Fodor's Expert Review Wat Phnom
According to legend, a wealthy woman named Penh found four statues of the Buddha hidden in a tree floating down the river, and in 1372 she built this hill and commissioned this sanctuary to house them. It is this 90-foot knoll for which the city was named: Phnom Penh means "Hill of Penh." Sixty years later, King Ponhea Yat had a huge stupa built here to house his ashes after his death. You approach the temple by a flight of steps flanked by bronze friezes of chariots in battle and heavenly apsara (traditional Khmer dancing figures). Inside the temple hall, the vihear, are some fine wall paintings depicting scenes from the Buddha's lives, and on the north side is a charming Chinese shrine. The bottom of the hill swarms with vendors selling devotional candles and flowers, food stands (one with a monkey protecting a couple of dogs) with rather unappetizing food, and beggars.