During our Mekong cruise a very big emphasis is given to ancient archaeological sites. The prowess of the Angkorian period were spectacular. However, there is more to Cambodian history. While cruising through Phnom Penh where the Tonle and Mekong rivers meet, guests will get to know more of the recent history of Cambodia.

With its bright golden color and its highly characteristics Khmer gables, the Royal Palace looks like jewel laid on the river bank as it stands distinctively against the skyline. Since the rise of Angkor, the royal family has moved to many locations through history before settling in the current capital of Phnom Penh. To this day the palace is still active as it is where the royal family practices religious or royal ceremonies such as coronations and royal weddings. It also serves as a meeting place for the king’s guests and as a residence for himself and the royal family.

The history of the Royal Palace is in direct link with the establishment of Cambodia as a French protectorate in 1863 and it’s also the reason why the palace harmoniously incorporates traditional Khmer architecture and art with European design and features. One of the most staggering examples of this being the Napoleon pavilion gifted by France in 1876 by Napoleon III. This medley of influence confers to the building a delightful personality and style that can be found nowhere else in the world.

One of the highlight of the visit is of course the Silver Pagoda, named for its magnificent floor paved with 5 tons of glittering silver. But what is as equally amazing are the items kept inside like the emerald Buddha, an incredible piece of craftsmanship atop a glided pedestal or even the life sized gold Buddha decorated with 2086 diamonds. This makes the Royal Palace one of the rare and unique places where such precious items are grouped, letting guests fully appreciate the richness and art of the Khmer civilization.

The visit of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh is a must-do while exploring Cambodia. As it is a marked by all the different periods of the country, it is an edifice that elegantly reconciles its recent history with its cultural heritage like no other.

Find out more about our Mekong program here.