The Fall and Rise of Phnom Penh

February 6, 2014 by | Filed Under: Authentic Experiences, Cambodia, News

After several centuries of loosing influence to Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia was colonized by the French and made a protectorate. From 1867 to 1953 Cambodia was controlled by the French. Much of the their influence is fading, although some of the inspired architecture and food remains. In Phnom Penh we suggest taking an architecture tour by cyclo through the capital’s bustling streets. Visitors will be able to see some great examples of classic French colonial buildings.

The French legacy also remains in one of the national snacks. Nom Pain is a fresh baguette with a local pâté and pickles inside. It is delicious with a cold beer or a chilled glass of wine. Be sure to recommend this to travelers for Phnom Penh.

Phnom Penh balcony

During the 1970s, Cambodia was drawn in to the Indochina war. Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge in 1975. The Khmer Rouge attempted to restart earth history and reform the country via agricultural work projects and remove all perceived intellectualism from society. The regime was unimaginably brutal, causing the deaths of an estimated three million Cambodians. The scars from this horrific time are still evident throughout the country. Although disturbing, we suggest visiting the Killing Fields at Chong Ek and the S-21 prison center at Toul Sleng. This helps visitors try to understand some of Cambodia’s more puzzling questions.

Toul Sleng © JP white watermark

Since these troubled times, Cambodia has moved forwards at a breakneck speed. The young generation is focused on improving the future of their country. One manifestation is that Phnom Penh is enjoying a revival of the arts. When in Phnom Penh, we recommend paying a visit to the Apsara Arts Foundation. Khiri helps support the Apsara Art Association whose aim is to preserve Cambodian arts and culture by teaching Cambodian dance and music to disadvantaged children. After a short introduction guests will witness three traditional Khmer dances. They can also learn the first steps of traditional Cambodian dance themselves.

Phnom Penh - Apsara

For more information on these and other historical places of interest in Phnom Penh, please contact


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