Kampong Cham, Cambodia
Just two hours from Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham doesn't see the same influx of tourists as Cambodia’s capital city — and that’s a good thing. Once a trading post during the French colonial period, the town's only other tourists besides river cruisers are backpackers who've stumbled upon the provincial capital. Situated along the banks of the Mekong River, it's a common port for cruises sailing between Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
What We Love
Markets: Open-air markets are a way of life in Cambodia, and the main market in Kampong Cham shows a simpler side of Khmer living. Get a taste of the local culture (in a literal and figurative sense). Vendors sell everything from food and beverages to household goods.
Best Known For
Wat Nokor: Just outside of Kampong Cham, Wat Nokor is a bit of a head-scratcher: a modern Buddhist temple squeezed within the walls of a 12th-century sandstone shrine. This old-and-new fusion gives Wat Nokor a distinctive appearance that will have visitors doing a double take.
Koh Paen Island: Accessible via an elaborate bamboo footbridge, Koh Paen Island is a popular destination for its traditional Khmer and Cham villages perched high above the water on stilts.
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Who It's Best For
Culture Lovers: What Kampong Cham lacks in big-city amenities, it makes up for in authentic rural charms. If you want to get straight to the heart of Cambodian culture, this is the place to do it.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It's Littered With Garbage: Parts of the town can be quite dirty with rubbish strewn about in an unsightly manner. Keep an open mind and remember that modern waste and recycling programs just haven’t reached the area yet.
Aaron Saunders is a Calgary-based contributor to ShermansCruise.com.