jeep hire in siem reap

Elephant Sanctuaries in Cambodia

Experience the Beauty of Elephant Sanctuaries in Cambodia

Elephant sanctuaries in Cambodia offer a unique opportunity to experience the majesty of these gentle giants up close. Not only do these sanctuaries provide a safe haven for elephants rescued from exploitation, but they also play a crucial role in conservation efforts. Learn more about the magic of elephant sanctuaries in Cambodia and the important work being done to protect these magnificent creatures.

Learn about the history and culture of elephants in Cambodia.

Elephants have played an important role in Cambodian culture and history for centuries. They were once used for transportation, logging, and even in battle. However, with the decline of these industries, many elephants were left without homes or proper care. Elephant sanctuaries in Cambodia are working to change this by providing a safe and nurturing environment for these majestic creatures, while also educating visitors about their cultural significance.

Choose a reputable sanctuary that prioritizes elephant welfare

When choosing an elephant sanctuary to visit in Cambodia, it’s important to do your research and select one that prioritizes the welfare of the elephants. Look for sanctuaries that have a no-riding policy, as riding elephants can cause them physical harm. Instead, choose a sanctuary that allows visitors to observe and interact with the elephants in a respectful and non-invasive way. Additionally, make sure the sanctuary has a strong conservation and education program in place to ensure the long-term well-being of the elephants and their habitat.

Participate in hands-on activities, such as feeding and bathing the elephants

One of the highlights of visiting an elephant sanctuary in Cambodia is the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities with the elephants. Many sanctuaries offer feeding sessions, where visitors can feed the elephants their favorite treats, such as bananas and sugar cane. Bathing sessions are also popular, where visitors can help scrub the elephants down in the river. These activities not only provide a unique and unforgettable experience, but also allow visitors to connect with the elephants on a deeper level and learn more about their behavior and personalities.

Support the sanctuary’s conservation efforts through donations or volunteering

Elephant sanctuaries in Cambodia rely heavily on donations and volunteers to continue their conservation efforts. By supporting these sanctuaries, you are not only helping to provide a safe and healthy environment for the elephants, but also supporting the local communities and economies. Consider making a donation or volunteering your time to help with tasks such as feeding and caring for the elephants, maintaining the sanctuary grounds, or assisting with educational programs. Your support can make a significant impact on the future of these gentle giants and their habitats.

Spread awareness about the importance of elephant conservation

Elephant conservation is crucial for the survival of these majestic creatures and their habitats. By spreading awareness about the importance of elephant conservation, we can help to protect them from threats such as habitat loss, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict. Share information about elephant sanctuaries and their conservation efforts on social media, participate in educational programs, and encourage others to support these important causes. Together, we can make a difference in the future of elephant populations in Cambodia and beyond.

solo cycling in cambodia

Cycling From Siem Reap to North Cambodia

An eight-day solo cycle adventure in the north of Cambodia

Images Of My Solo Cycling Trip To Northern Cambodia

Let’s Get This Ride On The Road

solo cycling from siem reap to north cambodia

It was a cool Monday morning in March when I pushed my bicycle out the gates of my house in Siem Reap. The moon still hung in the sky, with a glimmer of light nudging through the darkness. I was about to embark on a real adventure, an eight-day solo cycle trip that would take me north of Siem Reap close to the Thai border skirting around the Kulen Prum Tep Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the largest protected areas in Cambodia. Along the way, I planned to visit some of Cambodia’s most remote ancient temples, hidden away in less trodden paths.

Although COVID-19 had scuppered my previous plans of cycling through Laos and Vietnam, it had provided the perfect opportunity for real exploration in Cambodia without the hustle and bustle of tourists. I had spent the last three years living and working in Siem Reap, Cambodia and was enjoying a break between jobs. It seemed like the perfect time to hop on my bike and see more of this wonderful country I currently call home.

Day 1: Siem Reap to Banteay Srei and Kbal Spean: 70 km

Exiting Siem Reap through the Angkor Wat Archaeological Park, I stopped at Srah Srang, a reservoir dug in the mid-10th century, named the Royal bath. Sitting on the stone steps to eat my breakfast as the sun rose, I saw a friendly face waving to me from the side of the reservoir. It was the bicycle mechanic who had serviced my bike before leaving. I took this to be a good omen.

Banteay Srei

After a steady 39 km ride, I reached my guesthouse for the night Villa Banteay Srei, named after the local temple. My friendly Khmer hosts surprised me with their perfectly spoken French accents, having spent forty years living in France after fleeing as refugees during the Khmer Rouge over 45 years ago.

Hindu god Shiva

Arriving just before noon, I circled back several kilometres to my first temple stop, Banteay Srei, meaning citadel of women or beauty. This 10th-century temple, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, is built largely of red sandstone, with intricate figures of Hindu deities carved into the walls. The temple is set amongst the rice fields, with a multitude of little wooden platforms,

I walk out to watch one of the locals farming and we exchange waves and smiles.

bal Spean

Riding back past the guesthouse, I continued another 10 km in the rising heat to Kbal Spean, quickly realising I had set myself a fairly ambitious first day. With the echo of barking dogs on my heels from the car park where I had left my bike, I began the ascent through the jungle to Kbal Spean. A series of signposts starting at 1500 metres marked the distance, counting down every 100 metres. As the heat continued to build, I could feel myself slipping into dehydration, but the thought of jumping into the cool pool that would mark the summit of Kbal Spean was enough to keep me going.

Reaching the top and greeting the local staff swinging in their hammocks, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be looking at but there is definitely no water to sink into. I spy a roped off area, which seems to be a dry river bed. It’s the dry season. A closer inspection reveals that the river bed is in fact marked with intricate carvings. Commonly referred to as the ‘River of a Thousand Lingas’, because thousands of phallic symbols (lingas) have been elaborately carved into the riverbed, alongside carvings of Hindu deities Vishnu and Shiva.

I shuffle back down the hillside littered with boulders to my next stop, Angkor Conservation Centre (ACCB), conveniently placed at the foot of the hill. ACCB focuses on rescuing native Cambodian wildlife and raising awareness on the importance of preserving, not poaching wildlife. The friendly and enthusiastic guide takes me on a comprehensive educational tour of their rescued wildlife. I am particularly excited to see that the centre has a dedicated pangolin facility, one of only two facilities rescuing the critically endangered Sunda Pangolin. Sadly I learned that the Sunda Pangolin is under threat of over exploitation caused by hunting and poaching for both meat consumption and the scales are used for traditional medicine. It’s clear that this dedicated and knowledgeable team are very passionate about saving Cambodian wildlife.

Then it’s time to peddle back 10 km to the guest house to rest and retreat from the sun. All in all quite a long day, with around 70 km covered, I am fast asleep by 7:30 pm.

Favourite snack: half a kilo of steamed sweet potatoes

Day 2: Banteay Srey to Anglong Veng: 90 km

I’ve set myself a daily departure time of 6:00 am because the hours between 6:00-8:00 am are the most magical time of day, with Cambodian nature and people slowly coming to life. Plus it is about ten degrees cooler than midday. It’s also dog wars time. Between these hours dogs love to chase people, especially foreigners, on bikes. But luckily, having lived in Asia a while, I’ve anticipated this very issue and have what I like to call a dog buzzer hanging safely around my neck, tucked into the back of my bum bag. Once activated, this yellow plastic device emits a specific frequency that only dogs can hear, whilst flashing two laser lights. A quick press in the direction of an angry barking dog, usually immediately stops its pursuit.

bai site dtroue

Scoffing down half an omelette with french bread and tucking the other half into my pannier bag with a bunch of bananas gifted from my hosts. I set off eagerly the next morning, heading further out of familiar territory to the town of Anglong Veng in Oddar Meanchey province, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold. After a couple of hours, I stop at a roadside cafe for my daily dose of ‘bai site dtroue’, a rice and barbequed pork dish which comes with a side bowl of broth, pickles and chilli sauce. This traditional Cambodian breakfast dish, which sometimes comes with a boiled or fried egg, is the perfect breakfast for cyclists. It costs around $1.25 and is, without doubt, my favourite Cambodian dish.

