Pursat is the capital of western Cambodia's Pursat province. It is indistinguishable from Cambodia's other small provincial capitals. This sleepy town holds marginal interest, though may be used a base for visits to the Tonle Sap Lake or Cardamon Mountains.
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 is easily covered foot. Motodops hang around the market, bus stations, train station, and sometimes along the highway. A ride anywhere in town should cost around 1,000 riel. A day trip to Kampong Luang or elsewhere can be negotiated for $10 or more. The occasional tuk tuk can also be found. The Phnom Pech Hotel rents small motorbikes by the day and half-day.
There is little English spoken in Pursat.
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. Services were scheduled to to resume in 2013, but have not done so yet.
Walking the town will best show you its provincial dusty charms. Children will scream "hello" at any passing tourist. Locals may invite you for some food or karaoke.
There are quite a few nice places to eat in Pursat but you might struggle a bit if you can't speak the local language.
For those with a sweet tooth, the Heng Chamreun Bakery, situated 500m west from the main bridge, sell very good pastries. About 1000 riel for one piece.
At night, a popular street stall is the street noodle lady, Nisha, in front of the big Tela petrol station (which also hosts a small western grocery store). 3500 Riel for a plate of noodles with a fried egg.
If you are craving western food there is the Pursat Pizza House. They sell burgers and pizzas. A little more expensive than the traditional Khmer food at $4+. Has english menus.
One restaurant that makes for an interesting visit is the White Elephant. It has an extensive English menu which includes many more unusual items like cow penis with ants, along with the typical Khmer fare.
There is also Coffee Today, which is a great place to chill out with a book or use the free WiFi. Coffee is similar prices to the market stalls. 1500 riel for an iced coffee. Has English menus.
On the more expensive end, you can find Zara Coffe, 50m west from the main bridge. Prices range from 1$ to 4$ but the place is very modern, clean, and air-conditioned.
The Phnom Pech Hotel