Takeo province is often referred to as “the cradle of Cambodian civilisation” Takeo province has several important pre-Angkorian sites built between the 5th and the 8th century. The provincial capital, Takeo town is an easygoing place that possesses a fair amount of natural and man made beauty. The natural beauty is in the Scenic River and lake area that faces a pleasant town parkway. The low-lying area seems to include much of the surrounding province area, which is probably why a kingdom that once had its heart here was referred to as Water Chenla. There seems to be water everywhere in the surrounding countryside during the rainy season. The man-made beauty mostly comes from a series of canals and waterways that were cut through the surrounding countryside, many a very long time ago, connecting towns, villages, rivers and Vietnam.
Nearby Angkor Borei town (connected by water to Takeo town) may have been the heart of the Funan Empire, which is called the “Cradle of Khmer Civilization” by Cambodians. Much older than Angkor, the Funan empire had its heyday between the 1st and 6th centuries and stretched across a vast area, from South Vietnam through Thailand, down through Malaysia and into Indonesia. Bold, silver and silks were traded in abundance in the kingdom, or, as some say, the series of fiefdoms. Although Cambodians claim Funan was created by Khmers, neighbouring Vietnam argues that they were the people of origin.
Archaeologists from the University of Hawaii of the USA have made research trips to Angkor Borei in an attempt to piece together the history and story, and story, as well as relics, of the Funan period. In an odd recent twist, Reuters News Service reported in early November 1999 that locals saw the research team digging up ancient relics and figured the stuff must be valuable, so they started digging and looting objects from the area. Fortunately, the Cambodian government seems to be moving in on the problem quickly to try to save what they can of this important piece of Khmer heritage. That was not the first time the locals have created problems in the piecing together of ancient history. Much of what did remain in the form of ancient ruins in Angkor Borei was destroyed not too long ago in the modern past. The officials that runs the museum that’s dedicated to the history of the Funan empire told me that much of what was still standing from this period (from parts of ancient walls to partial structures) was thought to be useless by locals and was bulldozed and razed to make way for more “useful” modern day structures! Talk about having a bad track record. Fortunately artifacts and history have been put together in the museum.
Takeo Province is full of other interesting sights as well and because of the short distance and good road from Phnom Penh, all are great day trips. Some sights can be combined in a day trip. If you have a bit more time, spend an evening in Takeo town and take in all the sights. There is a pleasant little place to stay overlooking the river and lake area.
Takeo province is 3,563 square kilometres big. It’s located in the South of the country bordering to the North and East with Kandal, to the West with Kampong Speu and Kampot and to the South with Vietnam. The low-lying area seems to include much of the surrounding province area, which is probably why a kingdom that once had its heart here was referred to as Water Chenla. There seems to be water everywhere in the surrounding countryside during the rainy season.Therefore the province consists of the typical plain wet area for Cambodia, covering rice fields and other agricultural plantations.
The province also features one of the biggest rivers of the country (symbolizing the provincial border to the East), the Tonle Bassac (also known as the “Red River”).
The current population in this province is about 924,758 people or 6.4% of the country’s total population (14,363,519 person in Cambodia, 2007, provincial government data), with 445,000 male and 479,758 female.
The population density is therefore 259.5 people per square kilometer.
The country has a tropical climate - warm and humid. In the monsoon season, abundant rain allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of crops. This year-round tropical climate makes Cambodia ideal for developing tourism. Travellers need not to fear natural disasters such as erupting volcanoes or earthquakes, and the country is not directly affected by tropical storms.
Cambodia can be visited through out the year. However, those plans to travel extensively by road should be avoided the last two months of the rainy season when some countryside roads may be impassable. The average temperature is about 27 degrees Celsius; the minimum temperature is about 16 degrees. December and January are the coolest months, whereas the hottest is April. General information about the provincial climate:
-Cool season: November-March (22-28c)
-Hot season: March-May (28c-36c)
-Rainy season: May-October (24-32c, with humidity up to 90%.)
Takeo’s economy consists basically of agricultural farming, fishery, rice and fruit cropping.
Especially the rural households depend on agriculture and its related sub-sectors.
How to get there
Bus: Phnom Penh and Takeo province are linked by the National Highway No 2, which remains in reasonable condition with a few potholes to slow the velocity down. Hour Lean and PPPT bus companies both run air-con buses between Phnom Penh and Takeo (6000riel, 2hours, 77km). They leave from the Central Station just southwest from the Central Market in PP. Leaving of to PP from Takeo you may find the buses in front of the Phsar Leu. Both buses have to pass Tonlé Bati and Phnom Chisor, both interesting sides of attraction.
