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What to Visit in Royal Palace Phnom Penh
Photo: vattanak duong
Attraction, Phnom Penh

What to Visit in Royal Palace Phnom Penh 

What to Visit in Royal Palace Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Royal Palace Phnom Penh
Photo: Dimitry Ruklenko

With it’s classic Khmer styles roofs and splendid buildings, Royal Palace is the most iconic architecture of Phnom Penh. Located in Phnom Penh city, the capital of Cambodia, the Royal Palace is a must-see site for every tourist. Full name of the Royal Palace is Preah Barum Reachea Veang Chaktomuk Serei Mongkol (ព្រះបរមរាជវាំងចតុមុខសិរីមង្គល). This 153 years old palace is the official residence of the current King of Cambodia, His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni. The Royal Palace was creatively designed and constructed in the mid 19th century. Visiting the Royal Palace of Phnom Penh, you can surely get an insight into Cambodian culture and history. The palace is nice, calm and gleaming in gold during the daytime, but when the night comes, the Royal Palace looks even magnificent with all decorated light on. Also, check more amazing architecture buildings here Best 15 Architectures in Phnom Penh 


History of Royal Palace Phnom Penh

History of Royal Palace Phnom Penh
© unknown

In fact, Phnom Penh was chosen as the capital of Cambodia once in 1434. But in 1494, the capital of Cambodia was relocated to Longvek and then in Oudong. After the implementation of French Protectorate in Cambodia in 1863, Phnom Penh was chosen once again as the capital of Cambodia, and the current Royal Palace was constructed. The Royal Palace Phnom Penh was constructed during the reign of King Norodom (1860-1904), by architect Neak Okhna Tepnimith Mak and the construction was carried out by the French Protectorate in 1866. In the same year, Phnom Penh became the official capital of Cambodia. Several buildings of the Royal Palace Phnom Penh were added during the next few years, including Chanchhaya Pavilion, Throne Hall and Napoleon Pavilion. Later on, in the reign of King Sisowath, King Monivong, and King Sihanouk, some buildings were demolished or replaced, while some were expanded or added.


Exploring the Royal Palace of Cambodia

The complex of the Royal Palace Phnom Penh is divided into four main compounds, the south compound (Silver Pagoda), the north side (the Khmerain Palace), the central compound (the Throne Hall) and the west side which is the private sector (the Inner Court). Tourists are able to wander in the south and the central the compound, meanwhile, the other two compounds are the King’s living area and closed to the public. You can enter the Royal Palace from the gate on Sothearos Blvd about 100 meters north of Street 240. Then you can see a ticket booth at the entrance.


Throne Hall

Throne hall
Photo by: Encirclephotos

When you enter the Royal Palace, you will see an eye-catching building covered with a gold color in the center of the compound, that is the Throne Hall. The Throne Hall (ព្រះទីនាំងទេវិនិច្ឆ័យមហ័យមហាប្រាសាទ) is used as a place for religious and royal ceremonies such as coronations and royal weddings. Moreover, the hall is used for official meetings with national and international guests of the King. The Throne Hall was first constructed of wood in 1869-1870 in the reign of King Norodom.

However, it was demolished in 1915 and built again in 1917. The building is 30 x 60 meters and is topped by a 59 meters spire with the white, four-faced head of Brahma, inspired by the Bayon Temple. There are three royal thrones inside the Throne Hall, which are Reach Balancing, Preah Thineang Bossabok (for the King) and Preah Thineang Nearyrath Sophea (for the Queen). Moreover, there are golden busts of Cambodian kings and queens starting from the reign of King Ang Doung onwards. Many valuable items are displayed inside the hall. The Throne Hall is one of the most photogenic spots in the Royal Palace Phnom Penh as it faces east and looks the best if it is photographed in the morning.


Moonlight Pavilion

Moonlight pavilion
Photo by: Dimitry Ruklenko

Chanchhaya Pavilion (ព្រះទីន័ងច័ន្ទឆាយា) is also known as Moonlight Pavilion, which can be seen clearly from the outside of the Royal Palace as it was built alongside the palace wall. The current pavilion was constructed to replace the earlier wooden pavilion in 1913-1914 under the control of King Sisowath by remaining the same design as the earlier one. Chanchhaya Pavilion is a performing stage for Khmer classical dance. Additionally, the Pavilion also serves as a place for the King to address to the crowds, to hold state and Royal banquets. The Chanchhaya Pavilion usually displays a portrait of the King or the Queen and it is lit up with glamorous light at night, which makes the pavilion as the most famous spot for tourists to take pictures during the evening and at night.


