Phnom Penh Capital City, once known as the ‘Pearl of Asia’, is the capital and largest city in Cambodia. It is now a cultural, commercial, and political center that offers a unique blend of traditional charm and urban bustle.
Today, Phnom Pemh is a place of diverse economic and urban growth. A swift wave of development has brought in new highrise buildings--including a 30-storey business center--restaurants catering to every palate, and stylish hotels promising all levels of luxury. Contributing to this development are burgeoning culinary and nightlife scenes that can rival any other in the region.
The alluring capital city also features a wide variety of historical and cultural attractions, along with myriad opportunities to sample local Cambodian culture. Here, classic colonial facades endure alongside sleek new eateries, golden-spited pagodas, and buzzing markets-- all evidence of the dynamic energy of Phnom Penh's city streets.
Phnom Penh's famous riverfront is lined with trendy pubs, bistros, and restaurants. Stores offering beautiful Cambodian silk products and chic galleries dot the side streets. Add to this a blooming arts scene and a heady dusk-to-dawn nightlife and you'll understand why Phnom Penh has become such a well-loved and compelling tourist destination.
Around Phnom Penh capital city
The vibrant streets of Phnom Penh are full of colorful sights. The city possesses an exciting range of historical and cultural attractions to tout, along with countless restaurants and nightspots.
For a taste of Cambodian history and royal life, visitors can tour the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda located just next to the palace grounds. A short walk away, the National Museum beckons with room after room of Khmer sculpture, ceramics, bronzes, and ethnographic objects. To get a taste of city life, visitors can walk along Sothearos Boulevard, sampling local foods and patronising a clutch of ‘antique’ shops that sell silver trays, betel boxes, belts, ancient coins, silver or wooden statuettes and famed marble carvings from the province of Pursat,
Visitors may also find it pleasant to take leisurely strolls around Phnom Penh. Boulevards peppered by elegant colonial buildings and a bustling riverfront lined with cafes and restaurants make this a truly beautiful city to see on foot.
For those interested in shopping, ‘Phsar Toul Tum Poung’ also known as Russian Market offers antique pieces, sundry sounvenir items, and factory over-run designer clothing at hugely discounted prices. Visitors who prefer air-conditioned comfort may opt to stop in the city's modern shopping complexes (Sorya Shopping Centre, Sovanna Centre and the City Mall).
A sunset cruise down Phnom Penh's Tonle Sap river serves as a perfect, relaxing end to an activity-filled day. Catch the soft river breezes and watch as Cambodia's capital begins to light up and shimmer for the evening.
Siem Reap province located in northwestern Cambodia, is the gateway to the world-famous Angkor temple complex, which includes the magnificent Angkor Wat. The province also contains a vibrant capital city boasting many luxury hotels, beautifully-aged colonial buildings, a buzzing Pub Street, silk farm, markets, and much more.
The city of Siem Reap, also the capital of the province, is a ‘must-visit’ destination for all visitors to Cambodia. This is where the glorious 12th Century Angkor Wat temple, the largest religious building in the world, is located. Situated on the northern bank of the Tonle Sap Great Lake, this mesmerizing eighth wonder of the world can be easily accessed by plane, land, and boat.
The ruins of Angkor, located in thick jungle, are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are over one thousand temples ranging in scale from nondescript piles of rubble scattered through rice fields to the awe-inspiring Angkor Wat--the best-preserved temple.
Apart from the legacy of the vast Angkor temple complex, Siem Reap has a lot more to offer to tourists, from the spectacular floating village on the Tonle Sap Lake to the heritage site of the Kulen mountain, to the recently discovered Koh Khe ruins.
In town, there are a bevy of ethnic craft shops, galleries, cafes, eateries and top-notch restaurants serving every type of cuisine. The famous ‘Pub Street’ and the night markets of Siem Reap are now renowned tour destinations in their own rights. Additionally, silk farm, rice-paddy countryside, fishing villages and a very rich bird sanctuary near the Tonle Sap Lake make Siem Reap one of the most captivating places in the world.
