After nearly three weeks of using Siem Reap as a base to explore Cambodia’s remote northern temples, I got on a bus headed south on Highway 6 towards Phnom Penh. I had one more temple group on my list so I decided to spend two nights in the highway town of Kompong Thom. I was already familiar with this stretch of highway as I passed through it on my long journey to Prasat Preah Vihear. Located 90 miles south of Siem Reap (145 km), this town is on the busy route to Phnom Penh. Buses and vans pass through day and night, many of which stop in the town center at the Arunras Hotel and Restaurant for bathroom breaks and meals. This is a very easy town to get in and out of. The only problem that might be encountered is if the bus does not make its usual stop and you drive right on through. It’s advisable to remind the driver where you’re planning on getting off well before you get there. A smart phone and Google maps really come in handy when making these rural bus trips. The bus fare from Siem Reap, or to Phnom Penh, is $6 USD.
Prasat Sambor Prei Kuk is a temple complex located 18.5 miles (30 km) north of Kompong Thom. Built by the Chenla people, this site pre-dates the temples of Angkor by as much as 4 centuries. The site consists of three main temple groups in a heavily wooded area which can be toured in two to three hours. This area is far off the regular tourist path; visitors are much more likely to encounter locals than travelers as the temples are still used as places of worship.
Hotels and guest houses in Kompong Thom can easily arrange tuk tuks or motorcycle taxis to make the 40 minute trip to Sambor Prei Kuk. Much of the journey involves traveling over dirt roads which is a bumpy and dusty ride in a tuk tuk. It must be a real adventure getting there during the rainy season. Drivers charge $15 USD round trip, or for an additional $5 USD will include a stop at Santuk Mountain. A number of stone carving workshops are set up along the highway between Santuk Mountain and Kompong Thom. It’s well worth stopping and checking out the locally produced artwork. Miniature pieces are available for purchase at very reasonable prices.
Until next time,