Kampong Cham is the capital of the province of the same name and the third largest city in Cambodia. With its Mekong River location and relatively close proximity to Phnom Penh (123km) and Vietnam, Kampong Cham has always been an important trade and transportation hub. The highway from Phnom Penh is in excellent condition-you can get here in just under two hours by road or by the bullet boats that are a main mode of transportation between towns on the Mekong River. Either way it’s a nice fide, with views of the rural countryside or river area, depending on which way you go.
The town itself is quaint and charming with its bustling morning river scene and wide boulevard streets beside the river. There are a few worthwhile attractions nearby and with its location on the way by boat or road to Kratie, Mondulkiri, Rattanakiri and Stung Treng Provinces; it’s a nice jump-off point.Kampong Cham is a mix of the old and the new, with a new temple being built in and around old ruins and the big ferry boats taking people and goods to the other side of the Mekong, right next to the construction of the first bridge ever built here. Because there is little foreign investment and no massive tourism (almost every foreigner who comes here is a backpacker), this city is quite poor with a few modern buildings, though not lacking in French architecture from the colonial period. It is similar to many other Cambodian cities, being rather dirty, with garbage a common sight. The people of Kampong Cham are very friendly and open to engaging with tourists.
If recent projects seem to be improving the state of things here (relative to other Cambodian cities), remember that both PM Hun Sen and former Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara are originally from this province.
This province is located in the eastern heard of Cambodia bordering following provinces: Kratie to the Northeast, Vietnam to the East, Prey Veng to the South, Kampong Chhnang to the west and Kampong Thom to the Northwest. Due to its advantageous location with the mighty Mekong flowing through the whole province, Kampong Cham has not much to fear of water supply.
The sprawling township of Kampong Cham stretching lazily along the west bank of the Mekong River has much to offer, from temples to deep forests of numerous rubber plantations (a legacy of the French colonial period) to peaceful stalls along the river where visitors can sit back and soak in the atmosphere over a beer or fresh coconut. Kampong Cham is also located at a crossroads. It is the gateway to exotic Mondulkiri Province through Kratie, and it’s a common port city on the mighty Mekong. Via the national highway No 7 the province is easily to enter and to explore.
The province is divided up into 16 districts, with 173 communes and 1,748 villages. Its geographic location is 12.00°N, 105.46°E.
Kampong Cham is the capital of the Cambodian province of Kampong Cham. It is the third largest city in Cambodia with a population of 1,914,152 people (2007) with 928,504 male and 985,648 female and is located on the Mekong River. Kampong Cham is 123 kilometers northeast from Phnom Penh and can be reached by either boats or a recently constructed asphalt road. It takes about 2 hours by vehicles or 2.5 hours by boats from Phnom Penh to the city of Kampong Cham.
Cambodia has sun almost year round. The average temperature is around 27 degrees Celsius; minimum temperature is about 16 degrees. December and January are the coolest months during the year.
General information about the climate:
– Rainy season: May – October (27-35c, with humidity up to 90%.)
– Cool season: November- March (17-27c)
– Hot season: March- May (28c -36c)
In an effort to entice foreign investment, the province is offering generous business concessions to those who wish to invest in rubber plantations inside the country. Kampong Cham and Kratie have an abundance of red soil and water resources, which create ideal conditions for the cultivation of rubber. Generally, the people make their living from rubber and cashew nut plantation, fishing, rice farming and producing a rich array of fruits in fertile orchards, including durian, rambutans and lychees.
How to get there
Bullet Boats: This is a nice option for you travel along the Mekong. Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham takes two hours and costs 10,000 riel. The boats depart just north of the Japanese Bridge (around 150m) on the Phnom Penh side of the Tonle Sap River.
Kampong Cham to Kratie is a three – hour boat ride and the cost is about 15,000 riel. The boats usually do not continue on to Stung Treng, as the water level must be very high to enable the boats to clear all of the small islands and clumps in the river between Kratie and Stung Treng. The boats usually don’t even go during the rainy season, as there aren’t many people travelling on this route.