The 90 km cycle ride is marked with neat triangular stacks of cassava along the roadside which have been recently harvested. Cassava is an important cash crop for farmers in Cambodia, with over 12 million tonnes exported annually to the neighbouring countries of Vietnam and Thailand, as well as to European countries.

Anglong Veng town

A side wind about four hours into the ride combined with an intensive heat brings a challenging end to the six-hour ride. I arrive at my hotel, hot, sweaty and about ready to drop. A group of young men, who look like they are in the national army, give me a friendly greeting as they tuck into their shared lunch inside the lobby hotel. Anglong Veng town is set around a small picturesque lake, which presents a relaxed vibe to this small rural town. I manage to find a good meal of tom yum soup and rice, in one of the local hotels then hurry back to lie down for as long as I can. In the afternoon the sky turns dark and after rescuing my damp hand washed cycling clothes from outside, it rains heavily for one of the first times this year cooling the air and dampening the dust.

Anglong Veng town is set around a small picturesque lake
Favourite snack: Werther’s originals.

Day 3: Anglong Veng to Sra’aem: 80 km

Sra’aem in Preah Vihear Province

The next morning, after a 5:00 am birthday call back to the UK, I headed east towards the town of Sra’aem in Preah Vihear Province, about 30 km from one of the anticipated highlights of the trip, Prasat (Temple) Preah Vihear. It’s still dark and I zap several dogs who try to chase after me as I head past the market to the roundabout which sends me east. After the rains everything feels completely different, it’s like a tiny sidestep into the English countryside, with a cool breeze, puddles on the road and a gleaming countryside cleaned from the red dust which usually glazes the scenery. Life on the road is starting to feel really good.

I stop at the small town of Trapeang Prasat, for a rice pork breakfast, which comes with an egg, then go searching for the temple. I can’t find it, but I do catch a glimpse of a western looking coffee shop on the side of a roundabout, a mobile coffee unit sitting on a square rectangle of fake grass.

Trapeang Prasat

There is no way I can pass by the opportunity to have a latte and I pull up to sit outside and watch the passersby. Gazing at the roundabout, I realise that it is a work of art in itself and it turns out to be a replica of Trapeang Prasat, which I never did manage to find.

Fuelled by the delights of my coffee I head off continuing east with still another 56 km to go. About one hour in and another headwind hits and I find myself spiralling into heat exhaustion, I’m pretty sure it’s not far to go, but I must stop to cool down. An ice cream sign draws my attention and I pull into the gas station to eat ice cream and drink ice cold water. Chatting in broken Khmer to the friendly station attendant who lives there with his wife and child, my temperature drops and my spirits soar. I check the map and it’s only another seven kilometres to go.

Favourite snack: grilled banana and sticky rice parcels.

Day 4: Sra’aem to Prasat Preah Vihear and back to Sra’aem: 50km

The next day I am happy to be travelling light with just snacks, water and a spare inner tube and toolkit. I set off excitedly to the temple ticket office. It’s a quiet road with lush green scenery and a comforting feel to it. Turning off the main road towards the ticket office, which is a further 7 km, I am greeted with diggers working on the dirt road that has just been freshly sprayed with water. It’s the worst. Mud flicks up my legs and all over the bike, landing on water bottles, gears and brakes. Not good. I’m worried about the welfare of my bike and after reaching a dry part of the road, I quickly grab sticks and leaves to undo some of this sticky mud.

temple ticket office at prasat preah vihear

Finally, I reach the ticket office where I purchase temple and taxi tickets to take me to the top. I wash off my legs in a bucket outside the bathroom as there seems to be no running water inside. After several minutes of waiting, a motorbike pulls up and after grabbing my cycle helmet, I hop onto the back. It’s a steep and exhilarating ride to the top.

Leaving the taxi driver behind and my helmet tucked into the guard’s hut, I head uphill towards the temple. I’m pleased to have reached this part by 8:30 am. There is a huge crew of workers around the place who are picking up litter, maintaining the gardens and keeping things secure.

Finding solitude on the west side of the temples preah vihear

Finding solitude on the west side of the temples, I dangle my legs off the hillside and drink in what lies before me. It’s a pinnacle moment of the trip, as I take in what I’ve achieved so far, the amazing view of the surrounding area and ancient temples. I try to imagine what has occurred here over the centuries since the temples were built in the first half of the 11th century. With Preah Vihear Temple and the surrounding area meeting the Thai border, ownership of the Temple has been the subject of much debate since the 19th century. Official ownership was only awarded to Cambodia by the International Court of Justice in 1962. The Temple is dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva and consists of a causeway and a series of staircases rising upwards to the sanctuary. The path is punctuated by five ornate monumental entrance towers, or gopuras, which increase in size and grandeur as the journey upwards continues.

There is an incredible sense of peace, stillness and being that can only be found in an incredible setting like this.

I buy a coconut from a tiny shop at the top. The shop owner informs me that she has lived at the back of the shop in this wooden shack for ten years, which I find fascinating.

Wandering back down the steps to the causeway I am greeted by a rotund fella, he hands me something that looks like a small slither of wood and some tobacco and instructs me to chew and not spit, which I do. It’s quite revolting. But I carry on chewing, it reminds me of the betel leaf I tried in Nepal that turned saliva to red. The motorbike taxi ride down to the bottom is exhilarating and I deeply regret, to this day, having not cycled up there purely to enjoy the thrill of freewheeling down the steep hill in the wondrous setting. Another time

Day 5: Sra’aem to T’beng Mountain: 75 km

The next morning I set off feeling refreshed and almost with itchy feet having stayed in the same guest house for two nights. I am heading directly south, heading back towards home, it’s a really good feeling. The ride is incredibly peaceful, with the road cutting close to the Kulen Prum Tep Wildlife Sanctuary, it feels like there is no one here. As I carry on cycling I see that the fields are lined with identical small white houses on stilts, about 25 metres apart. Hundreds and hundreds of them emerge along the roadside, sometimes in double lines. Occasionally, I see some that are occupied and have been personalised with a fence and garden around or a modification of some type. I find out later on that these are designated houses for retired army officials.

Koh Ker Siem Reap

Arriving at road 64, I see the signpost Koh Ker Siem Reap to the right and turn left towards the foothills of the Tbeng MeanChey Mountains.

It feels comforting to cycle so close to the shadows of the mountains and there is a special feeling along this road. Cycling cheerily the last 10km, I spy the only foreigner I’ve seen all trip driving towards me in a tuk-tuk, with his dog in the back seat. We greet each other with smiles and waves of appreciation and carry on our separate journeys. I stay at Phnom Tbeng Resort, which is set at the bottom of the side of the mountain. To my delight, there is a coffee shop and a restaurant. I can see that a lot of love, creativity and imagination has gone into this place. It is decorated with stylish vintage vehicles, graffiti on the rocks and random playthings made out of recycled tires. I’m impressed.

