Takeo province is often referred to as “the cradle of Cambodian civilisation” Takeo province has several important pre-Angkorian sites built between the 5th and the 8th century. The provincial capital, Takeo town is an easygoing place that possesses a fair amount of natural and manmade beauty. The natural beauty is in the Scenic River and lake area that faces a pleasant town parkway. The low-lying area seems to include much of the surrounding province area, which is probably why a kingdom that once had its heart here was referred to as Water Chenla. There seems to be water everywhere in the surrounding countryside during the rainy season.
The man-made beauty mostly comes from a series of canals and waterways that were cut through the surrounding countryside, many a very long time ago, connecting towns, villages, rivers and Vietnam. Nearby Angkor Borei town (connected by water to Takeo town) may have been the heart of the Funan Empire, which is called the “Cradle of Khmer Civilization” by Cambodians. Much older than Angkor, the Funan empire had its heyday between the 1st and 6th centuries and stretched across a vast area, from South Vietnam through Thailand, down through Malaysia and into Indonesia. Bold, silver and silks were traded in abundance in the kingdom, or, as some say, the series of fiefdoms.
Although Cambodians claim Funan was created by Khmers, neighbouring Vietnam argues that they were the people of origin. Archaeologists from the University of Hawaii of the USA have made research trips to Angkor Borei in an attempt to piece together the history and story, and story, as well as relics, of the Funan period. In an odd recent twist, Reuters News Service reported in early November 1999 that locals saw the research team digging up ancient relics and figured the stuff must be valuable, so they started digging and looting objects from the area. Fortunately, the Cambodian government seems to be moving in on the problem quickly to try to save what they can of this important piece of Khmer heritage.
That was not the first time the locals have created problems in the piecing together of ancient history. Much of what did remain in the form of ancient ruins in Angkor Borei was destroyed not too long ago in the modern past. The officials that runs the museum that’s dedicated to the history of the Funan empire told me that much of what was still standing from this period (from parts of ancient walls to partial structures) was thought to be useless by locals and was bulldozed and razed to make way for more “useful” modern day structures! Talk about having a bad track record. Fortunately artifacts and history have been put together in the museum.
Takeo Province is full of other interesting sights as well and because of the short distance and good road from Phnom Penh, all are great day trips. Some sights can be combined in a day trip. If you have a bit more time, spend an evening in Takeo town and take in all the sights. There is a pleasant little place to stay overlooking the river and lake area.
Takeo province is 3,563 square kilometres big. It’s located in the South of the country bordering to the North and East with Kandal, to the West with Kampong Speu and Kampot and to the South with Vietnam. The low-lying area seems to include much of the surrounding province area, which is probably why a kingdom that once had its heart here was referred to as Water Chenla. There seems to be water everywhere in the surrounding countryside during the rainy season.
Therefore the province consists of the typical plain wet area for Cambodia, covering rice fields and other agricultural plantations. The province also features one of the biggest rivers of the country (symbolizing the provincial border to the East), the Tonle Bassac (also known as the “Red River”).
The current population in this province is about 924,758 people or 6.4% of the country’s total population (14,363,519 person in Cambodia, 2007, provincial government data), with 445,000 male and 479,758 female. The population density is therefore 259.5 people per square kilometre.
The country has a tropical climate - warm and humid. In the monsoon season, abundant rain allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of crops. This year-round tropical climate makes Cambodia ideal for developing tourism. Travellers need not to fear natural disasters such as erupting volcanoes or earthquakes, and the country is not directly affected by tropical storms.
Climate: Cambodia can be visited throughout the year. However, those plans to travel extensively by road should be avoided the last two months of the rainy season when some countryside roads may be impassable. The average temperature is about 27 degrees Celsius; the minimum temperature is about 16 degrees. December and January are the coolest months, whereas the hottest is April.
General information about the provincial climate:
- Cool season: November- March (22-28c)
- Hot season: March- May (28c -36c)
- Rainy season: May - October (24-32c, with humidity up to 90%.)
Takeo’s economy consists basically of agricultural farming, fishery, rice and fruit cropping. Especially the rural households depend on agriculture and its related sub-sectors.
How to get there
Phnom Penh and Takeo province are linked by the National Highway No 2, which remains in reasonable condition with a few potholes to slow the velocity down. Hour Lean and PPPT bus companies both run air-con buses between Phnom Penh and Takeo (6000riel, 2hours, 77km). They leave from the Central Station just southwest from the Central Market in PP. Leaving of to PP from Takeo you may find the buses in front of the Phsar Leu. Both buses have to pass Tonlé Bati and Phnom Chisor, both interesting sides of attraction.
