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*[[Siem Reap]] - the largest city of the region and gateway to [[Angkor Archaeological Park|Angkor]]
 
*[[Siem Reap]] - the largest city of the region and gateway to [[Angkor Archaeological Park|Angkor]]
*[[Anlong Veng]] - grim reminders of the Khmer Rouge including Pol Pot's grave, and Ta Mok's derelict house. Also close to a border crossing with [[Thailand]] in the impressive '''Dangrek Mountains'''
+
*[[Anlong Veng]] - grim reminders of the Khmer Rouge in the impressive Dangrek Mountains  
 
*[[Poipet]] - an interesting squalid town known for its infamous border crossing
 
*[[Poipet]] - an interesting squalid town known for its infamous border crossing
 
*[[Sisophon]] - a transport hub in the middle of nowhere, with its own quirky attractions
 
*[[Sisophon]] - a transport hub in the middle of nowhere, with its own quirky attractions
Line 12: Line 12:
  
 
==Other destinations==
 
==Other destinations==
*[[Angkor Archaeological Park]] - one of the world great monuments and the most visited destination in Cambodia by a huge margin
+
*[[Angkor Archaeological Park]] - one of the world's great monuments, Cambodia's biggest draw
*[[Sisophon|Banteay Chhmar Temples]]
+
*[[Banteay Chhmar]] - quiet and remote temple complex with it's own baray
 
*[[Koh Ker]] - the former capital north of Angkor has more ruins
 
*[[Koh Ker]] - the former capital north of Angkor has more ruins
*[[Preah Vihear]] - cliff-hanging temple in the far north bordering Thailand
+
*[[Preah Vihear]] - disputed cliff-hanging temple in the far north bordering Thailand
*[[Tonle Sap Lake]] - the largest freshewater lake in South-east Asia
+
*[[Tonle Sap Lake]] - the largest freshwater lake in South-east Asia
  
 
==Understand==
 
==Understand==
The north is dominated by the Dangrek Mountains which form the natural barrier between Cambodia and [[Thailand]]. Much of the southern part of this region is very flat and fertile leading towards the Tonle Sap - Cambodia's great lake.
+
The region's north is lined by the Dangrek Mountains which form a natural barrier with [[Thailand]]. To the south is very flat and fertile land which leads towards the great [[Tonle Sap Lake]].
  
Siem Reap is by far the largest city, Sisophon and Poipet both small towns, while Anlong Veng just feels like a large village.
+
Control of much of this area has often passed between the various regional powers. It is now part of Cambodia thanks to the French, whose sabre rattling forced the Siamese into relinquishing it (along with Battambang) in 1907. The region had been Siamese since 1867, thanks again to the French who gave it (and Battambang) to Siam in exchange for unobstructed French control over the remainder of Cambodia. Before then, a nominally independent Cambodia existed as a vassel state of Siam and Vietnam.  
  
Much of north-western Cambodia live in abject poverty, with the province of Siem Reap being one of the poorest in the country, despite the valuable [[Angkor Archaeological Park]] being located within. Like the other regions, infrastructure is a new concept in North-Western Cambodia, with only the national highways paved. Out of the towns, electricity is obtained by using car batteries, at a high cost. Despite the obvious negative effects that a lack of development can have, an advantage (if there was one) would be that the region has been largely left alone by tourists, so those who do tread off the tourist trail get an insight into Cambodia's beautiful struggle.
+
[[Siem Reap]] is by far the largest city, Sisophon and Poipet are small towns and [[Anlong Veng]] just feels like a large village.
 +
 
 +
Much of north-western Cambodia is characterized by poverty. Siem Reap province is one of the poorest in the country, despite its valuable [[Angkor Archaeological Park|temples]]. Infrastructure construction has been booming, though only since around 2008; this makes many older reported journey times and maps hopeless outdated. Outside the towns, car batteries provide expensive electricity to village homes.  
 +
 
 +
For now, development means only the blazing of asphalt trails through remote areas. The growth of businesses and expanded tourism will surely follow, so make sure to explore off the tourist trail and get a genuine insight into Cambodia's beautiful struggle.
  
