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Kampong Thom Province

Situated in central Cambodia, Kampong Thom is one of five provinces located at the lower part of the Tonle Sap Lake and rich in historical sites such as temples from the pre-Angkorian era.
The famous Sambor Prei Kuk, an ancient city that has about two hundred brick temples is located here in this province. The city was built during the time of King Isanavarman when he successfully united the territories of Chenla Kork and the Khmer water territory of Chenla Toek. Sambo Prei Kuk served as the capital of the Khmer Empire for many centuries.
It is interesting to first visit Sambor Prei Kuk before visiting the splendid Angkor complex, as its design and style are the foundations that inspired the Angkor civilization.
Kampong Thom Province is served by National Road No 6 and located 162 km north of Phnom Penh in the direction of Siem Reap Province.

Places of Interest:

Sambo Preykuk Temples:
Sambo Preykuk is a cultural and historical site loated in Sambo village, Sambo commune, Prasat Sambo district, about 25 kilometers northeast of Kampong Thom provincial town. The site was once an old capital named Isanapura and a religious center for the worship of Shiva Brahmanism.

Many temples were built in Sambo Preykuk during the reign of King isanavarman I (AD 616-635) in the 7 century. The temples of Sambo Preykuk constructed of solid brick, laterite and sandstone and decorated by bas-reliefs. The lintel, pillars and the door frames are all made of sandstone.

So far, 140 temples have been discovered in the forest. Sambo Preykuk temples are divided into four main groups.

The central temple:
The central temple is called Tor Temple, or the lion temple. There are sealed doors on three sides and a real door that opens on the north side. On each side is a set of stairs between two statues of kneeling lions. There are a number of small temples west of lion temple. The lion temple was built in 9th century.

The Northern temple:
The northern temples are called mid-Sambo temples and are surrounded by many small temples.

The Southern temples:
The southern temples are called Yeay Poan temples. They, too, are surrounded by many temples. There are two ramparts, which the inner rampart has four gopuras on each side. This site was a former capital.

Kraol Romeas temples:
Kraol Romeas temples are located about 2 kilometers north of Sambo Preykuk. All were built of brick, except the temple to the west, which is made of laterite.

To conserve the temples, three areas are designated as protected sites for the purpose of conserving the temples. They are marked as follows:
-    First Area: the first area covers 30 meters outside the rampart
-    Second Area: the second area covers 300 meters outside the first area.
-    Third Area: the third area covers 1500 meters outside the second area.

Kuhak Norkor:
Kuhak Norkor is located in TRodork village, Pongro commune, Baray district, about 96 kilometers from Phnom Penh. The site covers 200 square meters. Kuhak Norkor temple is located on the grounds of Kuhak Norkor pagoda. The temple is 45 meters long and 35 meters wide, similar to Tonle Bati temple.

Constructed of sandstone in the 11th century, during the reign of King Suryavarman I, it is surrounded by a 3-meter high sandstone rampart. The temple is divided into three parts- the first part is 8 meters high, the second is 12 meters high, and the third is 15 meters high.

Phnom Santuk:
Phnom Santuk is a cultural and natural site located in Ko Koh village, Ko Koh commune, Santuk district, about 17 kilometers south of Kampong Thom provincial town. The site includes four mountains: Phhnom Kraper, Phnom Champa and Phnom Santuk.
On the top of the 180-meter high mountain, is a pagoda known as Wat Kirichaomchong Phnom Santuk. The pagoda gate at the foot of the mountain is very beautiful. This pagoda itself is reached by climbing an 809-step staircase that features a long concrete hand rail in the shape of Prohm carrying naga, which was constructed in 1996. Along the staircase, there are many big trees and large stones. Though a long hike, there are four points of interest on the climb to the mountaintop:

-    At 230th step, there is an access to a rock valley and a well.
-    At 455tj step, there is a resting hall to the left, which has a Buddha statue.
-    At 620th step, there are large rocks and trees to offer shade for weary climbers.
-    At 694tj step, there are a number of huge rocks at the right known as Chanre. Between the rocks is a slit about 5 centimeters wide, 3 meters long and 6 meters deep.

To reach the pagoda, visitors can take either the old or new staircase from Chanre spot. The main temple of the pagoda covers 16 square meters. North of the pagoda, there is a worship hall that covers 144 square meters. Made of concrete, it has a ceramic tile floor and a red tile roof. Behind the pagoda, there is a Chinese temple that faces east. It houses a Bodhisatva Guan Yin statue.

Behind the temple, there are five statues of the reclining Buddha reaching nirvana and 99 smaller statues. In front of this temple, there are many other statues, including Preah Bat Choan Tuk, the Buddha’s footprints, Chan Re’s Mother’s Breast statue, and Chhat Ruot, a multilayered umbrella. Nearby is a statue of Eysei Akinet, where local people often worship.

Next to Phnom Santuk is another mountain, Phnom Srah Kmao, which has an old brick temple and a bat cave on the mountaintop, where everyday, between 5 and 6 pm, thousands of bats fly from and into the countryside.

Prey Pros
Prey Pros is a seminatural and cultural site in Prey Preal village, Prey Preal commune, Kampong Svay district, about 16 kilometers northwest of Kampong Thom provincial town. The site encompasses 2 million square meters and includes a river that is 4000 meters long and 30 meters wide. It is rich in Domrei fish.

The site is a venue for foot races, bicycle races and other games during national festivals. In addition, the provincial tourist office has organized other activities such as boat rides, fishing and swimming, and has erected resting cottages, where food and drink are for sale. The view from Prey Pros is beautiful and enchanting, while the wind that blows across the river will cool and refresh hot, tired tourists.

Wat Prasat
Wat Prasat is located in Prasat village, Prasat commune, Santuk district, about 135 kilometers from Phnom Penh or 31 kilometers southeast Kampong Thom provincial town. At one time, there were seven ancient temples at Wat Prasat, but today only one is still standing. It is located behind the recently built temple. Constructed of brick in the 7th century, Wat Prasat temple is 3 meters square in diameter. On the temple doorframe is wreath similar to the one at Sambo Preykuk temple. Seven hardwood statues, carved in the 7 century, remain in the temple, stting it apart from other temples.

Wat Kampong Thom
Wat Kampong Thom, also know as Wat Indrisamavora, is located in Kdei village, Preykahu commune, Stung Sen district, about 1 kilometer from the provincial town. This old temple is a holy place that covers 2053 square meters. Statues related to the Buddha story can be found in the pagoda. The pagoda fences are painted in many different colors and styles. The pagoda offers a cool place for visitors to relax, especially during festivals.

Wat Kdei Deum
Wat Kdei Deum is located in Kompong Chen village, Kompong Chen Tbong commune, Storng district about 52 kilometers northwest of the provincial town. A holy place, the site features two ponds and includes an old temple similar in style to Banteay Srei temple in Siem Reap.

Wat Prasat Andet
Wat Prasat Andet is located in Prasat village, Sanko commune, Kompong Svay district, about 27 kilometers northwest of Kopong Thom provincial town. Wat Prasat Andet includes an ancient brick temple constructed in the 6th and 7th centuries during the reign of King Isanavarman I, dedicating to Brahmanism. The grounds at Wat Prasat Andet are spacious and abundant in Koki trees. In addition, the grounds have never been flooded.