The province of Siem Reap is conveniently situated 314 km northwest of Phnom Penh, along National Road No 6. It can be reached all year round by National Road No 6 from Phnom Penh, Poipèt Border Checkpoint from BanteayMeanChey, KampongCham Province and KampongThom Province, and by National Road No 5 and 6 from KampongChhnang province, Pursat province and BattamBang province.
How to reach Siem Reap Province
Siem Reap is accessible by direct flights from many major cities in the region including Bangkok, Danang, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Paksé, Vientiane, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kunming, Taipei, etc. From the capital of Phnom Penh, Angkor Air operates several direct flights per day to and from Siem Reap.
There are also speedboats operating along the Tonlé Sap from Phnom Penhand BattamBang Province.
Preah Sihanouk province is Cambodia's most famous beach town. Better known as Kampong Som to locals, it is about 230 km southwest of Phnom Penh and boasts pristine white-sand beaches, unspoiled tropical islands, and a dynamic nightlife.
With its palm-studded shores and warm, clear waters, it hardly comes as a surprise that Preah Sihanouk province attracts crowds of locals, expatriates, and tourists eager for a beach side holiday. Do as locals do and enjoy the stretches of powdery white sand with a chilled coconut and some toothsome grilled seafood. Or, indulge in a beach side massage, take a dip in the sea, and go for dinner in any of the local restaurants that serve fresh crabs, prawns, lobsters, fish, and scallops in a mouth-watering array of styles.
There are dozens of untouched islands off the coast of Preah Sihanouk : Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem both feature blissfully uncrowded beaches with palm-shaded shorelines. Being a beach town, there are also many sea-based activities for adventuous visitors, including boating, island-hopping, fishing, diving and snorkeling in crystal clear waters. For the expert enthusiast who wants to explore the mysterious underwater world of coastal Cambodia, the province has PADI Dive Centers and qualified instructors who know just the right spots to take you. In the evenings, the nightlife heats up, and those in search of pulsing bars and nightclubs won't be disappointed. Many entertainment venues, especially those on Weather Station Hill, stay open well into the wee hours.
BattamBang province located in northwestern Cambodia, contains the second most populous city in the country after Phnom Penh. The provincial capital, also BattamBang , has always been a popular destination for its nearby ancient temples, French colonial architecture, and Buddhist shrines.
Sitting on the Sangker River just south west of the Tonle Sap Lake, BattamBang town is at the heart of Cambodia's 'rice bowl', and it maintains an untouched, bucolic feel. The streets are filled with remarkably well-preserved French colonial buildings alongside traditional Cambodian houses. The nearby countryside harbors old pagodas, Angkorian era ruins, caves, waterfalls, and Khmer Rouge period killing fields.
Places of interest include Phnom Sampao, a hill with caves of Buddha statues; the 12th Century Prasat Snung, Wat Banan, an Angkorian temple now occupied as a Buddhist shrine; Wat Baydamram where thousands of fruit bats reside, and Wat Ek Phnom.
Rattanakiri is the mountainous northeastern frontier province of Cambodia that borders Laos to the north, Vietnam to the east, Mondulkiri province to the south, and Stung Treng Province to the west. It extends from the mountains of the AnnamiteRange in the north, across a plateau between the Tonle San and Tonle Srepok rivers. Famed for its stunning natural beauty and ethnic diversity, Rattanak Kiri is full of natural and cultural treasures just waiting to be discovered. Its capital is Banlung City.
To the south of Rattanakiri is Mondulkiri, the most sparsely populated province in Cambodia, despite being the largest in land area. This province is known for its thickly-forested hills, verdant landscapes, and cascading waterfalls. Its capital is Sen Monorom.
Though remote, Mondulkiri will awe visitors who make the trip with its otherworldly tranquility and beauty. To truly appreciate this province, one should arrange for a trek (or an elephant ride!) through the area's lush jungles to enjoy unspoiled scenery and the bracing fresh air, not to mention some of the country's most spectacular waterfalls. Few visitors will pass up the chance to soak in the rare and dramatic beauty of a waterfall tucked in the thick of the MondulKiri jungle. Mondulkiri also offers a handful of unforgettable cultural attractions. Many visitors enjoy a stop at the Phnong minority villages where they can observe the rich culture belonging to local hill tribes. There are even opportunities to experience cultural community life on the edges of the forest through ‘home stay’ arrangements in the corridor zone of Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mondulkiri Protected Forest.
