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talesofasia guide to the provinces of Cambodia

Cambodia

Kompong Thom

updated January 2006

Kompong Thom is another province that a lot more people travel through than travel to. With the provincial capital sitting on Highway 6 midway between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh it has always been a convenient rest stop and nearly every bus traveling between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap will take a twenty to thirty-minute meal break here. Still, as Preah Vihear province to the north will likely one day become a major tourist destination (we're talking a good five, if not ten years away), this can only bring more visitors through Kompong Thom.

Located in central Cambodia, this large province is bordered by, clockwise from the north, Preah Vihear, Stung Treng (barely), Kratie, Kompong Cham, Kompong Chhnang, the Tonle Sap Lake, and Siem Reap.

Kompong Thom's main attraction is the pre-Angkorian ruins of Sambor Prei Kuk.

Kompong Thom (town)
Sambor Prei Kuk

Kompong Thom (town)
Like so many others, my experience with this town is transiting through quickly, maybe stopping for a bite to eat, but always stopping to fill my tank at the local Caltex.

With Highway 6 improving there is really no reason to break a journey and spend the night here unless you've come to explore Sambor Prei Kuk. Also, due to the regional road improvements, those planning to explore Preah Vihear province would do well to continue north to the town of Tbeng Meanchey if it's not too late in the day.

Having never spent a night in Kompong Thom I can't recommend lodging but the town does have plenty of guesthouses and a handful of restaurants. I can say though that I have eaten at the popular Arunras Restaurant and found the food barely average and the service quite poor. Interestingly, Lonely Planet descibes the food as "tasty", while Rough Guide calls it "indifferent" and the staff "unhelpful". My experience echoes Rough Guide. Still, there aren't a lot of restaurants in town and if you're here, you will need to eat somewhere.

Sambor Prei Kuk
This is a massive complex of over 100 ancient monuments dating to the 7th century. I have not yet visited this complex so I can't offer any special insight, but it's looking like this is going to become rightfully more and more a popular attraction. Do try to make it here. The road is good and motos can be hired in Kompong Thom for the standard day rate (<$10).

For further information on exploring Kompong Thom province I recommend reading Andy Brouwer's: http://cambodia.e-files.dk/2001.html and scroll about halfway down this huge page. He's been around this province rather well and can fill in all the gaps I've left from only whizzing through on a motorbike.


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All text and photographs 1998 - 2006 Gordon Sharpless. Commercial or editorial usage without written permission of the copyright holder is prohibited.