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Kampong Thom
1.Introduction

Kampong Thom is Cambodia's second largest province by area. Its capital is named Kampong Thom, a picturesque town on the banks of the Stung Saen River.The Sambor temple and Prei Kuk temple are the two main temples in Kompong Thom as well as other less significant Angkorian sites. Kompong Thom was a very powerful capital in Southeast Asia during the Funan period. Later on, during the French rule, the province was home to a large group named the Stieng, but they have long been assimilated into Khmer society.Kampong Pos Thom was the original name of the present called Kampong Thom. Because originally long time ago, at the dock of the Sen River next to a big natural lake, there was a big cave with a pair of big snakes inside. The people living around this area usually saw these big snakes every Buddhist Holiday.

Time after that, the snakes disappeared, and the people of that area called it Kampong Pos Thom. Then, only short words Kampong Thom. During the French colony in Cambodia, the French ruled and divided Cambodian territory into provinces, and named them according to the spoken words of the people Kampong Thom Province.The provincial capital Kampong Thom is another bustling town on the banks of the Stung Sen River. The town itself is strategically located on the National Highway No 6 between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Its more a stopover to have a break from driving long distances or to eat something on the way to Siem Reap or Phnom Penh, than a very touristic place. Despite the town itself people come to explore the pre-Angkorian Chenla capital Sambor Prei Kuk, the remote temples of Preah Khan and Prasat Preah Vihear. 

2.Geography

Kampong Thom is a province located at the central point of the Kingdom of Cambodia.The province has a total land area of 15,061square kilometres divided into 8 districts, 81 communes and 737 villages. The province borders in the North with Preah Vihear and Siem Reap, to the East with Kratie, to the South with Kampong Cham and to the West with Kampong Chhnang.

The province is divided into two parts:

  • Eastern part of National Road 6: Covers 70% surface consisting of forests and plateaus, which are rich in natural resources for a good and profitable agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry.
  • Western part of National Road 6: Covers 30% surface consisting of plain area extending to the famous Tonle Sap Lake. This area is one of the best areas in Cambodia for rice cultivation and fishing to support the needs of the province and to additionaly export them to other areas or Countries. Two of the three core areas in Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve are located in Kampong Thom: Boeng Chhmar (14,560 hectares), and Stung Saen (6,355 hectares). 
3.Climate

The country has a tropical climate warm and humid. In the monsoon season, abundant rain allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of crops. This year-round tropical climate makes Cambodia ideal for developing tourism. Travellers need not to fear natural disasters such as erupting volcanoes or earthquakes, and the country is not directly affected by tropical storms.

Climate: Cambodia can be visited throughout the year. However, those plans to travel extensively by road should be avoided the last two months of the rainy season when some countryside roads may be impassable. The average temperature is about 27 degrees Celsius; the minimum temperature is about 16 degrees. December and January are the coolest months, whereas the hottest is April.

General information about the provincial climate:

  • Cool season: November- March (20-28c)
  • Hot season: March- May (30c -35c)
  • Rainy season: May - October (23-30c, with humidity up to 90%.) At this time of year it rarely rains in the morning: most precipitation come in the afternoon, and even then, only sporadically. Rainfall varies considerably from area to area, whereas the seaward slopes of the Southwest highlands (Kompong Som and Kampot provinces) receive more than 5,000 mm of rain per annum, the central lowlands average only about 1,400 mm.
     
4.Population

Kampong Thom is Cambodia's second largest province by area. Its capital is named Kampong Thom, a picturesque town on the banks of the Stung Saen River.The Sambor temple and Prei Kuk temple are the two main temples in Kompong Thom as well as other less significant Angkorian sites. Kompong Thom was a very powerful capital in Southeast Asia during the Funan period. Later on, during the French rule, the province was home to a large group named the Stieng, but they have long been assimilated into Khmer society.Kampong Pos Thom was the original name of the present called Kampong Thom. Because originally long time ago, at the dock of the Sen River next to a big natural lake, there was a big cave with a pair of big snakes inside. The people living around this area usually saw these big snakes every Buddhist Holiday.

The total population of Kampong Thom is 708,398 person or 4.5% of the total population (14,363,519 person in Cambodia, 2007, provincial government data) with a growth rate of 2.4%, which is consisting of 343,478 person or 48.3% who are male and 364,920 person or 51.7% who are female. The above number also consists of 517,072 person or 85.0% who are farmers, 28,150 person or 4.60% who are fishermen, 91,248 person or 15% who are traders, 5,884 person or 0.97% who are government's officers. 

