While visiting the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, it’s almost impossible to miss the Silver Pagoda (Wat Preah Keo), an impressive, opulent structure. With a floor that’s covered with five tons of silver, a Baccarat-crystal Buddha perched on a gilded pedestal (known as the Emerald Buddha) and a life-sized solid-gold Buddha that weighs almost 200 pounds (90 kg) and is covered with 9,584 diamonds (the largest is 25 carats), a visit to the Silver Pagoda is one that is not easily forgotten. Though they’re hard to get a peek at (they’re covered up for protection), see if you can get a look at one of the more than 5,000 silver tiles that were inlaid during King Norodom Sihanouk's pre-Khmer Rouge reign and are the reason for the temple’s nickname.
Though the temple’s true name is Wat Preah Keo Morokat, which means Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the moniker The Silver Pagoda the more common name. Built between 1892 and 1902 under King Norodom, it’s an interesting structure—it’s actually separated from the Royal Palace by a walled walkway, but it’s still located on palace grounds, in the larger complex. Unlike most pagodas, no monks live here—instead, it’s the pagoda where the King meets with monks to listen to their sermons and where some Royal ceremonies are performed. Be sure to check out the gorgeous Ramayana frescoes that are painted on the walls and see the Buddha relic from Sri Lanka, which is housed in a small gold and silver stupa in front of the life-sized gold Buddha.
The Silver Pagoda is open to the public every day from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 2 to 5 p.m., unless there is an official function scheduled. Enter from the gate on Sothearos Boulevard, about 300 feet (100 m) north of Street 240. Guide pamphlets and tour guides are available near the admission booth; multi-lingual tour guides available. Admission is 25,000 Riel (USD $6.16).