Stung Treng is a beautiful province located on a high sandy bank overlooking the Mekong River. It is about 455 km from Phnom Penh and some 40 km to the Laos border. This charming city is linked to Banlung (Rattanakiri) and is more than just a ‘stopover’. The Sekong Bridge, itself an attraction, serves as a convenient passage to the border of Lao country.
There are several noteworthy attractions in the province of Stung Treng. The incredible Sopheakmith Waterfall never ceases to mesmerise visitors, and neither does the stretch of the mighty Mekong, which is home to the incredibly rare Irrawaddy dolphins.
The Thala Barivat is only 4 kilometers from the provincial town. This is accessible by crossing the Se Kong River. Thala Barivat is the historical site where the Preah Ko, a 7th century brick temple of King Jayavarman I is located. Preah Ko is consists of six brick towers arranged in two rows of three towers each perched on a sandstone platform. This is one of the earliest temples built during the Angkor era.
Here in the vicinity are a few other small ancient temples; the Prambuon Lveng Temple, Srei Temple and the Angkor Kmao Temple. The Hang Kho Ba Pagoda, a 300 year old temple in the Hang Kho Ba Village, is also only about 6 Kilometers from the provincial town and worth the while to pay a visit.
Stung Treng province is also famous for sweet tamarind Pa Si Yi fish, a local delicacy enjoyed by many tourists.
Kratie Province located on the east bank of the Mekong River, attracts a fair share of visitors, many of whom wish to catch a glimpse of the last few Irrawaddy Dolphins left in the world. The recommended place to see them is Kampi Village, about 15 kilometers from town. Irrawaddy Dolphins are an endangered species and are extremely rare; it is estimated there are only about 60 living in this stretch of the river.
The town of Kratie offers an authentic rural ambience, and therefore serves as the perfect place to spend a peaceful night or two. It is a nice relief from some of the country’s more trafficked areas.
There numerous sites to visit in Kratie. Phnom Sombok is a small temple located on a hill north of town. A long flight of steps lead into a pavilion of Phnom Sombok that features detailed photos of afterlife punishments to those who have sinned in the present life. Wat Roka Kandal is a restored pagoda with an ancient Lao style ‘Stupa’ on the riverfront about 2 kilometers from the town center. Nearby lies a more modern pagoda where chanting of the monks can be heard at dawn and in the evenings. About 15 kilometers from town, there is a large Cham community. This is known locally as the ‘basket-weaving’ village; it is the biggest in Kratie with over 4000 villagers living here.
A popular end-of-the-day activity in Kratie is to relax by the riverfront to watch the sun set.
Preah Vihear province, which borders Thailand and Laos to the north, is home to three of the most captivating temples of the Angkorian era: the Preah Vihear temple, the Koh Khe temple, and the Preah Khan Kampong Svay temple. It also houses communities of many ethnic hill tribes.
Koh Khe used to be a capital of the Khmer Emperor King Jayavarman IV who built this city in the year 921AD. Some parts of the temples are still hidden in the jungle and are not accessible. The Preah Vihear temple is most significant in this province.
The temple of Preah Vihear, dedicated to Shiva, is situated on the edge of a plateau that dominates the plain of Cambodia. The temple is composed of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases over an 800 metre long axis and dates back to the first half of the 11th century AD. Nevertheless, its complex history can be traced to the 9th century, when the hermitage was founded. This site is particularly well preserved, mainly due to its remote location. It is exceptional for the quality of its architecture, which is adapted to the natural environment and the religious function of the temple, as well as for the exceptional quality of its carved stone ornamentation.
A unique architectural complex of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases on an 800 metre long axis, this temple is an outstanding masterpiece of Khmer architecture, in terms of plan, decoration and relationship to the spectacular landscape environment.
Preah Khan Kampong Svay, also known as Prasat Bakan, is a complex of gigantic proportions located in the southwest corner of Preah Vihear province. It covers an area 4 times that of the Angkor Wat with a 3 km long Baray and a large number of towers or Prasats within the compound. Largely unknown and rarely visited, the temple had been very badly looted over the years.
