Here's a quick do-it-yourself walking tour of Kompong Thom.
Head down to the bridge and take a left along the riverbank. First up is a small municipal park with a rather unusual statue, and even stranger play area with some rather sinister-looking climbing frames. We think the statues are supposed to be dolphins entirely constructed out of AK47 parts handed in during a gun amnesty at the end of the civil war.
Early morning or late afternoon are good times to catch some of the Sen River action, with locals pottering around on boats and using their throw nets for fishing. In the early evening, you’ll see families out playing with their kids, and also a colony of giant bats that lives in the trees along the river taking off for their evening meal. They head out at around sunset.
After the park comes a new tourist information centre, a tiny building containing a few photos of local sights, a half-decent map of the area and most usefully a rather well put together Kompong Thom tourist guide booklet. That’s it, though the friendly staff do try to be as helpful as possible. They don’t see many tourists so pop in and say hi!
Further along, you’ll come to the gates of a French-era building. Peering through, the derelict building shows signs of its former impressiveness but the narrow gap is not much of a spot for getting a real feel for the place unfortunately.
If you turn left here, you’ll find yourself in the midst of Kompong Thom market, which makes for a pleasant wander as you soak up the hustle and bustle of the bartering. The covered market to your left again has a huge range of clothing — in very small sizes — but is much more than anything you’ll find in Siem Reap so if you’re short of shorts or whatever, take a look.
The market was partially destroyed by fire a few years back so the unattractive facade facing the National Route 6 may not appear very inviting. Once you come out the front of the market, turn right and just past the Arunras Hotel, you’ll find a selection of food vendors selling everything from fruit to crickets. Give the latter a go if you’re feeling in the mood.