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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

Grand Tour of Vietnam & Cambodia from Hanoi

11 sailing dates August 2022 to May 2023
22 Nights From Hanoi, Vietnam to , Arrive UK
Emerald Cruises logo FROM £4249pp
Siem Reap

Wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong - Siem

21 sailing dates August 2022 to May 2023
14 Nights From Depart UK, to Arrive UK
Emerald Cruises logo FROM £3129pp
Ho Chi Minh City

Wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong - Ho

27 sailing dates March 2022 to May 2023
14 Nights From Depart UK, to Arrive UK
Emerald Cruises logo FROM £3129pp
Ho Chi Minh City

Fascinating Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok

45 sailing dates November 2021 to November 2023
15 Nights From Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to Bangkok, Thailand
Avalon Waterways logo CALL
Phnom Penh

Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia & The Mekong River

7 sailing dates October 2021 to December 2021
15 Nights From Hanoi, Vietnam to Cambodia , Siem Reap
Avalon Waterways logo CALL
Siem Reap

The Heart Of Cambodia & Vietnam With Bangkok

44 sailing dates October 2021 to December 2023
20 Nights From Bangkok, Thailand, to Vietnam , Hanoi
Avalon Waterways logo CALL
Siem Reap

Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia & The Mekong River

44 sailing dates October 2021 to December 2023
15 Nights From Hanoi, Vietnam to , Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Avalon Waterways logo CALL
Phnom Penh

Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia & The Mekong River

45 sailing dates November 2021 to December 2023
15 Nights From Siem Reap, Cambodia to , Bangkok, Thailand
Avalon Waterways logo CALL
Phnom Penh

Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City

6 sailing dates April 2022 to November 2022
17 Nights From Hanoi, Vietnam to , Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Scenic River Cruises logo CALL
Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City To Siem Reap

11 sailing dates April 2022 to May 2023
12 Nights From Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to Cambodia , Siem Reap
Scenic River Cruises logo CALL
Ho Chi Minh City

Highlights of Vietnam, Cambodia & Luxury Mekong

2 sailing dates April 2022 to May 2022
17 Nights From Hanoi, Vietnam to Cambodia , Siem Reap
Scenic River Cruises logo CALL
Ho Chi Minh City

Essence of Vietnam, Cambodia & Luxury Mekong 1

12 sailing dates April 2022 to April 2023
21 Nights From Hanoi, Vietnam to , Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Scenic River Cruises logo FROM £6689pp
Ho Chi Minh City

Essence of Vietnam, Cambodia & Luxury Mekong 2

14 sailing dates March 2022 to April 2023
21 Nights From Hanoi, Vietnam to Cambodia , Siem Reap
Scenic River Cruises logo FROM £6689pp
Siem Reap

Treasures of the Mekong-HoChi Minh CityToSiem Reap

13 sailing dates April 2022 to December 2022
12 Nights From Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to Cambodia , Siem Reap
Scenic River Cruises logo CALL
Phnom Penh

Siem Reap To Ho Chi Minh City

12 sailing dates April 2022 to December 2022
12 Nights From Siem Reap, Cambodia to , Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Scenic River Cruises logo CALL
Ho Chi Minh City

Hanoi to Siem Reap

12 sailing dates April 2022 to May 2023
17 Nights From Hanoi, Vietnam to Cambodia , Siem Reap
Scenic River Cruises logo CALL
Ho Chi Minh City

Highlights of Vietnam, Cambodia & Luxury Mekong

5 sailing dates April 2022 to October 2022
17 Nights From Hanoi, Vietnam to Cambodia , Siem Reap
Scenic River Cruises logo CALL
Ho Chi Minh City

Treasures & Temples of Vietnam & Cambodia

11 sailing dates November 2021 to April 2023
16 Nights From Hanoi, Vietnam to , Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Emerald Cruises logo CALL
Ho Chi Minh City

Siem Reap To Ho Chi Minh City

2 sailing dates April 2022 to May 2022
12 Nights From Siem Reap, Cambodia to , Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Scenic River Cruises logo CALL
Phnom Penh

Essence of Vietnam, Cambodia & Luxury Mekong

15 sailing dates March 2022 to April 2023
23 Nights From Depart UK, to Arrive UK
Scenic River Cruises logo FROM £7299pp

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