Phnom Penh Overview
Legend has it that in 1372, a local widow named Penh discovered
four Buddha statues that had been washed up by the waters from the
Mekong River. She saw them as bearers of good fortune and erected a
temple on the hill to house them, and so the city grew around this
structure, known as the Hill of Penh (Phnom Penh).
Once considered to be the loveliest of Indochina's French-built
cities, this untidy capital sprawls at the confluence of the
Mekong, Bassac and Tonlé Sap Rivers. Concrete buildings in need of
repair, unsealed roads riddled with potholes and a confusion of
boulevards crammed with traffic, all make uninviting first
impressions. Traces of Khmer and colonial eras can be found in the
little details, redeeming those first hasty conclusions. These can
be found in the heart of the city where French villas and
street-side cafes perch along tree-lined boulevards and the
occasional majestic Khmer building catches the eye.
Phnom Penh has a number of Wats (temple-monasteries), museums
and other places of interest in and around the city, as well as
sunset cruises on the Mekong and Tonlé Sap Rivers, and a bustling
market place. There has also been a recent boom of new hotels,
restaurants, bars and nightclubs sprouting up through the city and
a nightlife that promises fun and flavour.