About one-third the size of France, abutted by low mountains and uplands, Cambodia is a Southeast Asian country through which Tonlé Sap (the Great Lake) and Mekong River (the 6th longest river in Asia) flow. It is Khmer Architecture, the richness of Buddhist culture and the spectacular fusion of artistic methodologies that entice all of us around the world. 

The capital, Phnom Penh, sits at the confluence of three rivers: the Mekong, Tonlé Sap and Bassac. It is the centre for diverse empires, significantly the Khmers and the French colonists. This tight nexus of waterways make this country a precious symbol of how nature works and majorly draws tourists from other continents as well as Asia because Cambodia effortlessly exhibits the history and culture of its people and places. 

Here are the ten best examples of Cambodia visit by architects and a history so rich that it speaks for itself.

1. The Astounding Royal Palace | Places to visit in Cambodia

In 1866, The Throne Hall was built in the Khmer style of Architecture which back then served as the residence of the King of Cambodia. The palace in Cambodia was not built just to serve the king but many rituals and court ceremonies were carried out in the palace itself. To the south of the Throne Hall are the Royal Treasury and the Villa of Napoleon III, which was primarily built in Egypt (1886) for the opening of the Suez Canal. 

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The Royal Palace – _©thevacationconnection
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Places to visit in Cambodia-View – _©LucianoMortula
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Mural painting of the epic story of Reamker (Ramayana) at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. – _©kknationsonline.org

2. The incredible Silver Pagoda

King Sihanouk (Samdech Euv) in 1962 converted this original wood construction and utilized a total of 5329 silver tiles for inlaying the floor, each tile weighed approximately 1 kg and 120 grams. The flooring weighs more than 6 tonnes. This place is a beautiful concoction of 1,650 Buddhist Artifacts which are made of gold, silver and bronze and delicately embellished with valuable gems – diamonds, rubies and sapphires. The pagoda in Cambodia is a symbol of Buddhist tranquillity. 

The Emerald Buddha carefully adorned with Baccarat crystals is the major highlight of this place. The statue of Buddha ‘Maitreya’ stands tall in the main hall and is made of solid gold. 2086 diamonds are intricately adorned in this state and the crown itself contains a 25-carat jewel. The total weight of this marvel is 90 kgs. It is not the priceless gems that make this place extremely valuable, but the admiration, dedication and love of people for Buddhist beliefs. 

These structures (Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda) cover an area of 174,870 m2 and are known for their green spaces and rich Khmer Architecture.

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Silver Pagoda – _©bestpricetravel
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Places to visit in Cambodia-The Silver Pagoda – _©halongunescotours
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Ramanaya Epic – _©bestpricetravel

3. Angkor Wat 

King Suryavarman II in 1113, took the responsibility to construct this temple complex dedicated to Hindu God Vishnu. The King’s chief priest and spiritual advisor – Divakarapandita supervised the construction of Angkor Wat. The great Angkor complex is the most ancient and greatest example of hydrological engineering systems since most of the complex’s basins, dykes, reservoirs and canals still survive and prove the excellent building techniques of the Rulers in Cambodia. The Bas Reliefs cover an area of nearly 2000 m2 and seems like something emerging from the surfaces. 

Mahabharata and Ramayana form the majority of sculptures with remnants of paint and gold indicating how mesmerizing these would have looked back then. The entire temple complex is surrounded by a moat and inside it is a thick outer wall: 1500 m (east to west) and 1300 m (north to south).

Facade of Angkor Wat, a drawing by – _©HenriMouhot
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Angkor Wat, the front side of the main complex, photographed in the late afternoon – _©Bjørn Christian Tørrissen
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Angkor Wat plan. Angkor. Cambodia – _©Baldiri
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Suryavarman II in procession – _©Soham Banerjee

Khmer architecture’s fundamental elements – pyramid and concentric galleries are very well reflected in the temple design. The Pyramid is formed of three stepped terraces and each step is covered with galleries on all sides. Towers seemed to represent the peaks of mountains. Many historians believe that the temple possesses some cosmological techniques. Around 2000 ‘Apsaras’ are intricately carved throughout this Cambodia’s marvel. Apsaras are celestial beauties that perform various types of dances to attract and seduce the Lords and the Rishis.

In 1992, Angkor Wat was announced as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is not just architecture that makes Cambodia worth visiting, the temples themselves form a link in terms of geographical aspects. Angkor Wat not just holds cultural significance but has survived many brutal scenarios from the civil war in the 1970s to nature’s disastrous effects.

4. The National Museum

This huge red sandstone structure built between 1917-20 has a traditional Cambodian-style terracotta roof. This national symbol houses an 8 armed statue of Vishnu (7th cent.), a statue of Shiva (9th cent) of the Hindu religion. King Jayavarman VII (1181) has a big place in the museum due to his establishment of road networks and important bridges in Cambodia. He initiated and took charge of connecting major regions around and in the country. 

From the Prehistoric, Pre-Angkor, Angkor and Post-Angkor eras, the Museum holds about 14,000 exhibits made of stone articles, bronze and wooden sculptures, ethnographic items and ceramic items.

