Photo: On the road to nowhere.


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A half-way point between Kompong Thom and Preah Vihear temple, Krong Preah Vihear, and formerly called Tbeng Meanchey, Preah Vihear City has never held much attraction for visitors. That may be set to change though, thanks to the completion of a snazzy new road and bridge connecting the city with Stung Treng to the east. It may soon become a stop on a direct route between the temple-haven northwest and lush, green northeast of Cambodia.

Krong Preah Vihear is not completely without charms in its own right though, and is currently a convenient staging post for trips to Koh Ker, 60 kilometres to the west, Preah Vihear 100 kilometres to the north, and Preah Khan 100 kilometres to the south. With Khulen Prum Tep Wildlife Sanctuary to the north, and Beng Per Wildlife Sanctuary to the south, it is also within reach of a couple of very interesting conservation projects, one of which is scheduled to launch in December 2015.

Put your weaving hat on. Photo taken in or around Krong Preah Vihear, Cambodia by Nicky Sullivan.

Put your weaving hat on. Photo: Nicky Sullivan

The city is organised on a grid system, which can be disorienting at first. The main drag is Koh Ker Street, where you’ll find the market, banks and bus stations, and there is a secondary parallel street to the east called Mlou Prei, where there are also a few places of interest. Running east and west off these two arteries is a series of roads that are identified by numbers. They fade off into nothingness rather rapidly, and there was little to reward an exploration, other than Weaves of Cambodia, which is up a red road to the southeast of town, just past a rather dystopian karaoke/brothel.

There is a good range of guesthouses in town, though nothing in the way of ‘luxury’. On the other hand, a rather controversial six-storey luxury hotel is being built by the Cambodian Red Cross, which is presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s wife, Bun Rany. Allegations have been made that the Cambodian Red Cross is being used to channel funds used for political purposes, and to reward communities that have voted in the “right” way. The Cambodian Red Cross denies this and says that it is perfectly legitimate for the organisation to seek alternative sources of funding for their projects. The hotel was almost completed as of mid-2015.

In the surrounding woods. Photo taken in or around Krong Preah Vihear, Cambodia by Nicky Sullivan.

In the surrounding woods. Photo: Nicky Sullivan

The selection of restaurants is rather smaller, but what is there serves up food you’ll be more than happy to go back for.

There is a minimart at the Tela petrol station on the roundabout at the south end of Mlou Prei Street. They sell snacks, drinks and toiletries. Though they cover the essentials there’s not a huge range of anything. You’ll also find a small minimart on Koh Ker Street inside the gates of the Chhieng Hour Guesthouse. For other things like fresh fruit and vegetables, Kampong Pronak Market has a wet market where you can pick everything up for half-nothing. For one of our trips, enough rice, eggs and vegetables to feed three hungry adults for two meals cost less than $5.

This is also where you’ll find the Acleda and Canadia Banks. The Canadia Bank is just on the corner of the market, while Acleda is a little further south, in between streets 12 and 14, on the west side of the road. Both banks have international service ATMs, and offer full banking services. Acleda is open Monday to Friday 07:30 to 16:00, Saturday 07:30 to 11:30; Canadia is open Monday to Friday 08:00 to 15:30, Saturday from 08:00 to 12:00. Canadia Bank doesn’t charge for ATM withdrawals on VISA cards issued in Europe.

At Betreed. Photo taken in or around Krong Preah Vihear, Cambodia by Nicky Sullivan.

At Betreed. Photo: Nicky Sullivan

The post office is off Mlou Prei Street, to the northern end on the far side of a wide, tree-lined avenue. They have full EMS services and can send mail and parcels abroad. It’s open Monday to Saturday 07:30 to 12:30, 13:30 to 17:00. The police station is just south of here, but the easiest way to contact them is through the tourist police phone number: (012) 452 541.

Back on Koh Ker Street, opposite the Acleda Bank and south along from there, is where you’ll find the main bus stops.

16 Makara, the provincial hospital, is on Mlou Prei Street. Supported by the World Bank, it has modern equipment and likely has better services than many other provincial hospitals. When we visited, even the cleaners spoke English though there didn’t seem to be any doctors or administrators available. That said, if you think whatever is ailing you might be serious, then you need to get to Phnom Penh, or to Bangkok. There is also a small clinic in the centre of town, on Koh Ker Street, called 27 May Clinic. We were told it is one of the better clinics in town, though you will need to bring someone along who can translate. It is just south of the market and Canadia Bank, under the shadow of the 27 May Guesthouse. If you’re looking for pharmaceuticals, it would help to know the brand and generic names of what you are looking for.

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