The Phnom Penh city with over two million inhabitants covers an area of 290 square kilometers. It is seriously considered the major centre of administration, commerce, communication, culture, economy, education, industry, policy and tourism for home and world services. The city offer tourists a lot of modern hotels and restaurants with diversified services.
Valuable tropical products that can be found here include seafood, freshwater food, fresh fruit, traditional handicrafts and artistic articles.
We can start the sightseeing with National Museum which will let us understand the overall history, traditions, culture and customs of the country. A rich collection of original Khmer art features sculptures and statues made of jade, marble, silver, bronze, brass, copper, clay, wood, bamboo, metal, steel, etc.. The ancient building contains articles, ceramic ware, earthenware, pottery, woodwork, silverware, etc. It is open from 8 AM to 5 PM everyday.
The Royal Palace and the two magnificent pagodas in the Palace Grounds, the Silver Pagoda and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, are among the few public buildings in Phnom Penh really worth seeing. They were built in the 19th century with French technology and Cambodian designs, and have survived the traumas of the 20th century amazingly intact. No photography is allowed inside the Silver Pagoda and some of the Palace buildings. You’re expected to dress decently (no bare legs or shoulders), but you can rent sarongs and oversized T-shirts at the entrance.
Wat Phnom Temple is on a hill at the center of a small park. The temple itself is notable more for its historic importance than what you’ll see there today, but the park is a pleasant green space and a popular gathering place for locals. A few monkeys keep quarters there as well and will help themselves to any drinks you leave unattended. If you like, take a ride on the elephant there.
Wat Ounalom is one of the Phnom Penh’s five original monasteries (1422). Until 1999, it housed the Institute Bouddhique and library. On the riverfront about 250 meters north of the National Museum, facing the Tonle Sap River near the Royal Palace, this pagoda serves as the headquarters for one of Cambodia’s most revered Buddhist patriarchs.
The Toul Sleng Genocidal Museum was a school converted into Cambodia’s most important prison in 1975. More than 14,000 people were tortured here before being killed at the Killing Fields south of Phnom Penh; only 8 prisoners made it out alive. The museum is a must-see for everyone interested in Cambodia’s horrific recent past. The infamous “skull map” has been dismantled, although there are still skulls stacked in cabinets, implements of torture and disturbing photographs. But it is not recommended to those who do not want to see the miserable things.
The Independence Monument is an Angkorian style tower, the inimitable place in the whole city, located in the heart of the capital. It was built in 1958 to Sybilles Cambodian Independence Day after winning back their independence from the French protectorate on the 9th of November 1953.The monument attracts many tourists for its peculiar looking but unique style distinguishes it from all the buildings in the city. It is also used as a memorial place dedicated to the Cambodian’s patriot who died for the country.
The Choeung Ek Killing Fields are 15 km from Central Phnom Penh. the Khmer Rouge regime executed about 17,000 people between 1975 and 1979. Mass graves containing 8,895 bodies were discovered at Choeung Ek after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime. Many of the dead were former inmates in the Tuol Sleng prison.
Today, Choeung Ek is a memorial, marked by a Buddhist stupa. The stupa has acrylic glass sides and is filled with more than 5,000 human skulls. Some of the lower levels are opened during the day so that the skulls can be seen directly. Many have been shattered or smashed in.
Tuol Tompong Market (Russian market) is the best place in town for souvenir shopping, having a large range of real and fake antiquities. Items for sale include miniature Buddhas, silk, silver jewelry, gems, video, ganja and a host of other goodies. It’s well worth popping in for a browse.
Orussey Market is much more geared towards locals; hence we can find huge array of foodstuffs is on offer including the wet market with fresh meat, poultry and seafood. Other items in abundance include house ware, hardware and electronic goods.
Sisowath Quay or Riverside is an attractive boulevard running along the banks of the Mekong and Tonle Sap. It is normally fronted by a pleasant park; however this has been torn up for developing a flood protection system and re-landscaping for most of 2008/2009. The built-up side of the street is home to cafés and shops and the better class of bar, and is popular with tourists and expat Westerners prepared to run its gauntlet of touts selling drugs, girls and tuk tuk rides. The esplanade along the river is equally popular with Cambodians, who come here in the cool of the evening to enjoy the quasi-carnival atmosphere.
The surrounding areas of Phnom Penh
Aside from the above sights, if we have several more days, we can explore the neaby Phnom Penh which have rich cultures, natures and traditions.
As it is not far from Phnom Penh, it is easily and quickly to enter, even if it’s just a day trip. There is quite a bunch of places of interest such as Ang Kor Chey Pagoda, which is 29 km from Phnom Penh. The pagoda is constructed with five peaks as the temple’s peaks. Before reaching the pagoda, we need to pass over a 100-meter wooden bridge; under the bridge, there is a big pond for keeping water during the dry season.
Behind the pagoda you’ll see an artificial site located on the black hill characterized as resident of Neak Mean Bon or King. It is said that the black hill is a former palace, because they found ancient objects and equipment like bowls and pots characterizing ancient features. Now, the black hill has been organized and maintained by guards, because it relates to the belief in sacred objects there. Nowadays, Angkor Chey pagoda has a lot of local visitors, especially those, who cling to abstract belief; they go there to have themselves sacredly watered. In addition, AngKor Chey pagoda is surrounded with beautiful scenery offering cool shadows from the trees and a pleasant environment.
About an hour drive from Phnom Penh, lay the hills of the abandoned royal city of Oudong. Oudong was the capital of Cambodia from the early 17th century until 1866 when the capital was moved to Phnom Penh. Several temples, stupas and other structures cover three hills. The walk up the hill provides an excellent countryside view. The hill is crowned with stupas containing the remains of several Cambodian kings. The earliest structure is from the 13th century. These hills were also the site of some of the Khmer Rouge’s most prolonged resistance against the encroaching Vietnamese army in 1979. Several new temples and shrines have recently been installed on the hill. For something completely different, take a side trip to ‘Prasat Nokor Vimean Sour’, a concrete, unduly ornate, semi-replica of Angkor Wat built circa 1998.
It is about 24 km from Phnom Penh and composed of two hills, the East Hill and the West Hill. There are stories in the East Hill, relating to religion and the Khmer King. It also has a large statue of the reclining Buddha Image, reaching nirvana.
About 1 km from this site, there is a manmade cultural site called Phnom Reap or Prasat Vihear Suor. Based on the style of Angkor Wat, Phnom Reap was constructed of stone and cement, between 1996 and 1998 for about 1 million US dollars. The money was raised from local and foreign sources by Mr Meas Sarin. Today Phnom Reap attracts many Cambodian and foreign visitors.
