Cambodia’s third largest city, Kampong Cham, is the country’s provincial capital, far from the tourist attractions of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Despite its impressive population, Kampong Cham is a quiet city nestled along the banks of the Mekong River. During the French period, a large port was located here and the atmosphere of Europe was seething around, as today the old mansions in the city center still testify. But Kampong Cham is famous not only for echoes of a glorious past – it is the gateway to the wonders of eastern Cambodia little studied by tourists and a surprisingly colorful city – not only ethnic Khmers live here, but also Chams, Chinese, as well as a huge number of Muslims and Christians. For Cambodia climate and geography, please check TopPharmacySchools.
The bamboo bridge over the Mekong is an attraction in itself – despite the fragility of the material, it even withstands pickups!
How to get to Kampong Cham
It is convenient to get from Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham by bus. The road takes from 3 to 4 hours and passes along the highway of good quality, laid along the banks of the Mekong, so that at the same time you can admire the views of the legendary river. A ticket will cost from 5 USD, depending on the carrier. Recall: buses depart from the Phnom Penh bus station near the central market, it is recommended to hit the road as early as possible (at 6-7 in the morning).
A more comfortable, but also more expensive option is to take a taxi. The path in this case is reduced by about 45-50 minutes, the fare will cost 80 USD.
Transport in the city
The city center is easy to explore on foot – it is located north of Highway 7 (which will take you to Kampong) and consists of an embankment with several “civilized” hotels and restaurants and a couple of streets extending perpendicularly from it to the west. The central market is also located here.
However, the most interesting sights of the city are located outside the city limits. In order to examine them, a rented bike (3-6 USD; rental is available in hotels and transport rental offices), a motorcycle taxi or a tuk-tuk is suitable. Mototaxis within the city will cost no more than 3 USD, and a circular trip to sights near the city (Nokor Wat temple, endless plantations of breadfruit trees, etc.) will cost about 7 USD. As usual, before the trip, you need to discuss the route with the driver and bargain. There are not as many tuk-tuks in Kampong Cham as in Siem Reap or Phnom Penh, but if you like a trip on this exotic form of transport, go to the city bus station – there you will certainly find drivers waiting for riders.
Kampong Cham Hotels
Kampong Cham has a sufficient number of hotels and guesthouses at quite reasonable prices. Western-oriented hotels should be looked for on the Mekong waterfront. The best room with air conditioning, hot water and TV, and even with a view of the Mekong will cost about 25 USD. Simpler hotels charge guests 10-15 USD for a room with a fan and a bathroom with cold water. Budget travelers can stay in a guest house for 5-7 USD.
Cuisine and restaurants
For food familiar to the European stomach, you should go to the same embankment. Here you can refresh yourself with pasta-pizza, burgers and French crepes, or dine with delicious pan-European cuisine. The creations of Khmer chefs can be appreciated in several restaurants along the Mekong, for example, in Hao An or Spien Thmei, popular among expats. A light Asian-style snack is available literally at every step – most establishments are near the central market, but there are plenty of eateries on the streets. However, you should be careful in matters of hygiene.
Alcoholic drinks, including beer, are served in all “European” restaurants. You can refresh yourself during the excursion day with freshly squeezed sugar cane juice – it is sold everywhere at a price of 1 USD per glass.
19 km east of Kampong Cham, you can visit a rubber plantation – walk through the forest, watch the workers and visit a rubber factory.
Attractions and attractions in Kampong Cham
Kampong Cham cannot be called a city of attractions, but there are still some very interesting places here. The first step is to go to the Nokor Wat temple. This is a classic example of an Angkorian temple from the 11th century with tiered domes and wall frescoes, later rebuilt into a Buddhist pagoda, where monks serve today. Nature took care of the creation of the ancient Khmers, and many interesting details can be noticed in the temple. On weekend evenings, performances of national dances “apsara” are arranged here. Even in Nokor Wat, you can see mausoleums with human remains – the legacy of the Khmer Rouge regime.
The low hills of Pros and Srey frame Kampong Cham from two outskirts. Millet rises only 30 meters, at the top there are several ruins of ancient temples, including an impressive complex with five pagodas. To climb Srey, you need to climb 308 steps. There is also a ruined temple here, and curious monkeys are jumping all over the place. In the lowland between the hills is one of the many killing fields objectionable to the Khmer Rouge regime. The most convenient way to get to both hills is by motorcycle taxi.
The old French lighthouse was once used to monitor river traffic on the Mekong. Today it is empty, you can climb the steep stairs inside the tower to the top, and then you will have panoramic views of the Mekong River.
The picturesque island of Paen is connected to Kampong Cham during the dry season by a bamboo bridge spanning the Mekong. Khmer and Cham families live here and this is a great way to get to know the lifestyle of the Cambodian villagers. The bridge itself is an attraction – despite the fragility of the material, it even withstands pickups! With the flood of the Mekong, the bridge is demolished, and with the onset of the next dry season, it is rebuilt.
Located 20 km from Kampong Cham, Phnom Hanchey hill with a small temple on top is a must-see for all nature lovers. From its top you can enjoy the incredible beauty of the panorama of the Mekong and its surrounding plains. 19 km east of Kampong Cham, you can visit a rubber plantation – walk through the forest, watch the workers and visit a rubber factory for 1 USD. And on the other side of the river, also 20 km from the city, there is one of the few surviving wooden pagodas in Cambodia – Wat Maha Leap. In the village around the pagoda, wonderful silk products are woven – a great souvenir from the trip.