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Wat Phnom Tips (53)

07-Capital’s Name-Wat Phnom Penh

The top of the white pagoda can be seen from a distance, its spire aggressively piercing the sky. A long stairway leads you to the top (88.5 ft; 27 m). All around, you see greenery, well-laid out flower beds, benches and people lolling about. It is peaceful, calm and serene. You can hardly imagine you are treading on a man-made hill which gave birth to the name of the city you are visiting.

According to local folklore, in 1372 AD, a great flood covered Laos. After the waters subsided, one of the many uprooted trees drifted to the coast. A wealthy old widow, Penh, by name, who lived on a hill called 'Phnom Doun Penh', meaning, 'hill of an old lady named Penh', caused the tree to be brought further ashore. When the villagers examined the trunk of the tree, they found four bronze and one stone sculpture of Buddha. Immediately, a temple was built to house these statues. The site of the temple and the name of its financier were combined to give Cambodia's capital its name of Phon (Hill) Penh (Widow's name).

The shrine is an active temple, visited by locals as well as tourists. The latter pay US$ 1 as fee. The last major restoration was in 1926 AD. The east entrance, the main one, is guarded by 5 pairs of statues of 'dwarapalas' (a guardian figure placed on either side of a temple doorway), 'chinthes' (statues shaped like lions that guard the entrance ways) and 'nagas' (snake or dragon, worshipped as nature deities).

You remove your footwear and enter the ‘vat’ (temple). A large statue of the Buddha, as well as smaller ones can be seen. You light incense sticks if you wish, pray, sit on the floor for a while, experience the soothing silence for a while and then exit.

Outside the temple, you will notice pigeons inside a cage. You may buy a few and release them into the sky for good 'karma'. Other diversions include tarot card readings, palm and face readings. Also, there are ancient story lines of war and battles as well as some intricate inlaid statues along the outer walls of the shrine. If you have brought snacks, you can sit at one of the many benches in the park and enjoy a leisurely lunch. Or just laze around and be one with nature.

First Written: Sep. 24, 2015

anilpradhanshillong's Profile Photo
Sep 24, 2015

Amazing Temple on an artificial mountain

Visited this Wat Phnom or originally named the Wat Preah Chedey Boraput on January 2014.
Located in the area within Preah Sotheavong, Oknha Santhomok,and Preah Ang Sophanovong street.
It was built on an artificial mountain , elevated several metres, on 1373.
Foreigners paid just $ 1 to enter , must dressed properly to enter the main temple.
The best time to visit here are during morning time.We visited this Wat 2 times in a day , during morning , a ceremony commenced in front of the main temple.
Opening hours is from 7am until 6.30 pm

The Wat Phnom can be accessed easily with taxis ,ranmork (tuk tuks) and,motorbike taxi.
This Wat is a Theravada Buddhism temple ,founded in 1373 ,27 metres above sea level and its the tallest structure in Phnom Penh city.
Legends relates this Wat with Lady Daun Penh, she organized the people in Phnom Penh for funds and built this temple , that's why , this temple is popular with the name Wat Phnom compared to its original name.
There's a giant Stupa behind the main temple and a shrine dedicated to Lady Penh, the lady deemed responsible for the founding of this Wat.
In the main temple ,we saw a giant golden Buddha , and some ancient relics related or donated to this Temple.Also we found mythological paintings on the walls inside the main temple.
A statue of King Sisowath can be found in the garden below the Main temple and a giant clock beneath it.
Worth a visit !

ErwinKoo's Profile Photo
Mar 11, 2014

Wat Phnom.

Wat Phnom is the oldest temple in Phnom Penh and actually where the city was founded in 1373 when a woman found some Buddha statues by the river and decided to build a small temple for them.
That temple has since then been extended many times and most of what you see today is a lot newer but it's still one of the nicest places to visit in Phnom Penh.