Bikers: The cost for taking a motorcycle with you by boat for a section of the trip is the same price as for a person. It’s not recommended, though, as the porters who load and unload the boats are a hassle to deal with and if they happen to drop your motorcycle in the river (a real possibility), it’s your loss and not theirs. If you have a motorcycle, ride it. It’s not recommended to combine the two modes of transportation.
Bus: Hoh Wat Gentling Bus Company and Sorya Bus Company (168) have a/c buses to and from Kampong Cham on a regular schedule every day. Their main bus terminal is near the southwest corner of the Central Market (or New Market) in Phnom Penh. The trip is 6,000 riel. In Kampong Cham, bus arrivals and departures are at the Kampong Cham Market. Please see the Getting Around chapter towards the front of the book for all bus schedules.
Share Taxis: As it is quite cheap and quick with the air-con buses from Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham, there is not much of a reason to take a taxi. A share taxi from Kampong Cham to Kampong Thom is 8,000 riel. The road is in good condition. The share taxi do not go all the way to Kratie at this time, only as far as Snoul, the small town that is the juncture point for the road to Kratie and to Sen Monorom town in Mondulkiri Province. In Snoul there are only sometimes share taxis plying the route to Kratie. If you don’t have your own motorcycle as transportation, your surest bet is to take the bullet boat if you want to go to Kratie from Kampong Cham.
Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham As mentioned earlier, the highway from Phnom Penh is in excellent condition; you take Highway No 6 from Phnom Penh (crossing the Japanese Bridge) and go to the roundabout in Skun comprising a stature of children holding a bird. Highway 6 continues on to the left, going to Kampong Thom and Siem Reap. For Kampong Cham, you veer to the right and follow Highway No 7. A scenic option to this is to follow the river road on the eastern side of the Mekong River (if own vehicle). It takes a bit more time but if you have time it’s worth it. Security is not a problem.Until the new bridge over the Mekong River is finished, you still take the big ferry across if you want to explore the eastern side of the province or continue on to Kratie or Mondulkiri Provinces by motorcycle or vehicle. It’s 200 riel per person and 400 riel for a motorcycle.
Kampong Cham to Snoul and Kratie or Sen MonoromThe motorcycle ride from Kampong Cham to Snoul is not with the best road equipped, but it’s doable. Just before you reach Snoul there is a junction in the road with a police box on the right side. Follow the road to the left and you are on the highway to Kratie. You go through the town of Snoul just ahead where there is food and fuel.Back at the junction by the police box just before you get to Snoul, following the curve to the right takes you to Mondulkiri. About 7 km past that curve you come to a four-way junction. Turn left there and you are on the dust highway (laterite surface) to Sen Monorom. Fuel and drinks are available at the four-way junction and 60km later, so you can bypass Snoul if you like. The road from Snoul to Sen Monorom is generally in good condition. It’s only a dirt road but it’s nice and level, because it was put in for the logging trucks. The road gets quite tricky during the rainy season, however, when the clay gets wet and it becomes similar to riding on ice. The scenery is beautiful and you’re passing one of the remotest places in the country.
Where to eat
Apsara Restaurant: Near the Kampong Cham Market. They serve a good breakfast and continue throughout the day. They have some western food and an English menu.
Kimstrun Guesthouse & Restaurant: The guesthouse has a small rice dish and noodle soup restaurant.
Hoa An Restaurant: This place is popular with locals and the Kampong Cham NGO crowd. It looks like a two-story hotel and has some a/c rooms for private dinners, in addition to the main eating area. Good Chinese and Khmer food along with the usual beer girls.
Phnom Prosh Hotel & Restaurant: This newer hotel also has a restaurant. Good Chinese, Khmer and a bit of western food.
Two Dragons Restaurant: Located in the centre of the city, this restaurant has a menu in English and a range of good Khmer food (some international dishes).
Boeng Kan Seng Restaurant: Located in the West of the town on the lakeside this peaceful restaurant offers more than 100 Khmer and Chinese dishes.
There are also small food and drink stands along the River Parkway.
Where to stay
Pounleurasemei 2 Guesthouse: Names this long should be illegal. It’s good value at US$ 5 for a fan room and US$ 10 a/c. The rooms have a Western bath and some have a view of the river.
