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Temples in Siemreap


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Independence Monument

(At the intersection of Norodom and Sihanouk)
The Independence Monument (Vimean Ekareach) was inaugurated in 1958 to celebrate Cambodia’s independence from foreign rule. It now also serves as a monument to Cambodia’s war dead. It is the site of celebrations and services on holidays such as Independence Day and Constitution Day. Trespassing onto the monument is illegal (sometimes). The best view is from across the street anyway.


National Museum

(Street 178 & Street 13, next to the Royal Palace - $3.00 - 8:00-5:00, open everyday)

The distinctive rust-red National Museum next to the Royal Palace was dedicated by King Sisowath in 1920. Over 5000 objects are on display including Angkorian era statues, lingas and other artifacts, most notably the legendary statue of the ‘Leper King.’ Though the emphasis is on Angkorian artifacts, there is also a good collection of pieces from later periods, including a special exhibition of post-Angkorian Buddha figures. Visiting the museum after rather than before a trip to Angkor helps lend context to the Angkorian artifacts. Multi-lingual tour guides are available. Souvenirs and books available. Photography is limited. Some guidebooks still mention the museum bats that inhabited the rafters, unseen in the day but occasionally spectacular as they left in droves at sunset. In March 2002 the bats left for good, moving on after renovations to the ceiling. The museum borders Street 178, aka ‘Artist’s Street’ which is lined with several art galleries and souvenir shops. The Reyum Gallery is of particular note, exhibiting the works of contemporary Cambodian artists.

Royal Palace and ‘Silver Pagoda’

(Sothearos between Streets 240 & 184 - $3.00/person, $2.00/camera, $5.00/video cam. Open everyday, 7:30-11:00 / 2:30-5:00)
The Palace buildings and Silver Pagoda are located within the same walled grounds on Sothearos just off the riverfront. Marking the approach, the high yellow wall and spired Chan Chaya Pavilion are the most prominent features from the street. The Royal Palace was built in 1866 under the French protectorate and King Norodom, though many of the buildings in the complex were added over the following decades.

The ‘Silver Pagoda’ (Wat Preah Keo Morokat) is the city’s most often visited pagoda because of its display of priceless historical objects. It draws its name from the over 5000 silver tiles which cover the floor of the vihear. The vihear serves less as a functioning temple than a repository for cultural treasures such as the ‘Emerald Buddha’, innumerable Buddha statues, a Royal Litter and other objects. Rarely seen in Cambodian pagodas, turn of the century paintings of the Ramayana epic adorn the outer wall. Fortune tellers ply their trade in the small temple next to the vihear.

Wat Phnom

(Intersection of Street 96 and Norodom Blvd. - $1/person)
A small hill crowned by an active wat (pagoda) marks the legendary founding place of the Phnom Penh. The hill is the site of constant activity, with a steady stream of the faithful trekking to the vihear, shrines and fortune tellers on top, and a constellation of vendors, visitors and motodups at the bottom. Elephant rides available. The legend of the founding of Wat Phnom is tied to the beginnings of Phnom Penh. Legend has it that in 1372 Lady Penh (Yea Penh) fished a floating Koki tree out of the river. Inside the tree were four Buddha statues. She built a hill (‘phnom’ means ‘hill’) and a small temple (wat) at what is now the site of what is now known as Wat Phnom. Later, the surrounding area became known after the hill (Phnom) and its creator (Penh), hence ‘Phnom Penh.’ The current temple was last rebuilt in 1926. The large stupa contains the remains of King Ponhea Yat (1405-1467) who moved the Khmer capital from Angkor to Phnom Penh in 1422. Look for the altar of Lady Penh between the large stupa and the vihear. She is said to be of particular help to women. Wat Phnom is the busiest pagoda in town the night of Chinese/Vietnamese New Year’s Eve.

Choeung Ek Memorial (The Killing Fields)

(15 km southwest of Phnom Penh - Take Monireth 8.5 km past the bridge at Street 271) From April 17, 1975 until January 7, 1979, the ultra-Communist Khmer Rouge (i.e. Red Khmer) regime, led by Pol Pot, controlled the whole of Cambodia. Under the Khmer Rouge regime the country was known as ‘Democratic Kampuchea.’ During the short reign of the Khmer Rouge, between one million and two and a half million Cambodians perished, some killed outright, others dying from disease, malnutrition, neglect and mistreatment. Many of the dead ended up in various ‘killing fields’ that can be found scattered across the country. The killing fields were essentially ad hoc places of execution and dumping grounds for dead bodies. The memorial at Choeung Ek just outside Phnom Penh was an orchard and a Chinese cemetery prior to 1975. During the Khmer Rouge regime it became one of the killing fields - this particular killing field is the site of the brutal executions of more than 17,000 men, women and children, most of whom first suffered through interrogation, torture and deprivation in the S-21 Prison (Toul Sleng) in Phnom Penh. Choeung Ek is now a group of mass graves and a memorial stupa containing thousands of skulls. It’s about a 20-40 minute drive from the center of Phnom Penh. There are guides available at the site, and a small souvenir shop. For sake of historical context, combine your trip to Choeung Ek with a visit to Toul Sleng Genocide Museum.

Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21)

(Corner of Street 113 & Street 350 - $2.00 - Open everyday, including holidays, 8AM-5PM - Closed for lunch)
Prior to 1975, Toul Sleng was a high school. When the Khmer Rouge came to power it was converted into the S-21 prison and interrogation facility. Inmates were systematically tortured, sometimes over a period of months, to extract confessions, after which they were executed at the killing fields of Choeung Ek. S-21 processed over 17,000 people, seven of whom survived. The building now serves as a museum, a memorial and a testament to the madness of the Khmer Rouge regime. Much has been left in the state it was when the Khmer Rouge abandoned it in January 1979. The prison kept extensive records, leaving thousands of photos of their victims, many of which are on display. Paintings of torture at the prison by Vann Nath, a survivor of Toul Sleng, are also on display. The museum’s famous and controversial ‘skull map’ is no longer on display.

The Land Mine Museum, Siem Reap

Siem Reap, Cambodia; “Welcome to the Land Mines Museum” reads the sign. Here, off a bumpy, dusty, unsealed road, a few short kilometres from the World Heritage ruins of Angkor Wat and the construction boom of luxury hotels in the city of Siem Reap, the past, present and sadly future of landmines in Cambodia is on display.
The Land Mine Museum, opened in 1999, consists of a simple corrugated iron building. Its director, the quiet and unassuming Mr Aki Ra is a former child soldier of the Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese armies. Aki Ra, along with his fellow conscripts were forced to lay the anti-personal devices that covered Cambodia. As an adult, he worked with the United Nations in the early 1990’s to detect and clear the mines that until only 10 years ago, surrounded the now tourist packed grounds of Angkor Wat.
This clearing exercise is far from complete as it is estimated that 6 million mines remain in the soil of Cambodia. These uncleared mine fields are primarily located along the Thai/Cambodian border, and it is here that Aki Ra regularly journeys to continue this dangerous work.
Killed by Land Mines
Local villages are still regularly maimed or killed by landmines that come with “manufactured in” labels reading China, Russia, US, Vietnam and Germany and date stamps from the 1940’s to the 1970’s. The devices have proven to be remarkably resilient, remaining in active condition many decades after they were first placed in the ground.
When Aki Ra moved to the region in the late 1990’s, it was an isolated and lonely rural landscape. The local village of 500 that has grown up around the museum is a testament to Aki Ra’s efforts in not only clearing the mines, but in educating his neighbors on mine awareness, safety and first aid.
Despite its simple structure, the museum is a total success in its aim to raise awareness of the devastating affects of anti-personal devices. As first Aki Ra and then an English volunteer leads us through the museum displays, the sickening variety of ways to maim or kill with these devises becomes more apparent. In the manufacture, design and placement of landmines, we humans have thought of everything.

From the technique of laying mines in water, causing increased damage to the body by the imploding water, to the lightweight plastic construction of later models that are both cheaper and easier to carry. The Claymore mines that are designed to spray ball bearings in a specific direction coming conveniently labeled with the instruction “Front facing enemy”. Most of the mines have been designed to destroy a specific bodypart rather than to kill. This strategy to construction ensures a more effective strike against the enemy, an injured soldier is a greater burden than a dead one.
Learning Languages
If visitors doubt the impact of the mines on display, the human reminder is ever present by the handful of child amputee victims that live at the museum. A very practical program has been put in place to provide these children with much needed assistance. The museum supports them to go to the local school as well as providing them with English/Japanese lessons courtesy of the international volunteers. While the museum can house and care for 8 to 9 kids at a time, the regular rotation of students back to their farms and families ensures as many as possible can be saved from a life of street beggars.
Upon meeting Aki Ra and learning of both his horrendous wartime experiences (depicted in both story and paintings throughout the museum) and his continuing dangerous mine clearing activities, you are left in no doubt how remarkable this young man really is. Having lost his parents during the dark days of the Khmer Rouge rule, it is amazing that he survived the starvation, cruelty and danger that engulfed Cambodia during this era. His current land mine clearing activities defy belief.
Several times a month, for up to 5 days at a time, he works without sophisticated detection or safety equipment, usually solo, clearing mines on the Thai/Cambodia border. Using nothing more than his foot and a stick, he locates and then detonates by hand up to 30 mines per day.

It would be usual to associate museums with the preservation and recording of significant historical events. What sets the Land Mine Museum apart is that the displays are, (& there is no other word for it) “fresh”!.

Learn More

The Land Mine Museum is located 4km south of Ankor Wat and 2km South of
the city of Siem Reap, on the Angkor Wat Road.
The museum, is privately owned and operated, it does not receive any government funding.
No entry fee is charged, however donations are gratefully accepted.
The museum will not appear in local tourist literature, therefore best to refer to the following website for details.

Asia Pacific Travel in Hanoi

Add : 66 Hang Than  St, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Tel: (84.4) 38 364212 - 37568868

Fax : (84.4) 37567862

Email : sales@asia-pacifictravel.com 


Phnom Penh Office - Asia Pacific Travel

Add : No. 19-20E0, Street 371, Phnom Penh

Tel: (+84 9) 13224473 ( Mr. Nam )

Email : Tour@angkortravelcambodia.com

Branch Office in Siem Reap - Asia Pacific Travel

Add : No. 0167, Mondul 3, Sangkat Slorkram
Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Mobi : + 84 9  36757509

Email : Tour@angkortravelcambodia.co