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National Museum – _©Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi (CC BY 2.0) modified
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Places to visit in Cambodia-©tbradford
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Museum – _©deninthboutique

5. The bustling Central Market (Phsar Thmey) | Places to visit in Cambodia

Jean Desbois and Wladimir Kandaouroff are the French architects who designed this bustling city hub. Around 1937, Cambodia’s Central Market used to be enormous in Asia. One of the specialities of Phsar Thmey is the creamy Coconut Pudding which one can savour while shopping and browsing local handicrafts, gemstones, shoes, jewellery, flowers, seafood, vegetables and spices.

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©Olaf Tausch (CC BY 3.0) modified
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©Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi (CC BY 2.0) modified
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©Peter Stuckings / Getty Images

6. Wat Ounalom

Being the most important and oldest of the five pagodas in Cambodia, this spiritual place signifies the history, philosophies and teachings of the Buddhist religion established in Cambodia. To enshrine an eyebrow hair (ounalom) of Lord Buddha this shrine was erected in 1443. During the Khmer Rouge Regime, about 30,000 books of the Buddhist Institute’s library were destroyed leaving only the Buddha’s eyebrow, which sounds to be a very fortunate turn of events. 

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©VCTBR (CC BY 3.0) modified
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7. Wat Langka

Founded by Ponhea Yat in 1442, Wat Langka in Cambodia is one of the five Pagodas. Buddhist scriptures define this place and substantiate the presence of Buddhist culture. Unfortunately, it functioned as a storehouse during the Khmer Rouge’s Regime. The stupas are in great condition and are under expert supervision. At 8:30 am each Sunday, one can participate in meditating sessions supervised by English-speaking supervisors.

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Wat Langka – _©Odysseus, psamathe
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Wat Langka – _©Odysseus, psamathe
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Wat Langka – _©Odysseus, psamathe

8. Ta Prohm Temple at Tonle Bati | Places to visit in Cambodia

Another gem in the history of Cambodia dates back to the 12th century and features well-preserved stone carvings and bas reliefs of Hindu mythology. This temple is situated near Cambodia’s Tonle Bati lake and has similar architectural elements as in Angkor Wat at Siem Reap. It emerges from nature as if it is a part of it. 

©Harald Hoyer (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified
©Harald Hoyer (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified
©Sasha Isachenko (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified
©Sasha Isachenko (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified
©Clay Gilliland (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified
©Clay Gilliland (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

9. Independence Monument

Phnom Penh City Centre houses the great Independence Monument which is generally called Vimean Ekareach. This monument proudly and most effectively elaborates on Cambodia’s liberation from the French colonists (1863-1953). The people of Cambodia celebrate their Independence day, Nov 9th and Constitution day, Sept 24th here. 

The place sure is a calm and expressive entity itself. At night, one can find large gatherings since there are white, blue and red floodlights around this area.

©Marcin Konsek (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified
©Marcin Konsek (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified
At night - _©ChunBoramy KUCH
At night – _©ChunBoramy KUCH

10. Banteay Srei | Places to visit in Cambodia

Banteay Srei meaning ‘Citadel of the Women’ is a temple in Cambodia and is one of the finest stone carvings around the world. What makes this Cambodian beauty significant is the texture and pinkish hue of its hard red stone which can be easily carved like wood. It is believed to be built by women since the highly expressive carvings are supposedly too intricate for the muscular structure of the hands of a man. The complex has entrances to the east and west. 

The three central towers are decorated with male and female divinities in relief works. Several motifs such as the ‘Kala,’ the guardian ‘Dvarpala’ and ‘devata’ are of notable worth. There are also two libraries made of sandstone, laterite and brick.

Banteay Srei_©Marky Ramone Go, nomadicexperiences
Banteay Srei_©Marky Ramone Go, nomadicexperiences
Banteay Srei_©Marky Ramone Go, nomadicexperiences
Banteay Srei_©Marky Ramone Go, nomadicexperiences
Banteay Srei_©Marky Ramone Go, nomadicexperiences

Distinctive cultures and admirable traditions are the true attractions of each country. As humans, we thrive to explore and be more, there’s no explanation for the urge to travel. Photography, colours, ambience, people, characteristics of a city are all the factors that fill the cups of our desires to travel!


Tourismcambodia.com. (2020). The Official Site for Tourism of Cambodia. Available at: https://www.tourismcambodia.com/.

www.enchantingtravels.com. (n.d.). Discover Cambodia’s French Colonial Architecture. [online] Available at: https://www.enchantingtravels.com/travel-blog/discover-cambodias-french-colonial-architecture/ [Accessed 27th Jun. 2021].

www.raffles.com. (n.d.). Royal Palace – Raffles Hotel Le Royal – Raffles Hotels & Resorts. [online] Available at: https://www.raffles.com/phnom-penh/location/destination-guide/attractions/royal-palace/ [Accessed 27th Jun. 2021].

UNESCO World Heritage Centre (2009). Angkor. [online] Unesco.org. Available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/668/  [Accessed 25th Jun. 2021].

History.com Editors (2018). Angkor Wat. [online] HISTORY. Available at: https://www.history.com/topics/landmarks/angkor-wat. [Accessed 24th Jun. 2021].


As an architecture enthusiast she takes active interest in exploring different ethnicities and tries to find a perfect medium to integrate the cultural diversities from an architect’s as well as a writer’s point of view. Pure imagination and knowledge is what she conveys through her words.