Chamnortunle Guesthouse: (A shorter name than the neighbors, but not by much.) There is a nice second-floor terrace over looking the Mekong River. There are US$ 3 fan rooms on the third floor. The other rooms have a Western bath and TV added. US$ 5 for a fan room and US$ 10 for adding a/c. These next four places are close to the market ad river:
7 January Guesthouse: It’s a dive, but at 5,000 riel that’s what you get. It has a share bath and a second-floor terrace.
Angkor Thom Guesthouse: Same as the 7 January, US$ 30 on a monthly basis.
Chann Chhaya Guesthouse: It’s the same as the others at 5,000 riel.
Nava Guesthouse: In the middle of the pack of the three others. There are small, clean rooms with a Western bath in each room at US$ 5 a night.
Monorom Guesthouse: Newly refurbished, they now have nice rooms with TV, fan, Western bath for US$ 5, adding a/c puts the cost at US$ 10. There is karaoke on the premises and the place always has working girls hanging around making this place fairly lively for Kampong Cham. It’s located behind the Mekong Hotel.
Bopharik Guesthouse: It has a nice terrace overlooking the market, Simple fan rooms with Western bath for US$ 5, $ 10 for a/c.
Bopear Guesthose: Located one block in from the river, it’s a clean and well-run place. There is also a nice second floor terrace. Western bath and a big fan room go for US$ 4.
Sengly Guesthouse: This place has simple rooms with attached bath for US$ 4 w/fan or US$ 10 a/c.
Hakly Guesthouse: Unfriendly staff makes this place a bad choice even though the rooms are fairly decent.
Kimsrun Guesthouse: A simple place with a small restaurant on the premises. US$ 3 a night.
Kampong Cham market has a gaudy look similar to that of the Central Market in Phnom Penh, and it has a complete supply of just about anything that you may need. A night market springs up on the western side in the evening. There are plenty of photo shops and pharmacies on the perimeter roads.
Nokor Bachey Temple
Is the historical site located at 2.2 Kilometer distance from the Kampong Cham provincial town along the National road N0 7 (Phnom Penh- Kampong Cham) in 12-kilometer distance and turn left more 200 Metres. The temple can be accessible by all types of vehicles.The temple site is divided into: Tonle Om: Size 400 Meters x 500 Meters located at the East of the temple in approximate 300-metres distance from the temple.First Long Building: Size 421 Metres x 371 Metres made of late rite stone of 2.9-meter height and 2.4-metre length. Now, most parts of this long building have broken. In the area of the first long building included:
– Six Lions: Located at the entrance of the second long building; the entrance has two-metre width.
– Eight dragons: Located behind the six lions.
– Two devils: Stand at both sides of the entrance.
SECOND LONG BUILDING: include
– Two statues of Te Cho Dam Din – Two devils each has 1.6-metre height.
– Two ponds each has 20 Metre x 20 Metre; the two ponds are not dried during the dry season.
Third Long Building: Is thicker than the first and the second and has accesses from the four directions. In the third long building, there are:
-In front of the entrance, there is an eight-hand statue of Preah Norey
– At the left-hand side, there is a four – hand statue of Preah Norey
FOURTH LONG BUILDING: Made of late rite stone; it is separated and different from the first, second and third because it has accesses from the 12 directions.If we enter into the middle of the temple, we notice a high mid-peak made of sandstone with Buddhist statue facing the four directions of East, West, North and South.
Nor Kor Ba Chey temple has wide location; it is not smaller than other temples in Cambodia. The temple is the main gathering place for the people in Kampong Cham province, and other provinces and municipalities. The temple was built in 11th Century.