Through the energetic efforts of the Royal Government of Cambodia under the wise, brilliant leadership of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN SEN, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Preah Vihear temple was listed and declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO on July 8, 2008.
Kampot, the third largest coastal province in Cambodia, shares a border with Vietnam to the east and extends into the Gulf of Siam to the south. Elegant colonial architecture, spectacular natural attractions, and bucolic charm make this province a favorite among locals, expatriates, and more recently, tourists.
Kampot's languid atmosphere and quaint, small-town feel are easy to fall in love with; many who stay in the province do so on the relaxed riverside, where visitors can swim in waters full of bioluminescent plankton or take a smooth kayak ride down the river.
Kampot is more than just a sleepy riverside town, however. The province offers plentiful historical and natural wonders to discover, and serves as a common gateway to Bouk Ko national park, the beaches of Kep, the beautiful rapids of Teuk Chhuo and other attractions in southwestern Cambodia.
Bouk Ko national parkis popular for its cool mountain climate and remains a year-round favorite among-st locals and foreigners alike. The scenery from the top is captivating, especially in the morning hours when one can literally touch the clouds and take in the bracing mountain air.
Other attractions include the Popokvil Waterfall where thundering falls provide a cool, refreshing pool to dip in. A short distance across the track, the Teuk Chhuo Rapids is yet another popular tourist attraction. The Prek Ampal Resort, Kampong Trach Resort and the Anlong Pring Bird Sanctuary are also worthwhile stops in Kampot.
Kep (Crab City ) is a province on Cambodia's southern coast, is a former resort town known throughout Cambodia for its relaxed, sun-dappled beaches and mouth-waveringly fresh crabs. In recent years, the province has undergone a revival, with many foreign and domestic visitors making the trip to indulge in its luxurious beach side resorts, tropical islands, and toothsome seafood.
During Cambodia's golden years before 1970, this lush coastal region was a seaside playground for affluent. Although Kep's beaches may not be in the same league as those in Preah Sihanouk, travelers seek out its tranquil atmosphere and unadulterated coasts.
A small section of the beach doubles as a regular crab-trading depot and the Crab Market (Psar Kdam) on the water’s edge serves as a popular tourist destination.
Fishermen bring in baskets of crabs by the boatload, and waterfront restaurants cook them fresh, usually boiled with a few fragrant sticks of famed Kampot's pepper. Fish, squid and prawns are also on offer, often cooking slowly over coals at the front of all the restaurants.
For a relaxing day trip, visitors often travel to a nearby island such as Rabbit Island (Koh Thonsáy), which is only a short boat ride off Kep's coast. Here, you'll find beautiful seaside views, bamboo platforms and basic bungalows, and plenty of rustic charm. A boat back during the evening sunset is not to be missed.
Those looking to take a break from beach-side lounging may wish to visit some of the local limestone caves, some of which contain holy shrines.
Koh Kong is a quaint border province that has long had a reputation as a 'Wild West' frontier location. Situated at the southwestern tip of the country near the mouth of the Kah Bpow River, the city is only 10 kilometers from the Thai border. Koh Kong has a long coastline and a large forested interior that embraces part of the Cardamom Mountains and a section of Kirirom National Park. Its tourist attractions include a theme park, beaches, waterfalls and a rich mangrove forest.
There are many offshore islands nearby Koh Kong, the most interesting of which is Koh Kong Khoa, a practically uninhabited jungle paradise with seven magnificent white sandy beaches. This island is only about a forty five minute water taxi ride from shore.
Koh Kong has enjoyed quite a few tourism development projects that have turned the province into a great tour destination. The province is linked to Penh Penh and KampongSpeu province via Sre Ambel by National Route 4. This newly built road provides visitors yet another option to access the province by road. A drive on this road is highly recommend to those who love nature; the road winds through some of Cambodia's least developed and unspoiled regions - the Cardamom Mountains. Amidst thick forest, streams and charming waterfalls, the adventure rewards with scenic sites for stopovers and great photography.