Takeo town is an easygoing place that possesses a fair amount of natural and manmade beauty. The natural beauty is in the Scenic River and lake area that faces a pleasant town parkway. The low-lying area seems to include much of the surrounding province area, which is probably why a kingdom that once had its heart here was referred to as Water Chenla. There seems to be water everywhere in the surrounding countryside during the rainy season. It is full of other interesting sights as well and because of the short distance and good road from Phnom Penh, all are great day trips. Some sights can be combined in a day trip. If you have a bit more time, spend an evening in Takeo town and take in all the sights. There is a pleasant little place to stay overlooking the river and lake area.
It is often referred to as “the cradle of Cambodian civilisation” as it has several important pre-Angkorian sites built between the 5th and the 8th century. Takeo town is an easygoing place that possesses a fair amount of natural and manmade beauty. The natural beauty is in the Scenic River and lake area that faces a pleasant town parkway. The low-lying area seems to include much of the surrounding province area, which is probably why a kingdom that once had its heart here was referred to as Water Chenla.
At the top of Phnom Chisor sit some very nicely preserved 10th/11th century Angkorian era ruins. The temple was constructed during a period when Angkorian Empire was powerful and on the rise. As most Angkorian temples of the period, this temple is Hindu, dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. Scenes including Brahma, Shiva and Visnu are still visible, carved on some lintels and pediments. The 503 steps to the temple on top of the hill make for a fairly vigorous climb but the quality of the ruins and the amazing view of the countryside make the effort well worth it.
Phnom Da (Angkor Borei)
The area has been continuously inhabited for at least 2500 years and has yielded artifacts dating from the Neolithic period, the Funan period (4th/5th century AD) and Chenla (8th century AD) as well as the later Angkorian period (9th-15th century AD.) There are no significant temple ruins at Angkor Borei but there is a very interesting little museum displaying artifacts from the area and providing information on recent archaeological digs.
About 20km from Angkor Borei is the hill of Phnom Da, crowned by an impressive 11th century Angkorian-era prasat (tower) with some carvings in good condition. The temple was constructed under King Rudravarman and dedicated to Shiva. Further down the hill is the unique little temple ruin Ashram Maha Rosei, quite unlike other Khmer monuments in both design and adornment. The design is reminiscent of Prasat Ashram Isay in the Sambor Prey Kuk group in Kampong Thom. Ashram Maha Rosei was constructed in the late 7th-early 8th century, during the pre-Angkorian Chenla period, under Bahavavarman and shows signs of non-Khmer influence. Note the unusual north-facing entrance. During the dry season, Phnom Da can be reached by road or boat. In the wet season, it can only be reached by boat.
Prasat Neang Khmau
It consists of two deteriorating brick prasats (towers) built in the Angorian-era in the 10th century. There was probably at least one more ancient prasat where the modern pagoda now sits. The temple was originally dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Its complex is named after Neang Khmau, ‘Black Lady’, a modern-era statue located in front of the temples.
Tonle Bati (Ta Prohm)
It is a small lake and popular picnic spot for the locals - bamboo picnic stands and mats by the water. On the road to Tonle Bati there are two Angkorian era temples, Ta Prohm and Yeay Peau. Both temples were built in the late 12th century during the same period that Bayon and Angkor Thom in Siem Reap. Ta Prohm is the more extensive and impressive of the two, displaying a number of very well-preserved carvings. Yeay Peau is a single sandstone tower situated next to an active pagoda displaying some carvings. The area has been occupied since the pre-Angkorian Funan period and Ta Prohm was modified and extended as late as the 16th century.
Ta Khmau Zoo/Phnom Tamao/Prasat Tamao
The Phnom Tamao area is a popular destination for weekend holidayers from Phnom Penh, offering picnicking, a zoo and some minor Angkorian-era ruins. The Ta Khmau Zoological Gardens is Cambodia’s newest and best zoo displaying a variety of animals including lions, tigers, bears, birds and more. An 11th century, Suryavarman I temple ruin in very poor condition (Prasat Tamao) sits at the top of Phnom Tamao.
For those with an interest in silk weaving or rural Cambodia, set aside a half-day for a boat trip to one of the nearby islands in the Mekong River. ‘Mekong Island’ (Koh Okhna Tey) is set up for visitors with silk weaving on display, demonstrations of other traditional crafts and a few local restaurants. The nearby but much more rural ‘Silk Weaving Island’ (Koh Dach) has a small village where there is a loom at every house and silk weaving is their mainstay.
It is the major tourist hub in Cambodia, as it is the closest city to the world famous temples of Angkor (the Angkor temple complex is north of the city). It has colonial and Chinese-style architecture in the Old French Quarter, and around the Old Market. In town, there are Apsara dance performances, craft shops, silk farms, rice-paddy countryside, fishing villages and a bird sanctuary near the Tonle Sap Lake which is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Southeast Asia and it is the most productive wetland in the world. Not including the representative of other biological resources, fish production alone providing over 75% of protein intake in the Cambodian diet.
The richness of fisheries and biodiversity is explained by the unique hydrological regime of Tonle Sap Lake acting as a catalyst in the transformation of energy through physical. Its age is about 5100-5600 years which was the critical moment for deposition change. As a result, the flow of the Tonle Sap River stabilizes the sediment load to the lake.
Siem Reap today, being a popular tourist destination, has a large number of hotels and restaurants. Most smaller establishments are concentrated around the Old Market area, while more expensive hotels are located between Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport and the town along National Road 6. The population is around 850000.
We normally do the sightseeing according to the evolution of the degree of interest- the Rolous group of monuments, the grand circuit, the small circuit, the Angkor Thom, the Bantey Srei, Angkor Wat and many others more.
The Rolous Group of monuments includes Bakong, Lolei and Preah Ko which are close together and extend over an area of three kilometers (1.9 miles) east of the Great Lake. These temples, dating from the late ninth century, are the earliest site of the 600 years Angkor Period that is open to visitors.
The three temples belonging to this important group have similar characteristics of architecture, decoration, materials and construction methods, which combine to reveal the beginning of the Classic Period’of Khmer art.
Bakong was built in late ninth century (881) by king Indravarman I dedicated to Siva (Hindu) followed Prah Ko art style. It was the center of the town of Hariharalaya, a name derived from the god Hari-Hara; a synthesis of Siva and Visnu. It is a temple representing the cosmic Mount Meru. Four levels leading to the Central Sanctuary correspond to the worlds of mythical beings (Nagas, Garudas, Raksasas and Yaksas).
Although Lolei is small it is worth a visit for its carvings and inscription. The temple of Lolei originally formed an island in the middle of a Baray (3,800 by 800 meters, 12,467 by 2,625 feet), now dry. According to an inscription found at the temple the water in this pond was for use at the capital of Hariralaya and for irrigating the plains in the area.
