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Kompong Chhnang

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Kompong Chhnang, the capital of the province of the same name, is the only destination in the province that makes sense for most tourists. The word 'Chhnang' refers to the traditional earthenware pots that are made in the region, and while the locals are proud of their posts, but you'd be sorely disappointed if you showed up just to take a peek at them.

The real draw is that the town sits on the banks of a beautiful watershed -- miles of verdant marshland in the dry season, which fills up to the floors of the stilt houses along the banks during the wet season.

The waterway provides the province with much of its abundant year round fishing and agriculture, and also a particularly picturesque and surprisingly massive 'floating village' where thousands of Cambodians live, work and conduct commerce with little pressing need to set foot on dry land.

Across the river, a half-day tour of the countryside, under the pretext of taking a look at some crumbling old temples from the 7th and 8th centuries, makes for a laid back and very un-touristy tour.

The town itself offers some very good, and very cheap accommodation. Services are limited, little English is spoken, and the town is short on delectable things to eat, but it's a great place to stop over to get off-the-beaten-track.

The centre of town is a confusing web of four and five-way intersections that can be tricky to get your head around, and even trickier to represent accurately on a map -- luckily the town is small enough that wandering around on a bicycle of motorbike for a few hours is enough to give you the lay of the land.

There's a large central square featuring several large monuments -- the provincial hospital sits on the road heading south to Udong and Phnom Penh, and north of the Sokimex pertol station are two roads branching off -- the one on the left leads to Pursat and Battambang, and the one the right leads four kilomtres to the banks of the Tonlesap River, where you'll want to head for tours, or just to take in the river-views.

The ALCEDA Bank is located at the northern end of the central square -- it's the only bank in town, so don't bother shopping around! There's no ATM and credit card advances are not available, but they do cash travellers cheques for a 2% commission. They buy and sell USD, THB and riel only.

From the bank, you can see the Sokimex petrol station, to the right of which is the Phnom Penh Sorya Transport station for buses to Poipet, Battmbang, Udong, and Phnom Penh. Just across the street from Sorya is Neak Krorohorm Travel, which offers service to Battambang, Poi Pet, and points along the way.

Internet is available, but hard to find and expensive. The internet shop at the Holiday Guest House charges 400 riel per minute -- you can do much better than that in town. The best place we found is the internet cafe attached to Neak Krorohorm Travel: 200 riel per minute, hours 07:00 to 20:30.

There are two local markets -- the one in town, to the north of the central square, is P'sar Leu and the one to the north towards the river is P'sar Krom. The locals know them by these names, and they mark the two general areas you're most likely to be headed, which makes them a great way to find directions without learning much Khmer.

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Text and/or map last updated on 26th September, 2015.

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