In the northeast of the city, set back just a few hundred metres from the riverfront, the imposing white chedi of Wat Phnom sits atop the hill that gave the city its name. This is one of the principal pleasure-spots for the inhabitants of Phnom Penh, drawing the crowds especially at weekends and on public holidays. Before climbing the hill (which is just 27m high), you can either buy your ticket from the payment booth or a roving guard will inevitably approach you for cash once you reach the top. The nicest way up the hill is by the naga staircase on the east side, passing bronze friezes (depicting scenes of battle) and dancing apsaras (reproductions of bas-reliefs at Angkor Wat) on the way.

The sanctuary on the summit has been rebuilt many times, most recently in 1926, and nothing remains of the original structures. The surrounding gardens were originally landscaped in the late nineteenth century by the French, who also installed a zoo (of which nothing remains) and the clock on the south side of the hill, restored for the Millennium, with a dial that glows in fluorescent colours at dusk.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Cambodia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
11 gorgeous pictures of Cambodia

11 gorgeous pictures of Cambodia

This beguiling country in Southeast Asia has captured the hearts and imaginations of travellers from all over the world. Travel photographer Fiona Campbell is …

23 Aug 2017 • Fiona Campbell insert_drive_file Article
The truth about elephant tourism in Asia

The truth about elephant tourism in Asia

Elephants are born free, but are everywhere in chains – and it’s tourism which is increasingly to blame. Riding an elephant used to be on every visitor’s …

11 Aug 2017 • Gavin Thomas insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook