As the most developed city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh is also well-known for its modern and traditional architecture since the French colonialism. Cambodia is a small nation with enriched culture, tradition, and history. This capital is still a developing city so high rise architecture is emerging subsequently as the city developed. At the same time, there are unique and historical architectures you can find and gain more understanding about the culture and history of this modern city.
Apart from thousands of historic landmarks all over the country, there are also many modern and famous architecture which mainly located in Phnom Penh. Therefore, we have come up with a list of the best 15 architectures in Phnom Penh you must visit. These are just the recommendation for all types of visitors that you should not miss out when visiting this small beautiful city.
Best 15 Architectures in Phnom Penh You Must Visit
1. National Olympic Stadium – Architectures in Phnom Penh
Built-in 1963, the National Olympic Stadium took one year to complete in 1964. The design of this most popular landmark of Phnom Penh belongs to Vann Molyvann, the father of “New Cambodian Architecture”. As a National Sports Complex, the stadium offers sports arenas, including volleyball, gymnastics, running tracks, swimming pool, etc. It is a great place to escape from the crowdedness of Phnom Penh for its spacious design for sports activities. For those who would like to explore the unique design of Cambodian sports architecture and take some time off to relax, National Olympic Stadium is one of the best sites to visit in Phnom Penh. More details of National Olympic Stadium is here!!!
2. Central Market – Architectures in Phnom Penh
Established in 1937, Central Market or Phsar Thmei remains the most celebrated landmark for visitors because of its distinct design. The uniqueness of this iconic architecture is a well-crafted dome as the focal point with the traditional market representation. Furthermore, this masterpiece of architecture in Phnom Penh was originally designed by a French architect, Jean Desbois. However, the construction was under another French architect, Louis Chauchon and a Russian engineer, Wladimir Kandaouroff. You can find almost anything in this Phnom Penh’s landmark from local food, clothing, and accessories to souvenir and jewelry. It would be incomplete for visitors, especially those who are interested in exploring different styles of architecture in Phnom Penh without noting down Central Market in your to-visit-list.
3. Chaktomuk Conference Hall
Firstly opened in 1961, Chaktomuk Conference Hall shares the same architect as the National Olympic Stadium, Van Molyvann. Located on the riverside of Tonle Sap, this well-design building has the total seats of 570. The first event to ever hosted by this conference hall was the sixth conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists. The architect carefully designed the seats to capture the river breeze with the inspiration from an unfolding handheld fan.Notably, this Conference Hall continues to host various traditional performances and events up until the present days. Hence, it is one of the best architectures in Phnom Penh to never miss out if you wish to learn more about Cambodian architecture and tradition.
4. Post Office – Architectures in Phnom Penh
Constructed in 1890, Cambodian Post Office is one of the remaining French architectures in Phnom Penh from the colonization. In the middle of the historic French Quarter, this old building was in bad shape when it was found. The renovation in 2004 has brought this architecture back to a new, yet still historic building. The building is now functioning as a normal post office and offers transportation services from Phnom Penh to other provinces. Aside from ancient temples, this is another best place to tour around and find out more about another type of architecture during the French Colonialism.
5. Institute of Foreign Languages
Institute of Foreign Languages is another unique-featured architecture in Phnom Penh, created by Vann Molyvann back in 1972. The building was initially a teacher training college at the time of construction. However, it has become a part of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, a reputable university in Phnom Penh. In addition, the building is to save energy as much as possible with the elevated walkways and cross-ventilation. These allow the light and air to circulate inside, reducing the use of lightbulb and air-conditioner. Interestingly, the influence on these elevated walkways has drawn from the Angkor Wat Temple. The university campus is open to the public and it is a recommended masterpiece of architecture to explore in Phnom Penh.
6. Vann Molyvann’s House
Built on Mao Tse Tung Boulevard in 1966, this is the house of Cambodian most well-known architect, Vann Molyvann. It composed of many fascinating features with a mix of both traditional and modern design. Concrete tent-like roof and insulating double-walls are some of the interesting elegant features of this architecture. Note this complex and detailed architecture in Phnom Penh down on your list for its diverse designs.
7. Train Square – Architectures in Phnom Penh
Constructed in 1932 by the French authorities, Train Square or the railway station is another historical building left behind after colonialism. The purpose of this cultural site was to serve as the terminus for the railway line from Phnom Penh to Battambang. Recently, the government has given greater attention to redevelopment this architecture for its beautiful, cultural, and potential heritage remaining.
