Pursat is a relatively small town located in western Cambodia. Even though it has little in the way of attractions that makes it stand out from other provincial capitals, it is a great gateway to the Cardamom Mountains. Plus, the local area is great for the travellers on the Cambodia travel packages who are interested in eco-tourism. One of the most popular sites to explore for those in Pursat town is Kampong Luang and its floating villages on the Tonle Sap Lake, which is about 28 km from town.
Also, this quite dusty provisional region is famous for its skilled and hardworking carvers.
Cambodia has a warm and humid tropical climate that is a very pleasant to explore nearly all year round. The rainy season is appreciated for its ability to help with cultivating the various different crops. The average temperature on the Cambodia vacation tours during the cool season is 18°C to 28°C and runs from November to March. The hot season is in the region of 22°C to 34°C which runs from March to May, with April the hottest month. This might be a period to avoid for the traveller that prefers not to explore the sights in intense heat. The rainy season has a temperature range of 22° to 32°C with nearly 90% humidity, and runs from May to October. If planning to visit during the rainy season it is important to pack the light jacket or other protective wear to stay dry and comfortable.
Also, the average temperature is generally lower in Pursat compared to most other regions of Cambodia with the exception to the Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri province.
The province of Pursat is in the region of 12,692 km² in size. It can be found in the south-west region of the country and is bordered to the west with Thailand, to the south with Koh Kong and Kampong Speu, to the east with Kampong Chhnang, and to the north with Battambang. Most of the province is used for agricultural plantations and rice fields. Plus, a large area is taken up by the Tonle Sap River. Although, the most prominent feature to explore is the Cardamom Mountains, which is a large forested and green mountain range that is quite close to the Thailand border.
Pursat is ranked as the fourth largest province with the 14th most populated area in Cambodia. This region is easily accessed by travelling on national highway No 5, as aware as various other small roads, rail and boat routes. Its distance to other regions is about 106 km to Battambang and 174 km to Phnom Penh.
How to get there
The best route to visit Pursat on the Cambodia tour packages is along national highway No 5 that runs from Phnom Penh to Battambang. A bus ride from Phnom Penh can cost in the region of $5 or from Battambang the cost is $2.50. Most of the bus services offer regular trips throughout the morning and early afternoon. The overall travel time from Battambang is only about 1.5 hours, while the travelers arriving from Phnom Penh can expect a travel time closer to 4 hours. The most reliable bus services seem to include Capitol Tour and Sorya.
Other travel options include using the rail service that also travels between Phnom Penh and Battambang with plenty of stops en route. But this travel option is quite limited with only one or two services per week. While the train journey can be very scenic, it can be agonizingly slow and is usually completed over the course of two days.
Most of the places to visit in the central town are manageable on foot. There are also plenty of places to hire a motodop including near the train station, bus stations and market. A typical cost is in the region of 1000 Riel to anywhere in town. For those planning a day trip out of town to Kampong Luang you can expect to pay about $5-$8. It is also possible to hire the services of the tuk-tuk. For the tourists that likes to self explore and rent a motorbike, they are widely available from many of the local hotels that are rented all-day, half day, or full day basis.
Where to stay
Pursat has plenty of places to stay in and around town for the budget friendly and more upmarket travellers on the Indochina tour packages.
For the traveller that wants to experience the most comfort in Pursat it is worth booking a room at the KM Hotel, this is a large hotel with 146 rooms that offers really good value and includes the large spacious rooms with new beds, air-con and flat-screen TVs. Some of the bathrooms can be a letdown with old showers, but guests to this hotel also get access to two large swimming pools. This hotel is well located and within 2 minutes from the local train station. Additionally, this hotel has an attached restaurant that serves a variety of international classics and Asian specialties.
The Pursat Century Hotel is centrally located in town with the well proportioned rooms including air conditioning, cable TV, a private terrace, mini fridge and en-suite bathroom. The private restaurant for guests serves a wide range of international and Vietnamese dishes. Also, this hotel has room service available and a great outdoor swimming pool.
A visit to the Phnom Pich Hotel is certain to be appreciated with its very clean and spacious rooms with air-con, satellite TV and Western-style bathrooms. The hotel is conveniently located on the West Bank of the River 200m from the main bridge. The in-house restaurant has a great reputation. The cost per night is in the region of $6-$15.
The Thmar Keo Guesthouse is a low-cost place to stay with simple rooms including a single bed, western bath and fan, which costs about $5 per night. But for those that wish to upgrade to include air-con the price can go up to $10 per night. Plus, this guest house has a great location close to the market and river.
Even though the Vimean Sourkear Hotel looks quite dated from the outside, it is outfitted with the essential amenities inside with hot water and air-con rooms. Plus, this is likely to be the cheapest place to stay with air-con as standard.