 
==Get in==
 
==Get in==
Line 40: Line 44:
  
 
===By land===
 
===By land===
The region is linked by road to several Thai border crossings.
+
The following roads are all paved:
 +
* National Highway 5 runs south east from the '''[[Aranyaprathet]]/[[Poipet]]''' border crossing to [[Sisophon]] (1 hour), [[Battambang]] (2-3 hrs) and on to [[Phnom Penh]] (a further 5-6 hrs)
 +
* National Highway 6 runs from [[Sisophon]] to [[Siem Reap]] (2 hrs) and on to [[Phnom Penh]] (a further 6 hrs)
 +
* Highway 67 runs south from the '''[[Anlong Veng#Get_out|Choam]]''' border crossing with [[Thailand]] via [[Anlong Veng]] to [[Siem Reap]] (2 hours)
 +
* Highway 68 runs south from the '''[[Samraong#Get_out|O'Smach]]''' border crossing with Thailand via [[Samraong]] to Kralanh (2 hours), where it joins National Highway 6 for [[Siem Reap]]
  
National Highway 5 and 6 were completely re-surfaced in 2009 and run from the '''[[Thailand]]/[[Poipet]]''' border crossing to [[Sisophon]] (1 hour), and [[Sisophon]] to [[Siem Reap]] (90 mins), respectively.
+
===By boat===
 +
Hydrofoils ply the route across the [[Tonle Sap Lake]] from [[Phnom Penh]] to [[Siem Reap]] (6 hours), stopping stopping at [[Kampong Chhnang]], US$20-25/person.
  
National Highway 67, re-surfaced in 2009 runs from the '''[[Thailand]]/[[Anlong Veng]]''' border crossing, south to [[Siem Reap]] (2 hours).
+
One boat daily runs beteen [[Siem Reap]] and [[Battambang]] in the [[Cardamom and Elephant Mountains]] region (5 - 8 hours, depending on the water level, boats can become grounded in the dry season).
  
National highway 68, re-surfaced in 2011 runs from the '''[[Thailand]]/O'Smach''' border crossing south via [[Samraong]] to Kralanh (2 hours), where it joins National Highway 6 for [[Siem Reap]]
+
==Get around==
 +
If you're only making your way between towns in the region, then the days of rough, impassable roads and adventure are over. Most main routes are now paved, with the exception of only a few.
  
National Highway 6 from [[Phnom Penh]] to [[Siem Reap]] (5 - 7 hours) is a popular route by bus.
+
===By bus===
 +
There are a range of bus companies serving all towns large enough to be worth visiting. The larger the town, the more regular the service.
  
===By boat===
+
===By taxi===
Hydrofoils ply the route across  [[Tonle Sap Lake]] from [[Phnom Penh]] to [[Siem Reap]] (6 hours), stopping stopping at [[Kampong Chhnang]], UDS20-25/person.
+
Where the bus companies don't go, one should usually be able to travel by taxi. For the best chance of success, organize your taxi the night before, otherwise an early start may be needed to secure a place in a share-taxi.
  
One boat a day leaves [[Battambang]] in [[Cardamom and Elephant Mountains]], destined for [[Siem Reap]] (5 - 8 hours). The duration of the trip depends on the level of the river and lake.
+
===By pick-up truck===
 +
It's not as simple to organize a pick-up truck as it is a taxi, but they have a different market - budgets outside tickets. Used for passengers and cargo, pick-up trucks head everywhere, providing a broad network, linking most every lonely village. If it weren't for these banged up wagons, most of the region wouldn't have access to affordable transport. Simply stand on the edge of the road, and flag the first one down.
  
==Get around==
+
===By kuyon (tractor)===
 +
[[Image:Kuyon_Tractor_Cambodia.jpg|thumb|right|250px|Local transport: slow, bumpy and very fun]]
 +
 
 +
Short trips outside towns can be made by hitching a ride on a slow, rustic, local tractor. Just flag down the first one heading your way. This is effectively hitch hiking, and comes with the usual dangers. USD$0.75 per 15km would be appropriate.
  
 
==See==
 
==See==
The magnificent ruins of several ancient Khmer cities at [[Angkor|Angkor Archaeological Park]] cover some 400 sq km and this is one of the world's great monuments.  These include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations. Angkor was declared a [[UNESCO World Heritage site]] in 1992 and UNESCO has set up a wide-ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.
+
*[[Angkor|Angkor Archaeological Park]] - These magnificent ruins of several ancient Khmer cities cover some 400 sq km and house one of the world's great monuments, Angkor Wat. The area was declared a [[UNESCO World Heritage site]] in 1992 and UNESCO has set up a wide-ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.
  
Angkor itself has no accommodation and few facilities and the nearby town of [[Siem Reap]] is the tourist hub for the area.
+
*[[Koh Ker]] - If Angkor doesn't sate your temple appetite, this pre-Angkorian, landmine-free site 90km north east of [[Siem Reap]] is worth a day trip.  
  
If Angkor does not fill your appetite for ancient ruins, then there are more at [[Koh Ker]] to the north.
+
*[[Banteay Chhmar]] - A remote-but demined-temple complex 60km north of [[Sisophon]]. The road is unpaved but easily passable in the dry season, this puts many people off and makes the trip more rewarding for those that make it.
  