5.Economy

Kampong Thom is also a province, rich in tourism potentials to attract national and international tourists such as the exotic lakes, rivers, forests, mountains and more than 200 ancient temples. Much of Kampong Thom is located on the floodplain of Lake Tonle Sap. In 2003-04 it was a significant harvester of wild fish (18,800 tons) and the fourth largest producer of fish through aquaculture in Cambodia (1,800 tons). Most fish-raising is home production, with a growing segment devoted to rice field aquaculture.

Kampong Thom is also one of the largest producers of cashew nuts in Cambodia, with 6,371 hectares under production. The Riel is the local currency. However, the US Dollar is accepted (4,000 Riel to one U.S.D, July 05) and it is best to carry small denominations. Credit cards, Traveler's Cheques and foreign currencies are accepted in major hotels, souvenir shops and banks. Newly installed Credit Card Teller distribution machines are now available in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. 

6. How to Get There

Bus

The province has a very basic road network, which links Phnom Penh (165km) and Siem Reap (150km) with the National Highway No 6, and the separate National Road 64 to Preah Vihear province with a distance of 126 km. After a rebuild of the former dust road that was long overdue, this is now one of the best roads in the Country. There is lots of bus companies going from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap or back, so while they pass Kampong Thom its easy to drop off there. The companies such as Sorya (near Central Marlket), G.S.T. or Capitol (Str. 182) go usually 7am, 8am, 9am and again midday 12am, 1pm, 2pm to Siem Reap. Prices to Kampong Thom are between US$1.5-2.5.

Share Taxi:

If you want to shorten the time spend on the trip to Kampong Thom you may take on of the share taxis, mostly leaving near the central market. As they aren?t really the comfortable version of travelling you?ll even have to pay more as with the bus (approx. US$3-6).

  • Phnom Penh to Kampong Thom 12,000riel (Same in reverse).
  • Kampong Thom to Siem Reap 15,000riel (5-6 hours).
  • Kampong Thom to Tbeng Meanchey (4-6 hours) 26,000riel.

Motorcycle Touring Info:

Phnom Penh to Kampong Thom

Security in all directions is no longer a problem. As mentioned earlier, the road from Phnom Penh is in good shape. Starting at the Japanese Bridge in Phnom Penh, head out National Highway No 6 to Skon, where you go left at the traffic circle (it has a statue of kids holding a bird). This takes you the rest the way.

Kampong Thom to Siem Reap

It?s a 145 km ride, with the road in nice shape for a while after you leave Kampong Thom town, then it gets a little rougher, but much re-grading work has been done. It's not like it used to be; bomb crater holes used to be so deep that during the rainy season one could have a family picnic at a crater's shoreline.

The Kampong Thom-Tbeng Meanchey (See warning below)

To take the 137 km journey, you follow Highway 6 toward Siem Reap for 5 km to the fork in the road. A sign in English will point to the right side of the fork for TM Chey (Tbeng Meanchey town, Preah Vihear Province) down on Highway No 12. The road here is much improved, as there has been a lot of resurfacing done to accommodate the droves of logging trucks heading to and from Preah Vihear province. The downside of the easier road is the dust that the trucks whip up as they chug along the road. It can be a real hazard as the thick dust clouds practically blind you from seeing possible oncoming traffic when you want to pass these slow moving vehicles.

The final 37 km stretch through the mountains and into Tbeng Meanchey is still tough going. This is how the entire road used to be - bomb craters, erosion galleys, and rocks are all here for your motorcycle fun. It can actually be enjoyable stretch, because the scenery is brilliant. This stretch can also be done during the rainy season, though the road may be slippery and dotted with small mud ponds after heavy rains. Enjoy it. 

7.What to See

Sambo Preykuk is a cultural and historical site located in Sambo village, Sambo commune, Prasat Sambo district, about 25 kilometers northeast of Kampong Thom provincial town. The site was once an old capital named Isanapura and a religious center for the worship of Shiva Brahmanism.

Many temples were built in Sambo Preykuk during the reign of King Isanavarman I (AD 616- 635) in the 7th century. The temples of Sambo Preykuk constructed of solid brick, laterite and sandstone and decorated by bas-reliefs. The lintel, pillars and the door frames are all made of sandstone. So far, 140 temples have been discovered in the forest.

