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www.hotsia.com > Combodai > Pailin


 

Pailin is a small municipality in the West of Cambodia very closed to the border of Thailand. The provincial capital is called Pailin City and is known to much of the world as being the area where many of the Khmer Rouge leaders came from and retreated after their fall. Until the year of 2001 Pailin was part of the Battambang Province, but was then elevated to city status and thus became a province and autonomous zone of its own.


The city was during the 1980s and 1990s a major Khmer Rouge strongpoint and resource centre. Even after the death of their brutal leader Pol Pot in 1998, many Khmer Rouge leaders still remained there. Some of the leaders went into hiding in fear of punishment for their crimes, although other leaders or henchmen lived openly in the province. It is said that almost 70 percent of the area's older men were fighters for the Khmer Rouge, but unfortunately none of the regular fighters have yet been brought to justice. As of September 2007, Pailin's remaining Khmer Rouge leaders were being rounded up to face justice by an international tribunal, including Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea. So after years of the governmental dump contemplation regarding the crime of the Khmer Rouge, its time for lasting enlightenment of what has happen.
Poipet is now more and more becoming a boomtown attracting Cambodians from around the country seeking to make their fortune, or at least a better salary than back home. Pailin was the major revenue producer for the Khmer Rouge guerrillas, being a major gem producing area as well as a prime logging area.
While gem production seems to have tapered off a bit, other business opportunities and the lifestyle have attracted prospectors to the town. Up until the surrender deal of Khmer Rouges number three men, Ieng Sary, in 1996, the townsfolk lived under the strict rules of the KR hierarchy, with little freedom of expression and most aspects of life being completely controlled by the paranoid regime.

Pailin is just another Wild West town of Cambodia and like the gold-rush days of California, people seem to be everywhere in the hills sifting through mud puddles and scratching at the dirt, looking to strike it rich with the find of a nice gem. Still, there is more control of some aspects of life than in other areas of Cambodia.
But this seems to have attracted people rather than kept them away. Several people, who had moved to Pailin from Phnom Penh, gave this as the main reason they made the move. They liked the idea that criminals did not enjoy the same impunity that they seem to enjoy in Phnom Penh. The influx of residents from other parts of the country has produced a friendlier Pailin.

Nowadays the mixed lot of Pailin residents seem happy to see foreigners coming in for holidays and check the place out, realizing that their presence means that normalcy and revenue are arriving in Pailin.

Even the Vietnamese residents seem to have been accepted, which is truly amazing given the hatred the Khmer Rouge have generally shown them. Pailin is worth checking out. The town is nestled in a beautiful valley with picturesque sunsets over the mountains that separate Cambodia and Thailand close by.

Wat Gohng-Kahng is very famous and features the much-photographed landmark gate of Pailin town that you face as you arrive on the highway from Battambang. This wat is the centre of holiday festivities these days in Pailin and was the scene of the official Pailin reintegration ceremony in 1996, after the Ieng Sary faction of the Khmer Rouge worked out surrender and semi-autonomy deals with the Cambodian government.

Pailin City municipality is the second smallest so-called province in Cambodia with 803 square kilometres. Its located in the West of the country surrounded by Battambang province and bordering Thailand to the West. In the North, the small municipality consists of the typical plain wet area for Cambodia, covering rice fields and other agricultural plantations. Pailin City itself is located on the foothills of Chuor Phnom Kravanh, an extension of the Kardamom Mountains, which range until here. The South of the municipality is quite hilly and tops with the highest altitude of 1164m. The province also features some smaller rivers coming from the mountain range.
 

 

How to get there

Minibus/Share Taxis:
For getting from Phnom Penh to Pailin please have a look on the Battambang Province Page. Coming from Battambang is the only wise thing to do, except if youre coming from Thailand over the international border crossing. Pailin itself lies about 83km southwest of Battambang and is just 19km from the border with Thailand. The Major Road 57 from Battambang to Pailin has gone to pieces and makes it a pretty hard ride. The road can only be managed by smaller lighter cars such as minibuses, pick ups or share taxis due to its wimpy condition, but its still better than it was a couple of years ago, with many new bridges.

The scenery along the road heading to Pailin is nice and there are a couple of interesting places on the way. One is Phnom Sampeu, a mountaintop temple, which has memorials set up with skulls and bones of Khmer Rouge victims. Its located 15 km from Battambang on the Pailin road. Security is not a problem. Never go off the street as there are many mines still remaining in the ground. The ride from Battambang to Pailin (4hours) with a share taxi or minibus costs around 160Baht and with a pick up 120Baht (inside) or 80Baht (on the back).
Pailin to Koh Kong
Its now possible to make a journey from Pailin to Koh Kong through the scenic Cardamom Mountains of Pursat and Koh Kong provinces. This route takes in areas that are considered to be the most pristine and untouched in all of Southeast Asia. Ask the pick up drivers.