Tbeng MeanChey Mountains
Phnom Tbeng Resort
Favourite snack: grilled corn of the cob

Day 6: Tbeng Mountain to Koh Ker: 47 km

My journey is nearing the end with just one final stop, Koh Ker Temples complex. Today is a short journey of just 47km but I leave at the usual early time nonetheless. I feel so fortunate to be able to watch the sunrise once more whilst riding through the beautiful Cambodian landscape, with people on occasion waving and cheering me on as I go.

Koh Ker Temples complex

Cycling past the entrance to Koh Ker Temples I head on towards Koh Ker Garden Hotel where I will stay for the final two nights. It’s only 9:30 am, but when I glimpse a pizza sign out of the corner of my eye, I think well why not and order a ham and tomato pizza.

Favourite snack: red seedless grapes

Day 7: Day Trip to the Koh Ker Temples: 34 km

I’m excited to visit the Koh Ker Temple complex, partly because it’s only a 34 km ride, but more importantly because I’ve heard great reviews of this place. Within this temple complex are 169 archaeological remains which include 76 temples nestled within forest grounds, dating back to the 10th century. Koh Ker was in fact for a brief time the capital of the whole empire between 928 – 944, under the reign of the kings Jayavarman IV and Harshavarman II.

My first stop is Pram Temple. I am fortunate to have it all to myself as there are no guards or tourists around yet. It’s like something out of a fairytale, the ruins which consist of five small buildings, are slowly being consumed by nature, with the roots of the trees falling around the entrance like strands of hair. It’s a truly magical experience.

Hopping back on my bike and heading anti-clockwise around the temple complex, which is centred around a reservoir, I stop to inspect each ancient temple ruin. I can see that some of the temples are undergoing restoration work, as abandoned scaffolding and even parts of temple ruins hang hoisted in the air.

Eventually, I stop at the grandest temple, which I had previously thought of as Koh Ker Temple, however, it is called Prasat Thom. Leaving my bike unlocked, I wander through the stone pathway until I can finally see the magnificent pyramid stone temple. The prang, or temple tower, is the highest ever constructed by the Khmer, rising 36 metres from the forest floor. Not surprisingly I am joined by other domestic tourists who have also travelled to visit Prasat Thom and slowly we climb the steep wooden stairs to the top of the pyramid. On the way up I meet a fellow cyclist also from Siem Reap, who reassures me that tomorrow’s journey home is not that far. The feeling at the top is one of peace and tranquillity, and the last peak I will reach on this trip.

Cycling back feeling a sense of achievement and in a way sadness that the journey is nearly over, I stop to buy water and feel lucky to find large bottles available instead of all the small ones I’ve had to purchase that are such a waste of plastic. One more stop before heading back to the guest house, it’s time for another pizza.

Favourite snack: bananas

Day 8: Koh Ker to Siem Reap: 104 km

I’ve timed my last ride of 104 km, to coincide with International Women’s Day. I think it’s important to show women solo cycling and for me, this is the longest ride I’ve ever done. I set off at 5:15 am, in anticipation of a six-hour journey ahead. Its pitch black and even with my cycle lights on I can’t see very well, but the echoing of dogs barking around the land resonates very well. It’s a wonderful first hour of cycling as I whiz freewheeling downhill through the countryside trusting the roads to guide me through the darkness and with the song of the dawn chorus reassuring that I’m on the right path.

Koh Ker to Siem Reap

I plan to smash it back to Siem Reap by noon, with just a few breaks and no sightseeing. I glide past Svay Leu pagoda and see someone selling waffles for the first time on this journey. I circle back to purchase two giant waffles which are shaped into pentagons, with each side cut into hearts. These coconut tasting delights are scoffed at regular intervals with the motto, ‘waffles go in, pedals come out’.

Heading further south past Boeng Mealea temple, which I’ve visited before, I turn off Road 64 and head across the country on dusty back roads, a welcome change from the main roads. Crossing over Road 66 I’m back in familiar territory and very soon I find myself sitting back in Preah Dak drinking ice coffee and eating steamed pork buns with a boiled egg in the middle. The refreshing break gives me the final push home through Angkor Wat complex, back past Srah Srang where I had my first breakfast eight days before at sunrise and then homeward bound through Siem Reap, back to my front gate. Sliding open the gate, I cannot believe I’ve just cycled 550km.

Until my next adventure.

Favourite snack: waffles = peddle power. Waffles go in, pedals come out.

Kampong Cham cambodia

Kampong Cham Cambodia: Port of the Chams

Kampong Cham Cambodia: Port of the Chams

Kampong Cham cambodia

If you are thinking about a detour from Phnom Penh, or perhaps you have decided to travel north along the Mekong, then more than likely you will find yourself in Kampong Cham. The name in English means “Port of the Chams”, the Chams being an ethnic people who have lived in the area for centuries and were an ongoing thorn in the side of the Khmers. In fact, when you ask Cambodians living in Phnom Penh where they are from, more often than not they say Kampong Cham. The town rests besides the Mekong and a bridge crosses the river to form the main route to the north of Cambodia and beyond.

Getting To Kampong Cham

Should be no more than a two-hour bus ride from Phnom Penh. It could be, but the obligatory stop at a restaurant adds half an hour or so to the journey. This stop is Skun the hub for buses going north to Siem Reap or in the direction of Kampong Cham. From what I have experienced, most bus companies in Cambodia have buses going to Kampong Cham throughout the day and you normally don’t need to buy a ticket in advance. There used to be a boat from Phnom Penh, perhaps one day it will start again. The more adventurous could try their hand at travelling to Phnom Penh along the east bank of the Mekong. However, this would require a car or motorcycle, or changing from Tuk Tuk to trucks to ferries and back again to get to the town. Or, you could cycle to Kampong Cham, but more on that later.

Most buses will drop you off in the centre of town near the bridge traffic circle. The latter is a handy landmark to get your bearings in town. As far as accommodation goes you have a lot of choices. I stay at the Leap Viraksa Hotel because I stumbled upon it years ago and haven’t bothered with anywhere else. There are a bunch of guesthouses along the waterfront, and the town has a lot of reasonably priced hotels. Anyway, you won’t be left short if you need a roof over your head.

Kampong Cham is the real cambodia

At first glance Kampong Cham is an unassuming town, but there is a lot going on in this place. For example, Cambodia’s first son, Prime Minister Hun Sen, is from Kampong Cham Province. He has a house in town, which is next to his brother’s; who would have thought. Also, the monarchy has a house in town, which is an interesting trip through history. It has been abandoned for some time, but it is possible to get inside and have a look around. The last I heard, it was going to be demolished, which means be quick if you want to see it.

Nokor Bachey Temple

The most famous place in the neighbourhood is the thousand-year-old or so Angkorian Nokor Bachey temple. It is on the outskirts of town. If you visit, go in the back way and avoid the questionable ticket guy hovering outside the front of the temple.

Built in the middle of the 11th century, during the reign of Suryavarman II and King Ouphey, it was dedicated to Brahmanism. Inside you’ll see lions, dragons and devils carved in sandstone, and the sandstone and laterite walls have intricate carvings indicative of the period. Just remember to leave the way you entered, or you’ll have to deal with the devil outside.

Actually, there are a couple of ruins in the area. Another temple within striking distance of the town is Prasat Han Chey. It is north of the town and the best way to cover the 20 or so kilometres to get there is by motorcycle. It is interesting as the temple is from the Chenla era, a pre-Angkorian period. The ride there is picturesque as you travel along the banks of the Mekong, and the temple is at a bend in the river.