[[Tonle Sap Lake|Tonle Sap]] is the largest freshwater lake in south-east Asia and a site of major conservation importance.
+
*[[Tonle Sap Lake|Tonle Sap]] - The largest freshwater lake in south-east Asia, of major conservation importance, and home to several floating villages.
  
 
==Do==
 
==Do==
 +
 +
[[Siem Reap]] hosts an vast array of things to do beyond its temples. Ride horses, elephants, jeeps. Visit museums. Take cookery classes. Shoot things. Watch apsara dances. Get massaged. Take a boat on the Tonle Sap. Learn Khmer.
 +
 +
Outside [[Siem Reap]] the main pastime is marvelling at being in the middle of nowhere (much of Cambidia's development is focused on its south east): watch rice fields being burnt, planted, harvested. Stare at starry skies away from city light polution.
  
 
==Eat==
 
==Eat==
 +
 +
[[Siem Reap]] hosts the region's gastro-centre. All tastes and budgets are catered for. Elsewhere it's the usual provincial fare of soups, fruit, rice, meat, and veg.
  
 
==Drink==
 
==Drink==
  
==Stay safe==  
+
Similar to the dining scene. Dry martinis can only be found in [[Siem Reap]] and the casinos near the border crossings. Every two-bit hut will serve cold water, cola and beer; local style coffee (cold and sweet) can be found just about everywhere.
 +
 
 +
==Stay safe==
 +
 
 +
*'''Landmines'''
 +
North Western Cambodia is home to the K5 mine belt, a 700km long, 500m wide band of landmines that runs parallel to the Thai border. Although parts have been cleared, much remains. When travelling in remote areas, never stray off the road or track, it's just not worth the risk.
  
 
==Get out==
 
==Get out==
 +
===Thailand===
 +
Three of Cambodia's six overland crossings with [[Thailand]] are in this region:
 +
 +
* [[Aranyaprathet]]/[[Poipet]] The busiest land crossing into Cambodia on the '''Bangkok - Siem Reap''' road. Long the stuff of nightmares, the roads are now paved all the way from Poipet to Siem Reap, Battambang and Phnom Penh.
 +
 +
* Chong Sa-Ngam (in [[Si Saket (province)|Si Saket Province]])/[[Anlong Veng#Get_out|Choam]] (near [[Anlong Veng]]) [[Anlong Veng]] is only 2 hrs from [[Siem Reap]] by bus.
 +
 +
* Chong Jom (in [[Surin (province)|Surin Province]])/[[Samraong#Get out|O'Smach]] (near [[Samraong]]) [[Samraong#Get_out|O'Smach]] is connected by bus, as is [[Samraong]] (2 hrs to [[Siem Reap]]).
 +
 +
===Cambodia===
 +
[[Battambang]], the main city of the [[Cardamom and Elephant Mountains]] region is 3-4hrs away from [[Siem Reap]] by bus or a drip trip on a boat.
 +
 +
The [[Mekong Lowlands and Central Plains]] are best reached on National Highway 6. The first major town in that region is [[Kampong Thom]].
 +
 +
[[Cambodia]]'s rugged [[Eastern Cambodia|east]] is best reached via [[Kampong Thom]]. The hardy should be able to cross the Mekong directly from the North-western region to [[Stung Treng]] on a trip via Tbeng Meanchey.
  
 
{{IsPartOf|Cambodia}}
 
{{IsPartOf|Cambodia}}
 
{{regionguide}}
 
{{regionguide}}
 
{{outline}}
 
{{outline}}

Revision as of 13:18, 20 April 2012

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

North-western Cambodia is a region of Cambodia and includes the provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear, Siem Reap and the part of Stoeng Treng to the west of the Mekong.

Contents

Cities

  • Siem Reap - the largest city of the region and gateway to Angkor
  • Anlong Veng - grim reminders of the Khmer Rouge in the impressive Dangrek Mountains
  • Poipet - an interesting squalid town known for its infamous border crossing
  • Sisophon - a transport hub in the middle of nowhere, with its own quirky attractions
  • Samraong - hinterland transport hub with connection to Thailand

Other destinations

Understand

The region's north is lined by the Dangrek Mountains which form a natural barrier with Thailand. To the south is very flat and fertile land which leads towards the great Tonle Sap Lake.

Control of much of this area has often passed between the various regional powers. It is now part of Cambodia thanks to the French, whose sabre rattling forced the Siamese into relinquishing it (along with Battambang) in 1907. The region had been Siamese since 1867, thanks again to the French who gave it (and Battambang) to Siam in exchange for unobstructed French control over the remainder of Cambodia. Before then, a nominally independent Cambodia existed as a vassel state of Siam and Vietnam.

Siem Reap is by far the largest city, Sisophon and Poipet are small towns and Anlong Veng just feels like a large village.

