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• Site Around City
 • Royal Palace • Silver Pagoda • Wat Phnom • National Museum • Independence Monument • Tuol Sleng Museum • Choeung Ek Genocidal Center • Wat Ounalom • Wat Lang Ka • Cambodian Holocaust • Central Market • Russian Market • Old Market
Geography Demographics Telephone
Location: Southern
Area: 376 km2
Population: 2,009,264
Density: 5343.8/km2
Calling code
Town and Districts
Chamkarmon, Daun Penh,Prampir Makara,Toul Kork, Dangkor, Meanchey, Russey Keo
General Information
Phnom Penh is the largest, most populous and capital city of Cambodia and sits at the confluence of the Mekong, the Bassac and the Tonle Sap rivers. This town is also the capital of the Phnom Penh municipality which has a land area of 290 square kimlometer and is bordering with Kandal and Kampong Speu provinces.
The city of Phnom Penh is also the commercial, political and cultural hub of Cambodia and is home to more than 2 million of Cambodia's population of almost 15 million. 
The city takes its name from the Wat Phnom Daun Penh (known now as just the Wat Phnom or Hill Temple), built in 1373 to house five statues of Buddha on a man made hill 27 meters high. It was named after Daun Penh (Grandma Penh), a wealthy widow. Phnom Penh was also previously known as Krong Chaktomuk meaning "City of Four Faces". This name refers to the junction where the Mekong, Bassac, and Tonle Sap rivers cross to form an "X" where the capital is situated. Krong Chaktomuk is an abbreviation of its ceremonial name given by King Ponhea Yat which was "Krong Chaktomuk Mongkol Sakal Kampuchea Thipadei Sereythor Inthabot Borei Roth Reach Seima Maha Nokor".
Once known as the Pearl of Asia in the 1920s, Phnom Penh, along with Siem Reap, is a significant global and domestic tourist destination for Cambodia. Phnom Penh is known for its traditional Khmer and French influenced architecture. The main tourist attractions in Phnom Penh include the Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda, the National Museum, Independence Monument (Khmer: Vimean Akareach), the Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Monument, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, and Wat Phnom. Outside the city is the Choeung Ek Genocide Center.
Phnom Penh first became the capital of Cambodia after Ponhea Yat, king of the Khmer Empire moved the capital Angkor Thom after it was captured by Siam a few years earlier. There are stupa behind Wat Phnom that house the remains of Ponhea Yat and the royal family as well as the remaining Buddhist statues from the Angkorean era.
It was not until 1866 under the reign of King Norodom I that Phnom Penh became the permanent seat of government, and the Royal Palace(pictured) was built. This marked the beginning of the transformation of what was essentially a village into a great city with the French Colonialists expanding the canal system to control the wetlands, constructing roads and building a port.
By the 1920s Phnom Penh was known as the Pearl of Asia and over the next four decades continued to experience growth with the building of a railway to Sihanoukville and the Pochentong International Airport.
During the Vietnam War, Cambodia was used as a base by the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong, and thousands of refugees from across the country flooded the city to escape the fighting between their own government troops, the NVA/NLF, the South Vietnamese and its allies and the Khmer Rouge. By 1975 the population was 2,000,000, the bulk of them refugees from the fighting. The city fell to the Khmer Rouge on April 17, the Cambodian New Year, and was evacuated by force, its residents being made to labor on rural farms as "new people". Tuol Svay Prey High School was taken over by Pol Pot's forces and was turned into the S-21 prison camp, where Cambodians were detained and tortured. Pol Pot desired a return to an agrarian economy and therefore killed anyone who was educated, who wore glasses, or who did not have calloused hands to cleanse the population of the taint of westernization. Many others starved to death as a result of failure of the agrarian society and the sale of Cambodia's rice to China in exchange for bullets and weaponry. Tuol Svay Prey High School is now the Tuol Sleng Museum in which Khmer Rouge torture devices and photos of their victims are displayed. Choeung Ek (The Killing Fields), 15 kilometers away, where the Khmer Rouge marched prisoners from Tuol Sleng to be murdered and buried in shallow pits, is also now a memorial to those who were killed by the regime.
The Khmer Rouge were driven out of Phnom Penh by the Vietnamese in 1979 and people began to return to the city. Vietnam is historically a state with which Cambodia has had many conflicts, therefore this liberation was and is viewed with mixed emotions by the Cambodians. A period of reconstruction began, spurred by continuing stability of government, attracting new foreign investment and aid by countries including France, Australia, and Japan. Loans were made from the Asia Development Bank and the World Bank to reinstate a clean water supply, roads and other infrastructure. The 1998 Census put Phnom Penh's population at 862,000; by 2001 it was estimated at slightly over 1 million.
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