Mangroves are spread along the coast from Kep to Koh Kong, and they cover an area of over 50,000 hectares in Koh Kong. Mangroves are specialized tropical trees that live on the edge where rain forests meet oceans. These ‘rain forests by the sea’ are rich breeding grounds for shrimps, prawns, crabs, shellfish, snails and fishes, especially the beautiful Mud skippers that seem to enjoy the surface more than being in water. They are also nesting sites for many shore birds, lizards, sea turtles, and many other exotic animal species.
KampongThom situated in central Cambodia, KampongThom is one of five provinces located at the lower part of the Tonle Sap Lake and rich in historical sites such as temples from the pre-Angkorian era. The famous Sambor Prei Kuk, an ancient city that has about two hundred brick temples is located here in this province. The city was built during the time of King Isanavarman when he successfully united the territories of Chenla Kork and the Khmer water territory of Chenla Toek. Sambo Prei Kuk served as the capital of the Khmer Empire for many centuries. It is interesting to first visit Sambor Prei Kuk before visiting the splendid Angkor complex, as its design and style are the foundations that inspired the Angkor civilization.
Kandal is a province in central Cambodia that completely surrounds Phnom Penh. It's capital is Ta Khmau, and it contains Udong, the former capital of the country between 1618 and 1866. A number of kings, including King Norodom, were crowned in Udong.
Takeo, bordering Vietnam to the south, is blessed with natural beauty and many historical sites. Takeo is often recognized as “the cradle of the Cambodian civilization,” and contains several significant pre-Angkorian sites.
While heading towards Takeo, make a trip to Phnom Chisuo to visit a well-preserved 11th century temple from the Angkor era. The temple is built on the crest of the hill and surrounded by panoramic views of the countryside. The climb up-- 503 steps-- to the top may be vigorous, but the stunning view of the countryside at the end makes it truly worthwhile. This ancient temple is now an active one where Buddhists make pilgrimages on religious occasions. There are monks’ quarters and a school. Fine carvings of Hindu deities can still be seen on the towers and at the libraries, and unique carvings decorate the door of the main temple.
In Takeo, the Tonle Bati—a favourite recreational spot for the locals during leisure—is a pleasant place to stop by for a standard Khmer meal. The nearby Tonle Bati Temple is a ‘largely intact’ Angkorian-style temple with a picturesque garden. The Yeay Pov Temple, named after King Ta Prohm’s mother, is another another historical temple situated near the popular Tonle Bati..
For families, a visit to the Phnom Tamao wild life rescue centre is an enriching trip. The centre was set up to preserve rescued rare and endangered local wildlife. Eighty hectares of the area serves as a zoo for visitors.
KampongCham is one of the most highly-populated provinces in Cambodia and most likely the province with the most fertile land as well. The soil is mostly red in colour. Tobacco, soya-beans, rubber and other tropical produce are grown and exported from heThe charming city is the best place to get a feel of the “real” Cambodia. While remnants of French colonial rule remain, modern developments have done quite a bit to give the city a more contemporary look. However, the real charm of KampongCham lies with its people: hospitable, happy-go-lucky folks who are welcoming to tourists the Kizona, the longest bridge built across the Mekong River, connects the country's northeastern regions to the city. KampongCham also has its fair share of captivating 12th Century temples. The Noko BaChey, the Han Chey and the Phnom Pros-Phnom Srei are all worth a visit.
KampongChhnang is a province well known for its fine clay pottery. The name of the province says it all in Khmer: KampongChhang means "Port of Pottery". The people of this province enjoy making pots, vases and various others types of ceramics during the off harvest season.
Interesting sights in the province include two floating villages and a hamlet famous for its distinctive pottery.
The quiet village of Ondong Rossey is where the area's famous red pottery originates. Almost every household in this region populated by serene rice fields dotted with sugar palms is making some form of pottery or so. The pots, mostly unpainted but decorated with etched or appliqué designs, are either made with a foot-spun wheel (smaller pieces) or banged into shape with a heavy wooden spatula (larger ones). The intricate process is fascinating to observe.
