Banteay Meanchey is located in North West Cambodia and a charming province rich in historical and natural attractions, such as a wildlife reserve and ancient temple complexes.
Even though this town is often overlooked by travellers en route to the Thai-Cambodian border crossing in Poipet, there is in fact a lot more here to see and do than just to pass through.
The capital of this province is Sisophon and was once a major part of the Khmer empire and still includes the leftover remains of the 12th and 13th century Banteay Chhmar temple which is easily found in the north of Banteay Meanchey.
This is a very friendly place to visit on the Cambodia Package Tours with the welcoming locals that are always happy to see the tourists arrive. The adventure travellers will particularly like visiting this province with its wide range of opportunities to experience the stunning natural beauty of this part of the country, as well as the authentic Khmer culture.
The average temperature in this part of Cambodia is in the region of 30°C to 33°C. The preferred time to travel on the Cambodia Package Holiday is during the months October, November, December and January when the weather is nice and the temperature is slightly cooler at about 27°C. The warmest months in Cambodia is April which many travellers may wish to avoid if they preferred to limit the time spent touring the sights in intense heat. The rainy season can run from June until October with September the wettest month of the year. This month should be avoided by travellers that don't want to be touring in too much rain.
Located in the north west of the country, Banteay Meanchey is bordered by Battambang to the south, with Siem Reap to the east, with Oddar Meancheay to the north, and with Thailand to the north and west. The capital of the province is easily reached from Phnom Penh with the 359 km journey possible via national highway No 5.
A well known place in the province is the town of Poipe located on the Cambodia/Thailand border. It is a major crossing point between these countries on the Indochina tour packages, as well as a partner destination for gambling with plenty of casinos in the area (gambling is a popular activity, but is illegal in Thailand). There are plenty of hotels, guesthouses, and casinos that are between the Cambodian and Thai passport control counters, which make it possible to visit these casinos without the need to complete the Cambodian immigration process.
A large percentage of this province is covered by lowlands with major rivers, including the Sisophon River and Mongkol Borei River.
How to get there
The province of Banteay Meanchey is approx. 359 km from Phnom Penh and is reached by travelling on national highway No 5. Other routes include via Bangkok using the Poipet border. The easiest travel option is riding a motorcycle or taking a shared taxi. Plus, there is the opportunity to take the train from Battambang, but this journey can be quite slow.
The journey time from Battambang to Banteay Meanchey is in the region of 3.5 hours, which is almost double what it takes on the road by taxi or motorbike.
Where to stay
Banteay Meanchey is a relatively quiet town and not overly modern or populated, but there are still several guesthouses and hotels that can easily set the needs of the tourist. Places to stay include the high-end hotels to the accommodation that is low-cost and as affordable as a hostel.
One of the best places to stay in Banteay Meanchey is at the local Botoum Hotel. This hotel offers the comfortable rooms with plenty of facilities including free Wi-Fi, cable TV and air con. It is located about 700 m from the main bus station at Sisophorn. The Botoum Hotel has a front desk that is open 24 hours a day so you are able to contact or book in whenever you want.
A further reliable and comfortable hotel to stay on the Cambodian travel package is at the Santapheap Hotel (translates to peace in English). It is located near the outskirts of town and near the route leading to the Battambang province. The price for a single bedroom is about $5 per night while a double bedroom cost slightly more at $7 per night
Eat and drink
There are several decent restaurants and cafes in and around the province of Banteay Meanchey.
A great place to stop for something to eat is Destiny Cafe and offers a variety of tasty Western and Khmer foods to eat with great coffee and friendly staff. This cafe is one of local community projects which means you are eating for a worthwhile cause. Most of the dishes cost in the region of $2 to $3.50
The rustic Banteay Chhmar Restaurant is located close to the temples eastern entrance and one of the few places to eat without needing to pre-order. The dishes served are mostly Khmer food with main meals priced at $1.50 to $4.
A restaurant close to the capital of Sisophon is the Kim Heng Restaurant. This is a great place to stop on the Cambodia Adventure Tours for those that enjoy the Asian staples, such as sweet and sour pork, fried sour cabbage and plenty of rice. The mains can cost $2.50 to $3.
The local markets and shops are very busy and deal in daily consumer items like meats, vegetables, fruits and other items that are mainly sourced from Thailand. Most of the local shops selling food and drink are located close to the market.
Things to see and do
Don't miss out on exploring the many sites in and around Banteay Meanchey if you have the chance to stop in this wonderful province.
