When new visitors first arrive to Phnom Penh’s Riverside, there’s a lot to take in. From street cart vendors slowly stalking the Quay to moto dups and tuk tuks calling from each and every direction, the city’s best walking area can often be overwhelming. Tucked away just a short walk from the hustle and bustle of the vibrant urban life, and FCC Phnom Penh, is a true favorite for tourists and locals alike: the National Museum.
The National Museum is easy to get to from the general Riverside area, near the Royal Palace, or Wat Phnom. The main entrance is located just right at the corner of streets 178 and 13, adjacent to the Royal University of Fine Arts. Look for the maroon and brown walls and the temple-like structure peering out through the foliage. If you’re on a bicycle or moto, you’ll be happy to know there is free (or cheap) parking behind the building—but you have to go through the main entrance to get there.
Affordable and Effortless
The National Museum is one of the least discombobulating tourist attractions in the city, and the country as a whole. While the temples and markets may feel a bit aggressive, entering and engaging with the National Museum often feels like a great weight is taken from your shoulder. Stepping through the gate sets aside the noise and the crowds, envelopes you in peace. And at under $5 per person, the entrance fee is hard to beat for all the sanctuary of art, history, and quiet being offered.
Delving into History
Cambodia’s history can be seen from any of its corners, but the National Museum offers a unique and meditative experience through powerful curation. Much of the presence of the art and architecture comes through the collection’s diversity. As its website shows, the National Museum has over 1,000 items in its collection. From huge Buddhas, Vishnus, and Shivas, to cryptic and poetic inscription fragments, intimidating weaponry, and elegant vases, the museum carries a remarkably thorough vision of Cambodia’s art, from the pre-history to the post-Angkor periods.
Understand, Relax, Contemplate
As you find your way through the fourteen galleries that make up the museum, you will come across many opportunities to meditate on the life of the Khmer and other Cambodian peoples. The Museum central courtyard includes plenty of great benches. If a monk or other visitor hasn’t beaten you to it, consider stopping by one of two pools to pleasantly feed the fish and enjoy the landscape design. You might find it hard set this cultural gem aside.
Other Key Information
While the National Museum might not be swarming with tourists, for some it’s best to visit in the morning before the day gets too hot. On the other hand, some might find the respite from the heat welcome as they tour the walls, so consider it an afternoon retreat as well. The museum is open from 8-5pm every day, but the last tickets are sold at 4:30pm. There are guided tours available in Khmer, English, French, and Japanese, and there are bathrooms located on-site. If you have any more specific questions about Cambodia’s National Museum, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.