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Kampot

Kampot, the third largest coastal province in Cambodia, shares a border with Vietnam to the east and extends into the Gulf of Siam to the south. Elegant colonial architecture, spectacular natural attractions, and bucolic charm make this province a favorite among locals, expatriates, and more recently, tourists.

Kampot's languid atmosphere and quaint, small-town feel are easy to fall in love with; many who stay in the province do so on the relaxed riverside, where visitors can swim in waters full of bioluminescent plankton or take a smooth kayak ride down the river.

Kampot is more than just a sleepy riverside town, however. The province offers plentiful historical and natural wonders to discover, and serves as a common gateway to Bokor National Park, the beaches of Kep, the beautiful rapids of Toek Chhou and other attractions in southwestern Cambodia.

Bokor National Park is popular for its cool mountain climate and remains a year-round favourite amongst locals and foreigners alike. The scenery from the top is captivating, especially in the morning hours when one can literally touch the clouds and take in the bracing mountain air.

Other attractions include the Popokvil Waterfall where thundering falls provide a cool, refershing pool to dip in. A short distance across the track, the Toek Chhou Rapids is yet another popular tourist attraction. The Prek Ampal Resort, Kampong Trach Mountain Resort and the Anlong Pring Bird Sanctuary are also worthwhile stops in Kampot.

Preah Vihear Province

Preah Vihear province, which borders Thailand and Laos to the north, is home to three of the most captivating temples of the Angkorian era: the Preah Vihear temple, the Koh Ker temple, and the Preah Khan Kampong Svay temple. It also houses communities of many ethnic hill tribes.

Koh Ker used to be a capital of the Khmer Emperor King Jayavarman IV who built this city in the year 921AD. Some parts of the temples are still hidden in the jungle and are not accessible. The Preah Vihear temple is most significant in this province.

The temple of Preah Vihear, dedicated to Shiva, is situated on the edge of a plateau that dominates the plain of Cambodia. The temple is composed of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases over an 800 metre long axis and dates back to the first half of the 11th century AD. Nevertheless, its complex history can be traced to the 9th century, when the hermitage was founded. This site is particularly well preserved, mainly due to its remote location. It is exceptional for the quality of its architecture, which is adapted to the natural environment and the religious function of the temple, as well as for the exceptional quality of its carved stone ornamentation.

A unique architectural complex of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases on an 800 metre long axis, this temple is an outstanding masterpiece of Khmer architecture, in terms of plan, decoration and relationship to the spectacular landscape environment.

Preah Khan Kampong Svay, also known as Prasat Bakan, is a complex of gigantic proportions located in the southwest corner of Preah Vihear province. It covers an area 4 times that of the Angkor Wat with a 3 km long Baray and a large number of towers or Prasats within the compound. Largely unknown and rarely visited, the temple had been very badly looted over the years.

Kratie Province

Kratie Province, located on the east bank of the Mekong River, attracts a fair share of visitors, many of whom wish to catch a glimpse of the last few Irrawaddy Dolphins left in the world.  The recommended place to see them is Kampi Village, about 15 kilometers from town. Irrawaddy Dolphins are an endangered species and are extremely rare; it is estimated there are only about 60 living in this stretch of the river.
The town of Kratie offers an authentic rural ambience, and therefore serves as the perfect place to spend a peaceful night or two. It is a nice relief from some of the country’s more trafficked areas.

There numerous sites to visit in Kratie. Phnom Sombok is a small temple located on a hill north of town. A long flight of steps lead into a pavilion of Phnom Sombok that features detailed photos of afterlife punishments to those who have sinned in the present life. Wat Roka Kandal is a restored pagoda with an ancient Lao style ‘Stupa’ on the riverfront about 2 kilometers from the town center. Nearby lies a more modern pagoda where chanting of the monks can be heard at dawn and in the evenings. About 15 kilometers from town, there is a large Cham community. This is known locally as the ‘basket-weaving’ village; it is the biggest in Kratie with over 4000 villagers living here.

A popular end-of-the-day activity in Kratie is to relax by the riverfront to watch the sun set.

Stung Treng Province

Stung Treng is a beautiful province located on a high sandy bank overlooking the Mekong River. It is about 455 km from Phnom Penh and some 40 km to the Laos border. This charming city is linked to Banlung (Rattanak Kiri) and is more than just a ‘stopover’. The Sekong Bridge, itself an attraction, serves as a convenient passage to the border of Laos.

There are several noteworthy attractions in the province of Stung Treng. The incredible Sopheakmith Waterfall never ceases to mesmerise visitors, and neither does the stretch of the mighty Mekong, which is home to the incredibly rare Irrawaddy dolphins.

The Thala Barivat is only 4 kilometers from the provincial town. This is accessible by crossing the Se Kong River. Thala Barivat is the historical site where the Preah Ko, a 7th century brick temple of King Jayavarman I is located. Preah Ko is consists of six brick towers arranged in two rows of three towers each perched on a sandstone platform. This is one of the earliest temples built during the Angkor era.

Here in the vicinity are a few other small ancient temples; the Prambuon Lveng Temple, Srei Temple and the Angkor Kmao Temple. The Hang Kho Ba Pagoda, a 300 year old temple in the Hang Kho Ba Village, is also only about 6 Kilometers from the provincial town and worth the while to pay a visit.

Stung Treng province is also famous for sweet tamarind Pa Si Yi fish, a local delicacy enjoyed by many tourists.