Oddar Meanchey is one of the smallest provinces of Cambodia
located in the far Northwest bordering with Thailand. Its name
means “Victory Province” and the provincial capital is called
Samraong. This area was formerly known as Phanomsok, a province
of Thailand, which was ceded to French Indochina in 1906, and
now remains a part of Cambodia. This province is also a recent
creation that was carved out of Siem Reap Province, which the
government did not control for much of the 1980s and 1990s.
The countryside is covered by the Dangrek Mountains (or
escarpment, as they are sometimes called), which was an optimal
shelter for the Khmer Rouge to hide. It is a very remote
province that has been a notorious place, because this is where
he nastiest of the nasty Khmer Rouge made their last stand. The
diabolical Pol Pot and his seemingly bloodthirsty henchmen, Nuon
Chea, Ta Mok, Son Sen and Khieu Samphan holed up here for the
last years of the Khmer Rouge’s existence (another of the
henchmen, Ieng Sary, already worked out a surrender and
defection deal with the government in 1996).
Pol Pot died mysteriously here, after a supposed power struggle
within the power elite (he had Son Sen and his family murdered)
and after a controversial show trial. The debate focused on
whether it was real or just a sham staged for the outside world
to try to legitimize remaining Khmer Rouge figures. The trial
took place in the power centre of the Khmer Rouge, the village
of Anlong Veng. Pol Pot died mysteriously after he was sentenced
to house arrest and the international community began real
efforts (for the first time ever) to capture and put this
butcher on trial. His henchmen had more than enough reasons to
believe that he wasn’t dead at that point, because a Pol Pot on
trial, as the ringleader most responsible for the genocide
wrought upon his fellow countrymen, would probably have tried to
shift portions of the blame (rightfully in the case of these
guys) to the rest of the power elite.
The Khmer Rouge kept fragmenting after that and Nuon Chea and
Khieu Samphan worked out a surrender-amnesty deal with the
Cambodian government and Ta Mok (also called “The Butcher”) was
subsequently captured and is still awaiting a trial in Phnom
Penh. As of March 2000, the United Nations and the Cambodian
government finally seem set to come up with an agreement on
putting the top surviving members of the Khmer Rouge regime on
trial in Cambodia, with assistance from and in a partnership
with the International Community. Stay tuned though, as this has
been a real political football with seemingly more concern for
one-upsmanship and personal gain than justice for the dead and
surviving victims of Khmer Rouge brutality.
The international border is 14.5 km from the circle in Anlong
Veng (Anlong Veng-Choam-Choam- Srawngam and O Smach-Chong Jom).
There are plenty of tanks and tank shells to look at along the
way and also a strange site in the form of a boulder that had
Khmer Rouge soldiers carved out of the sides of it- they have
all been decapitated since government forces took control of
Anlong Veng. Anyway, it’s an interesting little ride to a
low-lying part of the Dangkrek Mountains. The road is in fairly
good shape with the exception of the climb up a rocky hillside
near the border.
Oddor Meanchey province is 6,158 square kilometres big. It’s
located in the far Northwest of the country and is bordering to
the North with a lengthy borderline to Thailand, to the East
with Preah Vihear, to the West with Banteay Meanchey and Siem
Reap to the South. In the North the province consists of the
re-known Dangkrek Mountains, which are more or less the hill
foods of the massive mountain range (the real Dangkrek
Mountains) coming from Thailand. There is a nice interesting
wildlife sanctuary called Kulen Promtep in the Southeast of the
province. The rest of the province is an agricultural used
strip, where the illegal logging of the 1980s and 1990s shows
its rampant face.
How to get there
If you wish to go to Anlong Veng you best come from Siem Reap
via Major Road No 64 (distance: 142km). The time of journey vary
depending on the season between 4-6hours. The easiest transport
mean is a share taxi, which will charge you around US$4-5.
Anlong Veng is also connected by reasonable roads to the
provincial capital Samraong (US$4) in the West and Prasat Preah
Vihear to the East.
Coming from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap: (Bus)
Several guesthouses, travel agencies and bus companies offer
daily bus transport between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. It is a
smooth 314 km, 5-7 hour trip. The bus makes at least two stops
along the way (at Skun and Kampong Thom). All charge the same,
$3.50 (14,000R) one way. The earliest buses depart starting at
6:30AM and that last buses between noon and 1PM. Neak Krorhorm
Phnom Penh office at the corner of Street 110 and Sisowath Quay.
Siem Reap office opposite the Old Market
Phnom Penh bus station near the southwest corner of Phsar Thmey
Phnom Penh Public Transport Co.:
Phnom Penh bus station near the southwest corner of Phsar Thmey
Coming from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap: (Share Taxis)
Local shared taxi: 25,000 riel per person. Departs from
southwest corner of Central Market in Phnom Penh. 5-8 hours
Private taxi: US$38-$45 for the whole car. 5-6 hours. Due to
rising fuel costs, prices are in flux.
Motorbike Info to Anlong Veng:
The road to Siem Reap is in good condition, but driving in
Cambodia is still challenging in the extreme, and should be
attempted only by experienced riders. Speeding taxis, slow cows,
and oblivious children are the norm. The trip calls for a dirt
or road bike, no smaller than 250cc. It can be made in a day,
but two days with a layover in Kampong Thom is a more relaxed
alternative and allows time to visit the pre-Angkorian ruins of
Sambor Prei Kuk.
