Independence Monument, or Vimean Ekareach as it is referred to in Khmer, is a majestic structure that dominates Phnom Penh city center. Independence Monument was primarily erected to mark the liberation of the country from the French, who ruled Cambodia for almost a century from 1863 to 1953.

Built in 1958, and inaugurated in 1962 during the regime of Sangkum Reastr, this monument also serves as a proud testament to commemorate people who sacrificed their lives for the welfare of the country. The monument is captivating for its cool, serene atmosphere, which in turn makes it a much sought-after destination.

Phnom Penh Independence Monument - one of the highlights of 18 Best Things to Do in Phnom Penh (Read all about Phnom Penh here)

photo by Marcin Konsek (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

A stunning illustration of traditional Angkorian architecture, Independence Monument was designed by Vann Molyvann – a distinguished Cambodian architect – in the model of a lotus that largely takes after stupas seen at Angkorian Wat. Perhaps the salient characteristic of this 20-meter-tall, reddish-brown stone memorial is the multi-headed snakes that titivate the 5 levels of a lotus bud. Its intricate designs are best highlighted in the late afternoon, as shadows creep across the floors.

Nevertheless, a real visual treat is at night when the monument, as well as its surroundings including the fountain, is illuminated by blue, red and white floodlights – the colors that embody the Cambodian flag. Every year, Independence Monument becomes a center of activities during national festivities such as Independence Day and Constitution Day, falling on 9th November and 24th September respectively.

The ceremonial flame ignited by a royal official in the monument’s interior plinth marks the beginning of the spellbinding national celebrations. War heroes are venerated on this special occasion by placing floral wreaths on the monument’s stairs. On the eastern part of the monument, towards the Sihanouk Boulevard, is a well-laid open park that's perfect to indulge in a variety of activities such as jogging, walking or simply savoring the cool breezes.

You can find the Independence Monument in the center of a roundabout at the intersection of the Sihanouk and Norodom boulevards. Independence Monument is just a few blocks from other key landmarks of the city, such as Wat Phnom, Royal Palace and Sisowath Quay.

Phnom Penh Independence Monument

Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Paul Smith | Compulsive Traveler