Prasat Preah Ko is located between Bakong and Lolei; it is mid-way between Bakong and the road. A enter and leave the temple from the east. It was built in late ninth century (879) by the King Indravarman I, dedicated to Siva (Hindu) funerary temple built for the king’s parents, maternal grandparents, and a previous king, Jayavarman II and his wife, replica to Prah Ko style of art.
The Grand Circuit includes Neak Pean, Preah Khan, Pre Rup, Prsat Kravan, etc.
Neak Pean is an artificial island with a Buddhist temple on a circular island in Preah Khan Baray built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. Neak Pean is one of the temples that make one dream of the olden days of luxury and beauty. It was worth while to the overpowering temples of Civa that men and armies repaired; but it was at the tiny temple of Neak Pean that eager princesses laid their lovely offerings of wrought gold and pungent perfumes
Preah Khan which means “The Sacred Sword” was built in the end of the ninth century beginning of the tenth century dedicated to the Hindu Trinity- Siva, Visnu and Brahma, with following to Prasat Bakheng art style.
Pre Rup is built entirely of brick and laterite, the warm tones of these materials are best are seen early in the morning or when the sun is setting. There are two views from the top terrace: the first looking east towards Phnom Bok and the mountain chain of Phnom Kulen; and the second looking west where the towers of Angkor Wat can be distinguished on the far horizon.
It was built in second half of the tenth century (961) by the King Rajendraman II dedicated to the god Siva (Hindi), replica to Pre Rup style of art.
The main point of interest at Prasat Kravan is the sculpture on the interior of two of the five towers depicting Visnu and his consort, Laksmi; the scene in the central tower is the most impressive one. These carvings in brick on the interior of a monument are unique in Khmer architecture.
This temple was built in the first half of the tenth century (921) by Completed during the reign of Harshavarman 1 (it may have been built by high court officials) in Hindu religion with following transitional from Bakheng to Koh Ker. Then it was reconstructed by the French and given a new foundation, interior walls and drains.
The group of Angkor Thom temples is one of the prides of the Angkor. Angkor Thom is undeniably an expression of the highest genius. It is, in three dimensions and on a scale worthy of an entire nation, the materialization of Buddhist cosmology, representing ideas that only great painters would dare to portray. The last capital of the Khmer Empire, was a fortified cit enclosing residences of priest, officials of the palace and military, as well as buildings for administering the kingdom.
These structures were built of wood and have perished but the remaining stone monuments testify that Angkor Thom was indeed a “Great City” as its name implies. A long causeway leading to each entry tower is flanked by a row of 54 stone figures on each side – demons on the right and gods on the left-to make a total of 108 mythical beings guarding the city of Angkor Thom. The demons have a grimacing expression and wear a military headdress whereas the gods look serene with their almond-shaped eyes and wear a conical headdress.
Temples inside the walls of the city are Bayon, Baphuon, Phimeanakas and the Terrace of the Elephants & Leper King.
Prasat Bayon was built in late 12th century to early 13th century, by the King Jayavarman VII, dedicated to Buddhist. The Bayon vies with Angkor Wat the favorite monument of visitors. The two evoke similar aesthetic responses yet are different in purpose, design, architecture and decoration. The dense jungle surround the temple camouflaged its position in relation to other structures at Angkor so it was not known for some time that the Bayon stands in the exact centre of the city of Angkor Thom.
The architectural composition of the Bayon exudes grandness in every aspect. Over 200 large faces caved on the 54 towers give this temple its majestic character, which at that time represents the 54 provinces in Cambodia. The iconography of the four faces has been widely debated by scholars and some think they represent the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Buddha-to-be),
Phimeanakas Temple is a Hindu temple in the Khleang style, built at the end of the 10th century, during the reign of Rajendravarman II (from 941-968), then rebuilt by Suryavarman II in the shape of a three tier pyramid as a Hindu temple. On top of the pyramid there was a tower.
The lack of surviving carvings leaves it artistically uninteresting, but it is the tallest scalable temple in Angkor Thom, providing a nice view from the top. The western staircase (at the back) is the most easily ascended. Located inside the ancient Royal Palace compound, Phimeanakas served as the king’s temple.
Baphuon Temple was built in the mid-11th century. It is a three-tiered temple mountain built as the state temple of Udayadityavarman II dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. Its appearance apparently impressed Emperor Chengzong of Yuan China’s late 13th century envoy Chou Ta-Kuan during his visit from 1296 to 1297, who said it was ‘the Tower of Bronze...a truly astonishing spectacle, with more than ten chambers at its base.’ In the late 15th century, the Baphuon was converted to a Buddhist temple. A 9 meter tall by 70 meter long statue of a reclining Buddha was built on the west side’s second level, which probably required the demolition of the 8 meter tower above, thus explaining its current absence. The temple was built on land filled with sand, and due to its immense size the site was unstable throughout its history. Large portions had probably already collapsed by the time the Buddha was added.
Terrance of Leper King and Elephant was used by Angkor’s king Jayavarman VII as a platform from which to view his victorious returning army. It was attached to the palace of Phimeanakas, of which only a few ruins remain. Most of the original structure was made of organic material and has long since disappeared. Most of what remains are the foundation platforms of the complex. The terrace is named for the carvings of elephants on its eastern face.
The 350m-long Terrace of Elephants was used as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king’s grand audience hall. It has five outworks extending towards the Central Square-three in the centre and one at each end. The middle section of the retaining wall is decorated with life size garuda and lions; towards either end are the two parts of the famous parade of elephants complete with their Khmer mahouts.
Angkor Wat (The Cardamom Sanctuary)
Angkor Wat, in its beauty and state of preservation, is unrivaled. Its mightiness and magnificence bespeak a pomp and a luxury surpassing that of a Pharaoh or a Shah Jahan, an impressiveness greater than that of the Pyramids, an artistic distinctiveness as fine as that of the Taj Mahal. Actually it is a miniature replica of the universe in stone and represents an earthly model of the cosmic world.
The central tower rises from the center of the monument symbolizing the mythical mountain, Meru, situated at the center of the universe. Its five towers correspond to the peaks of Meru. The outer wall corresponds to the mountains at the edge of the world, and the surrounding moat the oceans beyond.
It was built in the first half of the 12th century (113-5BC). Estimated construction time of the temple is 30 years by King Suryavarman II, dedicated to Vishnu (Hindu), replica of Angkor Thom style of art. In fact, the word “angkor” means capital. It became one of the most architecturally complex places in the world between the 9th and the 13th centuries, but when armies from Thailand captured the city 1431, it was abandoned by most of its citizens. Then Angkor was forgotten for 400 years, the city was overrun by a jungle. The temple still stayed in great shape because of the fine sand foundations that the Khmer people had built. Rain caused the clay in the sandstone to dissolve, in effect weakening the structures.
