"Cambodia’s National Museum (saa-ra moo-un dti if you want to impress your tuk tuk driver) is a reference point around Phnom Penh, an impressive red-tiled, red-walled building set in carefully tended tropical gardens. On the corner of Street 178 and Street 13, two blocks from FCC and the riverside, this is a regular stop off point for foreigner visitors and students interested in Angkorian history."
The National Museum of Cambodia is located on Street 13 in central Phnom Penh, next to the Royal Palace. The visitor’s entrance to the compound and the admissions ticket booth are at the corner of Streets 13 and 178.
The Museum is located just north of the Royal Palace. It's housed in a graceful terracotta structure of traditional design (built 1917–20), with an inviting courtyard garden. The museum is home to the world’s finest collection of Khmer sculpture – a millennium’s worth and more of masterful Khmer design.
The museum has four pavilions, facing the pretty garden. Most visitors start left and continue in a clockwise, chronological direction. The first significant sculpture to greet visitors is a large fragment of an immense bronze reclining Vishnu statue recovered from the Western Mebon temple close to Angkor Wat in 1936.
Continue your way into the left pavilion, where the pre-Angkorian collection begins. It illustrates the journey from the human form of Indian sculpture to the more divine form of Khmer sculpture from the 5th to 8th centuries. Highlights include an imposing eight-armed Vishnu statue from the 6th century found at Phnom Da, and a staring Harihara, combining the attributes of Shiva and Vishnu, from Prasat Andet in Kampong Thom province.
The Angkor collection includes several striking statues of Shiva from the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries; a giant pair of wrestling monkeys (Ko Ker, 10th century);
a beautiful 12th-century stele (stone) from Oddar Meanchey inscribed with scenes from the life of Shiva; and the sublime statue of a seated Jayavarman VII (r 1181–1219), his head bowed slightly in a meditative pose (Angkor Thom, late 12th century).
The museum also contains displays of pottery and bronzes dating from the pre-Angkorian periods of Funan and Chenla (4th to 9th centuries), the Indravarman period (9th and 10th centuries) and the classical Angkorian period (10th to 14th centuries), as well as more recent works such as a beautiful wooden royal barge.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to photograph the collection – only the courtyard. English-, French- and Japanese-speaking guides (US$6) are available. A comprehensive booklet, The New Guide to the National Museum , is available at the front desk (US$10), while the smaller Khmer Art in Stone covers some of the signature pieces (US$2).
Getting there: Address: Samdech Sothearos Boulevard 1.8 km from Wat Phnom