A short boat ride from the waterfront will take travelers to two amazing floating villages: Phoum Kandal to the east and Chong Kos to the northwest. Many of the village inhabitants there are ethnic Vietnamese. Living on the water, they have all the amenities a mainland village would have - houses, shops, vendors, petrol station and even a mosque.
KampongSpeu, west of Phnom Penh and almost on the capital's doorstep, is a province that’s often overlooked, but an ideal place to get off the beaten track. Speu is the Khmer word for “starfruit”, but KampongSpeu is actually famous for its palm sugar, which is considered the best in the Kingdom. The province also produces plenty of teuk t'not chu, or palm wine.
Mount Aoral (Phnom Aoral) is tallest mountain located in this landlocked province bordered by Kandal, Koh Kong, Pursat, Kampot, Takeo and KampongChhnang. It is at 1813 meters above sea level.
Pursat province located on the western side of the Tonle Sap lake, Pursat province is covered mainly by moutainous terrain. Although the province is not home to many ancient temples, the highlight of this province concerns the history of the war between Siamese and the Khmers that took place just before the French Colonial era in Cambodia. An popular historical site is that of the Tomb of Oknha Klang Meung, the Cambodian hero who led the war against Siamese and defeated them in 1482.
While in Pursat, visit the floating town of Kampong Luang, and take in the natural beauty of the Ouda. These are unspoiled attractions that this charming province boasts. This is also a town known for its top-quality marble. Besides farming, most of the residents make their living sculpting using marble as the main medium.
Kampong Luang, a town floating on the Tonle Sap Lake is just 40 km away from the Pursat town center. The floating village includes a police station, schools, restaurants, a clinic, shops and bars. The town is self-sufficient and is equipped with all the facilities of a grounded city.
The Ouda, a remote attraction, refreshes even the most tired travelers with its gorgeous scenery and tranquility. Any stress brought on by the challenges of work or family life will be carried away in the natural splendor of the river, which flows from the Arai River in the Cardamom Mountains. The mouth of the river, approximately 500 meters wide, is framed by thousands of large and small rocks. During the rainy season, the crystal clear water crashes over the smooth stones, but when the rains dry up, sentimental travelers can take a seat on the rocks to reflect on their journey. Opened just a few years ago, Ouda is located in Rokat Commune in Kravanh district 58 km from Pursat town.
Pursat and its surrounding attractions are sure to season even the savviest traveler. Lunch along the highway, dip into history with Oknha Kleang Mueng, a floating village tour, and a bathe in the healing waters of Ouda for an unforgettable trip.
OtdarMeanChey which lies in northwestern Cambodia, is the province where the former Khmer Rouge army maintained their last stronghold. The town of Anlong Veng, which housed the last home for Pol Pot--the notorious Khmer Rouge leader--has been earmarked by the Royal Cambodian Government as one of the country's historical sights. The provincial capital is Samraong.
Though remote, OtdarMeanChey has several historical sites worth visiting. In Anlong Veng district, along Road 68, about 100 kilometers east of OtdarMeanChey provincial town, is a house once owned by former Khmer Rouge Commander Ta Mok. From 1979 until late1997, this area was organized and controlled by the Khmer Rouge armies. Some remaining statues describe the way the rebels lived and how they arranged their troops during their bloody struggle against the government.
Additionally, there is a pile of tires in the forest that is thought to be the funeral pyre and burial site of Pol Pot, the leader of Khmer Rouge. Visitors who stop in OtdarMeanChey often make the visit to Anlong Veng to see and photograph the sites associated with the former regime.
The Cambodian-Thai border check point of Ou Smach is about 41km from the provincial town. At the border, there are restaurants, casinos and hotels.
Pailin is a province on the northern edge of the Cardamom Mountains in western Cambodia, 25km from the border of Thailand. This province is surrounded by BattamBang province, and was officially carved out of BattamBang to become a separate administrative division after the surrender of the Khmer Rouge in 1996. A handful of natural attractions are await in Pailin, including scenic mountains, waterfalls, and a lush bamboo forest. Its capital is Pailin city.
