- Irving Wallace
Wat Phnom is probably one of the most beautiful of the central Phnom Penh attractions and is located right in the heart of the capital. The temple is one of the largest in Cambodia, and it resembles to a certain extent the famous mountain temples within the ancient city of Angkor given its location built atop a hill. It's construction and location are actually very significant in relation to the history of Phnom Penh and it's beginnings as a city. It's believed that in 1372 Lady Penh retrieved a Koki tree from the river, and within the tree were four statues of Buddha. In commemoration of her find she built the hill and the temple which still exists today, having been renovated many times over the years. Phnom is Khmer for 'hill', hence the city is named Phnom Penh, after the hill which she built. The temple has further significance also as inside the stupa are the ashes of King Ponhea who moved the capital from Angkor to present day Phnom Penh.
The site is very pleasing to the eye set amid well preserved gardens. It's very popular for locals also as the vihear which is located at the top of the hill is a pilgrimage destination. The statue of Lady Penh herself also located at the top of the hill is considered to be wise and many Phnom Penh locals will look to her for help with decisions in life, and they will also flock to the fortune tellers to learn what awaits them in this life or the next.
Wat Phnom is also a major hub for Khmer New Year and Phum Ben celebrations.
To see the temple there is an entrance fee of US1 per person.
Any time of the day is fine to visit the temple. Allow around half an hour to visit the temple itself and the grounds.
The Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, Russian Market or National Museum are all examples of the many sights within Phnom Penh - it will depend on how much time you have and which you are most interested in.
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