The price from PP by share taxi is around 6000riel, by minibus around 3000riel. Travellers continuing by road to Kampot should take a moto (5000riel) for the 13km journey Angk Tasaom and then arrange a seat in a minibus or share taxi (5000riel) on to Kampot.
For 1000 riel you can get anywhere in town. The daily rate is US$ 5 plus fuel for distant sights.
Phnom Penh and Takeo province are linked by the National Highway No 2, which remains in reasonable condition with a few potholes to slow the velocity down. This is a maximum 2 hours ride for merit skilled motorbikers.
If your motorcycle has a mechanic problem, head back to Phnom Penh, as it’s only an hour away. Call your rental outfit in Phnom Penh (always carry theft rental agreement) and they will come down to perform motorcycle surgery or haul the bike back to Phnom Penh.
Where to eat
There are a couple of decent Khmer food restaurants near the waterfront, after the canal that heads to Vietnam, Angkor Borei and Phnom Da. You may also find plenty of cookeries in the area around the Independence Monument. By night this is the place to snack on Cambodian desserts or enjoy a “tukalok” (fruitshake). And as for the night scene, there just isn’t much going on in Takeo town –your best bet is to take it easy and remember that Phnom Penh is only an hour away.
This is an alternative spot for a good Cambodian meal during the dry season, when this part of the town is less stinky than the area near the water. It has an English menu and some tasty soups are a worth a recommendation.
Restaurant Stung Takeo:
This place is built on stilts, as the whole area becomes a giant lake during the wet season. The restaurant overlooks the canal to Angkor Borei, and it’s one of the most popular lunch stops in town. It’s a good place to tuck into some Khmer food before making a trip to Angkor Borei and Phnom Da.
Doun Keo Restaurant:
This place is one of the first restaurants that you encounter as you enter Takeo from Phnom Penh. It’s a friendly simple place, which feature rather decent Khmer and Chinese food.
Where to stay
There are some reasonable options to get your head on a bed in Takeo, although the proximity of Phnom Penh means that few travellers actually spend a night here. Backpacker options could also be found at the empty Phsar Nat (also overlooking).
Mittapheap Hotel: (tel: 032/931205)
This hotel might be an option for those who have a particular attraction to Cambodian Independence Monuments, as this one overlooks Takeo’s. There is good cheap food nearby, a fortune. Don’t be put of by the old house at the front, s the owners have added a new wing in a leafy green garden at the back, with the smartest air-con rooms in town. Prices range from $5-10.
Angkor Borei Guesthouse: (tel: 032/931340)
That’s a friendly family-run place, which has a bewildering array of rooms available and all at the same price. Some of them are bigger, some are smaller, some have TV and air-con, some don’t, but in the interest of equality everyone pays the same. Have a look before, than choose.
Boeung Takeo Guesthouse: (tel: 032/931306)
This is likely the best place in town, overlooking the lake. All rooms are essentially the same (bath, fan, TV), but for $10 you can get an air-con breeze. Ask for a room with a view, as it won’t be more expensive. Prices from $5-10.
Phnom Sonlong Guesthouse: (tel: 032/931404)
This guesthouse is right next door to the Angkor Borei and offers more or less the same array and equipment as the Ankor Borei, but is a little less in the price. Some rooms have only one bed, check it out before. Some of the staffs speak good English.
As it is quite common in Cambodia even small cities, such as Takeo have at least one bigger market (some small marts too). So you may also find a market in Takeo centre, which is a busy area with local shops dealing the local daily consumer products, like fish, fruits, vegetables, meats and packed products (also a lot from Vietnam). Most of the food and drink shops are surrounding the market.
Tonle Bati is a popular lake and picnic area that has bamboo shacks built out over the water that people can rent out for eating and whiling away the day. It’s generall
Phnom Da is from the Angkor era, as its style attests. It’s just a short hike from the canal and then up to the top, where there is a good view of the surrounding count
Phnom Chissor (Chissor Mountain)
Continuing south along Highway 2 and towards Takeo, lyou come upon hthe hilltop temple of Phnom Chilssor. You will see it from a long way off and you seem to be circlin
Ta Prohm Temple
King Jayavarman VII built this Angkor era temple. The ruins have a number of interesting features about them, including a couple of bas-relief scenes
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