Kampong Cham Is French Colonial

The crumbling temples reflect the crumbling buildings in town. There are many French colonial buildings, as the town used to be a French colonial trading port. Rubber, a business introduced by the French, used to thrive in colonial times but the civil war and American bombing put an end to that. Across the river the rubber plantations have bounced back since the end of the war. If you travel through them, you can often see Khmer families having picnics amongst the rubber trees. And, if you are lucky, they will invite you over for a drink and something to eat.

The tower is another relic of the French era. Not for the faint of heart or people suffering from vertigo; because, the climb up the stairs can be nerve racking as you can see straight through the metal steps to the ground which is far away. However, the reward waiting you at the top is worth it. The views are spectacular. The town is spread out in front of you, boat traffic up and down the river and gardens far below.

Kampong Cham Cambodia city centre

Back in town there was some excitement on the riverside. Men were playing boules. This game, a hangover from the French era, is popular. The players try to get their metal balls as close to the target ball as possibly. However, the players try to knock opponents’ balls away from the target ball. While watching the game I notice that behind the players and across the river was the watchtower.

Food Friendly

For food, I headed to the riverside where there are quite a few food stalls and seafood and Khmer restaurants. I chose a rather auspicious looking seafood restaurant near the bridge and was delighted. It was one of those cook your own style places. During the meal, I met most of the family. In fact, it was difficult not to as the waitress was a daughter, the manager an uncle, the cook a brother and the other staff were aunties, cousins and sisters. That’s a family business, and the food was fantastic. The owner’s husband even drove me back to the hotel as it had started to rain.

So, if you have the time consider a trip to Kampong Cham. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Sihanoukville in Cambodia

Sihanoukville in Cambodia | An Awesome Personal Experience

Sihanoukville in Cambodia: Beaches, the New Macao

Sihanoukville in Cambodia

The town of Sihanoukville in Cambodia, or Kompong Som, is a coastal destination south of Phnom Penh: it is also known as “Snooky”. While this dusty and hilly place won’t win any beautiful-town competitions with its excessive and often unwanted development and dozens of casinos, it does have one draw card.

The centre of Sihanoukville itself doesn’t offer much to see. On the upside, the edge of town has the Otres Marina situated on the Ou Tro Jet river mangrove swamp and Otres temple can be visited. But the jewel in the crown and the best attraction is that Sihanoukville has most of Cambodia’s best beaches. It is also a great place to kick back and spend some time from the heat of the interior.

Sihanoukville in Cambodia, a Short Story

In a country with a rich history, Sihanoukville in Cambodia has had a rather short and checkered track record.  Fifty or so years ago, a French-Cambodian construction company cleared the jungle and swamp then built a camp. It soon started building the first deep-water port in the country. Named after the prince, Sihanoukville quickly become a destination for Cambodia’s elite who enjoyed the beaches.  also became home to Angkor Beer brewery “My Country My Beer”, and the seven-story Independence Hotel was thrown up there; local legend has it that Jaqueline Kennedy stayed there when she visited Cambodia in 1967.

Then in 1970, Sihanouk was deposed in a coup and Cambodia descended into civil war. To add insult to injury, the Lon Nol government renamed the town Kompong Som and dark days descended on the place. The Khmer Rouge soon took over and the beaches became a ghost town. Even after the Vietnamese drove the Khmer Rouge from power, the road from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville was a dangerous place and notorious for kidnappings, hold ups and Khmer Rouge activity.

It took time for people to return to Sihanoukville. But after the Vietnamese occupation, UNTAC engineered election in 1993, and the collapse of the Khmer Rouge, the town has slowly come to life. More and more visitors now go to Sihanoukville. In recent years, Chinese businesses and tourists have flooded in.

Beaches in Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville in Cambodia

The main draw card is the beaches. Except for Serendipity, they are not nearly as crowded as those in nearby Thailand. However, crowds flock here on weekends and holidays.

To start with, there are two beaches south of the commercial port; Victory and Independence Beaches. The first, Victory beach, has plenty of budget accommodation on nearby Weather Station Hill. A bit further south is Independence Beach. It is also known as “7-chann beach” after the seven-storey Independence Hotel found here.

Continuing south you’ll find Sokha Beach. The beach is owned by Sokha Beach Resort. It is possible to use the beach but be prepared to pay a few dollars if a staff member spots you. This beach is maintained and kept clean and being private you won’t have people begging or trying to sell you something. There is a smaller beach next to Sokha which is public and rarely used. It is just next to the road as it goes up the hill to town and the main beaches.

The most popular and developed tourist beach is Ochheuteal. Chnay Occheuteal is a long and narrow strip of white sand beach. The northern end is misleadingly called Serendipity Beach. Why it has a separate name is unclear as the reality is that it is all the same beach. In fact, there are three main areas: the beach itself, the road running parallel to the beach and the road running perpendicular from the dock at Serendipity Beach up to a huge traffic circle. Ferries use the dock to go to the nearby islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem. The boats several times per day from the dock. You can take a slow boat, speed ferry or make a day out and go on a tour boat.

At Ochheutal there are numerous hotels, guest houses, beach huts, minimarts and a vibrant nightlife. So, it gets crowded during the day, night and into the wee hours of the morning. In the daytime people hire the deckchairs that carpet the beach then soak up the sun and water. Here there are many food stalls and restaurants serving grilled meat, chicken and seafood with chips/fries and a beer for US$3-4. Unfortunately, the water is not so good in this area and theft is a problem on the beach, so do not leave any valuables unattended.

At night, the many restaurants lining the beachfront are crowded with people trying the huge variety of seafood places. In fact, there are many good restaurants in town as well. Sihanoukville has a surprisingly diverse set of cuisines.

Ochheutal has also seen a hive of activity in the construction of hotels and casinos which like to cater to Chinese tourists. There are officially 42 casinos, but it is believed there is closer to 85. Cambodians are refused entry and westerners are a rare sight. This development is a closed economic loop in which Chinese tourists patronise only Chinese-owned businesses who prefer Chinese workers which means locals are being cut out of the action and squeezed out of their own town.

As you go south along Ochheuteal Beach the restaurants, chairs and other amenities thin out. Eventually, it is a beach with few people on it. There is the occasional store where food and drink can be bought. A great area to escape the mob.

At the southern end of Ochheuteal Beach, there is a small hill and on the other side is Otres Beach, actually Otres 1 and 2. This amazing four-kilometre stretch of white sand and clear water is less crowded and much more relaxed than other beaches.

Along this beach are dotted bars, restaurants and guest houses. It is a great place to laze about soaking up the sun or enjoy a swim. The water here is wonderful.  The southern end of this beach is Otres 2 and ends at the marina which provides boats and charters for the river and the sea. Otres 2 is famed for its sunsets and mangroves on the Ou Trojak Jet river. If you’re feeling adventurous, on the other side of the river is Otres 3.

Distances between the beaches are a little too long to walk comfortably but getting around is easy. A fantastic way to visit the beaches is by bicycle. The more ambitious can take cycling trips up into the hilly outskirts of town or in town: Sihanoukville is quite bumpy. Of course, there is an abundance of motorcycle taxis and tuk tuks. Taxis can also be hired.

