DAY 2 PHNOM PENH
Sightseeing in Phnom Penh. Explore Phnom Penh, a chaotic, energetic and always fascinating city. Graceful tree-lined boulevards and riverfront promenades are reminders of bygone eras; today they teem with life and activity, as motorcycles weave in and out of traffic, vendors hawk their wares, and pedestrians go about their business.
Start your tour to see the splendor of Cambodia’s royal heritage by visiting the Royal Palace, still the official residence of King Norodom Sihamoni, the adjacent Silver Pagoda, also known as the Pagoda of the Emerald Buddha, and the elegant National Museum, which contains a comprehensive collection of Khmer art. In the afternoon, learn about a chapter from Cambodia’s more recent, tragic past at the Tuol Sleng Museum (Museum of Genocide). Formerly the Tuol Svay Prey High School, in 1975, this became the interrogation and torture facility for the Khmer Rouge regime – at that time known as Security Prison 21, or simply S-21. Kept largely unchanged, this prison now showcases photographs and exhibits about the thousands of victims that passed through these doors – only seven of whom came out alive.
Explore the modern-day city, visiting one of Phnom Penh’s two great markets, the Central Market, located in a distinctive domed Art Deco building OR the sprawling Russian Market, a labyrinth of stalls selling everything from CDs and DVDs to silks, crafts, jewelry and more. Excursion to the Killing Fields: Just outside Phnom Penh, in a peaceful rural setting, the Killing Fields provide a stark reminder of the atrocities under the Pol Pot regime. (B)