Phnom Srey and Phnom Pros
Phnom Srey and Phnom Pros located at Kro La Commune, Kampong Siem District in Seven- kilometre distance from the provincial town of Kampong Cham or 114-kilometre distance from Phnom Penh with exceeding 500 Metres to the left.The pagoda of Phnom Pros has official name called “What Sovan Kiri Rotanak Phnom Pros”; in 1000 Meters to the North, there is another mountain, which has pointed peak called “Phnom Srey”.North of the Phnom Srey, there are ranks of mountains such as mountains of Dang Rek, Ba Ley and Chhuk. The mountain of Pros has dull peak and has approximate 30-metre height. It can be reached by road until the top. At the top, there are a high-five peak temple adapted the model of Bontey Srey temple and two pagodas closed to each other:
One is the old pagodas having two peaks built in Sang Kum Reas Niyum time and the other one is being built.Under the temple, there is a big statue with 15-metre height built by the first dead of pagoda, named Keo So. At the mountain base, there are Kot for monks staying.In addition, at the top of Pros Mountain we can view the beautiful scene of Kampong Cham province. From 1975-1979, the mountain of Pros was a big detention place for torturing Cambodian people in Kampong Cham province. The mountain of Srey has pointed peak and can be climbed up by 308 Stair steps. At the top, there is a ruined temple, with a few nuns and no monks who stay to maintain and collect contribution to rebuild the temple.
In this resort, there are many local people who go there during the Khmer traditional festivals such as Khmer New Year and Pchum Ben.
Preah Theat Teuk Chha
Located at Thmor Da village, Boeung Peay Commune and at Thmey village, Kroch Commune, Prey Chhor District in distance of 39 kilometers from the provincial town. The resort was organized in AD 1005 during the reign of King, Sorya VarmanI. The construction of Pheah Theat Teuk Chha temple was arranged by Mr. Chung Chheal (Cheak Teak Kho Leah or Dr. Lak Sin Trak); the place of Pheah Theat Teuk Chha called Srey Kon Trei Svarak; the two Buddhist statues called Bornesvarak and and Sorak Svati; in front of the temple, there is another temple
, the small residence of angel.In the Preah Theat Teuk Chha resort, there are 551 small temples characterizing Buddhism and Brahmanism. King, Sorya Varman I agreed with the proposal set up, and he contributed a lot of his own properties to construct the temple. Dr. Chung Chheal or Dr. Lak Sey Trak started constructing the temple with his property and his intellect as well as encouraging people to contribute their property. In the middle of the big temple, there is Linga of Siva called Srey Pheak Tre Svarak flanked by two statues, namely: Bo Rak Me Svarak and Sorak Svati.At the East, in front of the Linga, there is another small cavern, the angel resident, now the cavern is dumped by stones in the forest, at the canal of the waterfall, there ins only one door-frame remains to proof the fact. At the right hand side of the temple, the architect takes measure to excavate a large pond called Leakin Trak Dak, in the middle of the pond, a golden Linga was built. At the surrounding of the area, there is a wealthy village, in which the neighboring people gathered to live; so the atmosphere of this new city is crowded and cheerful. After the arrangement of this new city finished, Dr.
Leak Sin Trak brought news to inform the King, Sorya Varman; the king went to splendidly inaugurate this place in AD 1025; at the inauguration ceremony, the king provided resources like equipment, 29 soldiers, rice field around the temple, all ponds and big courts for festival celebration or decorating furniture. Also, the king named this place Leaksin Trak Bot abiding by the name of the Doctor, the builder. Then, due to the change of history, this place became the sacrificing place for religions be
cause from reign to reign, the kings clings to different religions, some cling to Brahmanism, some cling to Teravada Buddhism and some cling to Buddhism. So the temple of Preah Theat Teuk Chha has until 551 temples included Buddhism and Brahmanism temples as well as the temples for keeping statues of heroes who have sacrificed their lives to the nation. The war destroyed everything and seriously damaged temples some temples do not exist names and figure. Nowadays, people and monk have participatorily tried to search for location, names and fundamental location of old
temples in order to have them renovated. Some of those renovated temples made of wood with tile roofing and some made of concrete. By the research, we can recognize names of temples in this area:
– Pros Temple
– Trung Nhean Temple
– Srey Temple
– Kak Bil Phors Temple
– Preah Chol Nipean Temple
– Pheak Kalis Temple
– Preah Pisnuo Ka Temple
– Neak Ta Dom Bang Kra Hom
– Lok Yeay Pey Sakha Temple
– Preah Chenh Sang Phnuos
– Lok Yeay Tep Pol Metorp Temple
– Dom Rei Sam Poan Temple
– Tray Phup Temple
– Tum Leay Sak Temple
– Pirut Thei Temple
– Tum Leay Sak Temple
– Preah Ko Temple
– Preah Ang Kat Preah Phnuong
– Moha Cheat Temple
– Seah Chun Preah Ang Temple
– Pothi Thlok Temple
– Mokot Tip Temple
– Bopha Phuong Temple
– Sang Sa Chey Temple
– Pram Preah Ang Temple
– Reach Sey Temple – Kak Bil Riech Temple
– Koyang Sak Temple
– Preah Keo Riech Trop Temple
– Tang Ta Hor Temple
– Sovana Phum Temple
– Srah Srang comprised of three:
– Preah Yuma Riech Temple Sras Ak Phi Thorm
– Chak Tro Loak Kbal Buon Temple
-Srah Much Lin
-Preah Reach Nou Temple
– Srah Bak Ni
– Sdach Khmeng Temple
– Preah Ream Thleng Sor Temple
– Eisey Sros Sray Temple
– Preah Reach Nou Temple
– Krola Hom Kong Temple.