Another interesting sites for tourists is Wat Rattanak Sorphon, a Burmese style pagoda that is more than 570 years old. With beautiful Burmese characters are inscribed on the gates, this pagoda is evidence of early Burmese settlement in this area. Indeed, the Burmese were the first people to discover the precious gems in the region, and Pailin subsequently became the largest mining center for sapphires and rubies in Indochina. Phnom Yet has a good number of places where visitors can still see the gem-mining activities today.
BanteayMeanChey province situated in northwestern Cambodia, BanteayMeanChey “Fortress of Victory” in Khmer--is a charming province that offers a wide selection of natural and historical attractions, including ancient temple complexes, wildlife reserves, and a crane sanctuary. Though primarily known to visitors for its Thai-Cambodian border crossing in Poipet, BanteayMeanChey is much more than just a passing-through spot. Adventurous travelers will find the province presents plenty of opportunities to sample authentic Khmer culture and take in the stunning natural beauty Cambodia has to offer. BanteayMeanChey's capital is Serei Sophon (also known as Sisophon).
The main attraction in BanteayMeanChey is the 12th century temple of BanteayChhmar.
Built under Jayavarman VII between the 12th and 13th centuries, the BanteayChhmar temple complex is a lesser-known, but equally magnificent, alternative to the Angkor Wat temples. Just two hours from Siem Reap, BanteayChhmar is a unique historical treasure: a massive, sprawling temple complex tucked away in a largely-untouched location, surrounded by lush vegetation. BanteayChhmar temple is one of the two temple complexes outside of Angkor that feature massive stone “face-towers” bearing Bayon-style enigmatic smiles. Abundant sandstone bas-reliefs in the temples depict images of mythical Cambodian battles along with scenes from daily life.
The enormous complex of BanteayChhmar is perhaps one of the most intriguing in the Khmer empire, both in terms of its scale and its relative seclusion. This mysterious temple complex embodies perfectly the image of a lost Khmer city; ruined structures with exotic carvings are strewn about in dense forest surroundings, while the occasional bird call echoes through the temple walls to break the stillness. Those who visit the temple will find many beautiful carvings hidden among st the ruins and broken colonnades.
In the vicinity, there are at least a dozen smaller temples, all in ruinous state. These include Prasat Mebon, Ta Prohm, Prom Muk Buon, Yeay Choun, Pranang Ta Sok and Prasat Ciem Trey.
Banteay Chhmar is not on the tourist map, but a trip to this exotic site is one adventure you will harbor in your memory for a long time.
Prey Veng is a small but heavily populated agricultural province located on the southeastern banks of the mighty Mekong. The name of the province literally means ‘tall forest’, but it no longer has those lush forests as most of trees had been chopped down over the years.
Tour wise, there is not much to see. However, during the pre-Angkorian times, this must have been one of the most populated and lively areas of the country. One of the earliest pre-Angkorian kingdoms is located in the area around Ba Phnom.
This is also a good stopover on the way to KampongCham or Vietnam. The town itself preserves a few old colonial buildings, evident of it being a lively and important center in the old days. It has its fair share of temples as well. The Chong Srok temple may be worth a visit. Otherwise, there is the Ba Phnom resort, the Ba Ray An Det resort and Viel Brang to relax at.
Like the province of Svay Rieng, this province is also off the tourist maps, leaving backpackers the ones benefiting from this quaint province.
Svay Rieng may be one of the smallest provinces in Cambodia, but it has the country's busiest highway running right through town. National Highway No 1 links Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam just after the Mekong River via the Neak Loeung ferry point. Here is the international gateway of Bavet which leads to Vietnam.
This is a prosperous town reaping the benefits of the border trade traffic. There is a lively marketplace and the people here are friendly. The province comes with good food and great accommodation options.
Nearby, the Waiko River and its vast, scenic marshlands provide pleasant settings for photography. Not far from town is a bridge over the Waiko donated by prime minister Hun Sen.
The allure of this pretty province is not just in its conveniences; its friendly nature, the beautiful Prey Basak lake area just outside of town and the Prasat Prasat temple make this a worthwhile stopover. There are a couple of little known temple ruins here in Svay Rieng as well; they are the Prasat Chea Hao and Prasat Basac.
The province of Svay Rieng is off the tourist maps but it is great for those who want a slice of rural life in Cambodia
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