Share Taxis/Moto: The price from PP by share taxi is around 6000riel, by minibus around 3000riel. Travellers continuing by road to Kampot should take a moto (5000riel) for the 13km journey Angk Tasaom and then arrange a seat in a minibus or share taxi (5000riel) on to Kampot. For 1000 riel you can get anywhere in town. The daily rate is US$ 5 plus fuel for distant sights.
Motorbike Info: Phnom Penh and Takeo province are linked by the National Highway No 2, which remains in reasonable condition with a few potholes to slow the velocity down. This is a maximum 2 hours ride for merit skilled motorbikers.If your motorcycle has a mechanic problem, head back to Phnom Penh, as it’s only an hour away. Call your rental outfit in Phnom Penh (always carry theft rental agreement) and they will come down to perform motorcycle surgery or haul the bike back to Phnom Penh.
Where to eat
General Information: There are a couple of decent Khmer food restaurants near the waterfront, after the canal that heads to Vietnam, Angkor Borei and Phnom Da. You may also find plenty of cookeries in the area around the Independence Monument. By night this is the place to snack on Cambodian desserts or enjoy a “tukalok” (fruitshake). And as for the night scene, there just isn’t much going on in Takeo town –your best bet is to take it easy and remember that Phnom Penh is only an hour away.
Apsara Restaurant: This is an alternative spot for a good Cambodian meal during the dry season, when this part of the town is less stinky than the area near the water. It has an English menu and some tasty soups are a worth a recommendation.
Restaurant Stung Takeo: This place is built on stilts, as the whole area becomes a giant lake during the wet season. The restaurant overlooks the canal to Angkor Borei, and it’s one of the most popular lunch stops in town. It’s a good place to tuck into some Khmer food before making a trip to Angkor Borei and Phnom Da.
Doun Keo Restaurant: This place is one of the first restaurants that you encounter as you enter Takeo from Phnom Penh. It’s a friendly simple place, which feature rather decent Khmer and Chinese food.
Where to stay
General Information: There are some reasonable options to get your head on a bed in Takeo, although the proximity of Phnom Penh means that few travellers actually spend a night here. Backpacker options could also be found at the empty Phsar Nat(also overlooking).
Mittapheap Hotel: This hotel might be an option for those who have a particular attraction to Cambodian Independence Monuments, as this one overlooks Takeo’s. There is good cheap food nearby, a fortune. Don’t be put of by the old house at the front, s the owners have added a new wing in a leafy green garden at the back, with the smartest air-con rooms in town. Prices range from $5-10.
Angkor Borei Guesthouse: That’s a friendly family-run place, which has a bewildering array of rooms available and all at the same price. Some of them are bigger, some are smaller, some have TV and air-con, some don’t, but in the interest of equality everyone pays the same. Have a look before, than choose.
Boeung Takeo Guesthouse: This is likely the best place in town, overlooking the lake. All rooms are essentially the same (bath, fan, TV), but for $10 you can get an air-con breeze. Ask for a room with a view, as it won’t be more expensive. Prices from $5-10.
Phnom Sonlong Guesthouse: This guesthouse is right next door to the Angkor Borei and offers more or less the same array and equipment as the Ankor Borei, but is a little less in the price. Some rooms have only one bed, check it out before. Some of the staffs speak good English.
As it is quite common in Cambodia even small cities, such as Takeo have at least one bigger market (some small marts too). So you may also find a market in Takeo centre, which is a busy area with local shops dealing the local daily consumer products, like fish, fruits, vegetables, meats and packed products (also a lot from Vietnam). Most of the food and drink shops are surrounding the market.
Points of interest indide the palace include:
-Tonle Bati Resort
-Ta Prohm Temple
-Yeay Pov Temple
-Phnom Ta Mao (Zoo)
-Neang Khmao Temple
-Phnom Chissor (Chissor Mountain)
-Phnom Ba Yang Resort
-Chup Pol Temple
Tonle Bati Resort
Tonle Bati Resort is a popular lake and picnic area that has bamboo shacks built out over the water that people can rent out for eating and whiling away the day.
It’s generally a weekend get-away spot, which means it’s nice and quiet during the week. Locals swim there, but the water does not look real inviting. There are all kinds of food and drink stands that sell everything you need for a picnic along the lake. Note that there are tours that follow you when you arrive on weekends and try to get you to go to their own place. It’s best to pass right by them and find a spot on your own. Check prices beforehand on everything – they are famous for handing you an outrageously high bill when you depart.
