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BANTEAY MEANCHEY PROVINCE

 

kampong_chhnang
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.
GEOGRAPHY & CLIMATE
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 weather condition are as below.
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
POPULATION
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.
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 unlike most things in life, it?s free ! This won't last for long as the poor Khmer people are paying, while weare not. The government just hasn't organized thet rain service for tourist syet.Shared Taxies, per seatin side, approx. rates: 
- Sisophon to Siem Reap 120 baht, US$4
- Sisophon to Battambong 50 baht, US$2
- Sisophon to Poipet 30 baht, US$1,4
- Sisophon to Phnom Penh 250 baht, US$8,5
- Sisophon to Samrong 100 baht, US$3,5
- These rates should be the same inreverse.
- Motorcycle Touring Info
- As for your motorcycletour, the road from Sisophon to Siem Reap is a terrible bomb - cratered road that you will need to go slowly on, unless you are a moto - cross maniac. The road from Sisophon to Battambang is fairly decentin certain stretches, not so nice in others, but definitely the better one of the two roads. The Sisophon to Poipet stretch has some pretty fair stretches for a motor cycle, with other stretches having some humps in the road that are big enough to make any roller - coaster operato renvious.
WHAT TO SEE ?
Ang Trapeang Thmor
Ang Trapeang Thmor is located in Banteay Meanchey Province in the Northwest of Cambodia. It is about 100km from Siem Reap Town. Ang Trapeang Thmor is a unique wetland ecosystem giving home to over 200 bird species including the endangered Sarus Crane. The population of the Sarus Crane species in this area rose constantly within the last years to a number of more than 300 birds today.
 
18 of the existing species in Ang Trapeang Thmor are being classified as globally or near globally threatened. The project in Ang Trapeang Thmor tries to help preventing the birds from disappearing. Birds can be watched throughout the whole year but the best time of seeing the Sarus Crane is from February to May. Ang Trapeang Thmor also harbors the globally endangered Eld’s deer. From Siem Reap Town it is a two hours drive during dry season and a three hours drive during rainy season with minibus, taxi or motor taxi. To have access to the forest it is indispensable to have your own 4-wheel drive vehicle.
 
Banteay Chhmar Temple 
Is the historical site which was built between 12th and 13th centuries during the reign of King, Jar Varman VII. The temple is located at Thmar Puok District, along the National Road No 69A, about 59 kilimeters north of the province town. Nowadays, the temple is damaged because of war and gangs of offendees who have stolen statues and the temple stone for selling them to Thailand. In addition, there are some other temples in Ban Teay Mean Chey province such as Pra Sat Preah Chhor and Pra Sat Pram as well that have mostly been abandoned and not arranged.
 
At Present, Ban Teay Chhmar temple is the main tourist attractive site of the province in luring foreign tourists to visit. In the far northwestern corner of Cambodia the looted Angkorian temple of Banteay Chhmar sits teetering on the brink of a revival. A paved road scheduled to start construction this year is bound to increase visitors. Craig Gerard braves the bumpy journey to find a slice of Cambodian tranquillity. Commissioned by King Jayavarman VII and situated some 15km from the Thai border, Banteay Chhmar is often compared to Angkor Thom in size and structure. The complex is full of sandstone bas-reliefs that tell stories of ancient Cambodian battles. Witnessing the preservation of the temple and experiencing the beauty of the local community will reward the adventurous traveller.
 
The bas-reliefs along the surrounding wall of the temple are some of the finest in Cambodia. Yet the stories are incomplete due to sustained looting, which continued as late as 2002. Huge sections of the outer wall have been chiselled away, and are now scattered to the four winds. While the loss is felt as you wander around the massive complex, it also drives home the importance of visitors to this remote site. These tourist dollars lead to the long-run stability of the temple and the surrounding villages.Such is the hope of Global Heritage Fund (GHF), a non-profit organisation based in California.
 
It specialises in tying conservation of historical sites to the needs of the local community to make tourism relevant and profitable, while ensuring local inhabitants are stewards of their own heritage. James Hooper, the manager of Global Heritage Fund UK and International Project Development specialist, sees great potential in Banteay Chhmar.Banteay Chhmar is a perfect example of how Global Heritage Fund works with local groups to build sustainable tourist infrastructure,? says Hooper. Through their partnership with the Community Based Tourism (CBT) office, Global Heritage Fund has been able to speed along the conservation work by providing the technical know-how and needed funding. Additionally,it assists with emergency structural issues within the complex. Years of shifting earth, some looting and the advancing trees have taken their toll on Banteay Chhmar. I get the sense that the forest is reclaiming the temple for itself.
 