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of places such as Phnom Penh or the mostly hot and dusty places in Cambodia, then Sihanoukville in Cambodia is just the place.

siem reap province

Phnom Chisor Cambodia

Phnom Chisor Cambodia Mountain View

Phnom Chisor mountain cambodia

At its height, the Khmer Empire stretched far and wide across mainland Southeast Asia. In contemporary Cambodia, its former magnificence can be seen everywhere, and this is true for Phnom Penh and the surrounds. Near the capital are a number of Angkorian, and earlier era, monuments. Just south of Phnom Penh is one such place, Phnom Chisor.

How To get to Phnom Chisor

To get to Phnom Chisor is straightforward by tuk tuk or taxi from Phnom Penh. The more intrepid traveller could hire a motorbike. But remember to take into account that it can be a dusty trip.

This mountain-top temple is located in Sia village, Rovieng commune, Samrong district, about 50 kilometres south of Phnom Penh or 27 kilometres north of Takeo town. The way from Phnom Penh is well sign-posted. To reach the temple, take National Road 2 to Bati district and Neang Khmao temple, or the temple of the Black Virgin, which is inside Wat Neang Khmao: it is easy to spot as it is next to the highway. This is an Angkorian temple, so stop and take a look.

Nearby, turn left at the sign for the site and head down the dirt road for about five kilometres. On the wat, stop at the monk training centre which is at the bend of the road as you make the final turn to Phnom Chisor.

The temple is perched on a 130-metre-high solitary hill. So, when you visit be prepared for a long climb to the top. People usually climb the staircase on the west side of the mountain, which has about 400 steps and descend by the south-side staircase. The original set of stairs in front of the temple links the temple to an avenue which leads to the baray of Tonlé Om. The west staircase starts with a broad 7.5-metre entrance and narrows to 5 metres at the top. Look for etchings of rabbits, elephants and other animals in the concrete as you climb the long staircase.

Also, try to get to Phnom Chisor early in the morning or late in the afternoon, as it is a sweaty climb in the heat of the midday sun. As you scale the mountain, you’ll pass other visitors taking a breather on the ascent to the temple, in fact, quit a few. Once you get to the top take a deep breath, there is a lot to take in for a smallish temple.

At the top, you’ll be hit with a $2 entrance fee for foreigners. Phnom Chisor is also very popular with locals, especially during festivals and on weekends when it gets very crowded. So, it is best visited during the week.

The main temple stands on the eastern side of the hilltop. It was built in the early 11th century by King Suryavarman I, who ruled from AD1002 to AD1050. This king practiced Brahmanism, and he dedicated the temple to the Hindu divinities Shiva and Vishnu. The original name of the temple was Sri Suryaparvata, “The mountain of Surya” or “The mountain of the Sun”.

Phnom Chisor is constructed of sandstone, laterite and bricks with carved sandstone lintels. The complex is surrounded by partially ruined walls and a 2.5-metre-wide gallery with windows. Inscriptions found here date from the 11th century.  The temple is 60 meters long and 50 meters wide and the surrounding is in fact two galleries. The first gallery is 60 meters long on each side. The second, smaller gallery, is in the middle, where there is the main worship place with two doors and a wooden statue. There are exquisite sculptures on the lintels and pillars.

Apart from three entrances to the East, and three to the West, the outer walls are closed. The principal entrance is to the East. Inside are six towers, a mandapa, and two fire shrines. The towers open to the east, the fire shrines open to the west. It was built on a typical Angkorian east-west axis.

In front of the temple, a set of stairs link the temple to Sen Chhmos temple, Sen Phouvang temple and Tonlé Om, a lake considered sacred by Brahmans and used for washing away sins. All three of these form a straight line from the pond to Phnom Chisor in the direction of Angkor. During rituals held 900 years ago, the king, his Brahmans and their entourage would climb the steps to the hill-top temple from this direction. These original steps are rarely used these days. It is possible to visit these places, and this is where a motorbike or tuk tuk come in handy.

From the top of the mountain there are superb views of the countryside. Stretching out in front of you is Takeo Province with its rice fields, rivers and lakes. The view is best during the rainy season when the rice fields are green, there is a lot of water and clouds.

After descending the steps from the temple, local vendors have stalls, complete with mats and hammocks, set up and ready to serve food. A favourite dish is lean free-range fried chicken or the light and lemon-grassy soup.

There is also a mountain cave, Vimean Chan, located about 150 meters south of the temple. It is a quiet place for Brahmans or ascetics to meditate. During the Vietnam war, the USA bombed the site, dislodging several large rocks that have blocked the entrance to the cave.

If after a visit to Phnom Chisor you feel like visiting some other places then head to Takeo town. This out-of-the-way place is rarely visited by foreigners but has a surprising number of places on interest: Khmer Rouge’s Ta Mok’s prison, Phnom Da and you can try the delicious freshwater prawns. There are also other places of interest in the area such as Yeay Peau temple and a wildlife sanctuary. Check it out.

pailin western cambodia

Pailin Cambodia A Wild West Frontier

Pailin Is Cambodia’s Wild West

One of Cambodia’s out-of-the-way destinations is Pailin Province. Few foreigners get here, which is reason enough to put the province in your travel planner. The area has a long history, and although Pailin City is small with a wild-west flavour, there are plenty of places to visit in and around town.

Pailin is Cambodia’s second smallest province and is in Western Cambodia. Pailin City is nestled in a picturesque valley with magnificent sunsets over mountains that separate Cambodia and nearby Thailand. The town is also located in the foothills of Chuor Phnom Kravanh, which is part of the Cardamom Mountains making the south of the municipality quite hilly. There are also a number of smaller rivers coming from the mountain range. These places provide lots of opportunities to visit waterfalls and rivers for cool afternoon swims, nature and wildlife reserves, and local villages.

A Brief History of Pailin

Once a part of the powerful Khmer Empire, Pailin was conquered in 1558 by the Burmese under Bayinnaung and later ruled by the Siamese until 1946 when it was returned to Cambodia: it was known to the Thais as “Phailin”.

Since the war, Pailin has suffered an economic depression and the failure of most local businesses. However, since the area has recently stabilised politically, it is now seeing a new wave of tourism focused on its ancient temples, natural forests and wildlife, and the gem market.

In 2001, Pailin was officially separated from Battambang to become a province and separate administrative division: a process started after the surrender of the Ieng Sary faction of the Khmer Rouge in 1996. More on this crew later.

Don’t be Alarmed

If you’re planning a visit to the area, especially the countryside around Pailin City, land mines are a concern. In fact, Pailin is located in one of the most heavily mined areas in the world.  Land mines have plagued Cambodia for decades as a result of the devices being used extensively during three decades of war; Pailin still remains a hot zone for mines. While Pailin is definitely worth visiting, people are cautioned to stay on marked roads. De-mining is ongoing, and if you decide to visit any out-of-the-way places then check if it is safe. The locals will know.

A major cause of these mines was the Khmer Rouge.

pailin western cambodia

Khmer Rouge Invasion, Occupation and Defeat … or Not

Pailin remained under Khmer Rouge control long after they were defeated in 1979 and it served from 1994 to 1998 as the capital of the “Provisional Government of National Union and National Salvation of Cambodia.” During the 1980s and 1990s, the city was a key Khmer Rouge strongpoint and resources centre.

Pailin is known to much of the world as the area where many Khmer Rouge leaders came from and retreated to after the murderous regime fell. Even after the death of their leader Pol Pot in 1998, many Khmer Rouge leaders stayed on.

