Phnom , the mountain whose name the Cambodian capital city , namely the present-day city of Phnom Penh, was named after, originated before the construction of the royal palace with a story which tells that in 1372 AD there existed an old lady named Penh who was very wealthy and lived close to the banks of the four-fronted river. Her house was built on a small hill to the east of a small mountain.One day, there was a heavy rain causing a vast flood. Grandma Penh went down to the dock and saw a big Korki tree (Hopea Odorata) floating towards the riverbank. Because of the confronting tides, the tree was staying afloat close to the bank.
Seeing this, Grandma Penh ran to call the neighbors to help pull the tree out. The neighbors tied the tree with a rope and pulled it in gradually until it reached the top of the riverbank. When Grandma Penh cleaned the mud from the tree with a wood bar, she saw four bronze statues of Buddha in the hole in the tree, while another, made of stone, was in a standing posture with hair made in a band, and one hand holding a stick and the other holding a snail shell. Grandma Penh and the neighbors were so happy to have found these sacred objects. They then paraded those statues to Grandma Penh's home. Grandma Penh managed to have a small hut to store the statues in temporarily.
Later on, Grandma Penh called for help from the neighbors to mound the hill to the west of her house to make it a real mountain. Then she had the Korki tree (Hopea Odorata) sawn so it could be used as pillars of the shrine she planned to build on that mountain.
When the shrine construction was completed, she invited monks to stay at the mountain foot to the west in what was called "Wat Phnom Daun Penh (Daun Penh Mountain Pagoda)" which has been shortened to "Wat Phnom" up to the present. The four Buddha statues and Neakta.Preah Chao are of great sacred power, so anyone who prayed there could realize their wishes.
Phnom Penh City,once known as the ‘Pearl of Asia’, is the capital and largest city in Cambodia. It is now a cultural, commercial, and political center that offers a unique blend of traditional charm and urban bustle.Today, Phnom Penh, is a place of diverse economic and urban growth. A swift wave of development has brought in new highrise buildings--including a 30-storey business center--restaurants catering to every palate, and stylish hotels promising all levels of luxury. Contributing to this development are burgeoning culinary and nightlife scenes that can rival any other in the region.
The alluring capital city also features a wide variety of historical and cultural attractions, along with myriad opportunities to sample local Cambodian culture. Here, classic colonial facades endure alongside sleek new eateries, golden-spired pagodas, and buzzing markets-- all evidence of the dynamic energy of Phnom Penh's city streets.
Phnom Penh's famous riverfront is lined with trendy pubs, bistros, and restaurants. Stores offering beautiful Cambodian silk products and chic galleries dot the side streets. Add to this a blooming arts scene and a heady dusk-to-dawn nightlife and you'll understand why Phnom Penh has become such a well-loved and compelling tourist destination.
Around Phnom Penh
The vibrant streets of Phnom Penh are full of colorful sights. The city possesses an exciting range of historical and cultural attractions to tout, along with countless restaurants and nightspots.
For a taste of Cambodian history and royal life, visitors can tour the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda located just next to the palace grounds. A short walk away, the National Museum beckons with room after room of Khmer sculpture, ceramics, bronzes, and ethnographic objects. To get a taste of city life, visitors can walk along Sothearos Boulevard, sampling local foods and patronising a clutch of ‘antique’ shops that sell silver trays, betel boxes, belts, ancient coins, silver or wooden statuettes and famed marble carvings from the province of pursat.
Visitors may also find it pleasant to take leisurely strolls around Phnom Penh. Boulevards peppered by elegant colonial buildings and a bustling riverfront lined with cafes and restaurants make this a truly beautiful city to see on foot.
For those interested in shopping, ‘Phsar Toul Tum Poung’ also known as Russian Market offers antique pieces, sundry sounvenir items, and factory over-run designer clothing at hugely discounted prices. Visitors who prefer air-conditioned comfort may opt to stop in the city's modern shopping complexes (Sorya Shopping Centre, Sovanna Centre and the City Mall).
A sunset cruise down Phnom Penh's Tonle Sap river serves as a perfect, relaxing end to an activity-filled day. Catch the soft river breezes and watch as Cambodia's capital begins to light up and shimmer for the evening.