Wat Phnom is a Buddhist temple located in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It was established in the 14th century with the height of 27 meters. Despite being known as the tallest temple in Cambodia, Wat Phnom also has some heritages and historical objects. The most famous ones are the statues of Buddha that represent the kings of Cambodia along with their guards. In addition, there is also a big statue with Buddhist characteristic that is told as the ancestor of Penh from generation to generation. This statue was the point of Phnom Penh city establishment in the past.
Enjoying the History and the Religion View of Cambodian through Wat Phnom
1. The Legend of Wat Phnom
One of the most interesting things regarding Wat Phnom is maybe the legend. Cambodian people are always proud of this temple since it was considered as the starting point of Phnom Penh's development. Originally, Wat Phnom is namely Wat Preah Chedey Borapaut. Based on the legend believed by the local people, there was once a rich widow named Pehn. She was called as Grandma Penh for her old age. Someday, she found a big koki tree in the river. Magically, the tree had four bronze statues of Buddha inside. Grandma Penh then established a small temple on a hill that was previously made by other people. The temple was indeed made to keep the statues from the thieves who probably wanted to steal them. The temple then became a holy site since then and people who come believe that all the prayers are granted if they do it inside Wat Phnom. Of course, it is due to the magical bronze statues of Buddha.
2. Wat Phnom Throughout The History
The story about Grandma Penh is probably only a legend although many people consider her presence was truly in the history. In fact, this temple has been standing there since 1372. Wat Phnom also becomes the witness of the history. It is noted that some kings played many important roles in the establishment of the wat. The most popular one is the Ponhea Yat King who instructed the majesty of Decho Srei to lift up the hill higher. The area around the hill where the temple stands up was then namely Krong Chaktomok Mongkol. Since this name seems too long, many people then agreed to call it as Phnom Penh as the appreciation for Grandma Penh.
3. The Architecture
Big renovations were done several times in the 19th and the 20th century. Previously, the design was quite modest as it was actually only a common temple for praying. But after the renovations, Wat Penh looks more previous and glamorous with stunning details. For the interior, there is the central altar with a huge statue of sitting Buddha from the bronze. This big statue is surrounded by some smaller statues and some kinds of praying equipment like the candles and flowers. The wall is covered by mural that tells a story about Jataka. Jataka was the first reincarnation of Buddha before his enlightens. Other murals were made on other wall sides. The murals also have some stories starting from the Reamker with Khmer's version and the story of Ramayana. Those murals are considered newer than the Jataka's. For the exterior, it is similar to a garden with another temple with a smaller size. This temple is dedicated for Grandma Penh.
How to Get Tickets?
It is not something difficult to get the tickets to enter this attraction. Every day, the lockets are opened for the public. But if you go to this place in a group, it seems more effective to order them at first. For one ticket, the money to spend is around $3.
How To Get Around?
Although this place is very popular, the area is actually not as big as other tourism objects in Cambodia. You can go to the main temple firstly and then enjoy the landscape from the yard as well as the small temple for Grandma Penh.
What Should I Wear?
Although the dress code is not clearly mentioned in this temple, it is much better to wear a kind of modest outfit that is not too open. Whatever it is, this place is a Buddhist temple. There are many monks and other religious people come around to pray. It is so good to respect them all.
Best Time to Visit
You can just go there every day. Holiday is always necessary for Wat Penh visitation but of course, the object will be too crowded. If you also want to enjoy the festivals or other events, it is recommended to go to this wat in the Khmer's New Year and Pchum Ben.
Will I Need a Guide?
Hiring a tour guide is highly recommended. Despite he can guide in walking around in the temple's area, the guide can also inform you what to do and what not to do while being inside.
How To Get There?
Located in the Pnom Pehn, this temple is relatively easy to reach from any direction. From the airport, it takes around 30 minutes depending on the situation in the city whether it is crowded or not. It is more recommended for joining a Pnom Penh tour for an easier route. Indeed, near the area, you must walk a little bit for the temple. Since this area is surrounded by the hill, it is probably quite tiring.