The Second Most Populous Province (BATTAMBANG)

Battambang, 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 Sampeu, 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.

BattambangBanan TempleEk Phnom TemplePhnom Sampov

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Beautiful Province (KOH KONG)

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 Phnom Penh and Preah Sihanouk 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 rainforests meet oceans. These ‘rainforests 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.

Koh Kong Mangrove Forest Koh KongKoh Kong SafariKoh Kong Mangrove Forest

Pailin-Phnom Yat

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 Yat has a good number of places where visitors can still see the gem-mining activities today.

PailinPailinPailinPailin

Province of Irrawaddy Dolphin

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.

 

Kampi Dolphin SiteVihear Sarsar Mouy RouyKampi PicnicKratie - Wat Sambok

Famous Beach in Cambodia

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.

Preah SihanoukPreah Sihanouk

With its palm-studded shores and warm, clear waters, it hardly comes as a surprise that Preah Sihanouk attracts crowds of locals, expatriates, and tourists eager for a beachside 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 beachside 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.

Preah SihanoukPreah Sihanouk

There are dozens of untouched islands off the coast of Preah Sihanouk: Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samlon 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.

Beautiful Province is Stung Treng

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 (Rattanak Kiri) and is more than just a ‘stopover’. The Sekong Bridge, itself an attraction, serves as a convenient passage to the border of Laos.

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.

 

Stung TrengLbak Khaon or Sophamith a Great WaterfallStung Treng - Sekong BridgeStung Treng - Mekong Dophin

Central Province in Cambodia

Situated in central Cambodia, Kampong Thom 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.

Kampong ThomSambo Prei Kuh TemplesKoh KeHome-stay in Baray District