Banteay Meanchey, Cambodia
Banteay Meanchey is a Cambodian province in the northwest of the country, and its capital is named Sisophon. The town of Sisophorn is today a charming, quiet place that only gives hints to its turbulent past upon closer examination. Like Siem Reap and Battambang Provinces, control of the province has changed hands many times between the Thais and the Khmers in the more distant past, and the Khmer Rouge and central Phnom Penh government in recent decades.
With the final demise of the Khmer Rouge (locals, however, firmly believe the Present national reconciliation only the Khmer Rouge trick), the province and towns are striving to rebuild their culture and economy.
It's very friendly place with the locals genuinely happy to see foreign faces and the stability that it implies. Normally just a passing-through spot on the way to the border, or between Battambang and Siem Reap, the area has a few sights that warrant a visit, such the Banteay Chhmar temple ruins, the only other Khmer temple ruins besides the Bayon (Angkor) and Preah Khan ( Preah Vihear Province ) that features the famous four-faced monuments. This area was part of the extensive Khmer empire, with its most notable remains the Banteay Chhmar temple (built in 12th and 13th century) in the north of the province. In the 17th century the Siam took control over Cambodia, and made the area of the modern province part of Sisophon Province. In the year 1907 the Siam had to cede control to the French, and the area was then included into Battambang Province. In 1988 the province Banteay Meanchey was split off from Battambang.
Banteay Meanchey is located in the Northwest of Cambodia. It borders with Thailand to the west and North, with Oddar Meancheay to the North, with Siem Reap to the East and with Battambang to the South. The town of Sisophorn is about 359km from Phnom Penh via national road number 5.
One of the most known places in that province is Poipet, a town on the Thailand/Cambodia border. It’s the key crossing point between the two countries, and also extremely popular as a gambling destination with lot’s of casinos (gambling is popular, but illegal in Thailand). There is a strip of casinos, guesthouses and hotels between the Thai and Cambodian passport control counters, enabling Thais to gamble in Cambodia without needing to go through Cambodian immigration. Poipet is adjacent to the city of Aranya Pratet on the Thai side of the border.
The province is mostly covered by extensive lowlands, with a few uplands to the North and East (all in all around 6,679 sq/km surface). The main rivers are the Mongkol Borei River and the Sisophon River.
The total population is 816,382 or (5.242%) of the total population 14,363,519 in Cambodia (2007, provincial government data) with a growth rate of 5.93 %, which is consisting of 402,201 male person (49.11%), and 414,181 female person (50.89%).
The above number also consists of 654, 033 person (93%), who are farmers, 8,228 person (1.17%), who are fishermen, 35,162 person (5%), who are traders, and 5,814 person (0.83%), who work as government officers.
Average Temperature: 30.oC – 33.oC
Rain fall: 885.30 mm/year
Evaporation: 4.41 mm/day (May - July)
3.37 mm/day ((August - October)
Humidity: Hot and Wet
Wind velocity: 3 m/s (May)
2.9 m/s (June)
2.5 m/s (July)
3.1 m/s (August)
There are 3 different seasons:
- Rainy season: June - October (<32c)
- Cool season: November- February (>27c)
- Hot season: March- May : Temperature: from 27c -34c
The province’s economy is 93% based on farming and the remaining other 7% are based on fishing and trading. Because of it’s border with Thailand, the casino business is booming and becoming the main economy to the province.
How to get there
The town of Sisophan i s a bout 359 k m f r o m Phnom Penh via national road number 5. You may also reach the Province from Bangkok via Poipet border.
There is not alot of choices to get into that province. You either have you rown motorcycle or you are taking a shared taxi. But wait; let’s not forget the train. Or maybe we should, because it’s very slow - the railroad doesn’t even want to quote you an correct arrival time, because it’s never going to be the same.
The train from Battambang arrives in Sisophan sometimes between 10:00 - 11:00 am (usually). The trip takes around 31/2 hours, which is about double the time that the shared taxies need for, but un l i k e m o s t t h i n g s i n l i f e , i t’ s f r e e ! T h i s w o n’ t l a s t f o r l o n g a s t h e p o o r K h m e r people a r e p a y i n g, w h i l e w e a r e n o t . T h e g o v e r n m e n t j u s t h a s n’ t o r g a n i z e d t h e t r a i n s e r v i c e f o r t o u r i s t s y e t .
