Last week after attempting to visit the Royal Palace in the afternoon only to discover it was closed for lunch, my fellow volunteer friend Laura and I decided to seize the day and see some of the other sites in Phnom Penh. We went on a three hour trek around the city taking in the various views, shops, and side streets. While on our excursion we stopped at Wat Phnom, a Pagoda and lesser known site seeing destination. During all my research of things to see in Phnom Penh from various travel blogs, my eyes never stumbled across the words Wat Phnom, and what a pity that they didn’t.
Wat Phnom is a beautiful oasis of green and calm in the insanity that is the center of Phnom Penh. As much as travel blogger’s give credit to the Royal Palace, Genocide Museum, and Killing Fields, I truly believe that Wat Phnom should be on everyone’s must see list. With only a $1 entrance fee and lots to see, its not just gorgeous but a bargain.
Upon walking into Wat Phnom, I instantly marveled at the beautiful steps to the Pagoda in front of me. It was an impressive display of not just Khmer architecture, but culture, and I felt so grateful to be in the presence of an exquisite example of the Buddhist culture so prevalent in Cambodia.
After huffing and puffing our way up the stairs, Laura and I timidly walked into the Pagoda. Again, I gawked at the beauty and magnificence inside of it. In the center of the room was a large Buddha, not just covered in but also surrounded by flowers and bracelets and other offerings. The ceiling displayed an intricate mural of Khmer art, with flying chariots pulled by horses, gods and goddesses, and everything else you might suspect. With the dim lighting, incenses, and chanting monks, it felt surreal and almost as if I had traveled backward in time.
I admired it for what felt like an appropriate amount of time, and then exited the Pagoda just as timidly as I entered it. Laura and I walked back down the stairs and then strolled around the main grounds. Everywhere we looked, our eyes were met with plants, flowers, and even some wildlife… And by wildlife I mean we were chased by a monkey.
We gazed at the flora and fauna, taking in its beauty to the fullest. Like how I felt at the Royal Palace, exploring Wat Phnom provided charm and elegance in the chaos that is Phnom Penh and I would recommend it to everyone.