Sambor Prei Kuk, located near Kompong Thom, 150km south-east of Siem Reap, lies off the main road towards Cambodia?s capital Phnom Penh.
Kompong Thom is a sleepy little town. The only hive of activity was the market place next to the Stung Sen River where we bought some brown palm sugar and Cambodian fragrant rice. The local ?taxi? was actually an open-air wooden cart pulled by an antiquated motorbike. Its owner was an elderly man wearing spectacles with thick lenses.
The journey to Sambor Prei Kuk was interesting in itself. We saw no other vehicles other than a lone villager cycling into town, his bicycle laden with hand-made straw baskets. Our van kicked up thick red dust as we sped on the laterite road. A woman scrubbing her clothes nearby was oblivious to the dust that swept over her.

Lest you entertain images of grand temple ruins akin to the grandeur of the awesome Angkor Wat, you?d be disappointed. Sambor Prei Kuk is a group of ancient temple ruins scattered within a shady forest. Originally called Isanapura, it pre-dates Angkor Wat and was the capital city during the reign of King Isana Varman 1, the son of King Citrasena.
Few tourists know of it. The only ?horde? here was a group of Cambodian kids who rushed to our bus, hawking brightly-coloured homespun scarves at US$1(RM3.50) each. Built at the end of the 6th century, the ruins are touted to be some of the oldest structures in the country, covering an area of 5sq km.
About 100 small temples are scattered throughout the forest. Left in the open and not maintained, some of the structures are just mere remnants of their original building ? perhaps a broken wall here, a vine-choked edifice there. There are 52 temples in recognisable condition, and another 52 sites where the original structures are now buried in the ground, visible only as small hills.

All is not lost. The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts together with the Waseda University, supported by The Foundation for Cultural Heritage and the Sumitomo Fund have started the Sambor Prei Kuk Conservation Project to restore these ruins.

The main temple group known as Prasat Sambor is dedicated to Gambhireshvara, one of Shiva?s many forms. Some of the towers still retain their carvings. Many are mere ruins now covered by vegetation.
As we walked further, enjoying the cool serenity of the shady trees, the small group of child peddlers had grown to 20. The original band selling scarves had been joined by older children hawking bracelets and trinkets. They were very persistent, dropping their prices to almost a quarter of the original as we neared the end of our visit. Sambor Prei Kuk does not match the splendour of Angkor Wat. Yet its serene forests and solitude make a much welcome change from the human masses of its famous cousin. 

8.Where to Eat

Aruneas Guesthouse & Restaurant:

This is probably the most popular spot to eat in town, located beneath Arunras Guesthouse. They serve good Western, Chinese and Khmer food at cheap prices, which of course is why they are popular. An English menu and staff that can speak the language are other nice features.

Neak Meas Hotel & Restaurant:

This restaurant serve good Chinese and Khmer food in the morning and throughout the day until the nightclub kicks in around 8:30pm.

Monorom Restaurant:

This restaurant, crowded by lots of locals is situated next to the Mittapheap Hotel. Its quite popular on the National Highway No 6 to the North and especially for its breakfast.

9 Makara Restaurant:

Just north of the river bridge on the east side of Highway No 6 is a row of three restaurants, with the middle one being 9 Makara Restaurant and Nightclub. The restaurants are enclosed and serve Khmer and Chinese fare, with beer girls there to greet you in the evening.

Restaurant Row of Kampong Thom:

About a kilometer toward Phnom Penh on Highway No 6 is Kampong Thom's version of Restaurant Row outside of Phnom Penh. There are a number of Khmer and Chinese food restaurants on both side of the highway that get rolling in the evening and have the Cambodian requirement of beer girls on hand.

Reaksmay Restaurant:

One of the first restaurants you come across at Restaurant Row is this new and upscale place. It's fairly fancy for Kampong Thom. They serve up a bit of Western food to go along with the Khmer and Chinese fare and it's the home of the fancy-pants beer girl of Kampong Thom.
Super Soup Restaurant at the Stung Sen Royal Hotel. The Super Soup restaurant (try saying that quickly ten times) is everything that it's billed to be a soup restaurant. Cheap Food Stands. There are simple rice and noodle dish stands in front of the market at the east side. 

9.Where to Stay

Arunras Guesthouse: (tel: 0961238)

A clean, well-run and friendly place it has and attached Asian bath and is good value at US$3. The mototaxi drivers who can take you to Sambor Prei Kok hang out in front and the restaurant here is a popular place to eat. This guesthouse is suposingly the most popular place for budget travellers in town. The rooms include TV and a Western bath (US$3) and an additional air-con if required (US$8).