Cambodia-Thailand international border crossing:
The Cambodia-Thailand border crossing is just 19km west of Pailin town. Its supposed to be a full-service crossing issuing tourist and business visas. Crossings however, can sometimes take its time while the border officers try to ask you for more money for the visa issue. The border opens daily between 7am and 8pm. To get from Pailin to the border crossing take a moto (50-100Baht) or a share taxi (40Baht). Dont wonder about the two big casinos there, where mostly Thai people try to chase their luck. There is also a small market if you need something.

Motorbike Info:
There is also a breathtaking tour from Pailin to Krong Koh Kong (South) for hardcore bikers with plenty of off-road experience. It starts in the Treng district, just 25km East on the road to Battambang. Than it runs down South through former Khmer Rouge strongholds such as Samlot and Veal Veng, which is 275km from Pailin and the last place to refuel. Good luck!
 

 

Where to eat

There are small soup and rice shops all along the main drag and next to the market. They offer decent, cheap food.

Welcome Restaurant:
As the sign implies, this is a friendly place with an English menu and good food. They even have a Tiger Beer girl who is quick on the draw for those thirsty travellers.

Phkay Proek Restaurant:
The restaurant is located almost on the end of the ridge street. The local Khmer and Thai food served here is reliably good. This restaurant is part of an extended family of restaurants that have taken the west by storm, with branches in Battambang, Sisophon and Poipet.

Hang Meas Hotel & Restaurant:
Located just some steps upward the hill. Chinese, Thai, Khmer and a bit of Western food are served in this top spot of Pailin (English menu). The beer girls do double duty between the restaurant and nightclub.

Green Dragon Restaurant:
Thatched roof eating areas are next to the dusty parking area-its best to eat inside if you are going here.

Kim Young Guesthouse:
Also located just some steps from the market uphill. Delicious Khmer food and English menu are available.
 

Where to stay

he change since early 1997 is dramatic. There was only one choice, a guesthouse run by a one-legged former rebel. It featured a wooden bed with no mattress, no mosquito net, no electricity and bathing facilities that you didnt want to use. There are a number of places now.

Hang Meas Hotel: (tel:012/787546)
This guesthouse is located west from the towns centre in direction to the border crossing. It is probably one of the best ones in town. It is quite a new place in town and also by far the top digs. The rooms feature all the amenities (including satellite TV, h/w shower) and the hotel has twenty-four-hour power, a Pailin exclusives. US$ 11 gets you a nice room, with more tricked-out rooms going as high as US$50. Obviously, the owners are high on Pailins prospects. The hotel also features a restaurant and nightclub.

Kim Young Heng Guesthouse: (tel: 016/939841)
This guesthouse is located just some steps from the market uphill. They have some light and attractive rooms with fan or air-con and bathroom and some very small, windowless rooms. Prices are around US$5.

Hotel Lao Lao Kaing: (tel:012/712316)
This is a very basic guesthouse with fan (some with air-con) and bathroom. US$4-6.

Guesthouse:
Thats the only name on the sign. The rooms are small, but clean. The bathroom is to share, with fan, 150 Baht.

Hotel Neak Pak:
These are bungalows that have a large bed, Western bath, a/c, TV and fan. They are overpriced at 500 Baht.

Hotel Sang Phi Run:
There is a nice second-floor terrace with a view of the main drag and the mountains to the west. Most rooms are windowless, dark and stuffy places as the power is turned off in the middle of the night, which means you wake up sweating and bump your head on the way to the toilet. The cleaning leaves a lot to be desired. Mosquito net included, 300 Bath.
 

Shopping

As it is quite common in Cambodia even small cities, such as Pailin City have at least one marked. You may also find a market in Pailin City centre, which is very busy with local shops dealing the local daily consumer products, like fish, fruits, vegetables, meats and packed products mostly from Thailand. Most of the food and drink shops are surrounding the market. To take something special from this province along, buy some small gems from the gem shops, but be aware of fakes.

What to see

Bah Hoi Village
Bah Hoi Village You will pass through an internal refugee camp from different areas of the country that were formerly under khmer Rouge control and are now in the hands of the government. The people feel more safe around their own kind (ex-Khmer Rouge) and with the Pailin faction of the Khmer Rouge still having effective control of the area; they dont worry about government soldiers hassling them. The people are quite friendly and dont mind a chat.
 