Man-Made Resort Of Teuk Chha
Next to the temple, there is a canal existing since the ancient time. The canal has water all year round, either dry or raing seasons; water which is clear and non-stopped flowing which leads to attracting tourists to enjoy it happily. On either side of the clear-water canal, there are plants and trees growing; but now these plants and trees have been cut off to make a big plain where the wast water spreads out at the rock temple.In order to take advantage from the canal, a dam has been constructed to provide water to big rice fields in Prey Chhor District, Kampong Cham Pronvice and in Ba Ray District, Kampon Thom province. Because the area is the cool place with great quantity of water and cool shadow from the trees that are growing around the ancient temple, these can sometime attract tourists to visit and enjoy during their holiday leading to be well known. Nowadays, the ancient pond, which we described as the achievement of Dr. Chung Kheal is the wast-water pond located in front of the dam that has been just constructed recently. The canal has water flowing from above and has source at the North in Kampong Cham province; the water flows from the North to the East, when touching a side of the temple, it flows down into a big slit. From the ancient time, the slit has been full of water; but there are small currents of water shared from the slit, then flow into rice fields of the surrounding villages such as Kroch village in Sre Chhor District as well. Because the canal is old, the Ministry of Agriculture has organized a dam for stocking water in order to accelerate the water flow of the canal to thousand Hectars of rice fields in districts of Prey Chhor and Ba Ray. The canal of Teuk Chha has corner where they can enjoy swimming; if someone like swimming in the shallow water, he/she can swim in the old canal, North of the dam because the bottom of the old canal has four-meter or five-meter width. The clear water, we can see its bottom with flock of small fish swimming in reverse direction to the water flow. If some one like swimming in deep water, he can swim in a wast water, South of the dam. Around the Slit of the canal bank, there is a high tree which provide shelter to tourists and birds. The water surface of Teuk Chha has appoximate 3-square kilometre size filled by nearly 10 sources at the Northeast Mountain and plateau called “Kbal Teuk”. The tank of stocked water has appoximately more than two-metre depth and pours to three accesses: two accesses via the dam can be closed and opened, and another one is the 10-meter Slit, North of the dam. The first dam is opened every day; the water flows down sounding as water fall; this can attract tourists to enjoy swimming. The second dam is opened during the festival days sometime; the water flow is not strong.