S h a r ed T a x i es, p e r s e a t i n s i d e, approx. rates :
- S i s o p h o n t o S i e m R e a p 1 2 0 b a h t , US$4
- S i s o p h o n t o B a t t a m b o n g 5 0 b a h t , US$2
- S i s o p h o n t o P o i p e t 3 0 b a h t , US$1,4
- S i s o p h o n t o P h n o m P e n h 2 5 0 b a h t , US$8,5
- S i s o p h o n t o S a m r o n g 1 0 0 b a h t , US$3,5
- T h e s e r a t e s s h o u l d b e t h e s a m e i n r e v e r s e .
- M o t o r c y c l e T o u r i n g I n fo
- A s f o r y o u r m o t o r c y c l e t o u r , t h e road from S i s o p h o n t o S i e m R e a p i s a t e r r i b l e b o m b -c r a t e r e d r o a d t h a t y o u w i l l n e e d t o g o s l o w l y o n , u n l e s s y o u a r e a m o t o - c r o s s m a n i a c . T h e road from S i s o p h a n t o B a t t a m b a n g i s f a i r l y d e c e n t i n c e r t a i n s t r e t c h e s , n o t s o n i c e i n o t h e r s , b u t d e f i n i t e l y t h e b e t t e r one o f t h e t w o r o a d s .
T h e S i s o p h o n t o P o i p e t s t r e t c h h a s s o m e p r e t t y f a i r s t r e t c h e s f o r a m o t o r c y c l e , w i t h o t h e r s t r e t c h e s h a v i n g s o m e h u m p s i n t h e r o a d t h a t a r e b i g e n o u g h t o m a k e a n y r o l l e r - c o a s t e r o p e r a t o r e n v i o u s .
Where to eat
This is the swank joint in town with good food and service. Friendly staff and live Khmer music while you have your dinner (this is thankfully one place that keeps the volume down a bit). The staff is fair in their English.
Penh Chet Restaurant
A step down but it’s a clean, basic place with good food and the usual friendly beer girls. There is also live music here in the evening. There isn’t an English menu, but the beer girls will have a lot of fun trying to help you ordering.
The restaurant next to the Phnom Svay Hotel serves up the best food in Sisophan. It’s a very simple place but the menu is varied and features many Western faves. Decent hamburgers, French fries, ice cream, among others are sure to satisfy your Cambodian road – weary appetite. The place draws a good crowd of foreign workers and locals alike.
There are restaurant stalls by the shared taxi stand, along with loads of evening desert and fruit shake/drink stands all over town. Sisophan has a rather rowdy (and seedy) brothel area built almost on the RR tracks near the train station. With the train tooting it’s whistle and vibrating the shacks as it crawls by, it’s surely Sisophan’s version of the popular book, Off the Rails in Phnom Penh.
The ladies are out in full force in the late afternoon, beckoning you over, laughing and seemingly enjoying the festiveness of the area that time of the day. Drink and food stands dot the area, and with all the local males milling about it almost does seem like a carnival.
Where to stay
Rong Roeung Hotel
Fan rooms 200 baht (US$7), a/c rooms 300 baht (US$10). Western bath, sat. (Satellite) TV, clean; and the owner speaks English.
Fan US$ 5, a/c US$ 10. The rooms are very clean and have large and small beds as an additional Western bath.
No Name Hotel
The name was being changed when we stayed there-to what, they did not know. It’s a nice place. The manager speaks English and the staff is very friendly. Western bath, sat. TV, wrap-around terrace overlooking a small park. Fan room 200 baht (US$7), a/c room 250 baht (US$8,5).
The name means peaceful and that’s it. Located on the outskirts of town towards Battambang, the hotel is very clean with Western bath, single bed fan rooms for US $ 5, two beds for US $ 7 and a room with a/c and sat. TV goes for US$ 10.The owner speaks English.
Phnom Svay Hotel (and restaurant)
Nicely furnished clean rooms with a large bed, sat. TV and Western bath. Fan rooms are 200 baht (US$7), a/c rooms 300 baht (US$10). The restaurant is the place for Western food in Sisophan.
The markets are very busy areas with local shops dealing the local daily comsumer products, like fruits, vegetables, meats and other packed products from Thailand. All food and drink shops are surrounding the market.
What to see
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Tra Peang Thmar
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