In the year 1860, the French naturalist Alexander-Henri Mouhot rediscovered the ancient city while on a wildlife expedition. In 1991, the United Nations peace-keeping force took control of the country of Cambodia. Two years later, Cambodia’s constitution was restored in a monarchy. Now it is one of the World’s Heritage sites.
The small circuit consists of Takeo, Ta Prohm, Srah Srang, East Mobone, etc.
Takeo (the tower of crystal or glass) was built in the end of the tenth century to early 11th century dedicated to Siva (Hindu), replica to Kleang style of art. It is dripping with green and crowned with trees, but is still supreme over the forest. Its rocky masses, rising above the tops of the coconut palms, convert the impression that it only recently emerged from some cavern underground, carrying the forest with it in its rocketing ascent.
Ta Keo’s lack of ornament makes it distinctive among the works of the Khmer, who were so prodigal of decoration. But its very simplicity give it architectural importance, its plan shows the development of anew spirit in the people, the growth of good taste.
Ta Prohm (Jungle Temple) is a state of beauty, which is investigated with delight and left with regret. It is especially serene and beautiful in the early morning. A torch and a compass are useful for visiting this temple at all times. It was built about mid-12th century to early 13th century (1186) by the King Jayavarman VII, dedicated to the mother of the king (Buddhist) replica to Bayon style of art.
Shrouded in dense jungle the temple of Ta Prohm is ethereal in aspect and conjures up a romantic aura. Fig, banyan and kapok trees spread their gigantic roots over stones, probing walls and terraces apart, as their branches and leaves intertwine to form a roof over the structures. Trunks of trees twist amongst stone pillars. The strange, haunted charm of the place entwines itself about you as you go, as inescapably as the roots have wound themselves about the walls and towers’, wrote a visitor 40 years ago.
A Sanskrit inscription on stone, still in place, give details of the temple. Ta Prohm 3,140 villages. It took 79,365 people to maintain the temple including 18 great priests, 2,740 officials, 2,202 assistants and 615 dancers. Among the property belonging to the temple was a set of golden dishes weighing more than 500 kilograms, 35 diamonds, 40,620 pearls, 4,540 precious stones, 876 veils from China, 512 silk beds and 523 parasols. Even considering that these numbers were probably exaggerated to glorify the king, Ta Prohm must have been an important and impressive monument.
East Mebone, a pyramid of receding terraces on which are placed many detached edifices, the most effective being the five towers which crown the top Could any conception be lovelier, a vast expanse of sky-tinted water as wetting for a perfectly ordered temple. The East Mebon is 500metre (1,640feet) north of Pre Rup. A enter and leave the temple from the east entrance. It was built in the second half of the tenth century (952) by king Rajendravarman II, dedicated to Siva (Hindu), an ancestor temple in memory of the parents of the king with
Srah Srang (the Royal Bath) is a large lake (700 by 300 meters, 2,297 by 984 feet) with elegant landing terrace of superb proportion and scale. It was built in the end of the 12th century.
The tenth century temple of Banteay Srei (the City of Women) is renowned for its intricate decoration carved in pinkish sandstone that covers the walls like tapestry. It is an exquisite miniature; a fairy palace in the heart of an immense and mysterious forest; the very thing that Grimm delighted to imagine, and that every child’s heart has yearned after, but which mature years has sadly proved too lovely to be true. And here it is, in the Cambodian forest at Banteay Srei, carved not out of the stuff that dreams are made of, but of solid sandstone.
Banteay Samre Temple is worth the extra effort to experience the elaborate architecture, and fine carvings, although theft has mutilated many of the temple’s treasures. It was built in the 12th century and a unique feature is an interior moat with laterite paving, which when filled with water must have given an ethereal atmosphere to the temple. All of the buildings around the moat are on a raised base with horizontal mouldings, decoreated in some areas with figures framed by lotus buds.
Phnom Bakeng Hill is all natural stone. The temple on the summit was built in the late 9th or early 10th century. At the top of the hillock are 5 successive rows of 12 sanctuaries each. Here the Royal Linga - phallic symbol of the King in his divine state - was placed. The south-eastward view over the forest to the Angkor Wat towers is unequalled and the sunsets to the west over the countryside are often spectacular.
The other temples which are also interesting to see on the extra times are Thommanon & Wat Athvea.
Thommanon is one of a pair of Hindu temples built in the end of the 11th century, completed during the reign of Suryavarman II (from 1113-1150). It is located east of the Gate of Victory of Angkor Thom.
Wat Athvea was built in the 12th century and reputedly used as a training ground for workers who later built Angkor Wat. The temple is in good condition (although there are only limited numbers of carvings), and has a nice garden setting. It is close to town but does not receive many tourists, making it a pleasant spot to visit.
Tonle Sap Lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Southeast Asia and it is the most productive wetland in the world. Not including the representative of other biological resources, fish production alone providing over 75% of protein intake in the Cambodian diet. The richness of fisheries and biodiversity is explained by the unique hydrological regime of Tonle Sap Lake acting as a catalyst in the transformation of energy through physical. The Tonle Sap Lake’s age is about 5100-5600 years which was the critical moment for deposition change. As a result, the flow of the Tonle Sap River stabilizes the sediment load to the Tonle Sap Lake.
Baray Reservior is the largest man-made lake of the ancient Khmer civilization. It is difficult to believe that the West Baray is an artificial lake and not a congenital one. This gargantuan reservoir is navigable by boat, up to 5 meters deep in places, and even contains its own man-made island. Native Cambodians use the baray and its nourishing channels for irrigation, transportation, and tourism.
The silk farm is located about 20 minutes from the center of Siem Reap. We can observe the plants where they breed the worms, the process and the products.
Siem Reap is not only Angkor Wat Temples. There are lots of places to see out of Angkor Wat if we can extend our stay.
Phnom Kulen is a sacred hilltop site 48 km from Siem Reap and a national park of Cambodia. It is widely regarded as the birthplace of the ancient Khmer Empire . Of special religious meaning to Hindus and Buddhists, it was at Phnom Kulen that King Jayavarma II proclaimed independence from Java in 802 A.D.
The site is known for its carvings representing fertility and its waters which hold special significance to Hindus. Just 5 cm under the water’s surface over 1000 small carvings are etched into the sandstone riverbed. The waters are regarded as holy, given that Jayavarman II chose to bathe in the river, and had the river diverted so that the stone bed could be carved. Carvings include a stone representation of the Hindu god Vishnu lying on his serpent Ananta, with his wife Lakshmi at his feet. A lotus flower protrudes from his navel bearing the god Brahma. The river then ends with a waterfall and a pool.