Ta Prohm Temple
King Jayavarman VII built this Angkor era temple. The ruins have a number of interesting features about them, including a couple of bas-relief scenes of some of the more unseemly sides of ancient life. The temple has suffered much from looting and the war through the years, but is worth a visit. Just beyond Ta Prohm is a modern-day temple with some more ruins standing in front of it. It’s an attractive combination on the shore of the lake.
The turn off for Tonle Bati and Ta Prohm is just beyond the 33 km highway marker (or 28 km on your odmeter from the Monivong traffic circle). Turn right at the picture billboard of a lake area. Follow this road 1.5 km and go right at the fork. There is a sign that says “Tonle Bati Tourism Area” There is a US$ 2 fee for entering the area, but it’s free for Cambodians.
Yeay Pov Temple
Yeay Pov Templeis about 45 km (1h:8mn) From Provincial Town. Historical Sites and Buildings, Thnal Teaksen Village, Krang Thnong Commune, Bati District.
Phnom Ta Mao (Zoo) in Takeo
Phnom Ta Mao (Zoo) How to go: Location: Description: Located at Tro Pang Sap village, Tro Pang Sap commune, Ba Ti District, Takeo province. Phnom Tamao can be accessible by the National Road No 2 in 40-kilometre distance from Phnom Penh. Then turning right more five kilometers by a trail, it takes 45-minute drive from Phnom Penh. Phnom Ta Mao is a varied site consisting of temples, mountain, nature and a big zoo in Cambodia. Phnom Ta Mao has 2,500-hectar land area called forest-protected area; in this area, the Department of Forestry has taken 1,200-hectar land area for planning trees and 70-hectar land area for organizing zoo. The 70-hectar landarea consisting of five mountains namely: Phnom Ta Mao, Phnom Thmor Dos, Phnom Phdan Poan, Phnom Chhoy and Phnom Bang. Among the five mountains, two mountains have ancient temples are:
- Ta Mao Temple (is located at Phnom Ta Mao): was built in 11th century during the reign of the king, Soryak Varman I dedicated to Brahmanism, the temple made of Thmor silt and red-solid brick, located on the peak of 30-meter mountain of Ta Mao, near Ta Mao pagoda. Now, the temple is damaged and is almost unrecognizable.
- Thmor Dos Temple (is located at Phnom Thmor Dos): The temple is located on a 35-meter mountain of Thmor Dos, Northwest of Ta Mao temple and was built in 11th century. The temple made of Thmor silt mad red-solid brick. Now, most of the temples are damaged. The people want to go to this temple to worship than Ta Mao temple. In addition, Phnom Ta Mao has a big zoo in Cambodia; the zoo is under the supervision of the Department of Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture and has 84 varieties of animals and birds; two kinds of them are brought from abroad.
- There are 150-fourfooted animals consisting of 38 kinds.
- There are 300 birds consisting of 38 kinds.
- There are 30 reptiles consisting of eight kinds. All these animals are brought here by the Ministry of Agriculture and by seizing from offenders who illegally traffic in wild animals through out Cambodia. To take care these animals, we need to expend US$ 120 per day for food, and 22 staff and workers are working there. The average number of tourists visiting Phnom Ta Mao is 500-600 visitors per week; but during the festivals, there are 7,000-8,000 visitors per week. The local people of four communes around the Phnom Ta Mao are earning money from selling food to tourists. We can extend package-tour program to the above two resorts because these resorts are the popular sites for local and international tourists, and their location is near Phnom Penh. As the sites can attract many tourists, we expect to lure investors to invest in tourist facilitation and constructing the trail from the national Road No 2 to the resorts. The Department of Forestry has a project on constructing an inside trail linking from Tonle Ba Ti to Phnom Ta Mao in Six-Kilometre distance.
Neang Khmao Temple
Neang Khmao Temple How to go: Location: Description: Located at Ro Vieng Commune, Sam Roung District in 52-Kilometre distance from Phnom Penh and 26 Kilometres from the provincial town of Takeo. This temple made of sandstone and brick abiding by the style of Thmor Koh Keo. It is located in the yard of Neang Khmao pagoda and was built by the king, Jarman IV during 10th century. Most parts of Neang Khmao temple have also been damaged.
Phnom Chissor (Chissor Mountain)
Continuing south along Highway 2 and towards Takeo, lyou come upon hthe hilltop temple of Phnom Chilssor.
