This is one of the city's defining landmarks. Legend has it that sometime in the 14th century, a woman named Penh found sacred Buddhist objects in the nearby river and placed them here on the small hill that later became a temple. The rest is history. Phnom, in fact, means, "hill," so the name of the city translates to "Penh's Hill."
The temple itself is a standard Southeast Asian wat, with Naga snakes on the cornered peaks of the roof and didactic murals of the Buddha's life done in Day-Glo allegories along interior walls. Don't miss the central ceiling, which, unlike the bright walls, is yet to be restored and is gritty and authentic. The area around here is leafy and quiet. It has in the past been a place notorious for robberies at night, but during the daytime it's fine if a little chaotic with beggars, hawkers, and drink sellers competing for your attention. You're sure to meet with some crafty young salesmen here who'll offer you the chance to show your Buddhist compassion by buying a caged bird for a dollar and letting it go; if you stick around long enough, you'll get to see the bird return to the comfort of the cage.