Fearing punishment for their crimes, some leaders went into hiding, while other leaders brashly lived openly in the province. Estimates are that almost 70 percent of the area’s older men were Khmer Rouge fighters: few have been brought to justice. However, Pailin’s last Khmer Rouge leaders have been rounded for their time in court. These men included Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea.

Goodbye Good Times

In the early 1970s, Pailin was a prosperous town stemming from the extensive gem deposits in the surrounding countryside. Because of its resources, it was one of the first cities invaded by the Khmer Rouge. The city offered no resistance and Khmer Rouge soldiers were greeted as liberators. Meanwhile, deposed King Sihanouk had allied himself with the Khmer Rouge and most locals believed that they were fighting to restore him to power. It was not long; however, before locals were forced march to the countryside to work in rice paddies. Many of those people were never seen again.

Pailin became the major revenue source for the Khmer Rouge through the exploitation of the provinces rich supply of gems and being a prime logging area. The Khmer Rouge used proceeds from mining and logging in the Pailin area to bankroll their initial campaign and later Democratic Kampuchea once they seized power.

When the Vietnamese Army ousted the Khmer Rouge from power, the Khmer Rouge retreated to Pailin.

Not to be deterred, the guerrilla group continued the fight against the Vietnamese and even invested some money from the production of natural resources in Casinos.

Unfortunately, by the time the Khmer Rouge had been dislodged from Pailin they had almost mined out the gems and deforested the area. Nowadays all you can find is low-quality, cheap, hand-faceted gemstones at the market in downtown Pailin.

Beyond the Dark Days In Pailin

These days Pailin is a much different place. In fact, the locals seem happy to see a foreigner means that not only money is coming in but also a sense of normalcy is returning to the area.

The town has a number of interesting places to visit including Wat Gohng-Kahng, and Wat Phnom Yat and at its base Wat Rattanak Sophoan.

The people of Pailin are Kola. These are descendants of Burmese immigrants who settled in the area from the late nineteenth century. Another group of people, the Shan, arrived a bit later. As a result, the people of Pailin are different from other parts of Cambodia. This difference can be seen in the cuisine and the clothes.

The best parts of Pailin are outside the main city, and the best way to see these places is by bicycle. For more on Pailin read Cyclebodia: Wild West Pailin.

oudong cambodia

Oudong Cambodia | An Ancient Capital

Oudong Was The Capital of Cambodia In Bygone Days

oudong cambodia

While in Phnom Penh why not visit Cambodia’s former capital of Oudong. This ancient site is within striking distance of Phnom Penh being only 40 kilometres northwest of the capital and close to the western bank of the Tonle Sap River. It is also straightforward to get to and easy to find as the mountain, topped with stupas, juts out from the surrounding plain like a fairy-tale castle.

Oudong: Cambodia’s Former Capital

Oudong used to be the royal capital from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Oudong means “victorious”; however, during its time as Cambodia’s capital under several rulers “victorious” was a euphemism, as Cambodia was in perilous decline.

The main attractions today are the twin mountains of Phnom Oudong, which are connected by a ridge and dotted with stupas and shrines dedicated to former kings. One temple, Chedi Mouk Pruhm, is the burial site of King Monivong. One of the ruins, Arthross Temple, houses a large golden Buddha. Several kings, including King Norodom Sihanouk, were crowned here. Phnom Oudong is also a tranquil place of worship for Cambodians.

How To Get To Oudong

To get to Oudong is a straightforward trek along National Highway 5. One way to get there is by Tuk Tuk. Depending on the season it can be a dusty ride or a wet one and can take up to two hours, which is a long time considering the short distance. But, for $15 to $20 round trip it’s a good deal. Or, you could hire a car and driver for $40 to $45 return.

An interesting way to get there is by shared taxi from Sorya Bus terminal. These taxis only leave when full, and full means cramming 12 people into a four-door Toyota. Then there is the northbound bus. You’ll get dropped off at Oudong town, which is still some distance from Phnom Oudong and requires another motorcycle or Tuk Tuk ride, and once there you will have to find a way back.

Also, along route 5 there are silversmithing villages. A hangover from the days when kings and nobility used to come to the Tonle Sap river to bathe and subjects would offer them gifts fashioned from the precious metal.

Oudong Mountain

Admission to the mountain is free and is best visited during the week as Phnom Oudong gets crowded with locals at weekends, who descend on the mountain to eat roast chicken, fish and palm fruit in the cool of the surrounding forest. However, you’ll find that foreign tourists are few and far between at any time.

You’ll be dropped off at a stairway at the base of the hill, where there is a memorial to local victims of the Khmer Rouge. It contains bones from almost a hundred mass graves in the Oudong area. A neighbouring pavilion has murals painted on the walls depicting Khmer Rouge atrocities.

From here, there is a climb up about 500 steps. Watch out for kids who pester visitors to hire them as tour guides.

The mountain itself runs from southeast to northeast, with a low dip in the middle. Khmers believe it has the shape of a Naga. Both ends of the ridge have stunning vistas of the Cambodian countryside dotted with lots of sugar-palm trees, rice paddies and the odd temple. To the west of the hill there is the huge modern Kandal pagoda. The interior is a good example of a present-day Cambodian Theravada Buddhist prayer hall.

The stupas and shrines dotting the ridge are dedicated to former kings, so the former capital is a kind of necropolis. One shrine, Chedi Mouk Pruhm, is the burial site of King Monivong. One of the ruins, Arthross Temple, houses a large golden Buddha. The pagodas are quite stunning, with intricate carvings displaying a cross section of Buddhist and Hindu motifs.

The larger main ridge is known as Phnom Preah Reach Throap, or Hill of the Royal Fortune. The name comes from the belief that a 16th-century Khmer king hid the national treasury here during a war with the Thais.

The city was established in 1601 by King Srei Soryopor, who is also known as Barom Reachea IV, after Thais had attacked the former capital Lovek. In 1618 the city formally became the capital, and it was officially called Oudong Meanchey. Many Cambodian kings of the following two and a half centuries were crowned in Oudong; the last one was King Norodom.

Chinese King in Oudong

In the eighteenth century, locals say a Chinese king sent his people across Asia to identify potential threats. When they came to Oudong, they discovered a Naga-shaped mountain, a cavern on top of the Arthross end, and observed the wealth and power of Khmers. Upon their return, they told their king that the Khmers were a powerful race, and should a Naga appear through the cavern of Arthross, they would be strong enough to rule the world.

The Chinese king was alarmed at this revelation but didn’t want a war. Instead, he asked the Khmer king if he could build a temple above the cavern with the Buddha facing towards China to protect the kingdom. It was named Arthaross temple, or 18 corners as there are 18 points, or corners, built into the structure. This temple also stood 18 hats high, a Khmer measurement for the length of an arm from elbow to fingertips. One hat is about half a meter.

Arthaross temple contains the remnants of a large Buddha statue that was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge and is now a few hats less. The statue is unique because the Buddha faces north instead of the traditional east and is said to depict the power of the Khmer Empire at the time.

Behind Arthross is Chker Amao stupa. Chker Amao was the dog of the head monk of Preah Sokhun Mean Bon. He was apparently so clever that the monk could send him shopping with a list tied to his collar and the dog would walk from market stall to market stall, collect the shopping, then bring it home. When he died he was reincarnated as the son of a Chinese king.

At the very point of the mountain, a huge stupa is just in the final stages of construction. This is probably where the Buddha relics, once housed in the vihara outside Phnom Penh train station, will be placed.

Across on the smaller ridge is Ta Sann Mosque.