Leave Phnom Penh via the ‘Japanese Bridge’ and follow National
Highway No 6 75km to the North. You’ll reach the Skun
intersection (Skun is known for its exotic foods - check out the
fried spiders, turtle eggs and more at roadside stands.), where
you have to turn left and follow NH 6 to Kampong Thom - about
2-3 hours. In Kampong Thom, the Arunreas Hotel (062-961294),
Stung Sen Royal Hotel (012-309495) and Mittapheap Hotel are all
decent mid-range places. Arunras Guesthouses and Restaurant next
to the hotel is the place to eat cheaply. From Kampong Thom to
Siem Reap the trip takes another 2 hours. From there you’ll have
to search the Major Road 64 to Anlong Veng. This will take you
another 6h on bumpy unpaved dirt roads through monotonous dry
forest changing sometimes to jungle sections.
Going to Samraong: (Share Taxis/Pick Up/Motorbike)
Heading west on the NH 6 from Siem Reap you’ll reach an
intersection after 51km. Turn right and you enter after some
100m a small town called Kralanh (US$1.5 from Siem Reap or
Sisophon). From here you take another pick up or share taxi to
the North on laterit-paved and bumpy Minor Road 68 (US$2-3,
2-3hours, 65km). Sometimes you can find early taxis leaving to
Samraong from Siem Reap (US$4-5).
Where to eat
As Samraong isn’t big at all you will easily find the central
market with several food stalls around offering saucepans of
pre-cooked food for around 2,000-3,000 Riel a serve. Unless the
pots are still hot, it’s a good idea to have them hear your
servings up again so that you don’t get more than you bargained
for like getting sick. If you would like to go more for some
sophisticated food, check the Santepheap restaurant (one of the
best in town), where you might find some proper dishes, but
don’t expect Western food.
The best restaurant in town is only open for breakfast and
lunch. A friendly English- and French speaking Cambodian
gentleman and his family run it. They can make up most Thai
Khmer dishes that you may wasn’t and also serve a good breakfast
of eggs, French bread and coffee.
The restaurant scene in Anlong Veng is similarly limited as in
Samraong. There are several local food stalls around the central
roundabout offering some local dishes at very reasonable prices
– mostly its typical Khmer and Chinese noodle dishes.
Where to stay
Actually Samraong has never been a big touristy spot so you’ll
just find some very basic guesthouses clustered near the dirty
little market, which is advantageously located right next to the
This is a simple but clean place with a bed, mosquito net, fan
(for a part of the night, as electricity may shut down) and
share bathroom going for 10,000 riel.
The Meanchey Guesthouse is likely the most conclusive one among
these with some NGOs visiting. This place is similar to the
Rikreay, only the power stays on for twenty-hours, which means
your fan should stay on all night. A room with a share bathroom,
net and fan is US $ 4 and a double room with a simple bathroom
inside of it is $10 - expensive for what it is but you are
paying extra for the power. The US$ 4 room is so to say the
In fact that there aren’t that much tourists staying overnight
there are 3 very basic guesthouses in Anlong Veng. The most
convenient one is the Reaksmey Angkor Guesthouse in the North of
the small town. You will find quite clean rooms with mosquito
net and a bathroom. The price is around 15,000-25,000Riel.
As it is quite common in Cambodia even small towns, such as
Samraong have at least one marked. You may also find a market in
Samraong centre, which is a busy area with local shops dealing
the local daily consumer products, like fish, fruits,
vegetables, meats and packed products. Most of the food and
drink shops are surrounding the market.
What to see
Champei waterfall or Laang Ta Thong waterfall is 35
kilometers northeast of Odda Meanchey provincial town. A
natural site, is includes a huge boulder that measures
500 meters squar. There is also a mountain valley on
both sides of the waterfall and the surrounding area is
full of flowers, particulary orchids.
About 500 meters from the waterfall, there is a natural
and cultural site organized by the monks who meditate at
the site. Known as Ruot Champei, it has a number of
statues that describe the life process from birth until
death, as well as other religious and wildlife statues.
The provincial tourism office is organizing and
developing other attractions in Oddar Meanchey province,
including: Tonle Sar site, O'Angkrong site, Sneung
temple, Tropiang Baray, Por Temple, Kuy Plantation,
Beung Snor, Tumnub Thmei and Toul Kruoy, a killing field
during the Khmer Rouge regime and the site of a Khmer
O'Smach is on the Cambodian-Thai border, about 41
kilometers north of Oddar Meanchey provincial town. The
town features a resort which includes a number of
casinos, good restaurants and luxury hotels. The resort
has been organized by the Royal Group and VIP Shop Group
The Cultural Site Of Khmer Rouge (Tamok
In Anlong Veng district, along Road 68, about 100
kilometers east of Oddar Meanchey provincial town, is a
house once owned by former Khmer Rouge Commander Ta Mok.
From 1979 until late 1997, this area was organized and
controlled by the Khmer Rouge armies. Some remaining
statues describe the way the rebels lived and how they
arranged their troops during their bloody struggle
against the government.
In additional, in the forest is a pile of tires which is
believed to be the funeral pyre and burial site of Pol
Pot, the leader of Khmer Rouge. Many tourists go to
Anlong Veng to see and photograph the sites and
activitues associated with the former regime, and the
government has discussed turning this area into a
historical site to attract even more tourists.