vietnam War raged in Southeast Asia, opposing North Vietnam, the United States and their allies on the one hand, South Vietnam, the USSR and China in a lesser measure on the other hand.
The latter taking shelter in Cambodia, the Americans bombed the country until 1973, decimating the local population. Following a final and bloody bombing in 1973, the country then plunged into a civil war whose end will be marked by the capture of Phnom Penh by the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, April 17, 1975.
First acclaimed by the Cambodians, the Khmer Rouge quickly emptied the big cities and deported the population to the countryside. Pol Pot then ordered the suppression of the currency, the isolation of the country and the work of the inhabitants in collaborative villages.
It was then that the purges began, first affecting members and supporters of the old regime, then intellectuals, artists, students and religious. Workers were dying one by one in the countryside, exhausted by too much work and living conditions too rough. The regime’s enemies and their families were sent to Phnom Penh for execution.
Towards the end of the regime, paranoia reached its peak and some Khmer Rouge were also tortured in the famous prison S-21 and killed in the “killing fields”. In 1979, the Vietnamese liberate Phnom Penh and there are then between 2 and 3 million victims on a population which counted 6 million inhabitants.
Best periods to visit
It is possible to visit Phnom Penh whatever the season. However, if you want to live the festivities to the rhythm of the Cambodians, it can be a good experience to visit the capital during the Khmer New Year in April or during the Water Festival in November.
What to do in Phnom Penh
Travel with children
We offer tours using the new technologies and that will be ideal for a younger audience. These will immerse your children in a fun discovery of the city.