The Khmer Rouge used the location as a final stronghold as their regime came to an end in 1979. Nearby is Preah Ang Thom, a 16th century Buddhist monastery notable for the giant reclining Buddha, the country’s largest one.
Kbal Spean is an Angkorian era site on the southwest slopes of the Kulen Hills.It is commonly known as the valley of a 1000 Lingas. It consists of a series of stone carvings in and around the Stung Kbal Spean River. The motifs for the stone carvings are roughly three: myriads of lingas, depicted as neatly arranged bumps that cover the surface of a rock; linga - yoni designs; and various Hindu mythological motifs, including depictions of gods and animals.
Beng Mealea is located 77 km from Siem Reap. It is largely unrestored, with trees and thick brush thriving amidst its towers and courtyards and many of its stones lying in great heaps. For years it was difficult to reach, but a road recently built to the temple complex of Koh Ker passes Beng Mealea and more visitors are coming to the site.
The temple was built in the early 12th century. Smaller in size than Angkor Wat, the king’s main monument, Beng Mealea nonetheless ranks among the Khmer empire’s larger temples. Its primary material is sandstone. Surrounded by moats, it is oriented toward the east but has entranceways from the other three cardinal directions. The basic layout is three enclosing galleries around a central sanctuary. Structures known as libraries lie to the right and left of the avenue that leads in from the east. There is extensive carving of scenes from Hindu mythology, including the Churning of the Sea of Milk and Vishnu being borne by the bird god Garuda. Causeways have long balustrades formed by bodies of the seven-headed Naga serpent.
Preah Vihear Temple is located in a pleasant environment with an attractive countryside slightly east of the mid section of the Dongrek Mountains. It is perched on the edge of a giant cliff, about 625 meters above sea level, close to the Cambodia-Thai border. The French handed over the temple to Thailand in 1954 and was returned to Cambodia on June 15, 1962, in a decision rendered by the International Court.
The temple was originally known as Sreisikharesvara, which means the power of the mountain. The temple was built over 300 years in late 9th and early 12th centuries to worship Shiva Brahmanism by four kings.
For all the grandeur of its site, perched on the edge of a giant cliff and with a commanding view over northern Cambodia, Preah Vihear is difficult to visualize as a whole. The experience is truly a memorable one – the series of ascents over the best part of a kilometer, the ornate Gopuras and the wealth of decorative detail truly staggers one’s imagination. It has been listed as one of the World’s Heritage Sites recently.
It takes about 6 hours drive from Siem Reap. We need at least one night or two nights there to explore all its grandeurs. The accommodation there is simple and only clean guesthouses with bathroom and aircon attached are available.
Poipet is a small town in western Cambodia, near the Thai border. It takes around 4-5 hours drive from Bangkok. The scenario of the Poipet border is a bustling market where the Thais and the Cambodians of the two sides trade with one another. From Poipet, you can either get to Siemreap or to Phnompenh.
The Poipet border is open from 07:30 a.m. to 17:00 p.m., and foreign tourists can obtain the visa here.
Banteay Meanchey Province
Banteay Meanchey is a Cambodian province in the northwest of the country, and its capital is named Sisophon. It’s very friendly place with the locals genuinely happy to see foreign faces and the stability that it implies.
Banteay Chhmar Temple is a historical temple, located about 59 km from provincial town. This temple was built in the 12th and 13th centuries. This enormous complex, which was a temple city, is one of the most intriguing in the Khmer empire, both for its scale and its remote location. Never excavated, Banteay Chhmar fits the picture of a lost Khmer city with its ruined face-towers, carvings, forest surroundings and bird life flying through the temple. It has a romantic and discovery feel to it. But years of war have laid waste to the temple, and thieves and villagers have removed the statues and sculptures for sale in abroad.
The temple area covers 2km by 2 and a half km. It contains the main temple complex and a number of other religious structures and a baray to its east. A mote filled with water and a huge wall inside of that encloses the center of the temple. This mote is still used to present day by locals for fishing and daily chores. A bustling small market and village bounds the east and south east and perhaps there has been continuous habitation there since the founding of the temple.
There are other temples in Banteay Meanchey province besides the Banteay Chhmar temple, including Banteay Toap, Preah Chhir and Pram temple. These temples, however, have not been conserved.
It is Cambodia’s second-largest city (urban area population is nearly 1,000,000.00 and the capital of Battambang Province. It is an elegant riverside town, home to some of the best-preserved colonial architecture in the country. Until recently Battambang was off the map for road travellers, but facilities have recently been improved and it makes a great base for visiting the nearby temples (Phnom Banon, Wat Ek Phnom, etc) and villages.
The network of charming old French shop houses clustered along the riverbank is the real highlight here, and there are a number of wats scattered around the town. The small museum has a collection of Angkorian-era artefacts, and beyond the town there’s a number of hilltop temples, yet more wats and a large lake. One of the more famous hills is Phnom Sampeau (Ship Hill) with the notorious killing caves.
We can also experience one of the unique local transportations (bamboo train) from one station to another (about 10 minutes). An antique house which is over 200 years old is also an interesting place to see.
Battambang is now a smooth, sealed 293km (181mi) bus or share-taxi ride from the capital. A railway also connects Battambang to Phnom Penh, but passenger service is only once a week. The hotels there are quiet acceptable for foreign visitors (2*/3*) but the restaurants there are simple.
Banan Temple is located on the top of 400-meter-high mountain, about 25 km from Battambang. This sandstone and late rite temple was built between the mid 11th and late 12th centuries. Work was started in the 11th century and ultimately finished in the 12th century. The temple has five towers similar to Angkor Wat, but it was constructed separately. At the foot of the mountain, there is a moat and two natural wells, Bet Meas and Chhaung.
Phnom Sampeou Mountain is about 15 km outside of Battambang. It features an Angkor-era Baray-style pool; cave shrines with skulls and bones of Khmer Rouge victims and about seven hundred steps leading up to the main temple area, with its dynamite views.
The mountaintop temple was built in 1964 and is a mix of old and new styles. As you approach the top, take the dirt path that you will see forking off to the right. It leads to another hilltop temple area about 400 meters away. In the back of that, away from the view side, is a stairway leading down to a cave. Inside are some of the skulls and bones from this area’s killing fields. Locals have brought them up here and set up a couple of shrines in caves for the spirits of the victims in the hope that they can finally rest in peace. A bit further down is a cave with some small stalagmites and stalactites. Continuing the cave circuit, there is another cave area off from these areas that has a reclining Buddha and more skulls and bones nearby. It is not a bad idea to bring a flashlight, although ladies working the temple have candles for a small donation. The stairway and the areas on the top are packed with Cambodians on holidays as they make the pilgrimage with family and friends to see this mix of the old, new and a part of the tragedy of the Khmer Rouge era.
