Temple tours in Phnom Penh


Temples (wats) of Phnom Penh

There are many wats (temples) in Phnom Penh some of which are definitely worth visiting particularly if you have never been inside a Khmer temple before.  Unlike in some countries (for example Thailand), many visitors rarely visit working temples but Souen’s experience as a monk ensures you will learn alot about Khmer temples and the influence they have on the Khmer way of life

Wat Phnom
Wat Phnom is the most visited Wat in Phnom Penh.  It stands on a very small hill – ‘phnom’(27 m) in the centre of a traffic circle in the centre of Phnom Penh.  This is a favourite place for Khmer to visit especially when they are seeking good luck and success. Therefore it makes for a popular short stop for visitors to observe Khmer culture

A large garden clock, which is always fascinating to children, has been erected at the base of the hill and forms part of the manicured gardens.  In addition, children will like the monkeys living in the trees but be careful, they can be cheeky and steal sunglasses and other loose items

Wat Lankha

Wat Lankha is close to the Independence Monument and is a common site for large and important funerals.  As with all temples in Cambodia, the Preah Vihear has many colourful paintings depicting the life of Buddha.  Like Wat Ounalom, many monks live and study here and it is a pleasant place for a stroll and observe the Khmer coming to visit or help a monk practice english

Wat Ounalom

This wat lies on the riverfront and is home to the Cambodian Buddhist patriarch.  During the Pol Pot Regime this wat was severely damaged and the fourth patriarch, Huot Tat was killed.  A statue of Huot Tat was later thrown into the Mekhong by the Khmer Rouge to show that Buddhism was no longer the driving force it had once been.  Following the the fall of the regime it was retrieved and is now housed on the second floor of the main building (Preah Vihear).  The situation for religion has improved drastically since then and the temple currently houses about 250 monks.  A relic of a post Angkorian temple now forms part of a stupa found adjacent to the Preah Vihear

Wat etiquette

Like churches and mosques, Buddhist temples are places of worship and guests should be properly attired and respect local customs. It is inappropriate to wear shorts, sleeveless tops, hats or shoes in temples therefore take a sarong or additional shirt with you if you intend to visit a temple and are not appropriately dressed.  Take your shoes off before entering the main temple and when you sit on the floor ensure you sit with your feet to the side rather than in the lotus position (the most common way for a westerner is often lotus position so please be careful).  Ensure your feet are pointing behind you and not towards the Buddha or a monk

You will see temples all throughout the country. The longer you stay, the more you will notice the various architectural styles


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