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Kampong Cham

Situated on the west bank of the Mekong, the mellow town of Kampong Cham has little of the bustle that you’d expect of the biggest city in eastern Cambodia. Its small commercial port doesn’t exactly hum with activity, and the riverfront, in the shadow of the massive Kizuna Bridge, is pretty quiet too since road improvements have led to the demise of most river transport. The town’s attractive backwater somnolence belies its more energetic past. In the 1930s and 1940s, Kampong Cham – named after the sizeable population of local Cham Muslims – was a prosperous rubber and tobacco trading centre and the most cosmopolitan town in Cambodia. You can sense some evidence of its previous affluence in the wide, tree-lined streets and the faded shophouses and warehouses lining the waterfront.

Today’s town has a distinct charm, and it’s easy to while away a day meandering through the unhurried streets, taking in the faded colonial architecture (particularly around the market) and visiting the remains of the venerable Wat Nokor just outside town – as well as enjoying the convivial riverfront cafés, busy in the evenings with tourists stopping over on a slow journey through the country. In half a day you can follow the Mekong north to Phnom Hann Chey, a quirky hilltop temple with fabulous views of the river, while a day-trip will get you to the pre-Angkorian site of Banteay Prei Nokor, home to a few ruined towers surrounded by a massive earth embankment. Enjoyable boat trips can also be made to villages up and down the Mekong.

 

WAT NOKORThe temple complex of Banteay Prey Nokor is especially known by the temple of Wat Nokor located in Khum of Kompong Siem, at a distance of 1200 meters from the town of Kompong Cham. The monument was built out of sandstone and laterite, and dates from the last years of the reign of Jayavarman VII. It is composed of a central tower surrounded by four laterite wall-enclosures. The central tower of the temple of Vat Nokor is decorated with motifs characteristic of Bayon with Buddhist scenes on the pediments. The temple complex is also believed to have been the headquarters of Jayavarman VII for a time, from where he extended his influence over nearby principalities.

This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on September 1, 1992

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Kampong Cham

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