Kompong Thom province is located around halfway between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Home to the temples of Sambor Pre Kuk and a significant amount of waterbirds, a number of which are critically endangered, Kampong Thom is rich in natural beauty.
The town itself is very laid back and welcoming and the surrounding countryside gives a good insight into everyday life of a Cambodian farmer or fisherman. Here you will find traditional ox carts and wooden houses, with curious children offering infectious smiles.
Kampong Thom is also host to the remains of the old French Governor’s Mansion. Within the grounds are three spectacular mahogany trees that are home to a gigantic bat colony creating a great spectacle as the sun goes down and they fly off in search of food.
• Cool season: November- March (20-28c)
• Hot season: March-May (30c -35c)
• Rainy season: May – October (23-30c)
Kampong Thom is home to Wat Indrisamovora and Phnom Suntak. The surrounding regions are held by locals to be particularly sacred. Sambor Pre Kuk is an ancient temple pre-dating Angkor Wat and has now been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The wetlands and grasslands in Kampong Thom are rich in wildlife and house some of the most endangered birdlife in the world.
Things to Do
Kampong Thom is blessed with an abundance of natural grasslands and floodplains that host significant wildlife. The Tonle Sap Lake rises and falls with the flow of the Mekong River and the resulting floodplains provide the perfect habitat for many water birds. Here you can find Pelicans, Adjutants and Painted Storks.
The endangered Bengal Florican and Manchurian Reed Warbler which is also under threat can be found in the surrounding areas. Bird lovers have also spotted Greater Spotted Eagles, Dusky Warblers, Siberian Rubythroats and Yellow Breasting Bunting among many others. The Oriental Plover passes through the region around March each year.
Wat Indrisamavora, also referred to as Wat Kampong Thom, is just outside of town in Kdei village. The sacred area is over 2000 square metres and many significant Buddhist temples can be found inside the pagoda. Wat Indrisamovara particularly comes alive during festivals.
Phnom Suntuk is a local mountain that is home to many rock wall carvings, statues and a pagoda at the top of exactly 807 stairs. The peak offers lovely views and locals particularly relish the roasted chicken that is available at the bottom of the mountain. The region is particularly sacred and of cultural significance.
Sambor Pre Kuk
Sambor Pre Kuk is a significant archaeological site, dating back to the Chenla Period (6th to 9th Century). It was established as a royal sanctuary by King Isanavarman I and became a capital known as Isanapura. Sambor Pre Kuk is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its towers, carvings, ponds and sculptures are set amongst sub-tropical forests. You’ll find Sambor Pre Kuk around 45 minutes from Kampong Thom and the journey there is very pleasant through the countryside.
Located on the edge of the Tonle Sap Lake, Stung Sen is made up of forests and wetlands. The area is now a protected wildlife sanctuary and houses many protected species including the Sarus Crane and Giant Ibis. Stung Sen River is made up of large tributaries and small pools. It’s possible to take a boat ride on the river and view the surrounding bamboo forests.