Preah Vihear

Preah Vihear (formerly called Tbeng Meanchey) is the midway point between Kampong Thom and Preah Vihear temple. A quite sleepy provisional capital that is limited in relation to things to do and see, but is a perfect layover destination on Cambodia travel packages for journeys to Koh Ker 60 km to the west, Preah Khan 100 km to the south and Prasat Preah Vihear 100 km to the North.

A lot of the local landscape is well forested and extremely remote. Plus, this province is one of the least populated in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

This site is attractive gateway to reach the Preah Vihear temple which is the most popular attraction in the area and is located within a short distance of the border between Cambodia and Thailand. Other captivating temples in the local region include the Preah Khan Kampong Svay temple and Koh Ker temple. Plus, the local area includes plenty of ethnic hill tribes.

preah vihear travel guide

The climate in Cambodia is tropical and mostly humid and warm. Throughout the monsoon season, the weather includes a lot of rain that helps to cultivate the wide range of crops. It is the year round tropical climate that means Cambodia is a great country to explore at any time. The average temperature in the country is in the region of 27°C, while the low temperature is about 16°C. The cooler months of the year are December and January which make a perfect time to experience the Cambodian package tours. But April is the hottest month of the year so should be avoided by those that prefer not to tour in intense heat. The cool season runs from November to March (22° to 28°C), the hot season runs from March to May (27°C to 35°C), and the rainy season runs from May to October (24°C to 32°C).

The total size of Preah Vihear province is in the region of 13,788 km². It is bordered to the south with Kompong Thom, to the west with Siem Reap and Oddar Meanchey, to the east with Stueng Treng, and to the north is an international border with Laos and Thailand. This province is blessed with natural beauty including its acres of scrub green, hilly and dense green vegetation. This region gives a perfect view of the lush green jungle over the Dangkrek Mountains.

How to get there
One of the easiest travel routes to Preah Vihear is by bus that travels from Phnom Penh and leaves on a daily basis. Also, there is the option to travel from Siem Reap (distance over 200 km) which is most practical riding in the mini-van.

Where to stay
There are a variety of places to stay in the province of Preah Vihear on the Cambodia adventure tours - although if you are looking for the more luxurious or boutique accommodation, you may be left disappointed. The accommodation in this region is dependable and solid, but can lack the extra frills.

The Mlop Trosek Guesthouse is a favourite place to stay in town for tourists with its clean rooms, green gardens and spacious parking areas. Many of the rooms have been newly furnished to make them brighter and lighter. The cabin style rooms cost in the region of $4-$5 per night. There is also an attached restaurant that appears to offer decent quality food.

The Home Vattanak Guesthouse is a great value place to stay that is fuss free and straightforward. It is situated in a quiet area and the rooms are generally spotless with bathrooms and air-con. Most of the suites in this guesthouse are easily able to accept a family of four.

Ly Hout
Ly Hout has the ability to stand out from most other places to stay in the local area. It has great features like a plunge pool, sauna and massage rooms (extra charges apply). The guest rooms are fitted out to a very high standard. The furniture is large and has smooth tiles. While the finish is not of the boutique hotel standard, it is still able to offer great value for money. The bright and airy rooms can even be upgraded to VIP suites, which include more amenities and space.

Chhieng Hour Guesthouse
The Chhieng Hour Guesthouse is able to provide the very clean rooms with cable TV, air-con and hot water. Even though this is a no-frills guesthouse, it is very well located and within an easy walk of everywhere in town. Plus, this guesthouse has a convenient store close by that has the essentials such as toiletries and snacks. Most of the rooms can easily accept two or three guests.

Javier Guesthouse
A stay at the Javier Guest House is perfect for both the leisure and business traveller, and well located in the centre of town. Its great location means it is easy to reach must-see destinations, transport, restaurants and shops. The 17 single or double rooms include basic features like hot water, private bathroom, cable TV and air-con. The cost is in the region of $15 to $20 per night.

Eat and drink
With the exception of a couple of food stalls and a small market, this town only has a choice of two or three restaurants.

The Dara Reas Restaurant is able to serve the typical Khmer food and is about 1 km south of the main market. It is a quite spacious restaurant that has a large outside garden and a practical choice for all types of travellers on the Indochina tour packages.

The Mlop Dong Restaurant is a very popular destination for the local expats and serves a wide range of dishes that are of reasonable quality. Most of the cuisine consists of tasty Khmer staples such as fried vegetables, barbecued meat and flavoursome soups.

The Phnom Tbaeng Restaurant is a great open-air restaurant that offers the English-based menu. Some of the popular dishes served include steamed fish, noodle soups, tom yam and forums soup. But, it is also possible to try the more exotic dishes such as pig intestines and fried eel.

