Earth : Asia : Southeast Asia : Cambodia : North-western Cambodia : Sisophon
Sisophon, commonly known as "Serei-sophon" or "Svay", is a small town in North-western Cambodia. It is the capital of Banteay Meanchey Province, and is located at the north-west junction of National Highways 5 and 6. Stueng Sisophon, the medium sized river which can be seen from both bridges, meanders its way round the southern circumference of the town.
Highway 5 to Battambang (80km to the south) is sealed. Highway 5 to Poipet (50km to the west) and Highway 6 to Siem Reap (100km to the east) are both now sealed, allowing for fast and comfortable travel in all but the most exceptional circumstances. Highway 69 to Banteay Chhmar (70km to the north) is a less substantial road and may be impassable at times during the rainy season.
The milestones along the main roads on the approach to Sisophon have it labelled as Banteay Meanchey.
Several bus companies' offices can be found on the north side of the shared taxi stand. This is where they pick up and drop passengers, though a less centrally located bus station is being threatened (as of early 2012).
There are direct buses from:
The town is small enough to be comprehensively covered on foot. Even the nearest attraction beyond the town, the lookout tower, can be approached on foot from the town.
Sisophon Station can be found south west of central Sisophon. It is on the Phnom Penh to Poipet line. Services to Sisophon terminated in 2006, and the station is currently in decay. The French 'art deco' architecture can still be appreciated, as can the platforms and the informal economy that has taken over the station area, lending it a lively flavour of urban squalor.
"Phnom Bak" (131m) to the immediate north of Sisophon's centre, features an old government lookout tower, used in the 1990's to watch the Khmer Rouge's movements in the area. From here can be seen great views of the surrounding area, especially viewing southward. An access track to the top of Phnom Bak can be found on the northern side, and you must ask the guard at the top to unlock the gate.
"Phnom Jorn-Tien" meaning 'Wall Mountain' (98m), a hill approximately 2km west of town, on Road No. 6, features a pagoda half way up, with a famous well, from where the hill's vertical face can be appreciated. The face has been known to be popular with foreign climbers. Two women - who have lost their marbles - live at the top, take care.
Motorbikes can be rented at Golden Crown guest house for $10 per day to allow exploration of the town and its environs.
Opposite the Golden Crown Guesthouse is an internet cafe, $0.50/hour.
Sisophon Market (Psar Sisophon) is to the north of the shared taxi stand. Its stalls sell any basic necessities from toothpaste to basic meals.
English language newspapers can be obtained from vendors near the bus company shops that line the north side of the shared taxi stand. Don't expect the latest edition.
The Mirror Restaurant, is a reasonably new fast food restaurant, with air-con, serving fried chicken, french fries, and - according to the proprietor - fried ice cream. It can be found to the east of town, opposite Sokimex gas station on Road No. 6. Meals $1 - $4.
The Golden Crown Guesthouse Restaurant, situated underneath the guesthouse, is your standard, tiled, Khmer restaurant, serving rice, and different meats. Meals $1.25 - $3.5.
A lack of Irish pubs, trendy wine bars, coffee house, tea rooms and laudanum dens means that tins in the market, cafes or restaurants are one's most commonly encountered forms of drink. A tin of beer or soda is usually $0.50.
Golden Crown Guesthouse ($6 - $12), is considered the only decent guesthouse in town, and can be found to the east of the central shared taxi stand, where most buses drop passengers. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout.
Pyn's Place ($10 fan - $20 a/c), is on National Highway 5, 3.5km west of town, at the base of the mountain. Free Wi-Fi and swimming pool.
On the shared taxi stand's south side is a row of cheap, basic guesthouses with box rooms ($2.50).