Hooper wants to create temporary, low-impact viewing platforms, so guests can see the complex from a bird?s eye view. The platforms would allow visitors a safe way to experience the heart of the temple, which currently is inaccessible because of unstable stone structures. Hooper explains that these temporary structures work well because they avoid heavy construction which could do long term damage to the site. For now, visitors walk on the ground amongst the ruins, witnessing the temple as westerners first discovered it. The CBT has a clear list of plans needed to improve services to tourists. According to Sophal That of the CBT, about 40 percent of visitors spend a night in one of the villages? six homestay locations, the only overnight option.
 
The homestays make up just a part of the CBT?s infrastructure around the Banteay Chhmar complex. The rest of the 74 council members are part of the hospitality network for visitors, which includes ox cart rides, silk weaving, woodcarving, traditional music concerts, rice wine distillation, beekeeping, bike tours and the women?s cooking group. While more tourists are exactly what the community needs, busloads may be unfortunate. The isolation is what gives Banteay Chhmar its charm no matter what time of day you visit, you are likely to be the only visitors. For the time being, there is no waiting for the hordes to move so you can snap a photo without people. There are no tuk tuks, no elephants, no mega-buses.
 
There is just the temple, nature and friendly people there to help.All this makes now the right time for a visit.Banteay Meanchey is a Cambodian province in the northwest of the country, and its national reconciliation only the Khmer Rouge trick), the province and towns are striving to rebuild their culture and economy. 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 ontheThailand/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 mmigration. Poipet is adjacent to the city of Aranya Pratet on the Thai side of the border.
 
Banteay Neang
It is about 11 km from provincial town. It takes 20mns by car to reach there. There are several historical sites and colonial buildings. It is located in Road No. 69A of Banteay Chhmar Village, Banteay Chhmar Commune, Tmar Puok District.
 
Banteay Torp
It is called in Khmer (Banteay Torp) it means the army base. it is about 55 km from the provincial town. It was the bigest army base during the civil war since 1970.It is located in Road No. 69A of Banteay Chhmar Village, Banteay Chhmar Commune, Tmar Puok District. Today, it become a historical war places to the local and international tourists to visit.
 
Cheung Krouh
Cheung Krouh is about 63 km from the provincial town. It take about 2 hours to reach there. There are many natural wildlife are preserved by the WWF organization. It is located in road 69A of Banteay Chhmar Village, Banteay Chhmar Commune, Tmar Puok District.
 
Kang Va Basin
Kang Va basin is the natural resort locating at Serey Sophoan District, along the National Road No 69A, about 4kilometer distance from the provincial town or 364 kilometer distance from Phnom Penh. Visitors who visit the resort are usually interested in: Abundance of fresh air. Beautiful scenary with blowing winds of Ang Teuk Kang Va basis was built from 1976 to 1978, during the Khmer Rouge regime, as a water reservoir for dry season rice cultivation. Leisure activities such as swimming, fishing and boating.
 
Laang Phnom Touch
Laang Phnom Touch is the natural and cultural resort locating at Se Rey Sa Phoan District, along the National Road No.5, about 28 kilometers south of provincial town. The site features natural wells and big and small mountains with large stone faces and surfaces. From the mountaintops, visitors have a spectacular view of the natural forests and a pagoda on the mountain side. The site is popular with local people on festival days.
 
Phnom Bak and Phnom Chenh Chiang
Phnom Bak and Phnom Chenh Chiang are the natural and cultural resort locating at Se Rey Sa Phoan District, along the National Road No 5, about 5kilometers west of Banteay Meanchey provincial town. The two mountains are near one another. The vertical faces of the mountains a like a wall. At the flank, there is a place for visitors to relax. At the foot of the mountain is a large well, 10 squar meters and 12 meters deep. Some stone statues are sculptured there. There are also a number of vendors selling stone sculptures.
 
Phnom Chuncheang
3km (6mn) From Provincial Town. Nature Wildlife Preserves, Location: Road No. 5, Toek Tla Village, Toek Tla Commune, Serey Sophorn District.
 
Phnom Svay
1 km (2mn) From Provincial Town. Location: Nature Wildlife Preserves, Road No. 5, Kortan Village, O' Ormpel Commune, Serey Sophorn District.
 
Sculpture Handicraft
24 km (48mn) From Provincial Town. Location: Road No.6, Chungcheang Village, Phnom Chungcheang Commune, Preahnet Preah District.
 
Tra Peang Thmar
Trapiang Tma is located in Phnom Srok districk, about 56kilometers east of the provincial town. It is a natural site similar to Kangva Basin, but larger. There are fewer activities for tourists, however, because Trapaing Tma is farther from the provincial town.
 
Trapiang Tma is rich in gray cranes, an endangered species. Gray cranes migrate to Rattanakiri annually to lay their eggs. When their offspring are big enough, the cranes return to Trapiang Tmar, because there is more food here.
 
Weaving Handicraft
51 km (1h:42mn) From Provincial Town. Location: Road No. 6, Srah Chik Village, Poy Char Commune, Phnom Srok District.
WHERE TO EAT ?
Mondial Restaurant: 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.
 

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