Since the ousting of the Pol Pot regime, many aspects of Khmer cultural life have revived. The famed National Ballet has been re-established by the surviving dancers and performs classical dances for visiting groups. Buddhist temples, such as Preah Vihear, close to the border with Thailand in the Dongrek mountains, have re-opened and are the sites of various celebrations, especially during the Cambodian New Year.
The interrogation center of the Pol Pot regime in Phnom Penh is now the chilling Toul Sleng Museum of Genocide, also called S-21 (security office 21). Other attractions in the
capital are the Royal Palace, with its famous Silver Pagoda (whose floor consists of 5000 silver tiles), and the recently restored National Museum (which includes bronze and stone sculptures from the Angkor period). River cruises, some also now offering dolphin watching, operate on the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers near the capital. The famous and magnificent temples at Angkor, in the country’s northwest, are hard and dangerous to reach by road, but may be reached by regular flights from Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. This ancient and astounding temple complex is what remains of the capital of the once mighty Khmer civilization. Angkor Wat itself, built AD 879-1191 to honor the Hindu god Vishnu, is often hailed as one of the most extraordinary architectural creations ever built, with its intricate bas reliefs, strange acoustics and magnificent soaring towers. Oudong, 30km (19 miles) from Phnom Penh, is located on a hill overlooking vast plains and is famous for the burial chedis of the Khmer kings. Tonle Bati, 42km (26 miles) from Phnom Penh, is located near a lake close to the ancient temple of Ta Phrom. The Preah Vihear temple, in the Preah Vihear province and on the border with Thailand, is now open to members of the public. The temple is a fine example of Khmer architecture from the 12th century. For more information, contact the Ministry of Tourism (see General Info section). Sihanoukville is a popular beach resort town and may be reached by bus or air from Phnom Penh.