Banteay Meanchey is a Cambodian province in the northwest of the country, and its capital is named Sisophon. The town of Sisophon is today a charming, quiet place that only gives hints to its turbulent past upon closer examination. Like Siem Reap and Battambang Provinces, control of the province has changed hands many times between the Thais and the Khmers in the more distant past, and the Khmer Rouge and central Phnom Penh government in recent decades.
With the final demise of the Khmer Rouge (locals, however, firmly believe the Present national reconciliation only the Khmer Rouge trick), the province and towns are striving to rebuild their culture and economy.
It's very friendly place with the locals genuinely happy to see foreign faces and the stability that it implies. Normally just a passing-through spot on the way to the border, or between Battambang and Siem Reap, the area has a few sights that warrant a visit, such the Banteay Chhmar temple ruins, the only other Khmer temple ruins besides the Bayon (Angkor) and Preah Khan (Preah Vihear Province) that features the famous four-faced monuments.
This area was part of the extensive Khmer empire, with its most notable remains the Banteay Chhmar temple (built in 12th and 13th century) in the north of the province. In the 17th century, the Siam took control over Cambodia, and made the area of the modern province part of Sisophon Province. In the year 1907 the Siam had to cede control to the French, and the area was then included into Battambang Province. In 1988, the province Banteay Meanchey was split off from Battambang.
Banteay Meanchey is located in the Northwest of Cambodia. It borders with Thailand to the west and North, with Oddar Meancheay to the North, with Siem Reap to the East and with Battambang to the South. The town of Sisophon is about 359km from Phnom Penh via national road number 5.
One of the most known places in that province is Poipet, a town on the Thailand/Cambodia border. It’s the key crossing point between the two countries, and also extremely popular as a gambling destination with lots of casinos (gambling is popular, but illegal in Thailand).
There is a strip of casinos, guesthouses and hotels between the Thai and Cambodian passport control counters, enabling Thais to gamble in Cambodia without needing to go through Cambodian immigration. Poipet is adjacent to the city of Aranya Prathet on the Thai side of the border.
The province is mostly covered by extensive lowlands, with a few uplands to the North and East (all in all around 6,679 sq/km surface). The main rivers are the Mongkol Borei River and the Sisophon River.
The total population is 816,382 or (5.242%) of the total population 14,363,519 in Cambodia (2007, provincial government data) with a growth rate of 5.93 %, which is consisting of 402,201 male person (49.11%), and 414,181 female person (50.89%).
The above number also consists of 654, 033 person (93%), who are farmers, 8,228 person (1.17%), who are fishermen, 35,162 person (5%), who are traders, and 5,814 person (0.83%), who work as government officers.
The weather conditions are as below:
Average Temperature: between 30.oC and 33.oC
Rain fall: 885.30 mm/year
Evaporation: 4.41 mm/day (from May to July)
3.37 mm/day ((from August to October)
Humidity: Hot and Wet
Wind velocity: 3 meters per second (May)
2.9 meters per second (June)
2.5 meters per second (July)
3.1 meters per second (August)
There are 3 different seasons:
- Rainy season: from June to October (less than 32.ºC)
- Cool season: from November to February (more than 27.ºC)
- Hot season: from March to May and temperature: from 27.ºC to 34.ºC
The province’s economy is 93% based on farming and the remaining other 7% are based on fishing and trading. Because of its border with Thailand, the casino business is booming and becoming the main economy to the province.
How to get there:
The town of Sisophon is about 359 km from Phnom Penh via national road number 5. You may also reach the Province from Bangkok via Poipet border.
There are not a lot of choices to get into that province. You either have your own motorcycle or you are taking a shared taxi. But wait; let’s not forget the train. Or maybe we should, because it is very slow - the railroad does not even want to quote you and correct arrival time, because it’s never going to be the same.
The train from Battambang usually arrives in Sisophon sometimes between 10:00 - 11:00 am. The trip takes around 3.5 hours, which is about double the time that the shared taxies need for, but unlike most things in life, it is free! This will not last for long as the poor Khmer people are paying, while we are not. The government just hasn’t organized the train service for tourists yet.
Shared Taxies, per seat in side, approximate rates:
- Sisophon to Siem Reap: 120 baht, US$4
- Sisophon to Battambong: 50 baht, US$2
- Sisophon to Poipet: 30 baht, US$1.4
- Sisophon to Phnom Penh: 250 baht, US$8.5
- Sisophon to Samrong: 100 baht, US$3.5
- These rates should be the same in reverse.
Motorcycle Touring Information:
As for your motorcycle tour, the road from Sisophon to Siem Reap is exciting road that you will need to go slowly. The road from Sisophon to Battambang is fairly decent in certain stretches, not so nice in others, but definitely the better one of the two roads.
The Sisophon to Poipet stretch has some pretty fair stretches for a motorcycle, with other stretches having some hump sin the road that are big enough to make any roller-coaster operator envious.