A stay at the Tounsour Hotel on the Cambodia Package Holiday gives an experience that is quite similar to the Phnom Pich Hotel in relation to quality of service and room amenities. The very spacious and clean rooms are equipped with air-con, satellite TV and western-style bathroom. The price to stay the night at the Tounsour Hotel is $5 to $10.
The Hotel Orchidee is located just off National Highway No 5 and a friendly place operated by a mother-daughter partnership. There is a good common living area with a TV, while the hotel also features plenty of nice Khmer artwork. Most of the rooms include an attached bathroom with hot water and western-style bath. The cost per night is $7 to $10 – the most expensive rooms include air-con.
Eat and drink
Similar to the restaurants in cities like Kampong Chhnang many of the places in town start to close quite early (about 9 PM). There are low-cost choices for tasty food in the local area, including the noodle cook shops and food stalls. They are quite close to the market area near national highway No 5, as well as several decent restaurants.
The Magic Fish Restaurant is found along the riverside in an area that is north of the Khmer Rouge-era dam. There is no English signage, so you need to look for a bright yellow coloured building on the right-hand side as you drive through town. This restaurant specializes in the fish-based Khmer dishes with prices costing in the region of 8000 to 15,000 Riel for the main course meal.
A visit to the Reak Smey Angkor Restaurant is certain to be appreciated by the Khmer tour groups. This is a family run restaurant that offers a varied mix of local favourites, with plenty of choices in the fried rice and noodle soup range. Plus, a western-style menu that serves the breakfast plates and omelettes.
The Lam Siveeng Restaurant is a great place for a hearty breakfast and serves French bread, omelettes and espresso for the duration of the day. Most of the staff is able to communicate in English.
A great place for the tourist to visit for shopping includes the Pursat New Market that is easily located along the riverbank on the western side of town (nearly 700 m north of the bridge). This market offers virtually everything you need from jewelery and electrical goods to agricultural products. The most popular stalls are likely to include fruit or other food choices, such as meats, vegetables and fish. The Kroch Po Sat which are locally grown oranges are especially popular in town. For the Cambodia Package Tour traveler in search of gifts and souvenirs, there are plenty of marble handicrafts that have been created by the locals.
Things to see and do
A visit to Tonle Sap Lake offers a very interesting and unique place to explore in Pursat - the floating village of Kampong Luong. It has people living on boats with nearly 10,000 permanent inhabitants. The town is regularly moving in line with the lakes water level. Even though the town is in the middle of the lake it is still able to offer virtually the same facilities as available in other Cambodian towns. This includes floating karaoke bars, medical clinics, schools and restaurants. By exploring this floating village it is possible to stop at several different places to soak up the atmosphere or for a drink of beer or iced tea.
Tomb of Kleang Meung
A visit to the Tomb of Kleang Meung makes it possible to explore a sacred place of worship and prayer that is seen by tourists from near and far areas. This site has a newly built statue of Neak Ta Khleang Moeang who is worshipped and respected by the Cambodian people. A trip to the Kleang Meung's tomb is a relatively short distance of about 5 km from town.
Koh Sampov Meas Island Park
Located in the middle of Pursat River, this island park is approx. 1 km from town. This is a great provincial park that is well worth a visit and a popular destination for both locals and tourists. Plus there are several fine sculptures to admire for visitors.
Marble & Wood Carving
This is the only province in the country that provides a natural source of marble. For this reason, this area is very well known for its ability to produce high-end marble products. The marble is regularly used by the skilled craftsmen to create huge statues of Buddha's or similar pieces of art. There are about 150 carving workshops in the local area. Many shops and workshops can be visited to see the well made statues which can make a very stylish souvenir.
Chrak La Eang waterfall
For the travelers interested in natural beauty, a tour of the Chrak La Eang waterfall local area is certain to appeal. Arriving at the waterfall, it is possible to slide or swim the cascading river or to visit the calmer stretch of water for a relaxing soak. This waterfall is about 72 km from Pursat town.
Phnom Lang Trach
Phnom Lang Trach is a rich and diverse melting region that includes plenty of large natural boulders and tall gallery forests. It lies along national highway No 55 and about 49 km from the town of Pursat.
A great Cambodia adventure tour can be experienced at the natural attraction of Odar which is located near the Kravanh mountain chain. This is approx. 55 km from the town of Pursat. A visit to this location makes it possible to see the beautiful forested hills and see and hear wildlife with its seasonal cicadas humming.
Wat Sbov Reach
A trip to Wat Sbov Reach makes it possible to admire a fully restored Buddhist Temple and is situated in a Sbov Reach village in the Kravanh district.