Phochani Pavilion

Photo by: Vattanak Doung

South-east of the Throne Hall, there is Phochani Pavilion, which was inaugurated in 1912. The Phochani Pavilion (ព្រះទីន័ងភោជនីយ) is an open hall built as a Classical Dance Theatre for the royal family in the past. Presently, the pavilion is used as a place to welcome and organize royal conferences. The Phochani Pavilion was originally constructed as an entertaining place for the King and royal family, which is why it brings out a quiet and pretty chilling vibe when you visit.


Napoleon III Pavilion

Napoleon III pavilion
Photo by: Stan Gee – Flickr

On the right side of the Throne Hall, you can see a pavilion with Western architecture style, that is Napoleon III Pavilion. It was constructed entirely of iron in 1869 for Empress Eugenie of France, wife of Napoleon III. In 1876, Emperor Napoleon III gave the building as a gift for King Norodom. Currently, the Napoleon III Pavilion serves as a small museum showcasing photographs and memorable events of Cambodia. I recommend photographing this pavilion in the morning as it faces east like the Throne Hall, which will give you the best lighting for photographs.


Silver Pagoda

Silver pagoda
Photo by: Viator

Whenever people mention about Royal Palace of Cambodia, the adjacent Silver Pagoda will pop up in people’s mind as well. Silver Pagoda (ព្រះវិហារព្រះកែវមរកត), a Buddhism popular destination, is located on the south side of the Royal Palace complex. You can enter the Silver Pagoda through the southern gate of the Royal Palace. The pagoda was constructed of wood in 1892 under the control of King Norodom, and it was rebuilt in 1962. The silver pagoda is the house of many national treasures.

The staircase leading to the pagoda is made of Italian marble, meanwhile, the floor of the Silver Pagoda was covered with more than 5,000 silver tiles. The most precious item of the pagoda is a life-sized 90 kg golden Buddha encrusted with 2,086 diamonds. Besides that, there are many golden Buddhas, jewelry and other valuable items. Silver Pagoda is one of the few places in Cambodia where the richness of Khmer culture can still be seen after Khmer Rouge and many years of war in the past. (Note: Photography is not permitted inside the Silver Pagoda).

Surrounding the main building, there are four royal stupas, which belongs to King Ang Doung, King Norodom, King Suramarith and Queen Kossomak, and Princess Kantha Bopha. Furthermore, there are other structures such as a statue of King Norodom sits on a white horse, a bell tower, and a model of Angkor Wat. The painting of Reamker covers the surrounding wall of  Silver Pagoda. That was one of the most epic legends of Cambodia.

Nevertheless, the King’s living area, including Khemarin Palace, Serey Mongkol Pavilion, Villa Kantha Bopha, and a number of other buildings and pavilions, is closed to the public.

You may find insightful content about Why Silver Pagoda is the Main Attraction of the Royal Palace Phnom Penh


I have been to the Royal Palace Phnom Penh for three times already. Even so, I was still amazed by the beauty of the Royal Palace in different ways in every visit. Truly experience the beauty of every building and structure, every piece of royal jewelry and clothing in the Royal Palace will be so much better than reading it from hundreds of books. I strongly recommend you to make the Royal Palace Phnom Penh as one of your travel bucket lists next time you visit Cambodia.

Opening Hours

  • 7:30am – 11:00am
  • 2:00pm – 5:00pm

Price

  • Admission including Camera : 40,000KHR (10USD)/ person
  • Guide: 10USD/hour

Location: Samdach Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Additional Information

  • Visitors are expected to behave and dress respectfully as it is the residence of the Cambodian King.
  • Knees and shoulders should be covered, you will have to buy a Sarong as a covering at the ticket booth.
  • Photography is permitted inside the palace, but some areas are not permitted to take pictures such as the Silver Pagoda.
  • Hiring a tour guide is recommended as you can get to know more details about the Royal Palace.

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