Earth : Asia : Southeast Asia : Cambodia : Cardamom and Elephant Mountains : Pursat
Pursat is a small town in western Cambodia, and is the capital of the province of the same name. The town itself isn't much of an attraction, nor does it contain anything that will distinguish it from the other small provincial capitals in this country. One great thing it does offer, however, is fantastic access to the Cardamom Mountains, giving it a healthy potential for eco-tourism. The floating villages of Kampong Luang on the great lake Tonle Sap are a poplular day trip about 28km from Pursat town. On the whole, this is a sleepy town with marginal interest for the non-Khmer speaking traveller. Bread and pastries are terrible and the general prices for food and accommodation are higher than in the more touristed Battambang. Not worth the transit.
Fully paved National Highway 5 runs northwest from Phnom Penh via Pursat to the county's second largest city, Battambang. All buses between Battambang ($2.50 from Pursat) and Phnom Penh ($5 from Pursat) will stop here. Buses run every half-hour in the morning and early afternoon. Buses take 4 hours to Phnom Penh and 1.5 hours to Battambang. All the major bus companies service Phnom Penh. Sorya and Capitol Tour are the most reliable big names. Capitol Tour runs the lastest afternoon departure from Phnom Penh at 2:00pm, and sometimes 3:00pm.
Central Pursat town is easily manageable by foot. Motodops hang around the market, bus stations, train station, and sometimes along the highway. A trip to the train station or anywhere in town should cost around 1,000 riel. A day trip to Kampong Luang or elsewhere can be negotiated for $5 or more. The occasional tuk tuk can also be found. The Phnom Pech Hotel rents small motorbikes by the day and half-day.
Like all of Cambodia's former railway towns, Pursat hosts a charming French-built railway station that has decayed into a slum, which gives the area an interesting vibe. The railway is currently being restored, with services to resume in 2013.
Pursat is an excellent place to meet local khmer people. Walk around and there will be a lot of children saying "hello". If you are lucky and speak a bit with the people there is high possibility that they invite you for food or karaoke.
As in Battanbang, there is as well a "bamboo train".