Situated about 10 km north of the Cobra Bridge are the ruins of Ek Phnom Temple. It’s an interesting place because there is a freshly constructed working temple right in front of the ruins. This temple, along with the temple ruins, is the center of holiday festivities for the people of the nearby village. They dress up in their Sunday best and have a celebration between the old and the new temples and climb all around the ruins with their families.
It is known as being the area where many of the Khmer Rouge leaders came from and retreated after their fall. The city was during the 1980s and 1990s a major Khmer Rouge strongpoint and resource centre. Even after the death of their brutal leader Pol Pot in 1998, many Khmer Rouge leaders still remained there. Some of the leaders went into hiding in fear of punishment for their crimes, although other leaders or henchmen lived openly in the province. It is said that almost 70 percent of the area’s older men were fighters for the Khmer Rouge, but unfortunately none of the regular fighters have yet been brought to justice. As of September 2007, Pailin’s remaining Khmer Rouge leaders were being rounded up to face justice by an international tribunal, including Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea. So after years of the governmental dump contemplation regarding the crime of the Khmer Rouge, its time for lasting enlightenment of what has happen. Poipet is now more and more becoming a boomtown attracting Cambodians from around the country seeking to make their fortune, or at least a better salary than back home. Pailin was the major revenue producer for the Khmer Rouge guerrillas, being a major gem producing area as well as a prime logging area.
While gem production seems to have tapered off a bit, other business opportunities and the lifestyle have attracted prospectors to the town. Up until the surrender deal of Khmer Rouge’s number three men, Ieng Sary, in 1996, the townsfolk lived under the strict rules of the KR hierarchy, with little freedom of expression and most aspects of life being completely controlled by the paranoid regime.
Pailin is just another Wild West town of Cambodia and like the gold-rush days of California, people seem to be everywhere in the hills sifting through mud puddles and scratching at the dirt, looking to strike it rich with the find of a nice gem. Still, there is more control of some aspects of life than in other areas of Cambodia.
But this seems to have attracted people rather than kept them away. Several people, who had moved to Pailin from Phnom Penh, gave this as the main reason they made the move. They liked the idea that criminals did not enjoy the same impunity that they seem to enjoy in Phnom Penh. The influx of residents from other parts of the country has produced a friendlier Pailin.
Nowadays the mixed lots of Pailin residents seem happy to see foreigners coming in for holidays and check the place out, realizing that their presence means that normalcy and revenue are arriving in Pailin. Even the Vietnamese residents seem to have been accepted, which is truly amazing given the hatred the Khmer Rouges have generally shown them. Pailin is worth checking out. The town is nestled in a beautiful valley with picturesque sunsets over the mountains that separate Cambodia and Thailand close by.
Wat Gohng-Kahng is very famous and features the much-photographed landmark gate of Pailin town that you face as you arrive on the highway from Battambang. This wat is the centre of holiday festivities these days in Pailin and was the scene of the official Pailin reintegration ceremony in 1996, after the Ieng Sary faction of the Khmer Rouge worked out surrender and semi-autonomy deals with the Cambodian government.
We can do the day return trip from Battambang.
Kampong Thom Province
It is a picturesque town on the banks of the Stung Saen River. Located 162 km north of Phnom Penh and it is one of the five provinces surrounding Tonle Sap Lake.
The accommodation is quiet acceptable and there are 2* hotels which are neat and clean with a/c & bathroom attached. There are a few acceptable restaurants as well.
Sambor Prei Kuk Temples are the two main temples in Kompong Thom as well as other less significant Angkorian sites. This ancient city was identified as ISANAPURA, the capital of Chenla in 7th century. Many decorative details in Khmer architecture and sculpture are classified as Sambor style: the name was derived from these monuments dated in the first half of the 7th century. Henceforth this kingdom was the leading state and comprised the whole of Cambodia proper.
From the historical perspective, this group of monuments is extremely significant not only for Cambodia but also for the entire area of Southeast Asia, for they are the only remaining sound architectural constructions that exemplify the architecture and sculpture of the early period in sizable quantity.
It is the third largest city in Cambodia with a population of 63,771 people (2006) and is located on the Mekong River. Kampong Cham is 124 km from Phnom Penh. It takes about 2 hours by vehicles or 2.5 hours by boats from Phnom Penh. We can observe the following places.
Khun Lourng Preah Sdach Korn or Banteay Prey Norkor Site is a historical structure, in which ancient temples and hillocks are made of bricks. Among those temples, only Preah Theat Thom and Preah Theat Touch temple remain today.
Preah Theat Thom Temple has three towers made of bricks. The shapes of the three towers of the temple totally collapsed except the north part of the temple, which is now covered with land. The south tower temple was built in the reign of Bhavavarman I in the 6th century, between Funan and Chenla era. The temple, whose middle tower and the north tower collapsed, was built in the reign of Jayavarman II. This temple has the architecture design similar to other temples built in the country in the 9th century.
The group of Preah Theat Touch temples, which people have called Three stupas or Three Preah Theat, is smaller than Preah Theat Thom temples. Preah Theat temple, which is situated on the edge of a pond, has a rectangular shape. The temple was made of bricks and it is now severely ruined. It was built in the 6th century.
Kampong Chhnang Province
It is located just west of the Sab River and is a noted port. It is just 91 km from Phnom Penh. The economy of the area is dominated by rice production and many locals live on floating fishing villages during the high-water monsoon season. It is famous for its clay pots.
There are several acceptable guesthouses and local restaurants.
It is situated along the east of Mekong riverbank. It is about 340 km from Phnom Penh. This stretch of river is home to a group of rare Irrawaddy dolphins. The dolphins are the town’s main tourist attraction. The Mekong Dolphin Conservation project estimates that there are only 170 dolphins left in the upper Cambodian Mekong area.
There are some nice-looking homes of French and Khmer style scattered about, adding to the pleasant feel of the place. You’ll also find a bustling market which is a great place to watch frogs being skinned (and escaping first through the holes in the nets), sample some delicious foods (such as freshly grilled corn cakes) and generally take in rural Cambodian life.
The rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins make their home in the Mekong River, just north of Kratie. With only around 120 remaining, they are surely worth a visit.
Whether you are just on a trip seeing the river towns along the Mekong or taking a full circuit trip around the east and northeast, Kratie is a nice place to spend a night or two. The river scene of Kratie has a beautiful river boulevard with dozens of snack and drink stands in the late afternoon and evening, making this a nice spot to chill out and watch the people parading by. There are also a few big concrete decks along the river scene. The river road is a great place for a stroll or jog. Enjoy the dramatic sunsets over the Mekong.
