Pailin is a city in Pailin Province, in the Cardamom and Elephant Mountains region of Cambodia.


Pailin from Phnom Yat

Historically a gem town, Pailin attracted immigrants from gem-rich Burma, which gives it a unique culture that is neither strictly traditional Khmer nor Burmese. Its more recent history is particularly dark, with the successful invasion by the Khmer Rouge in the 1980s. For most of the 1990s the area was a Khmer Rouge stronghold, resulting in exploitation of gems and hard woods, with the profits funding their guerrilla campaign. The town and its surrounding area today, has been stripped of any natural resources, including those that made it famous. Mine fields are a common sight, and like the rest of Cambodia, locals live in abject poverty.

In 2009, a new strain of malaria was discovered in Pailin province, immune to easy treatment.

Get in

By land

Pailin is 80 km from Battambang on Hwy 57. The highway was resurfaced in 2011, making for easy access, even during the wet season. Paramount Bus Company run a service from Battambang to Pailin (2 hr) costing USD4. This journey can also be done by taxi, costing a little more.

The border crossing at Phsar Prom (USD4 by motorbike taxi) is 18 km west of town on Hwy 57. This crossing is more scenic than the much busier and more stressful Aranyaprathet/Poipet crossing further north. Crossing here borders on enjoyable! Visas are issued at this border. It faces Ban Pakard in Thailand, from where there are connections to Chantaburi, likely via Pong Nam Ron which is on Hwy 317.

Get around

A small town, Pailin is easily covered on foot. Motodops will give a lift anywhere in town for about 1,000 riel and will drive to the Thai border (16 km by road) for about USD3-5.




There are at least two banks with ATMs: including Canadia.

Gems are the traditional produce of the region and there are many jewellers. However, rumour has it that the gems now purchased in Pailin are sourced somewhere else, due to the fact that Pailin's supply has almost dried up.


The market offers atmospheric dining.


As usual in provincial Cambodia, drinking beer at cafes and restaurants is as exciting as it gets.


There are a couple of cheaper, drabber options at the top of the market.


There are at least two Internet cafes with good connections. From USD0.50/ hr.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, March 05, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.