Prey Nor Kor Knong Krov Temple
Is an ancient site located at the Southeast of Kampong Cham province, at Prey Nor Kor village, Daun Tey Commune, Ponhea Krek district in the distance of 42 Kilometers from the provincial town of Kampong Cham. Prey Nor Kor Knong-Krov temple can be accessible by the National Road No 7 and turn right by a trail at Dam Nak Cha village. This resort has five trails at the public gathering place of Daun Tey Commune such as: – The trail at the public gathering place of Knar has six-kilometre distance. – The distance from the main road to Preah Theat is five kilometers. – he distance from the main road to Preah Theat is five kilometers.The distance from the trail to Dam Nak Cha is 10 Kilometres. – The distance from Poan Chrey to Prey Nor Kor Knong is 5.3 Kilometres. The resort of Prey Nor Kor Knong-Krov temple is the gathering place where the local people and tourists meet each other for enjoying popular games and religious purpose during the traditional festival. The Temple of Prey Nor Kor has the same form to the temple of Sam Bour Prey Kuk, and it was built in the 9th century. Until the assassinated plan set up by the princess of Kun Bot he had mobilized troop to fight successfully against the princess. Prey Nor Kor Knong-Krov temple has 2500-square meter landarea consisting of: – Thum Temple: Located on high hill of the Khoeun of present temple. It included three temples made of solid brick: one at the left was completely damaged and other two temples remain good forms. Inside these two temples, there are some statues and broken ancient objects remain. The local people believe that the temples have been protected and maintained by sacred spirit if tourists would like to photograph the two temples, they should light incense to pray for allowance first otherwise the picture of the two temples do not appear in their cameras.- Preah Theat Temple: Located at the East of Thum temple. It included six temples, which were damaged by war. At the present, there is one temple remains but it is almost collapsed because of digging in search of treasure. – Preay Theat Pond: Located at the Northeast of the Thum temple. At that time, there was a Pond called Ku Teuk. – Koh An Det or Kor Prak (30 meter length by 20 meter width): or another name called Sras Toem located at the North of the village. – Tum Nup or Kam Pheng Poat Chum Vinh: Located around the city of Prey Nor Kor Knong-Krov and was planted the complex and inaccessible wild bamboo. – This dam has approximate 10-metre height, 15-metre vertical angle, and square angle; each angle has 2,500 Metres. Some parts of the dam have been damaged.
Wat Preah Theat Thmor Da Temple
Is the ancient site located at the Southeast of Kampong Cham province; it located at Preah Theat Thmor Da village, Preah Theat commune, Ou Rang Au District. This pagoda is 38-kilometre distance from Kampong Cham province and can be reached by the National Road No 7 and turning by the Road No 11 to Au Rang Au District, then continuing more eight kilometers by a trail. The area of the pagoda has 190-metres length and 160-metre width consisting of a Preah Theat temple and a big pond with clear water called “Tonle Sor Nguot”; the pond has 950-metres length and 180-metres width. Wat Prah Tohm Nah Day Doh A real mouthful for a real fine-looking place. Situated on a river bend on the far south end of town are a couple of temple buildings set amid nicely landscaped grounds. The main temple is about seventy years old and has a hundred-year-old sitting Buddha image and some interesting wall murals, Stupas and monuments, including a four-faced Bayon –style one, are not in short supply.
Phnom Han Chey
Han Chey Mountain has official name “Chey Kiri Mountain” located at the East of Kampong Cham province, at the northern part of Mekong River. This resort located at Han Chey village, Han Chey commune, Kampong Siem District in the distance of 18 kilometres by water and 20 kilometres by land. The mountain can be climbed up by 295 beautiful stair steps, and has pagoda and the temple of Kuk made of ancient solid bricks each has seven-square meter size.In addition, there is another temple having square shape made of sandstone located at the North of pagoda; at the valley of the mountain, there is another temple called “Pra Sat Neang Khmao” made of stones each has seven-square metre size.The mountain of Han Chey has beautiful scenary and also has many visitors; the international visitors who go there as group by boat. Recently, there are many tourist sites which have been found in the province Kampong Cham; but not yet operated for tourists to visit. Along the Mekong River, there are a beautiful bank and island of Pen, which have been needed by the provincial visitors ho visit there during the Khmer New Year festival.
2km (2mn) From Provincial Town. Operations of Recreation Park and Beaches, Location: Kampong Cham & Kampong Siem District.
Koh Pen Beach
2km (2mn) From Provincial Town. Operations of Recreation Park and Beaches, Location: Kampong Cham & Kampong Siem District.
Wat Joy T’maw
This temple is on the opposite e
nd (north) of the river road, overlooking the Mekong.