What I really like about the place is that it's still a very active temple and you always see lot's of locals coming there to either pray or to celebrate religious festivals.
It's sitting on top of a hill from where you also have a nice view and it's one of the places you should not miss out on when in Phnom Penh.

cachaseiro's Profile Photo
Mar 09, 2014

Wat Phnom

This wat gives the city of Phnom Penh its name. According to an old legend in the 14th century a woman called Penh found several sacred Buddha statues in the Mekong River and placed them on a small hill. A wat was built on the hill to house these objects. Phnom is Cambodian for hill. Phnom Penh means Penh's Hill. The hill is 27m high. The main entrance to the wat is via the eastern staircase. This is guarded by long statues of ngas - mythical snakes and also by lion statues.

IreneMcKay's Profile Photo
Jul 05, 2013
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Wat Phnom - Temple on the Hill

Wat Phnom (The Mountain Pagoda in Eglish, because it is on the only hill of Phnom Penh) is a Buddhist temple (wat). It was built in 1373 and stands 27 meters above the ground. It is the tallest religious structure in the city. The pagoda was given the name of Wat Preah Chedey Borapaut. There are Buddha statues (photo 2) and very touching paintings in the temple (photo 3)

Again some legends. The Legend tells that a wealthy widow, Daun Penh, found a large tree from the river. Inside the tree there was four bronze statues of the Buddha. Lady Penh constructed a small shrine on an artificial hill made by the people living in the village to keep the sacred statues safe. This became a sacred site and sanctuary where people would make blessings and pray as we did with our trip.

This is very nice area, as from photo you can see, there is a large watch with at least 6 meter long second pointer, you can wonder the time and life just watching it and there is about 10 meter long Cobra like snake (photo 4), made of rattan or something like, guarding the temple and the watch also.

There is the statue of King Sisowath in the garden (photo 5)

akkipaa's Profile Photo
Mar 23, 2013

The City's name temple

There is a legend here.

A wealthy widow" Penh" many many years ago, saw a large log floating down the river, and wanted it to build her new house. So she pulled the log ashore, and found inside 4 Buddah's.

Instead of the house, she had a man made hill built, and built a shrine on top of it for the 4 Buddah's.

Phnom in local diaelect means hill.

Hence the name of the city Phnom Penh

Interesting interior, with some lovely mural work inside

stevemt's Profile Photo
Mar 13, 2013

Wat Phnom

According to legend, Wat Phnom was first built in 1373 to house the four statues of Buddha found inside a KOKI tree, which was discovered by a village lady named Daunh Penh. Then, Dounh Penh and villages mounted up a hill and built the temple known as Wat Phnom today.

Today, Wat Phnom is the most popular temple for tourists visiting Phnom Penh. It is built on a hill 27 meters above the ground, which is the tallest religious hill in Phnom Penh. The entire compound and surrounding areas are more like a tourist attraction than a sacred religious hill. When I arrived here from Norodom Blvd immediately feel the magic of Wat Phnom with nicer street, nicely trim trees, welcoming staircases with traditional snake and naga heads, a big clock made out of green plants and steels. The colorful Statue of King Sisowath is facing the clock. The main temple, Vihara (temple sanctuary), and the huge stupa are the most stunning icons that are worth to visit.

Other things to do including playing at the public playground and fountain at the southeast side of Wat Phnom, visiting Wat Phnom museum, riding a short elephant ride around the base of the hill.

Locals come here to pray for good health, success in business or school examinations, and good luck. When their wish is granted, they would return to offer a garland of jasmine flowers or a bunch of bananas, of which the spirits are said to be especially fond.

Admission: US$1 per adult (apply to foreigner only)

Also, check out my travelogues to learn the legend of this place.

cal6060's Profile Photo
Jul 02, 2012


Wat Phnom sits atop of the highest point in the city. An admission fee is charged to enter Wat Phnom where the first pagoda was erected 800 years ago and according to local folklore a girl called Penh found 4 buddha statues by the river. Many locals come here to pray for good fortune and make appropriate offerings. It's a idyllic spot to spend an hour or so but be prepared to be annoyed by beggars, drink sellers, street kids and a multitude of other folks hoping to cash in on your visit.

davidjo's Profile Photo
May 20, 2012

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According to legend, a 14th-century woman named Penh found sacred Buddhist objects in the nearby river and placed them here on the small hill. A temple was built to house the relics and the city was named for it - Phnom Penh means "Penh's Hill."