8. Vattanac Capital
This is one of the largest modern architectures in Phnom Penh with 187.3 meters or 615 ft height. This 39 story-building took about 3 years to complete from 2009 to 2012. However, the building has only become fully functioned in 2015. Designed by TFP Farrells, this second skyscraper in Cambodia is famous for its rooftop outdoor bar. The most interesting part about this architectural site is its unique design of a dragon-like shape that incorporates traditional Naga motifs and feng shui.
9. The Mansion FCC – Architectures in Phnom Penh
The Mansion FCC is another cultural and architectural masterpiece built during the French colonial period in 1910 by a wealthy Cambodia businessman. This more than a hundred-year-old building has been under the control of FCC since 2009. It was then renovated and used as a restaurant to hold any gatherings or events. A lot of fascinating history before and after the civil war took place inside of this building. Therefore, if you would like to learn more about civil war history and the design of a century-old architecture, the mansion FCC is your to-go-place.
10. State Palace (Chamkamorn)
Commissioned by the late King Norodom Sihanouk, the state palace is another architectural masterpiece created by Vann Molyvann in 1966. It is a reception hall, located inside of the Compound of Chamkarmorn State in Phnom Penh. The architecture constructed to prepare for the visit of the French President, Charles de Gaulle. The most interesting feature of this royal building is the roof and its complexity. So do not forget to drop by this masterpiece to observe the building’s authenticity and complexity. This well-designed hall incorporates offices, accommodation, and enough dining space to host up to 200 guests.
11. Royal Palace – Architectures in Phnom Penh
Originally built as a wooden building in 1892, the Royal Palace was then rebuilt in 1962 across the riverside. The palace is now the official residence of King Norodom Sihamoni and segments of it are publicly open for visitors. Touring around this delicate and historical palace will provide you a great experience in Phnom Penh where the history, religion, and culture of Cambodia portray all in one place.
Check this out to the full article of The Royal Palace Phnom Penh, Cambodia
12. Silver Pagoda
Similar to the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda was originally built by wood in 1892 and rebuilt in 1962 inside the palace. This impressive pagoda, also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Preah Keo in Khmer, is not only traditional architecture but also a collection of precious materials and religious pieces of art. Some precious features include the glowing silver floor, Italian marble staircases, and the Emerald Buddha statue decorated with 2086 diamonds. it is one of the very few pagodas that was not destroyed during the Khmer Rouge Regime. Hence, it is the best place for visitors in Phnom Penh who wish to learn more about the glorious religious practices and architecture of Cambodia back in the day of civilization before the genocide.
13. Napoleon 3 Temple – Architectures in Phnom Penh
Napoleon III Temple is another historical architecture in Phnom Penh inside the Royal Palace in the south of the Throne Hall. In 1876, King Norodom at that time received this building from Napoleon III of France. However, the design of this fancy French architecture did not carefully take Cambodia’s climate into account. So if you happen to visit the Royal Palace, make sure to stop by and check out this pavilion for its delicate and unique design.
14. Wat Langka
Erected as a sanctuary for the meeting between Cambodian and Sri Lankan monks in 1442, Wat Langka is one of the oldest temples in Phnom Penh Capital. The soldiers during the Khmer Rouge regime used this pagoda as storage. As a result, the pagoda has fortunately preserved its architectural features along with a large collection of ancient scriptures. The most interesting attraction of this pagoda is that we can get to see the features of architectural work traced back to more than 5 centuries ago, combined with the ancient and holistic scriptures which are rare to find.
15. National Museum – Architectures in Phnom Penh
Just a little walk to the north from the Royal Palace, the National Museum of Cambodia is another spacious architecture standing with its century-old delicate design and garden, that was completed in 1920. This renovated building now houses the finest collection of several thousand historical items in Phnom Penh, listing from sculptures, bronzes, and ceramics to ethnographical items throughout the Cambodian history. The design of the building draws its influence by Khmer temple architecture so this is the most recommended architecture in Phnom Penh for visitors to gain more understanding about the history of Cambodia, while enjoying the beautiful courtyard, Khmer traditional design, and ancient antiques remained from longer than a millennium ago.
Here there are, the 15 best architectures in Phnom Penh you must visit. Each site contains its own uniqueness and history. A few strongly recommended places you should never miss out are the Royal Palace, Chaktomuk Conference Hall, and the Central Market.