Phnom Penh Royal Palace in the Kingdom of Wonder
The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh is so golden and majestic that it’s quite impossible to miss out when you’re on the Riverside area. Actually it is so huge that I had forgotten where the main entrance to the Palace was until Lucky, our tuk tuk driver brought us there. It’s no wonder that the first two times we went to gate facing the riverside, it turned out to be the wrong entrance. We were told by the tuk tuk in the area that the Palace was closed for the day when in fact the main entrance was on the other side. Well third time’s a charm they say and I finally got to see the entire Royal Palace again with Bart, Kuan and her friend Agnes who came to tour Phnom Penh.
Admission to the Royal Palace is USD$3 and if you bring a camera then they’ll charge you USD$5 in total. It was drizzling when we walked and we decided to still continue touring. Before entering the Royal Palace, there’s a few things you need to know. You have to dress modestly meaning no shorts above the knees and no spaghetti strap top. If you do, you’ll need to rent a covering for those exposed parts. Although it’s just a Palace but inside there lies the pagoda’s and temple which makes for some decency. We’ve been told that not we could only visit certain parts of the Royal grounds and in some places, no photography is allowed. Following these rules ensure that you are able to enter the Palace the next round and not having other people stare at you for not being decent.
Preah Tineang Tevea Vinichhay (Throne Hall)
The Throne Hall is the first thing you see when you enter the compound and it is used for coronations and ceremonies. The Hall has a 59m-high tower inspired by the Bayon at Angkor, a white four faced Brahma at the top. No one is allowed to take any photos of its’ interior but from we stood we could see the traditional throne in the middle and a standing gold statue of His Majesty Sisowath Monivong with the Royal Sword. While the other side of the throne stood another gold statue of His Majesty King Sisowath sitting on the Preah Thineang Bossabok (the traditional throne) .
Preah Thineang Chan Chhaya (Moonlight Pavilion)
The Moonlight Pavilion can be seen from the Riverside and it serves as a venue for the Royal Dancers or Khmer classical dance, a tribune for the King to address the crowd and used as a place to hold State pr Royal banquets. The balcony is used as a platform for viewing parades marching along the street of Sothearos Boulevard.
Preah Tineang Phhochani (Phhochani Pavilion)
Near the Throne Hall stood another pavilion called Phhochani (build in 1912) which is a smaller version compared to the Moonlight Pavilion. The open hall was originally constructed as a classical dance theatre and currently used for Royal receptions and meetings.
Hor Samran Phirun
This hall can be seen from the Throne Hall and it is known as “The Pavilion where one sleeps peacefully.” This is where the King waits before mounting an elephant for Royal processions. It was constructed in 1917 and has a display of gifts from foreign heads of state, musical instruments and procession items.
This building houses the administrative offices in the Royal Palace and was originally built in 1953. It served several purposes over the years such as Ministerial and Council related. There’s a mix of Khmer and Western architectural influence which can be seen from the roof (Khmer style) and the main body of the building (western). The Damnak Chan however is closed from public viewing and we could only admire the exterior while we walked to the next building.
The Silver Pagoda (Wat Preah Keo Morokat)
I had thought that the Silver Pagoda would be silver from the exterior when in fact these can be seen from the 5,329 silver tiles that cover the floor. The actual name of the Pagoda is Wat Preah Keo Morokat or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This place was filled with tourists by the time we got here and to enter, everyone needed to remove their shoes and walk silently inside. The temple contains over 1,500 precious objects, mostly Buddha statues which were on display. In the middle of the temple is the primary Buddha or the Emerald Buddha seated on a gilded dais above everything else which is said to be made of emerald or baccarat crystal. Just in front of the Emerald Buddha is the Buddha Maitreya (Buddha of the Future), a 90kg golden standing Buddha with diamonds in the crown and in the chest. Other items include a Buddha statue from Sri Lanka in a small gold and silver stupa, a collection of gifts from Queen Kossomak Nearyrith and other contributions from Royals.
Just beside the Silver Pagoda is a pavilion which the walls covered in murals, deep in history on Ramayana. Some of the murals in these sections have lost its’ colours due to the weather but otherwise it is still readable. These were painted in the early 1900s’ by students working under the direction of 2 artists at the time. The galleries served as an ad-hoc classrooms for Buddhist monks. Walk all the way around the gallery and end at the pavilion to enjoy the murals.
Next to the main vihear we saw the small library which has the sacred Buddhist texts as well as an image of a sacred bull named Nandin along with several Buddha statues which was found in the Kandal province in 1983.
We found a flight of steps leading up to a small artificial hill symbolizing Mount Kailassa which has a shrine at the top containing a large Buddha footprint. This shrine is adorned with 108 Buddha images and at times you can find fortune tellers working inside for a small token of contribution. There were a group of school girls offering prayers when we were there so we didn’t get to meet the fortune tellers.
Statue of HM King Norodom
The Equestrian statue of the late King Norodom can be seen near the Silver Pagoda. It was completed in 1875 in Paris and placed in the grounds in 1892. A canopy covers the statue and this was added by the late King Sihanouk in light of Cambodia’s new independence. To the north of the statue is a stupa containing the ashes of King Norodom.
The Four Stupas
There are at least 4 stupas’s in the Royal compound which are dedicated to the late members of the monarchy such as the stupa of HM King Ang Doung, the founder of the current dynasty and the great-great-great grandfather to King Sihamoni. Then there’s the stupa that was built for HM King Norodom, just north of the statue of him alighting a horse. This stupa contains his ashes and was constructed in 1908. Another stupa is HM King Suramarit and HM Queen Kossomak, the parents of the late King Sihanouk and grandparents to the current King Sihamoni. These three stupas resemble one another except for the last one which was built in 1960 for the beloved daughter of King Sihanouk. Princess Kantha Bopha passed away in 1952 when she was 4 years old due to leukemia and the memorial sanctuary was to remember her short presence in life.
Location & Information
Address: Samdech Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh
Opening Hours: 8-11am and 2-5pm
Admission: USD$3 per adult + USD$2 if you bring in camera or USD$5 if you bring in a video camera
About Yafieda Jamil
A Malaysian girl currently working abroad in Phnom Penh city. I love a good road trip, hot cappuccinos, spicy food and staring at old buildings. My mission is to inspire people to see the world differently before we all get any older. Oh and giraffes are the most beautiful creatures on earth.