There are many acceptable guesthouses to stay over one night or two. The simple local restaurants are available too.
Anlong Psaut Kampie Site (Kampie Irrawaddy Dolphin Site)
There are about 20 river dolphins living in this site and it is the biggest under-water pit among the five pits in Kratie. It was established in 1999 to welcome national and international visitors as well as the scientific researchers who like to see and study the Mekong Irrawaddy dolphins, the rare mammals in the world.
It is a natural resort located at 35-kilometer distance from the town. The resort consists of waterfall at the mountain valley, big rock having 500-square meter size, mountain full of trees and a lot of orchids and other colorfull varied flowers. At 500-meter distance from the waterfall, there is another natural and cultural resort, which has been arranged and organized by monks who make their meditation there. This resort named Rut Cham Pey having many varied statues depicting the process of human life-born and died and other religion and animal figures. In addition, there are many other natural and historical resorts, which have been putting in the projects for development by the Provincial Tourist Office such as: - The area of Tonle Sar - The area of Ang Ou Ang Krang - The area of Pra Sat Seung - The area of Ang Tropeang Baray - The area of Pra Sat Pursat - The area of Cham Kar Kuy - The area of Beung Snour - The area of Tum Nup Thmey - The area of Tuol Kruos (Killing field and prison of Khmer Rouge).
Stung Treng Province
It was formerly called Xieng Teng and was once a part of the vast Khmer Empire, then the Lao kingdom of Lan Xang and later the Lao kingdom of Champassack. During the period of French Indochina it was again ceded to Cambodia.
The provincial capital is also named Stung Treng and is an important trade hub with a few hints of Lao influence scattered about, owing to the fact that the Lao border is about 50 km away. It’s a friendly, quiet country town situated on the confluence of the San River and the Mekong River. It actually sits on the banks of the San River, with the mighty Mekong coming into the picture on the northeastern outskirts of he town.
It’s a nice place to kick back and chill out if you are on a circuit tour of the Northeast River Scene, from here to Laos.
The San River is fronted in Stung Treng by a nice stretch of paved road. It’s the centre of socializing (as in most Cambodian river towns) in the late afternoon and early evening hours as the locals ride up and down the stretch enjoying the view and each other. Drink and dessert stands spring up earlier to serve the daily merrymaking crowd. It’s a nice spot for a walk or jog any time of the day as the river road turns into a pleasant rural road that leads to the airport 4 km north of town.
The river port area just in front of the small city park is fairly busy, handling trade between Cambodia and Laos.
There are a few simple local guesthouses available as well as simple local restaurants.
It is on of the smallest and sleepiest Cambodian provinces that just happen to have one of the country’s busiest highways running straight through Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam just after you cross the Mekong River by way of the Neak Loeung Ferry. It is a sleepy town just 43 km from the Bavet border crossing. This is a fairly prosperous place as a result of the border trade traffic, business people and travellers passing trough. The town is a very friendly place and makes for a pleasant overnight stop whether coming from or going to Vietnam.
Svay Rieng town is situated near the Waiko River and its vast, scenic marshlands, the result of a wide stretch of the river drying up significantly over the years. It’s a pleasant setting and one that can be enjoyed at several different spots along the river and marsh. A bridge over the Waiko, not far from the main part of town, bears a plaque that states prime minister Hun Sen donated the bridge.
During the long Vietnam War, American forces believed that this was the place, where Vietnamese communists had their intelligence headquarter. For sure there were undoubtedly a lot of Vietnamese communists hiding especially in the South of Cambodia during much of the war, but there wasn’t a strategic centre like the Pentagon here. In 1969 the Americans began unauthorised bombing in this area and in 1970 joined with South Vietnamese forces for a big ground assault.
The word “Ratanakiri” is a derivative of the Sanskrit words Ratna (gem) and giri (mountain). Its capital, Banlung, is located in the central highlands of the province, approximately 365 miles (586 kilometers) from Phnom Penh. Ecotourism abounds, due to lush wildlife and remote tribal villages. Most of the inhabitants of Ratanakiri are indigenous minorities. Ethnic Cambodians make up only 10-20% of the total population.
The original inhabitants of the area are the Khmer Leu hill tribe people, who have always recognized the lake as a sacred place, home to the spirits of the land, water, and forest. Here those spirits interact with humans and, according to the local legend of Yeak Laom Lake, fabulous, spiritual aquatic beings reside here. The surrounding forests of the area are also said to be the home of spirits and therefore can’t be cut. This helps to explain why the hill tribe people took so strongly to the idea of protecting the area.
There are several 2* & 3* hotels which are acceptable, clean, neat and good services. However, only few local simple restaurants are available.
There are several waterfalls and two or three tribal villages.
Beung Yeak Laom Volcano Lake
It is located about 5 km south of Ban Loung provincial town. There is a lake in the middle of the mountain, which was formed many centuries ago from a volcano. The lake is about 800 meters in diameter and 48 meters deep during the dry season. The water is clear and suitable for swimming. There are two places along the bank where visitors can relax and enjoy a panoramic view of the lake, the flora and fauna.
Beung Yeak Loam is a place for worship for the hill-tribes. They believe that there is a powerful spirit who owns the surrounding land and forest. Beung Yeak Laom is popular for those who like to swim or hike in the forest surrounding the lake.
It is the most sparsely populated province in the country although being the largest province in Cambodia. Its capital is Senmonorom. Mondulkiri is known for its forested hills and powerful waterfalls. It is a candidate for eco-tourism in Cambodia.
Concerning the quietness and beauty of Sen Monorom people from other parts of the country move here and therefore the land price doubled from 2006 to 2007.
The town of Sen Monorom is the best base camp for travellers who want to explore the surrounding areas. A quiet but beautiful town nestled into the hills; it has a lot of potential to develop into a centre for non-intrusive eco-tourism. At present, it’s very undeveloped, which gives you a feeling of going somewhere off the beaten tourist trail. Add to that the communities of hill tribe people, who are not affected by mass-tourism, as they are in neighbouring Thailand, and you have an area that is very attractive to the adventure traveller.
Also interesting is the variety of languages being used: Khmer, hill tribe languages, Vietnamese and Lao. 80 percent of the population in Mondulkiri is made up of ten tribal minorities, with the majority of them being the Chunchiet from the tribe of the Phnong. The remaining 20 percent are Khmer, Chinese and Muslim Cham. Most of the population lives off the land, planting rice, fruit trees and a variety of vegetables. Others grow coffee, strawberries, rubber and cashew nuts. More and more houses are built in the typical Khmer style. Visiting the hill tribes you still can find the traditional Phnong houses. In the houses you can find traditional gongs and big jars, whereby the last ones are said to be more than a thousand years old. There are various sorts of gongs used for different occasions. Jars and gongs are among the most valuable possessions in an indigenous community, whether in traditional, spiritual or material terms. During the Khmer Rouge Regime those objects were buried in hidden places in the jungle and in many cases they still wait in the ground.
