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Phnom Penh River Cruises

About Phnom Penh

Sitting at the point where the Mekong River meets the immense Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia’s capital is a mainstay of every voyage which explores the Mekong River and is home to a wealth of attractions related to various stages in its long history. It’s been the nation’s capital since the days of French colonisation and Indochina and is also regarded as its cultural and political centre. The city takes its name from one of its most prominent nearby Buddhist temples Wat Phnom or ‘hill temple’. Indeed, the city is founded on Buddhism and the legend of its establishment involves a woman in the 14th century who spotted a floating tree while gathering firewood close to the river, in which she discovered four statues of Buddha. It was taken as a sign and a blessing and secured the city’s Buddhist heritage, which can be explored in-depth when you visit. In modern times, it was also involved in the country’s darkest chapter when it suffered immensely under Pol Pot’s brutal Khmer Rouge regime, a part of its history which can also be explored.

Exploring Phnom Penh

The first place most visitors head when visiting Phnom Penh is the jaw-dropping Royal Palace with its incredible Silver Pagoda. It’s a good idea to pick a cruise excursion which offers a guided tour rather than explore on your own, as everything will be put into context by your knowledgeable guide. The architecture is incredible throughout the complex but the centre-piece is indeed the Silver Pagoda. Its ornate golden exterior may have you wondering how it earned its name, but as soon as you step inside you’ll understand why when you catch sight of its incredible floor which comprises thousands of silver tiles. Inside, gold and emerald statues of Buddha are featured as well as a wealth of other treasures.

For many, a visit to nearby Wat Phnom is only fitting given its influence on the city’s founding. It’s regarded by many of Phnom Penh’s citizens as the city’s spiritual heart and indeed, there’s a tangible atmosphere and some beautiful architecture to experience. Sometimes overlooked by visitors is Wat Ounalom, an altogether more modest temple which is nevertheless still beautiful and a great place for some quiet reflection.

Those wishing to get a feel for themselves how the city suffered during the Khmer Rouge regime should pay a visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and also the Killing Fields. In the living memory of the majority of river cruise visitors, the twisted ideal of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge resulted in the deaths of huge numbers of the city’s population. Many were detained and tortured and the present day museum is where the atrocities took place, with guided tours available. The Killing Fields is the place where the regime disposed of its victims and today it has been turned into a memorial for the millions who were killed. Audio guides are available to put your visit into context and inform you about how the regime operated. It’s certainly harrowing yet informative and a poignant reminder of how far the city has come since its most harrowing days.

Phnom Penh tips

Though tourists are more than welcome in Phnom-Penh, it should be noted that the Killing Fields are also a place of pilgrimage for many Cambodians who lost family members to the regime, so it’s important to behave respectfully. If you’ve time for a snack during your explorations, you’ll find a satisfying blend of both French and eastern cuisine in the city.

Phnom Penh Itineraries

Ho Chi Minh City

Hanoi to Shanghai

6 sailing dates August 2019 to April 2020
32 Nights From Fly From UK, to Arrive UK
Scenic River Cruises logo FROM £11239pp
Phnom Penh

Yangon to Siem Reap

1 sailing date October 2019
31 Nights From Depart UK, to Arrive UK
Scenic River Cruises logo CALL
Phnom Penh

Yangon to Siem Reap

2 sailing dates October 2019 to February 2020
31 Nights From Depart UK, to Arrive UK
Scenic River Cruises logo FROM £10949pp
Phnom Penh

Vietnam & Cambodia

1 sailing date August 2019
14 Nights From London (Dover), United Kingdom to London (Dover)
APT Cruising logo CALL
Ho Chi Minh City

Treasures of the Mekong

21 sailing dates July 2019 to April 2020
15 Nights From Depart UK, to Arrive UK
Scenic River Cruises logo CALL
Phnom Penh

Luxury Mekong & Temple Discovery

21 sailing dates January 2019 to April 2020
13 Nights From Depart UK, to Arrive UK
Scenic River Cruises logo FROM £4699pp
Ho Chi Minh City

Mystical Irrawaddy & Treasures of the Mekong

2 sailing dates October 2019 to February 2020
27 Nights From Fly From UK, to Silk Islands
Scenic River Cruises logo FROM £9789pp
Phnom Penh

Indochina Explorer & Luxury Mekong

4 sailing dates July 2019 to March 2020
22 Nights From Fly From UK, to Silk Islands
Scenic River Cruises logo FROM £8429pp
Phnom Penh

Highlights of Vietnam, Cambodia & Luxury Mekong

19 sailing dates June 2019 to April 2020
19 Nights From Fly From UK, to Arrive UK
Scenic River Cruises logo FROM £5699pp
Siem Reap

Essence of Vietnam, Cambodia & Luxury Mekong 24 Da

14 sailing dates June 2019 to April 2020
23 Nights From Fly From UK, to Arrive UK
Scenic River Cruises logo FROM £7749pp
Phnom Penh

Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi

1 sailing date December 2019
14 Nights From Ho Chi Minh City, to Vietnam , Hanoi
Uniworld River Cruises logo CALL
Phnom Penh

Ultimate Southeast Asia & the Majestic Mekong

1 sailing date January 2019
21 Nights From UK, to UK
Avalon Waterways logo CALL
Siem Reap

Ultimate Southeast Asia & the Majestic Mekong

1 sailing date August 2019
22 Nights From UK, to UK
Avalon Waterways logo CALL
Siem Reap

Heart of Cambodia & Vietnam - Southbound

47 sailing dates January 2019 to April 2020
19 Nights From UK, to UK
Avalon Waterways logo CALL
Ho Chi Minh City

Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City

1 sailing date December 2018
14 Nights From Siem Reap, Cambodia to , Arrive UK
Avalon Waterways logo CALL
Chau Doc

Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap

1 sailing date December 2018
14 Nights From Ho Chi Minh City, to Arrive UK
Avalon Waterways logo CALL
Ho Chi Minh City

Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City

35 sailing dates January 2019 to December 2019
14 Nights From UK, to UK
Avalon Waterways logo CALL
Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap

37 sailing dates January 2019 to April 2020
14 Nights From UK, to Arrive UK
Avalon Waterways logo FROM £4589pp
Siem Reap

Essential Vietnam and Cambodia

1 sailing date February 2020
11 Nights From Ho Chi Minh City, to Cambodia , Siem Reap
APT Cruising logo FROM £3389pp
Mandalay

Wonders of the Irrawaddy and the Mekong

3 sailing dates January 2019 to March 2019
26 Nights From Mandalay, Myanmar to , Ho Chi Minh City
APT Cruising logo CALL

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