Cambodian Food

After visiting the mountain, you will be hungry, especially after the climb up and down the stairs. Go to one of the local restaurants at the bottom of the hill. There you will find local eateries with lots of traditional Cambodian food at local prices.

Oudong remains a sacred place for Cambodians, where a huge stupa has recently been built to store and conserve the relic of Preah Serei Roek Theat, the Ash of the Buddha.

ratanakiri province cambodia

Ratanakiri Cambodia – The Frontier Province

6 Cambodian eco tour destinations

Ratanakiri is most definitely one of the more “out there” destinations in Cambodia. The town’s name is derived from the two Sanskrit words, Ratna which stands for gems and Giri which stands for mountains, items much in demand and the cause of demise. Located in the far northeast of the Kingdom, Ratanakiri province is an adventure getting there but is undeniably worth the effort. From Ratanakiri Cambodia, you are within striking distance of Vietnam, Laos, and some of the other more adventurous areas of Cambodia. It is also one of the few places you can see tribal villages.

Banlung is the provincial capital, however it used to be Lumphat. The reason for this depends on who you talk to. To find out more about Ratanakiri and why you should visit, read on.

The Bumpy Journey To Ratanakiri

Many buses head to the provincial capital. However, it is a bone-rattling 13-hour ride on some of Cambodia’s worst roads. If you are thinking about a visit, you might consider breaking up the journey with stops in the picturesque town of Kratie (pronounced Kra-chay) and Stung Treng. While both towns are situated on the Mekong, Stung Treng is at the confluence of the Mekong and Sesan rivers. There is a ferry that crosses the Mekong at Stung Treng, but there is also a bridge, both of which link to Preah Vihear Province on the other side of the Mekong.

There are mini-buses that plough the Phnom Penh-Banlung road. However, be prepared to be squeezed into a bus with 30 people, baggage, and farm animals. There is another way, but we will talk about that later.

Ratanakiri Cambodia

Stopping Off At Banlung On The Road To Ratanakiri

If you decide to complete the journey in one go then you will have to start early and finish in the evening. However, don’t worry, you will be greeted in Banlung by hotel touts and Tuk Tuk drivers who will get you to a hotel. The hotels around the lake in the centre of town are perfect. You should organise your own motorcycle as it makes it much easier getting around to all the different and unique places of interest.

What makes these hotels fantastic is breakfast. Nothing quite like looking out over a lake while sitting in a restaurant eating fruit and warm baguettes and drinking brewed coffee.

Banlung is a smallish place. It seems to serve more as a truck stop on the Vietnam-Cambodia transport route. Nonetheless, it is pleasant to cruise around the town taking in the ambience. Most of what is on offer is outside the town.

Water and Ghosts

One of the first places you might like to drift to is Boeng Yeak Loam, or Yak Lom Lake. This is about five kilometres to the south of town. You can walk there, but a bicycle is a good alternative. Once you get there, grab one of the lakeside decks and enjoy the cool water. The lake is set in the jungle, and it is possible to use walking trails to wander through the jungle. But beware of a spirit that is said to live in the lake.

In fact, water is a big feature of the province. There are many waterfalls that can be visited. It would be best to grab a motorcycle or bike to see these places. Many of the waterfalls are great places for swimming. Your hotel should be able to tell you how to get to any waterfall, and some hotels even have a map. Some waterfalls to visit include Ka Chanh Waterfall, which is about six kilometres southeast of Ban Lung; Ka Tieng Waterfall, is about an hour out of town; Cha Ong Waterfall, is two kilometres west of town; and Ou Sensranoh Waterfall, is situated nine kilometres south of town. Just make sure you check with locals if the waterfall is working, as some dry up in the dry season.

Heart of Darkness

Ratanakiri Province also has a bit of a nefarious past. Down the road is Lumphat, on the banks of the Srepok river, and it used to be a Khmer Rouge stronghold and capital. The Ho Chi-Minh Trail also ran through the province. As a result, the town and countryside were heavily bombed by the US. There are plenty of bomb craters in the area and some have even become ponds. There are still some buildings in town pockmarked with shrapnel, bullet holes and rocket fire. There are also unexploded bombs in the area, so be careful where you step.

It is also claimed that the Srepok River was the model for the river on which Captain Willard and his jolly crew went to meet their destiny with Colonel Kurtz in the movie Apocalypse Now. Go there and see what you think; but, if you haven’t, see the movie first.

Veal Rum Plan

Another place to consider seeing is Veal Rum Plan, or Stone Field. It is located 14 kilometres north of Banlung. Here, there are stones covering the entire surface of the place. Dense stone outgrowths are around here. This place has an unusual appeal which fascinates visitors. Stone Field is a bizarre space in the forest, covered almost entirely by stone. The area is a circular area of flat stone. It is thought the area is the remains of cooled lava. As with many places in Cambodia, there is a legend associated with the Veal Rum Plan. According to the legend, Veal Rum was a young boy who had a tragic accident here. While trying to retrieve his kite, he fell from a tree onto a black volcanic rock. His spirit lives on, offering a protective blanket to the plateau and surrounding trees.

While this is not a complete list of “what to do” in Ratanakiri, it will certainly whet your appetite for more.

Getting To Vietnam From Ratanakiri

When you leave, if you plan to go to Vietnam, you need to have a visa. It is only about 70 kilometres to the border, and there are different types of transport to get there. If you go to Laos, you can pick up a visa on the border, just take plenty of small money and some passport-sized photos. The border guards will ask for photos and charge you if you don’t have any. There are also the “taxes” they hit you with. Do not protest, as there are no places to stay on the border. Pay the taxes as part of the cost on international travel. You know it makes sense

Ratanakiri to Mondulkiri Via Highway Of Death!

Now the other to-and-from Ratanakiri route is the recently upgraded road through the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary. Via this way, you can also pop into Mondulkiri Province. From Banlung, this will take you back to Lumphat and over the bridge that crosses the Srepok River. The road, formally known as the “Highway of Death”, and don’t let that scare you, is now an upgraded road through the rainforest. But if you choose this way then be quick; the sanctuary is part of Cambodia’s rapidly disappearing forests and wildlife.


How To Find The Best Golf Course In Cambodia

We are going to inform you how to find the best golf course in Cambodia to suit your experience, expectations, and budget. No matter what type of holiday or adventure you are having, you will be able to slip in a great game of golf.

Some FAQ About Golf In Cambodia

Are There Any Great Golf Courses In Cambodia

Yes there are. They are mainly in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. You will find 2 golf courses in Siem Reap worth a visit. There are 5 golf courses in Phnom Pehn that will give you a warm welcome – no matter your handicap

How Much Is A Round Of Golf In Cambodia

To be honest a round of golf in Cambodia is not cheap compared to other tourist activities. One assumes it is going to be cheap; however, the cost of keeping a golf course in tip top condition is expensive. Expect to pay $100 upwards for a round.

Can I Hire Golf Clubs

Yes you can. I would let the golf club know in advance your requirements. This will mean that you have clubs that suit your build and style. Certainly at Angkor Golf Resort they have an extensive range of hire equipment.

How Do You Get To The Golf Course

Very simple. The club or your hotel will arrange suitable transport at a very reasonable cost. We suggest open air transport so that you are accustomed to the heat by the time you arrive for your tee off. It is a great way to start off your days golfing.

Are There Hotels Near The Golf Courses

You will find no shorhtages of local hotels close to the golf courses. From 5 star palaces to homely budget accomodation. There is no doubt that the course will give you suitable advice.

