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Pailin is a city in Pailin Province, in the Cardamom and Elephant Mountains region of Cambodia.


Historically a gem town, Pailin has attracted immigrants from gem-packed Burma, which gives it a unique culture that is neither strictly traditional Khmer nor Burmese. It's more recent history is particularly dark, with the successful invasion by the Khmer Rouge in the 80's. For most of the 90's it was a Khmer Rouge stronghold, resulting in the surrounding province being littered with mine fields.

In 2009, a new strain of malaria was discovered in Pailin province, immune to the current 'silver bullet' treatment.

Get in

By Road

Pailin is 80km from Battambang on National Highway 57. The highway was resurfaced in 2011, making for easy access, even during the wet season. A couple of bus companies run a service from Battambang to Pailin, costing between $3 and $5 a ticket, and taking roughly 2 hours.

Get around

A small town, Pailin is easily covered on foot. Motodops will give a lift anywhere in town for about 1,000 riel and will drive to the Thai (16 km by road) border for about $3-5.


  • Wat Phnom Yat, is a pagoda well known among Cambodians, which features a Burmese-style stupa built by Shan immigrants in 1922. It can be found atop of Phnom Yat, a hill 500m south of town. It's quite a walk to the top, but entry is free, and fantastic views of the surrounding area can be appreciated at an time of day. Can get extremely busy during Cambodian public holidays.
  • O'Tavao Waterfall, actually a cascade, is a beautiful spot up in the mountains south of Pailin town. A few minutes past Phnom Yat, heading towards Battambang, it's a right turn off National Highway 57, and about 6km, up a tricky track, possibly quite treacherous during the wet season. Due to the proximity to the source, the water is clean. Popular with the locals for swimming, and like Phnom Yat, gets busy during public holidays. Admission for foreigners is $2.







Get out

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