Sisophon

Sisophon railway station with the watchtower on Phnom Bak, behind

Sisophon, also "Serei-sophon" or "Svay", is a small town in North-western Cambodia. It is the capital of Banteay Meanchey Province. Stueng Sisophon is a medium-sized river that meanders round the southern circumference of the town.

Understand

Control of Sisophon has often passed between the various regional powers. It is now part of Cambodia thanks to the French, whose sabre rattling forced the Siamese into relinquishing it (along with Siem Reap, Battambang and much of North-western Cambodia) in 1907. The town had been Siamese since 1867, thanks again to the French who gave it (and Siem Reap, Battambang and much of North-western Cambodia) to Siam in exchange for unobstructed French control over the remainder of Cambodia. Before then, a nominally independent Cambodia existed as a vassal state of Siam and Vietnam.

Sisophon is a transport hub that almost every overland visitor to Cambodia will unknowingly visit for at least 15 minutes. It is at the junction of two main routes: National Highway 5 (running south to Battambang and west to Poipet) and National Highway 6 (running east to Siem Reap).

The town's main tourist draw is the Banteay Chhmar temple complex, which offers a more remote and atmospheric alternative to the Angkor Archaeological Park.

The town is sufficiently large to benefit from modern technological advancements not found in the countryside but is largely untouched by foreign influences, which makes it an interesting representation of modern Cambodia. There's a smattering of aspiring English speaking students, mentally unsound Khmer Rouge survivors, peasants and provincial townsfolk which give those who care to spend any time in Sisophon a glimpse of folk that are not found in the more visited, more urbane cities.

Get in

By bus

Several bus companies' offices can be found on the north side of the shared taxi stand. This is where they pick up and drop passengers, though a new, less centrally located bus station is also used, with buses now often stopping at both.

Buses buses connect Sisophon with:

The milestones along the main roads on the approach to Sisophon have it labelled as Banteay Meanchey.

By train

2015 is the target date for the resurrection of the train line, which would see services from Poipet to Sisophon and on to Battambang, Phnom Penh, Kampot, and Sihanoukville.

Get around

The town is small enough to be comprehensively covered on foot. Even the nearest attraction beyond the town, the lookout tower on Phnom Bak, can be reached on foot from the town.

Phnom Jorn-Tien is perhaps within walking distance, though the major road and unforgiving climate make taking a motodop the best way to enjoy it.

Motorbikes can be rented at the Golden Crown Guesthouse for US$10 per day, ideal for a solo trip to the Banteay Chhmar temples.

See

Do

Climbers have been reported to have scaled Phnom Jorn-Tien but there is no equipment hire.

Buy

There are several ATMs, including at Canadia Bank, which does not charge commission.

Sisophon Market (Psar Sisophon) is to the north of the shared taxi stand. Its stalls sell many necessities from toothpaste to basic meals.

English language newspapers and stationary can be obtained from the Apsara Book Shop near the market on the street north from the shared taxi stand.

Eat

Drink

There are a number of Khmer 'karaoke' clubs dotted around. Otherwise, a tin of beer at the shop is usually US$0.50.

Committed winos will find solace in the rather pretentious supermarket on Hwy 56 that surprisingly stocks well-priced plonk for ~US$7/ bottle. It's within walking distance of the town centre.

Sleep

Golden Crown Guesthouse (US$6-12), is considered the only decent guesthouse in town, and can be found to the east of the central shared taxi stand, where most buses drop passengers. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout.

Pyn's Place (US$10 fan, US$20 air-con), is on Hwy 5, 3.5 km west of town, at the base of the mountain. Free Wi-Fi and swimming pool.

On the shared taxi stand's south side is a row of cheap, basic guesthouses with box rooms (US$2.50).

Connect

There are several Internet cafes in town. Two are centrally located: one opposite the Golden Crown Guesthouse and the other just around the corner on the street that runs approximately north from the market's east side. Both are US$0.50/hr.

Go next

The Banteay Chhmar temple complex is 60 km (1 hour) north of Sisophon on Hwy 56. As of September 2015 the road is wide and paved all the way. Self-drive motor bikes (US$10/day) or tuk-tuk drivers (US$30/8 hr) can be arranged at the Golden Crown Guesthouse. Banteay Chhmar is 50 km west of Samraong, the road to which is also paved.

There are no bus services to Banteay Chhmar.

Routes through Sisophon

Poipet  NW  SE  Battambang Phnom Penh



This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, February 02, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.