Day 5: Phnom Penh – Departure
Breakfast at hotel
We explore the stunning Royal Palace complex, home to the Cambodian royal family and a symbol of the nation. We begin amid the beautiful royal gardens, landscaped with tropical plants and studded with gleaming spires. We enter the Throne Hall where the royal receptions are held and the Cambodian king’s coronation took place. We then pass the Napoleon III Pavilion made from iron, a gift from the French emperor in the 19th century.
We continue to the Silver Pagoda, named after the 5000 silver tiles covering the floor, each weighing 1kg. Inside are some of the country’s most cherished treasures, including a life-size gold Buddha studded with 9584 diamonds, the largest weighing 25 carats. There is also a delicate emerald Buddha made of baccarat crystal, which gives the temple its Khmer name of Wat Preah Keo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha).
We leave the Royal Palace and continue to the nearby National Museum, home to the world’s finest collection of sculpture from the Angkor period. The exquisite building was completed between 1917 and 1920 and features a lush courtyard garden surrounded by collections from the pre-Angkor, Angkor and post-Angkor periods. We concentrate on the incredible sandstone sculpture from Angkor, as well as the intricate bronzes.
This afternoon, we travel to the Russian Market, one of the premier shopping destinations in the Cambodian capital. Known as Psar Tuol Tom Pong, it earned its nickname in the 1980s, when Russians were the only tourists in Cambodia. A rambling place, it is bursting with bargains, including handicrafts, carvings, silk and textiles, clothing and footwear, and lots of pirated software, CDs and DVDs, not forgetting enough motorcycle parts to assemble a homemade moped.
After some time here to browse or buy, we travel to the impressive Central Market, one of the city landmarks. Originally completed by the French in 1937, this striking structure is known as Psar Thmei in Khmer or New Market. The huge dome is wonderfully ventilated, a testament to the design, and this market is loaded with anything and everything available in Cambodia. Buy with caution, as this market has a reputation for overcharging or ‘shaving your head’ as Cambodians like to call it.
We then transfer you to Phnom Penh International Airport for catching onward flight.