Banteay Chmar Temple
One of the must see places on the Cambodia tour packages is the stunning Banteay Chmar temple ruins. Even if you have been to Siem Reap and seen the ruins at Bayon temples it is still worth visiting the Angkor era ruins at Banteay Chmar. The walls of the temples include sculptures, arts and architecture that help to create a cultural story linking the Angkor period to our modern city. This type of historic site is best explored with a local English speaking guide who is able to communicate the story and history of this temple.
The Temple complex at Banteay Chhma isn’t as well known as the famous Angkor Wat temples, yet still a magnificent sight to explore. This area is rich in historical structures that are surrounded by lush vegetation and in an area that is largely untouched. This is also one of the few temple complexes that include the face towers with the enigmatic smiles.
Visitors to the Banteay Chmar Temple can expect to find plenty of well preserved carvings that are lost among the broken colonnades and ruins. Other smaller temples in the local area in a ruinous state include the Prasat Ciem Trey, Pranang Ta Sok, Yeay Choun, Prom Muk Buon, Ta Prohm and Prasat Mebon.
Poipet town is relatively small; however, it is well located near the Cambodia/Thailand border, which has made this town very developed and more so than the provincial capital of Sisophorn. The closest town to Poipet in Thailand is Aranyaprathet. A father great reason to visit this area is the spacious park near the border, which gives plenty of opportunities to relax and take photographs. Plus, there is a great market place between the borders of these two countries. Most of the items are made by the local Khmer and Thai people. In addition, a great attraction for many tourists is the casino which is certain to be appreciated by those that love to gamble.
Banteay Torp Temple
The small temple of Banteay Top (Fortress of the Army) is able to offer a great site to explore for the traveller with its great atmosphere and historic features. This temple was built close to the time of Banteay Chhmar, and may have been constructed as a tribute to Jayavarman VII, who had led the fight against the Chams. This temple is surrounded by rice paddies and is reached via a dirt road 14 km south-west of Banteay Chhmar. Some of the damaged towers have rebuilt over time to help show how these structures previously looked.
Ang Trapeang Thmor
A visit to the Ang Trapeang Thmor is a perfect choice for the traveller interested in the local wildlife. It is easily reached by guests staying in Banteay Meanchey Province. Plus, the distance from the town of Siem Reap is approx. 100 km, so not too difficult to reach if based further afield. Ang Trapeang Thmor is a dedicated wetland ecosystem that gives protection to nearly 200 species of birds including the rare Sarus Crane.
The aim of this unique reserve is to stop the endangered species disappearing. There are nearly 18 bird species in the area that are classified as globally threatened. Even though it is possible to visit Ang Trapeang Thmor at any time of the year, the best time to get great views is from February to May. Other wildlife in the region includes the Eld’s deer, which are also seen as endangered. The only way to visit and explore this forest region is by travelling in a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
Banteay Neang Temple
A tour of the historical site of the Banteay Neang Temple is approx 11 km from town and takes nearly 20 minutes by car to get there. This area has plenty of colonial buildings and historical sites in the local region. The Banteay Neang Temple is based in relatively remote tropical rain forest that is rarely visited and only rediscovered recently. It hasn’t received much work in relation to restoration, but is still a great place to explore for those that like the temples in the thick jungle areas.
Cheung Krouh Temple
The Cheung Krouh Temple is quite a journey – about 63 km - from Banteay Meanchey and can take approx. 2 hours to reach by vehicle. This area is rich in wildlife and has the benefit of being preserved by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The actual temple is in the middle of tropical rainforest in an area that is mostly untouched.
Kang Va Basin Reservoir
Kang Va Basin Reservoir is a large man-made resort located in the Serey Sophoan District and within a relatively short distance from town at approx. 4 km. It is a great tourist destination for those interested in exploring the Ang Teuk Kang Va basin, the beautiful natural scenery has plenty of natural land to trek. The Ang Teuk Kang Va basin was first built in 1979 to act as a water reservoir for the Khmer Rouge regime to help in both the wet and dry season. Today, it has a practical use of helping local farmers with rice cultivation. Other activities in the area include boat trips, fishing and swimming.
Laang Phnom Touch
A visit to the cultural and natural resort of Laang Phnom Touch is great for those on the Cambodia Package Tours interest in the outdoor trekking experience. It is easily reached by travelling along National Road No. 5 and is within the Serey Sa Phoan District. The actual trip from town is about 28 km so a perfect destination for a day-trip. There is plenty to see on this site, including the small and large mountains, natural wells, and large stone faces.
By climbing to the top of the mountains, it is possible to get spectacular views of the local surroundings, including the nearby Buddhist pagoda and lush rain forests. Also, this site is very popular for holy festival days and other special occasions.