It is located 43 km from Mondulkiri town. It is considered as the most beautiful waterfall in Mondulkiri and divided into three stages:
1st Stage: The waterfall is 8 to 12 meters high and 15 meters wide in the wet season and 10 to 15 meters wide in the dry season.
2nd Stage: It is 15 to 20 meters high and 20 meters wide in the wet season and 18 to 25 meters high and 13 meters wide in the dry season. It is 150 meters from the 1st stage.
3rd Stage: This cannot be reached because it is in the deep forest. There are no marked paths and dangerous wildlife inhabits in the area.
Kampot Province is located 143 km southwest of Phnom Penh. It is on the potential coast of Cambodia boasting many natural and cultural sites of interest ot tourist, both national and international.
The city is a quiet riverside town just a few kilometers from the Gulf of Thailand. It makes a good basecamp for exploring Bokor National Park and the Bokor Hill Station. The former French resort is now in ruins and can be reached by pickup truck, dirtbike or bicycle. The beachtown of Kep is also only about an hour away. Before the war, Kampot was best known for its famous pepper, which is still widely available in Cambodia. Most visitors come here to have a look at the old French colonial architecture, which is one still in charming condition, to have a vantage point for visiting the near beaches or the small islands of Kep. Kampot province is also renowned for the quality of its fruits (durian, coconut, mango, etc.), its sea salt and of course the famous Kampot Pepper. The special fresh climate and soil type of Kampot as well as the experience from several generations of pepper farmers make this pepper unique and much sought-after by gourmets’ worlwide.
To the south end of the town is a large dusty traffic circle with three hotels arrayed around it – Phnom Kieu, Phnom Kamchay, and Tuk Chhou.
Each has its own restaurants; Tuk Chhou offers a seedy nightclub. Also on the circle is the Prachummith Restaurant, which is close by is the Amar Restaurant. To the south near the river is the GPO and telecommunications building. At the north end of town, about 1.5 km away, lays the Central Market, with quite a lot of food stalls. All Kampot transportation is concentrated within the range of the market - cycle, motors, taxis, trucks, and buses. The railway station lies further north, but isn’t used anymore.
Bokor Hill Station
It is a mountain top collection of buildings (hotel, casino, church, royal residence, etc.), constructed by French authorities in the early 1920s as a compliment to the already popular Kep resort area. In the 1990s a travel author referred to Bokor as ‘the eeriest place in the world’, and it lives up to that reputation. In its time, Bokor was an elegant getaway for French officials and foreign visitors to old Indochina. But years of neglect have left ghostly ruins - vestiges of a different age, often shrouded in fog and clouds. One thing that the years have not changed is the absolutely spectacular view of the coast and the cool (sometimes-cold) mountain air. Wild elephants and other jungle animal are occasionally seen.
Kep is a new small city with sea beach located on the southwest coast of the country, 168 kilometers away from Phnom Penh. This seaside town is the most exclusive and luxurious resort. Kep is a land that part of fishing village slat marsh, fruit farm and beach seaside. One can sarvour fresh seafood a long the seaside. From Kep one can reach by boat to another nine islands. This resort welcome guests all year round. Kep is one of the attractive seaside tourist spots after Sihanouk Ville and Koh Kong.
It is a small seaside city located 173 km from Phnom Penh. The beach is 1000 meters long and the sand is not so white as in Sihanouk Ville. However it is a big seafood market.
The city was founded in 1908 during the French colonial times. It was renovated into a beautiful seaside resort in 1960s during then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk’s Sangkum Niyum regime. The name Kep is derived from the French word “le cap”, or cape in English.
The town was named in honour of the former King. Sihanouk Ville autonomous port was constructed in 1960 and it is the sole deep sea port with large extent for coastal area in Cambodia.
It is 230 km from Phnom Penh and it covers an area of 1373.8 km². There are 119.5 km coastline, 20 creeks, 12 streams, 24 islands and other natural resources attractions.
The climate is tropical rainforest with an average temperature of 28-30 °C in the day but at night, the temperature can get down to a chilly around 21 °C. Maximum temperature is 32-34 °C (April-May) and minimum temperature is 19-21 °C (December-January).
Kirirom National Park
It was initially established as a holiday resort and tourist city in 1945. The area was named Kirirom “Joyful Mountain” by the King at the suggestion of a monk from Phnom Penh.
A hill which is 700 meters in height, covers an area of 35,000 hectares. The natural resort is decorated with a cascade, a hot grotto, a cool breeze, and many categories of pines imported from Japan.
The most south-western province of Cambodia, Koh Kong has a long undeveloped coastline and a mountainous, forested and largely inaccessible interior which embraces part of the Cardamom Mountains and a section of Kirirom National Park. Its tourist attractions include casinos and waterfalls, while an Export Processing Zone and new port facilities are being developed for trade. It is 273 kilometer from Phnom Penh (4-hour drive).
The province is an increasingly popular gateway to Cambodia from Hat Lek in eastern Thailand, in part due to the reasonably direct access to the port and beach resort town of Sihanoukville. The border is located at Cham Yeam, about 14km from Koh Kong.
Traveling to Koh Kong had become an enjoyable journey, wherein brigdes were built, the first stage in 2002, A landmark of Koh Kong was made possible by L.Y.P. Group, the first longest ever built bridge in Cambodia where you would want to experience the 1,900-meter crossing the sea connecting provincial town of Koh Kong to Koh Kong Resort and the international check point.In 2007 a new sealed road (National Route 48) has been completed from the town to Sre Ambel on the Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville highway, including the 4 remaining river crossings where bridges were opened in May 2008 which are donations by the Thai government to Cambodia.
There are few hotels & guesthouses but Koh Kong is the only one international 5* resort which has been open recently.
There are many small restaurants and places to eat but we’ve only few choices due to the quality. So we would recommend to dine mainly at the hotel.
Regarding the Nightlife, this “Village” does not sleep. There is an active nightlife. Otto’s is known as a meeting place for foreigners (open till 10pm). A few Karaoke clubs within town and a “Red Zone” is located 4 km south east of the traffic circle.
Massage is traditional style in small shops. Many stay up all night in the small restaurants which all serve drinks as well as food. Note:
The new Casino is at the “Koh Kong International Resort club” located on the Hat Lek side of the river, not in Koh Kong town. Motorbike or car taxis are available for small fees to get you there and back.