Similar to most cities in Cambodia, this area has at least one market that is able to serve the locals and tourists. The market is based in a quite busy area with plenty of local shops that trade in the most popular items, such as meats, vegetables, fruits and fish. Most of the shops in the area are very close to the actual market.

Things to see and do

Preah Vihear Temple
The Preah Vihear Temple is a dedicated shrine to the great Hindu God Shiva and took nearly 300 years to complete. It was finished in the 12 century. It is situated in the Dongrek Mountains and a registered UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008. It is approx. 320 km from Phnom Penh and about 600 m above sea level.

The natural temple is a stunning building that gives plenty of opportunities for the tourist to explore. Plus, it is relatively quiet in relation to crowds with significantly less foot traffic compared to other options like Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. This means that the tour of the temple is much more relaxed and less risk of getting bothered.

Even though it is free to enter the temple grounds, it is necessary to show the ticket desk a copy of your passport. On inspection of your passport, you get back a ticket that must be kept for possible ticket inspection.

For the most convenient access to the top of the mountain it is possible to book a moto ride for $5 or a truck with space for five people at $25. But, once you have arrived at the foot of the temple, you need to climb the fairly steep 162 stone steps.

Preah Khan Temple Enclosure
Preah Khan is a perfect destination for the traveller on the Cambodia Package Holiday who is interested in lost-world ambience. The entire temple complex area is in the region of 5 km². It is one of the largest temple areas built in the Angkorian period. Most of the surrounding area is thick with trees and vines. The temples in this location are very remote which gives an astonishingly peaceful and quiet place to explore – often you will feel like the only visitor.

The history of Preah Khan isn’t well known, but it was for a long period a religious site, with plenty of the structures dating back to the 9th century.

The admission fee to enter this temple complex is in the region of 10,000 Riel. This gives access to explore Prasat Preah Thkol, Prasat Preah Stung and Prasat Damrei and Bakan Temples.

The Bakan Temples are situated approx. 105 km outside of Preah Vihear town and was originally used as a place of worship for the Angkor Kings. It has plenty of small temples nearby, including two ramparts. It is constructed with the style that is similar to the temples at Ta Prohm and Bayon.

Wat Bak Kam
A visit to Wat Bak Kam will take you to the Bak Kam village at the foot of Tbang Mountain. This pagoda is a significant size that stretches 1000 m in length and 400 m in width. This site gives a perfect view of the surrounding forest landscape and is a popular destination for the locals to visit during religious festivals and holidays.

Weaves of Cambodia
The Weaves of Cambodia is one of the great Cambodia vacation spots and a worthwhile place to visit to buy beautiful scarf’s that cost in the region of $20-$60. This workshop was set up to assist the victims of landmines, but over the years has become a reliable source of income for disabled Cambodians. The quality silk scarves are spun, dyed, and woven on site.

Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary
The Cambodian travel package that includes a visit to Tmatboey makes it possible to see an isolated village in the northern plains of Cambodia. This region is part of the Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary and an essential breeding site for endangered species, such as the White-shouldered Ibis and Giant Ibis. Any visitors touring this region get to see a rich ecosystem of scattered wetlands, deciduous forest, seasonally-inundated grasslands and open woodlands. This landscape was previously dominated by the Khmer Empire between the 9th and 15th centuries, with many features still available to see today.

The ecotourism project in the local area of Tmatboey is built to help rare species survive by reserving its natural habitat. A further benefit of this type of project is the ability to improve the lives of the villagers with an incentive, income and education. Any visitors to this area are requested to make a donation that is put towards the project in an effort to improve and maintain the project.

This is a great destination for the birdwatcher with several rare species available to see, but the best time to travel is January to April. Wildlife likely to be seen include owls, woodpecker (up to 16 species), grey-headed fish eagle, Alexandrine parakeet, green peafowl, white-rumped falcon, and woolly-necked stork.

A great Cambodia tour package of the local area can include not only Tmatboey and Prey Veng, but also other worthwhile locations like Veal Krous Vulture Feeding Station, Prasat Preah Vihear, Koh Ker and Beng Mealea.

Veal Krous Vulture Feeding Station
Set up by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Veal Krous Vulture Feeding Station is intended to help several types of endangered species, including the redheaded, slender-billed, and white-rumped vultures. By visiting the village of Dongphlet, which is close to the protected forest of Preah Vihear, it is possible to watch from a nearby bird hide as a cow carcass is placed in a field for the vultures to eat. This can become a great wildlife adventure with the ability to stay in a forest camp for the night.

Preah Vihear map