Do The Golf Courses Have Professional Golfers For Instruction

Most of the courses have their own golf professional. Be sure to book in advance. We recomend David Baron at AGR. He has been in Cambodia for many years and the course is stunning.

Do You Need A Caddy

Cambodia is hot. It can be very hot. If there is a caddy available, be sure to hire one. Enjoy your day on the course. The cost is very reasonable.

Our Recomendatio For The Best Golf Course In Cambodia

We believe that Angkor Golf Resort is the best golf course in Cambodia (and the top 10 in Asia). Here is what the internationally recognised designer and layout developer had to say.

Our fairways are typically generous, but our bunkering style is impressively bold. The greens have plenty of subtle undulations and they reward and encourage a variety of approach shots.” 

Sir Nick Faldo

Awsome Water Features Abound

In addition to being wonderful to look at, our water elements help lessen heat whilst playing and keep the course in exceptional condition.


Awards, Awards and More awards

Year after year, after year, the course and it’s facilities are recognised by the global golfing fraternity. We do not recieve these awards for nothing – they are earned.

  • 2020 Worlds Top 100 Course, Golf Digest
  • 2014/15/16/18 Best Course in Cambodia, Asian Golf Awards
  • 2016/17 Best Course in Cambodia, World Golf Awards
  • 2015 IAGTO Excellence Award
  • 2014 Top 3 Maintained Course in Asia Pacific, Asian Golf Awards
  • 2011-2016 Trip Adviser Certificate of Excellence 
  • 2012 Best Golf Course in Cambodia, Golf Digest USA
  • 2011 Top 10 Best Maintained Course, Asian Golf Monthly
  • 2011-16 The Rolex World Top 1000 Golf Courses
  • 2009 Audobon International Certification
  • 2008 Best New Course, Runner-Up, Asian Golf Monthly


The course is stunningly quiet with the mere hint of bird song. Take your time – there is no need to rush the course.


Course Size

The course if a exciting 18 holes with a length of 7279 yards. Buggies are available. Have a 3d preview of the course.


Panoramic Views

Angkor Golf Resort is constructed on what were enormous rice paddies. This gives the course uninterrupted views of Krong Siem Reap.


Challenging Bunkers

As you can see, the bunkers are ominous. However, with expansive and generous fairways you should be able (confidently) to avoid them. With not much rough, you will generally have a good lie.


Impressive Greens

You will need decent putting skills on our undulating greens. Take your time and think it through. Knowledgeable caddies are on hand to give advice when required.


Contact Us

You can fill out the contact form on our golfing page that goes directly to the resort. It has a few questions that will help Angkor Golf make certain that your trip is exceptional.


Need To Book A Hotel Near The Course

There are many modest hotels and incomparable hotels close to the resort. If you intend to play on the best golf course in Cambodia you can get a great deal for the best hotels in Siem reap. Here is a hint: Place them in customer review order. Siem Reap has an extraordinarily high number of hotels with scores in excess of 9.0 (exceptional). In addition, has an office in Siem Reap should you have any cause to complain.

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tonle bati lake

How To Explore Awesome Tonle Bati Lake And Temples

tonle bati lake

Amazing and Alluring Tonle Bati

Not far from Phnom Penh is Tonle Bati, which is a lake popular with locals who go there to enjoy a day out by the water and for a couple of twelfth century Angkorian temples in the area. This adventure can be achieved on a day trip from the capital by bike, Cambodian bus, or taxi.

Getting to Tonle Bati By Bus

phnom penh to tonle bati

To get there is straightforward. There are buses that depart for Takeo every hour from the Phnom Penh Sorya bus station, which is near Central Market. Get off at Tonlé Bati at the 35km road marker then take a motodup to the base of the temples. Getting back, well, be patient as you try to hail a passing bus. Or, with your own transport, take National Highway 2 from Phnom Penh and follow the signs to Phnom Chisor: the way is well sign-posted.

Ta Prohm

The Tonlé Bati countryside is a lively area that attracts Cambodians to fish, relax and, of course, visit the Khmer temples of Ta Prohm and Yeay Peau. Both temples were built under Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century during the same period that Siem Reap’s Bayon and Angkor Thom were constructed. The area has been occupied and temples present since the pre-Angkorian Funan period.

Ta Prohm is the more extensive and impressive of the two, displaying a number of very well-preserved carvings. Ta Prohm was built on the site of a 6th century Khmer shrine, and the main sanctuary consists of five chambers, each with a lingam inside, and there are trees that grow on and around the temple. The temple was modified and extended as late as the 16th century.

The temple is very well preserved and covered with beautiful bas-reliefs. It is one of the best preserved and most intricate temples between Siem Reap and the Vietnam border to the south.

Worshipping at Tonle Bati

Tonlé Bati is also a place of worship and, apart from the two ancient temples, also has a pagoda, Wat Tonlé Bati, which was built in 1576.

Yeay Peau is a single sandstone tower situated next to the pagoda and has a display of carvings. It is behind Wat Tonle Bati, about 100 meters from Ta Prohm temple. Constructed of sandstone in the twelfth century, it is seven metres square and faces east. Apart from the temple is a house on the bank of Tonle Bati, about 200 metres from the temple, that once was used by the royal family as a residence during holidays.

The small Yeay Peau temple has been integrated into the modern pagoda that now stands in it’s place. Look for the Buddhist lintel on the eastern door, and the beautiful pediment depicting the Hindu god Vishnu in the rear.

Yeay Peau temple has a legend attached, and is named after King Ta Prohm’s mother. Legend has it that Peau gave birth to a son, Prohm. When Prohm discovered his father was King Preah Ket Mealea, he set off to live with the king. After a few years, he returned to his mother but did not recognise her. The King was taken by her beauty, and asked her to become his wife. He refused to believe Peau’s protests that she was in fact his mother. To fend off his advances, she suggested a contest to avoid the impending marriage.

Cambodian Silk Weaving

After you have seen these temples, visit a silk weaving village where you can see how silk is produced. A bit further down the track, where the turn off to Phnom Chisor is found. There is the temple of Prasat Neang Khmao, the temple of the Black Virgin, which you can visit.

Apart from the temples; you can hang out by Tonlé Bati where there are bamboo picnic stands with mats and small floating wooden pavilions. The lake is a great place to escape the city for a day and go for a swim and relax. At weekends and holidays the lake is popular with locals. So it is best to go on a weekday to avoid the crowds.

Rent a Cottage Near Tonle Bati

Renting a water cottage is $3 for the whole day but more on holidays. There is also food for sale. A pleasant place to go with your friends and family. Bring along small amounts of Riel and dollars and check the prices beforehand on everything. The touts here are notorious for dishing out outrageously high checks when you depart. And, of course, enjoy a swim in the lake.


You can order food from the sampan ladies floating by or a waiter will come to you. There are also pedal boats and boat rides. The floating pavilions are a relaxing way to spend an afternoon where you can enjoy beautiful sunsets and great food. However, beggars can be a problem; they just will not go away, and the salespeople tend to be very pushy.

Takeo and Phnom Chisor

If after a visit to Tonlé Bati you feel like visiting some other places, then head to Takeo town or Phnom Chisor, which are both just down the road. These out-of-the-way places are rarely visited by tourists, but both are surprising, you know, those little gems everybody mentions when talking about their overseas adventure: fascinating hill-top temple with unbelievable views, Ta Mok of Khmer Rouge infamy’s prison, Phnom Da and you can try the delicious freshwater prawns in Takeo town. Check it out.