Pailin is located on the edge of the Cardamom Mountains in the west of Cambodia, right near the border with Thailand. Rich in natural resources, especially gemstones and timber, it was once part of Battambang but is now an independent province.
The landscape is full of mountain ranges, forest and waterfalls and is one of the few provinces in Cambodia that does not focus on rice farming. Pailin has a distinct Burmese influence evident in its local cuisine and traditional dress.
Pailin was once part of the great Khmer Empire until the Burmese conquered it in the mid 1500’s. Now safely back in the hands of Cambodia, Pailin’s rich past is often told in the form of folk tales and legends. One such story involves Wat Phnom Yat.
This pagoda, set on top of Phnom Yat is a sacred site of worship. Legend tells the tale of a couple, both bearing the same name – Yart. They were gem miners and once they were elderly the meditated together on the mountain now known as Phnom Yart. At that time, villagers bought guns to hunt for wild animals. The spirits of the forest were angry and revealed themselves to the meditating couple.
It’s said that the spirits promised to give the couple a precious stone if they ordered the villagers stop shooting animals. They agreed and built a pagoda to honour the spirits. That pagoda is now known as Wat Phnom Yat.
Pailin’s culture is quite different to what is considered traditional Khmer culture. Burmese (known as Kola people by Khmers) migrated in 1876, and the Shan Burmese began migrating in the 1920’s. The Burmese influence still exists today in vibrant clothing, festivals, food and customs.
Cool season -November- March (22-28c)
Hot season – March- May (27c -34c)
Rainy season -May – October (24-32c)
Things to Do
Wat Phnom Yat
Wat Phnom Yat is a beautiful Burmese Style stupa that was built by Shan immigrants in 1922. It’s located on top of Phnom Yat and is the setting for the local legend of an elderly couple both named Yat who had a vision while meditating. Phnom Yat is a sacred place for locals and shrouded in superstitions. It also holds vast cultural and historical significance.
O’Tavao Waterfall is located south of Pailin town in a scenic mountain region. The trek to the waterfall is around 6km but the reward is a serene spot perfect for swimming and cooling down.
Wat Rattanak Sopoan
Wat Rattanak Sopoan is located at the base of Phnom Yat. The pagoda is full of storytelling bas-relief, depicting stories similar to Angkor Wat’s famous churning of the ocean milk story. The pagoda is based on the Hindu religion and is rich in history.
Some of the most majestic views of the Cardamom Mountains can be found in Pailin and surrounding countryside. Boyaca Valley offers stunning countryside that is perfect to explore on a bicycle, by hiking, or by hiring a local moto driver and guide.