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Cambodia > General information > Region and city guide > Battambang, Sihanoukville, and Bokor Hill Station


                         Battambang, Sihanoukville and Bokor Hill Station

Battambang

Battambang is a sleepy town on the western end of the
Tonle Sap. There are a few temples, and not a lot else. However, if you arrive by fast boat from Siem Reap or mini-bus and then truck from Bangkok you may appreciate the break in your journey.

The main sights are the market and the largely intact Colonial buildings that fill the town. There’s a lot of Colonial architecture to be seen, and much of it is in better repair than in Phnom Penh.

Getting there. There are three main ways to arrive and depart: by air, truck, or speedboat. There are daily flights from Phnom Penh. From Thailand you take a mini-bus and then switch to an overcrowded truck at the border. The truck ride, combined with the rough roads (potholes the size of VW Beetles and bridges that are terrifyingly beat up – you can see the rivers below, right through the bridge base), is not fun.

From Siem Reap (or
Phnom Penh) you can take a speedboat across the Tonle Sap, swamping villages as you pass by. A not-to-be-missed adventure. Dinner along the river in a market restaurant is a great way to unwind after your speed boat ride.
You can also go by road in another overcrowded pick-up truck.In theory you can take a train from
Phnom Penh but it is slow and unreliable. 


Sihanoukville

If you want to check out the Cambodian beaches Sihanoukville is probably your best bet. You can also continue onward to catch a boat to
Thailand. Note that if you arrive from Thailand at any border crossing, including this one, you need to have your visa first.

The town is an alternative royal seat, founded in 1964 by Prince Sihanouk as a deep water port. It is incidentally just about the only seaside resort in Cambodia.

Getting thereMost people arrive by bus or mini-bus from Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, and depart the same way. The buses are cheap and reliable. The road from Phnom Penh is pretty well-maintained. You can also fly from Phnom Penh or go by boat from Koh Kong.

What to do. The town sits on a peninsula that juts into the Gulf of Thailand. The beaches are lovely, the water is still clean, and the temperature is pleasant most of the year. The three beaches are: Victory Beach, Park or Independence Beach, and Ochental Beach. Ochental Beach is the farthest south and generally considered to be the best. You can also try sport fishing for day-time excitement.

Close by (a 30-minute drive) is Preah Sihanouk National Park, with mangrove swamps, forests, and two islands.  There is also a coral reef and lots of wildlife. You can take a half- or full-day boat tour to explore the area (about $25 for up to four people). You can also trek three to five hours (guide required) for just a few dollars. There is limited, basic accommodation at the entry station if you don’t make a day-trip.  The best way to get there is to hire a motorbike driver or a car and driver in Sihanoukville.


 

 Bokor Hill Station

This is one of the few areas of Cambodia that is still largely covered in forest. If you are lucky (or not so lucky) you might see elephants, tigers, leopards, civets, gibbons, and countless birds. The French knew this area because it was much cooler than most of Cambodia (the elevation of over 1,000 m/3,000 feet helps). Beware of landmines if you must venture off the roads and tracks.

Getting there. The base most people use is Kampot, then they hire a car or motorbike (and driver) and spend the day at Bokor, a trip of about 40 km (90 minutes) each way. Kampot is a quiet riverside town just a few kilometers from the Gulf of Thailand.

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Cambodia : Battambang, Sihanoukville, Bokor Hill Station, Kampot