Kampong Cham is a pretty province with several Angkorian-themed statues in the city central squares and median strips. The city of Kampong Cham is large, although the most favourable areas are near the Mekong River, which is where you're likely to spend a lot of your time. There are plenty of architectural styles to admire and range from typical Chinese shop houses to early French colonial buildings, as well as plenty of buildings that have been influenced by the latest Khmer Architectural styles. Other worthwhile attractions in or around the city to explore on the Cambodia travel packages include the pagoda at Han Chey, Sanlogn Hills, Chroy Chek, Koh Pen Beach and Wat Nokor. The Wat Nokor temple complex is one of the most popular sites to explore and consists of the well preserved temples built based on the 13th century Khmer architecture.
Other attractions further out of town include the ecotourism village of Cheungkok which is a travel distance of about 5 km and gives easy access to witness the making of traditional crafts, such as carvings and silk making. It is possible to buy these wares from the local villages with the profits being reinvested into the village. If you plan to visit Cheungkok on a Cambodia package holiday, you want to set aside a full day.
Even though most travellers use Kampong Cham as a convenient layover point for the ongoing journey, from Phnom Penh to Sen Monorom or Kratie - this city is a regular feature in the Cambodia package tours and makes a worthwhile destination for exploring the city's local attractions if you have a day or two to spare.
The climate in Cambodia is pleasant year-round with an average temperature in the region of 27°C; and a minimum temperature in the region of 16°C. The cool and comfortable months are usually between December and January, with the hot season taking place from March to May.
The Kampong Cham province is situated in eastern Cambodia and bordered by Kampong Thom to the Northwest, Kampong Chhnang to the west, Prey Veng to the South, Vietnam to the East, and Kratie to the Northeast. This sprawling township has the mighty Mekong River flowing through it which means there is little to fear about a lack of water supply.
How to get there
A regular bus service to and from Kampong Cham is available for travellers on a daily basis. The preferred bus companies include the Sorya Bus Company and Hoh Wat Gentling Bus Company with both offering air-conditioning for the comfortable journey. The pickup point in Phnom Penh is near the central market, which is the south-west corner of the city. A typical price is in the region of 6000 riel. On arrival in Kampong Cham, the pickup or drop-off point is close to the Kampong Cham Market.
Other means of transport include the boat rides that travel the mighty Mekong River. The journey from Phnom Penh takes in the region of 2 hours to complete and 9000-10,000 riel. The departure point is just past the Japanese bridge on the Tonle Sap River. It is also possible to book a trip from Kampong Cham to Kratie that takes about 3 hours to complete and costs in the region of 15,000 riel. The boats rarely travel into Stung Treng because of the low water levels and the many small islands in the region. Also, the boat transportation service is rather limited throughout the rainy season because there are less locals and tourists travelling this route.
The Kampong Cham market has a quite gaudy appearance and similar in many ways to the central market in Phnom Penh, but has the ability to offer supplies of nearly everything that you may need. On the western side, there is an evening market that is well worth a visit. Plus, there are plenty of pharmacies and photo shops on the perimeter roads.
Things to see and do
Koh Paen is a perfect destination for those tourists that want to experience the Cambodia Adventure Tours and ride a bicycle. The rural Island of Koh Paen is easily reached via an elaborate bamboo bridge that does charge a toll of 500 riel to 1000 riel in the dry season. Alternatively, to get across to the island in the wet season it is necessary to book a ride on the local ferry which can cost between 1000 to 1500 riel (includes travelling with your bicycle).
By exploring Koh Paen it is possible to get a first-hand view of the local rural life with the traditional wooden houses and vegetable and fruit farms. Bikes are available to hire from most of the local guesthouses.
The French watchtower
Originally built in the 1900s, the French Watchtower was built with the intention of guarding the local rubber plantations from potential attacks from bandits that would sneak up from the river. The tower experienced a major renovation in 2005. For those that are fine with heights, it is possible to climb the steep staircase to reach the summit and admire the views of the surrounding landscape.
The bamboo bridge at Koh Paen is the longest in the world. After each rainy season passes and the Mekong River subsides the bridge is rebuilt. The bridge stretches nearly 1 km in length and is constructed entirely of bamboo poles. The bridge is used up until the rainy season when it is washed away by the fast moving waters that surge through at this time of year. It is a relatively short distance from the main riverside area and is well worth a trip on a moto or bicycle. Plus the bridge is a very strong, and has the ability to easily accept a horse and cart or even trucks.
Cheung Kok ecotourism village
Other Cambodia vacation spots include the Cheung Kok ecotourism village that is a community-based project with plenty of artisans at work with the aim of diversifying their income. It also helps to reduce their reliance on the surrounding rice fields for survival. The locals are skilled at traditional practices, and can show visitors how to cultivate rice, while also seeing the palm leaf weaver, palm sugar producer and silk maker. A guided tour of the village gives a more in-depth overview of the day-to-day activities. Plus, it is also possible to stay in one of the homestays for the night (about $5 per night plus extra for food) and enjoy the local hospitality and cuisine.