Located on a man-made hill twenty seven meters high in the middle of Phnom Penh, Wat Phnom is a revered place of worship for all Khmers and is the namesake of the capital. The original pagoda was built in 1373 to house four Buddha statues said to have been deposited by the waters of the Mekong. Wat Phnom has a unique atmosphere and is surrounded by various fortune tellers, mystics, faith healers and elephant ride around the site are available.

ancient_traveler's Profile Photo
Mar 24, 2012

Wat Phnom

From our tour guide, this is the earliest temple built on a small hill. The Cambodian capital city was named Phnom Penh, has relationship to Grandma Phnom. The temple is not big but most local people especially the business man has deep trust and believe to it. The Grandma Phnom small temple is located behind the main wat building. According to our TG, those newly wed couple must come to pray here for long lasting relationship. The compound is also a people park for their leisure activities. A giant clock donated by Chinese is on the field to tell the time. For those who could not climb the small hill to the temple. The elephant ride is available to serve you.

DaHongHua's Profile Photo
Mar 03, 2012

Only hill in town - Wat Phnom

Set on top of a 27m high tree covered knoll. According to legend, the first pagoda on this site was erected in 1373 to house four statues of Buddha deposited here by the waters of the Mekong river and discovered by a woman named Penh.

The main entrance to Wat Phnom is via the grand eastern staircase, which is guarded by lions and naga (mythical serpent) balustrades.

Today, many people come here to pray for good luck and success in school exams or business affairs. When a petitioner's wish is granted, he or she returns to make the offering promised - such as a garland of jasmine flowers or a bunch of bananas, of which the spirits are said to be especially fond - when the request was made.

kelnsha's Profile Photo
Apr 04, 2011

Wat Phnom

The history of Wat Phnom is that in 1372 Lady Penh discovered four Buddha statues. She decided to create the hill (Phnom) that is today the site of Wat Phnom and atop the hill she created a small temple (Wat) to house the statues.

The story continues that eventually the area became known as Phnom Penh in recognition of Lady Penh and the hill.

The current temple contains the remains of King Ponhea Vat (1405-1467) and it was this King that relocated the capital of Cambodia from Angkor to Phnom Penh in 1422.

Wat Phnom is a very popular place with lots of local people visiting.

You can take an elephant ride on Sambo ($10) and there are many stalls selling food and drinks. (This was also my first experience with seeing quite disfigured people begging along the stairs to the Wat).

There are also loads of fat well fed monkeys there.

Entry Fee: $1

Cathy&Gary's Profile Photo
Mar 19, 2011

Things To Do in Phnom Penh

Things to do

Tuol Sleng Museum

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Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Monument

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Sisowath Quay

The bustling Sisowath Quay promenade was recently renovated. The lady owner from our guesthouse told us about this area Four years it has been a building site that the view of many hotel visitor...
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Russian Market

To get here by tuk-tuk cost $4 because this is further out the center. This market offers many kinds of products from fabric, souvenir, shoes, jewelry, clothes. You also find tailoring, hairdresser...
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Silver Pagoda

Located within the Palace compound sits the Silver Pagoda .Removing our shoes we stepped inside . We were immediately wowed ! The floors are covered with 5000 silver tiles each weighing over a kilo...
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Royal Palace

The palace is a complex of several buildings in the center of Phnom Penh right on the banks of the Mekong river. To reach this place, if you walk from the riverside which is a beautiful stroll you'll...
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Getting to Phnom Penh


Norodom Blvd.


  • Sunday Closed
  • Monday 07:00 to 23:59
  • Tuesday Closed
  • Wednesday Closed
  • Thursday Closed
  • Friday Closed
  • Saturday Closed