Much of north-western Cambodia is characterized by poverty. Siem Reap province is one of the poorest in the country, despite its valuable temples. Infrastructure construction has been booming, though only since around 2008; this makes many older reported journey times and maps hopeless outdated. Outside the towns, car batteries provide expensive electricity to village homes.

For now, development means only the blazing of asphalt trails through remote areas. The growth of businesses and expanded tourism will surely follow, so make sure to explore off the tourist trail and get a genuine insight into Cambodia's beautiful struggle.

Get in

By plane

The region is served by Siem Reap - Angkor International Airport [1] (IATA: REP | ICAO: VDSR) which has has frequent domestic flights from Phnom Penh and is internationally linked from the following destinations:

By land

The following roads are all paved:

By boat

Hydrofoils ply the route across the Tonle Sap Lake from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap (6 hours), stopping stopping at Kampong Chhnang, US$20-25/person.

One boat daily runs beteen Siem Reap and Battambang in the Cardamom and Elephant Mountains region (5 - 8 hours, depending on the water level, boats can become grounded in the dry season).

Get around

If you're only making your way between towns in the region, then the days of rough, impassable roads and adventure are over. Most main routes are now paved, with the exception of only a few.

By bus

There are a range of bus companies serving all towns large enough to be worth visiting. The larger the town, the more regular the service.

By taxi

Where the bus companies don't go, one should usually be able to travel by taxi. For the best chance of success, organize your taxi the night before, otherwise an early start may be needed to secure a place in a share-taxi.

By pick-up truck

It's not as simple to organize a pick-up truck as it is a taxi, but they have a different market - budgets outside tickets. Used for passengers and cargo, pick-up trucks head everywhere, providing a broad network, linking most every lonely village. If it weren't for these banged up wagons, most of the region wouldn't have access to affordable transport. Simply stand on the edge of the road, and flag the first one down.

By kuyon (tractor)

Local transport: slow, bumpy and very fun

Short trips outside towns can be made by hitching a ride on a slow, rustic, local tractor. Just flag down the first one heading your way. This is effectively hitch hiking, and comes with the usual dangers. USD$0.75 per 15km would be appropriate.

See

  • Angkor Archaeological Park - These magnificent ruins of several ancient Khmer cities cover some 400 sq km and house one of the world's great monuments, Angkor Wat. The area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992 and UNESCO has set up a wide-ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.
  • Koh Ker - If Angkor doesn't sate your temple appetite, this pre-Angkorian, landmine-free site 90km north east of Siem Reap is worth a day trip.
  • Banteay Chhmar - A remote-but demined-temple complex 60km north of Sisophon. The road is unpaved but easily passable in the dry season, this puts many people off and makes the trip more rewarding for those that make it.
  • Tonle Sap - The largest freshwater lake in south-east Asia, of major conservation importance, and home to several floating villages.

Do

Siem Reap hosts an vast array of things to do beyond its temples. Ride horses, elephants, jeeps. Visit museums. Take cookery classes. Shoot things. Watch apsara dances. Get massaged. Take a boat on the Tonle Sap. Learn Khmer.

Outside Siem Reap the main pastime is marvelling at being in the middle of nowhere (much of Cambidia's development is focused on its south east): watch rice fields being burnt, planted, harvested. Stare at starry skies away from city light polution.

Eat

Siem Reap hosts the region's gastro-centre. All tastes and budgets are catered for. Elsewhere it's the usual provincial fare of soups, fruit, rice, meat, and veg.

Drink

Similar to the dining scene. Dry martinis can only be found in Siem Reap and the casinos near the border crossings. Every two-bit hut will serve cold water, cola and beer; local style coffee (cold and sweet) can be found just about everywhere.

Stay safe

  • Landmines

North Western Cambodia is home to the K5 mine belt, a 700km long, 500m wide band of landmines that runs parallel to the Thai border. Although parts have been cleared, much remains. When travelling in remote areas, never stray off the road or track, it's just not worth the risk.

Get out

Thailand

Three of Cambodia's six overland crossings with Thailand are in this region:

  • Aranyaprathet/Poipet The busiest land crossing into Cambodia on the Bangkok - Siem Reap road. Long the stuff of nightmares, the roads are now paved all the way from Poipet to Siem Reap, Battambang and Phnom Penh.

Cambodia

Battambang, the main city of the Cardamom and Elephant Mountains region is 3-4hrs away from Siem Reap by bus or a drip trip on a boat.

The Mekong Lowlands and Central Plains are best reached on National Highway 6. The first major town in that region is Kampong Thom.

Cambodia's rugged east is best reached via Kampong Thom. The hardy should be able to cross the Mekong directly from the North-western region to Stung Treng on a trip via Tbeng Meanchey.




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