You will see it from a long way off and you seem to be circling around it as you draw near the turn off. Turn left just beyond the 52 km marker (about 47 km on your odometer from Monivong Circle), where you see a picture sing of the hilltop temple. Follow this dirt road 4.5 km to the foot of Phnom Chissor. It’s a long hike up the stairway to the top, but there are drink stands at the base and also the top. The spectacular views at the top of this huge hill make the hike up worthwhile, with the Damrei Mountains of Kampong Spue Province visible in the west, lakes dotting the entire area and rivers slicing through the glistening rice fields of the countryside.
The highest point of thebig hill has a small Buddhist temple and shrine set up with an old monk giving blessings to Cambodians that make the pilgrimage to the top. Loads of Cambodians do so on weekends just to get blessed at this spot. He has holy water that he splashes on the faithful and they believe this spot and this guy are full of good luck, thekind that splashes in their faces.
The main temple area is the 11th century Angkor era ruins on the other side of the hilltop area. It’s an interesting structure that still has a few artwork carvings and inscriptions intact, although this temple has also suffered at the hands of looters. The east side of the temple complex also offeres more magnificent views of the area.
Phnom Da is from the Angkor era, as its style attests. It’s just a short hike from the canal and then up to the top, where there is a good view of the surrounding countryside and part of the canal network that you were just on. The temple itself is basically intact, though it is another victim of looting. The boat ride takes a little under an hour one-way and the ride from Phnom Penh a bit over an hour, so the trip is easily doable from Phnom Penh year round, as a day trip if you don’t want to spend the night in Takeo.
If you ride a motorcycle down from Phnom Penh, just lock it up at the small drink stand next to the canal and fast boats in Takeo town. Buy a drink and maybe even give the drink stand lady a small tip (I gave her US$ 1) and the bike will probably be there when you return.
If you take the air-con Hoh Wah Genting bus from Phnom Penh, just get off at the Independence Monument and walk or take a moto-taxi to the canal. The following sights are on the way from Phnom Penh and are easy day trips, even if you want to combine a couple of them.
Distances for directions listed throughout this section are from the traffic circle near the Monivong Bridge at the south end of Phnom Penh. There are also highway mileage marker monuments along Highway 2. Complete directions are listed with each, and there is also some additional info at the end of this chapter in Coming and Going.
Phnom Ba Yang Resort
Phnom Ba Yang Resort How to go: Location: Description: Located at Por Thi Rong village, Preah Bat Choan Chum commune, Kiri Vong District, Takeo province in 121-kilometers distance from Phnom Penh. The resort can be accessible by the National Road No. 2 in three-hour and 15-minute drive via the Districts of Ba Ti, Sam Rong, Daun Keo and Trang. If we drive from the provincial town of Takeo, we will take one Hour and 15 Minutes in 43-Kilometer distance. The temple of Ba Yang was built on the top of 313-metre mountain of Ba Yang in the 7th century 615-635 by the kings Mo Hen Trak Varman and Ey San Varman, the temple made of laterite stone, brick and other kind of stone. Nowadays, the temple is severely ruined, pieces of the temple spread on the ground, the top broken and the laterite fence also completely damaged.
Ba Yang is the historical site, which attracts local and international tourists to visit and research about the tourist potential and the heritage masterpiece of Cambodian ancestors. But now, the road is difficult because the ancient roads are damaged and abandoned in the thick forest. Water system to Ba Yang Mountain is a main factor for developing tourism in the area. Tourists cannot visit there is we do not guide them, excepted researchers who still try to research about the Cambodian history. In kiri Vong District, there is a waterfall canal, which has 1000-meter length and six-meter width during the dry season. The waterfall canal has beautiful scenery during rainy season and gives an insight to tourists because the water falls down from the mountain’s top to the rock sounding as music concerting. In the future, if we can keep the water flowing as in rainy season, we expect to gain more Profit. It is convenient for traveling in the dry season.
Phnom Kleng How to go: 12.5 km (19mn) From Provincial Town. Location: Description: Nature Wildlife and Preserves, Location: Takmet Village, Prey Sloek Commune, Treang District.
Museum How to go: Location: Description: In Takeo province, there is a museum located at Ang Kor Bo Rey District. The museum is just built under auspice of EU organization for keeping and displaying status and ancient objects of Phnom Da in 16th century for tourists and researchers.
Chruos Phaork How to go: 44 km (1h:6mn) From Provincial Town. Location: Description: Nature Wildlife and Preserves, Location: Pou Village, Preah Bat Choan Chum Commune, Kiri ong District.
Chup Pol TempleChup Pol Temple How to go: 3 km (4mn) From Provincial Town. Location: Description: Historical Sites and Buildings, Location: Doun Peaeng Village, Baray Commune, Doun Kae District.