Arunras Hotel: (tel: 0961294)

This place was formerly called Neak Meas Hotel. The roof of this five-story building represents the highest point in Kampong Thom and affords some nice views of the town the countryside and Santuk Mountain. There are also nice wrap-around terraces on each floor, and the rooms on the third floor south side have a good view, making it a decent spot to chill out with a cool drink. Clean rooms with a/c, TV, and double bed are US$10. For a room on the first floor with hot water add US$5. The nightclub downstairs closes at 11 pm so it's not much of a problem. If you like to turn in early get a room at the back on the third floor. There is also a restaurant in the hotel. Its probably the best deal in town.

Stung Sen Royal Garden Hotel: (tel: 09261228)

It's named after the river that is next too. This is another top spot in town. The rooms come fully furnished and the gargantuan suites are a good investment for an extra 5 bucks. All rooms have a/c, TV, fridge, Western bath and hot water shower. Depending on the room size, they go for US$20-25.

Sambor Prey Kuk Hotel: (tel: 0961359)

It is definitely not one of THE BEST HOTELS, but still a good fortune for budget travellers, who like it a bit older for less money. The rooms are well equipped with Western bath and fan or air-con. Some rooms have TV. The prices range from US$4-8 (without air-con) and from US$6-10 (including air-con).

Vimeansuor Guesthouse:

Business must be good, as they have been putting up an addition. It's a very clean place with nice rooms, attached Western bath and ceiling fan for US$6.

Mohalleap Guesthouse:

It's another clean place with an Asian bath and fan room going for US$3.

Visalsok, Soksan and Penh Chet Guesthouses:

These three are all similar with small rooms and share bath going from between US$1 to about 10.000 riel. The cleaning leaves a lot to be desired. 

10.Shopping

Kampong Thom is Cambodia's second largest province by area. Its capital is named Kampong Thom, a picturesque town on the banks of the Stung Saen River.The Sambor temple and Prei Kuk temple are the two main temples in Kompong Thom as well as other less significant Angkorian sites. Kompong Thom was a very powerful capital in Southeast Asia during the Funan period. Later on, during the French rule, the province was home to a large group named the Stieng, but they have long been assimilated into Khmer society.Kampong Pos Thom was the original name of the present called Kampong Thom. Because originally long time ago, at the dock of the Sen River next to a big natural lake, there was a big cave with a pair of big snakes inside. The people living around this area usually saw these big snakes every Buddhist Holiday.

Located at Ka Kos Village, Ka Kos Commune, Santhuk District in 16-km distance from Provincial Town of Kampong Thom on National Highway No 6. The craftsmen take the rocks from the food of Santhuk Mountain to make statues and various figures for house decoration. This stone handicraft is served for domestically and internationally target markets. Beside stone handicraft, Kampong Thom has other handicrafts like Krama, Silk shirts, traditional Khmer clothing and handbags. There is also the common markets with all you may need (food, garments, etc.). 

11.City Map

 


Tourist Attractions in Kampong Thom

Phnom Santok
Phnom Santok is a cultural and natural site located in Ko Koh village, Ko Koh commune, Santuk district, about 17 kilometers south of Kampong Thom provincial town. The site include four mountains: Phnom Srah Kmao or Phnom Tbeng, Phnom Penhum or Phnom Kraper, Phnom Champa and Phnom Santuk. Since the ancient time to the ...
Prasat Andet
Prasat Andet is located about 27 kilometers northwest of Provincial Town of Kampong Thom, in Prasat Village, Sankor Commune, Kampong Svay District, Kampong Thom Province. The temple was built in second half of 7th century (627-707) during the reign of king Jayavarman I to dedicate to God Hirihara, in Kampong Preah style and ...
Prasat Kok Rokar
Prasat Kok Rokar is located in Rokar Phum, Srayov Commune, Stung Sen District, Kampong Thom province in a 14-km distance from Provincial Town of Kampong Thom. The temple was built of sandstone and laterite in Khleng style at the end of 11th century during the reign of king Suryavarman I to dedicate to Siva. This isolated ...
Prasat Kuhak Nokor
Prasat Kuhak Nokor is located in Trodork Poung Village, Pong Ror Commune, Baray District, Kampong Thom Province and is in the complex of Wat Kuhak Nokor (Buddhist Pagoda). To reach there, passenger can take all kinds of vehicle on National Road 6, then turn west through the gate of Kuhak Nokor pagoda in a distance of 2km. It is ...
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Our profit from tour-packages contribute directly to the local charity school to support "The poor, homeless, street, disabled, victim, destitute and orphans" in our community (Chongkoasou, Siem Reap). And it also enables us to participate in improving their quality of education, lifestyle, hygienic, clean water, while expecting and promoting cultural traditions and Khmer values.                       As you know that, Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world and is still facing the current problems surrounding poverty.