Border Crossing & Casino Area
Border Crossing & Casino Area The locals refer to this area as simply Pbrohm. This was a main lifeline of the Khmer Rouge during the years of fighting with the government. Food, supplies and weaponry were brought over from Thailand here.

The action today is of the gaming type with the Flamingo Casino open for business and another under construction. The casino sees a lot more business than the one in town, as the Thai people that represent the vast majority of customers like the idea of staying within spitting distance of Thailand. So if you like tossing money away, you have several choices in Pailin. There are also a few seedy looking karaoke bars with ladies working near the casinos and border. As for using Pailin as a border crossing to and from Thailand: The Thais have no problem with it and will issue you a Thai visa or stamp you out between 7 am and 5 pm. The problem is on the Cambodian side as the immigration police say that its not an officially sanctioned crossing and there is no way that a foreigner can cross here. So for now its best to sticks with Poipet and Koh Kong for land crossings. Getting to the border is the interesting part.

About 5 km on the way from Pailin is a small wooden bridge going over the Oh-chah-rah River. The water coming down from the mountains is clean, so a swim here is an inviting prospect. You also pass by the bombed shell of a tank, reminding you which side of the border you are on. Tank bodies just sit where they die in Cambodia and simply become another part of the landscape. The border is easy to get to just the one turn on the map. It takes just under a half hour and is around 180 baht for roundtrip moto-taxi.

 

Ceasar Casino
The casino and pub located in the same complex are open off and on these days. As mentioned earlier, the Thais prefer the Flamingo Casino with its border location. If they book a group of Thais to come to town they open the casino.
 

Goh-Ay Mountain
Goh-Ay Mountain The destination here is a river thats great for a swim. Definitely for the dry season if you want to be a bit more adventurous and see more of the area. Your best bet is to talk to the guys at the English school next to the Hotel Sang Phi Run if you want to venture out this way, as they can help with direction or take you out there. Definitely stay on the worn trails by the river area. There are landmines around.
 

Kbal O'Chra
Kbal O'Chra is located O'Chra village, Toul Lwea Commune, Kan Pailin, about 5 kilometes from Provincial Town. It is a Nature & Wildlife Preserves.
 

O'Eb Resort
O'Eb is a natural site located in Sangkat O'Chras, Khan Pailin about 10 kilometers northwest of Pailin city along the road to Bo Yakha and Bo Tang Sour. It has a waterfall.

O'Tavao
O'Tavao is located in Sangkat O'Tavao, Khan Pailin, about 5 kilometers from Pailin city. It is a natural site rich in beautiful scenery and clean water, which flows from Phnom Khieu.
 

Phnom Koy Resort
Phnom Koy is located in Sangkat Stung Kach, Khan Sala Krao, about 20 kilometers north of Pailin city. Phnom Koy is a national site rich in forest and big lianas. A natural stream flows down this mountain.
 

Phnom Yat
Phnom Yat is a cultural and historical site located in Pailin City. It is not a holy place where people come to worship, but also the heart of Pailin City.

The mountain is 60 meters high, 700 meters long, 300 meters wide and covers 30, 000 square meters. The top is accessible on foot or by vehicle. A staircase of 242 steps, each step about 25 centimeters high, was completed on Oct 13, 1998.

The site includes an old pagoda similar to Kola pagoda. It was built on the hilltop by the Kola people in 1922. The are many ancient structures on Phnom Yat, including the big and small stupas and Asroms (the hermitage, a place for meditating). The area holds many superstitions for Pailin residents and some visitors.

Although a wealth of gems already have been mined in Pailin, the hill is till believed to hold more. Many kiosks, or small cottages, are available for visitors to relax in on the mountaintop.

 

Steung Kuy
Steung Kuy is located in Phnom Kuy Village, Sangkat Sala Krau, Sala Krau District, about 20 kilometers (1hours) from Provincial Town. It is a Nature & Wildlife Preserves.
 

Wat Phnom Yaht
Wat Phnom Yaht This is the hilltop temple next to Wat Gohng-kahng. The temple is a good example of how things have changed in Pailin since the surrender deal. A number of moths after the deal a friend and I had a conversation with the head monk of the temple and he said that he still felt very intimidated by the local authorities, all ex- Khmer Rouge. He was strongly discouraged from giving Buddhist instruction to the townspeople. With the influx of Cambodians from other parts of the country and a change of heart for some of the ex-KR, the temple has seen a rebirth.

There is a beautiful new decorative stairway leading to the hilltop temple area, where a new temple is under construction and the monks openly teach the faith. Obviously, respect for monks has risen, and temple projects are receiving a lot of donations. Great views of the Pailin area and the dynamite sunsets over the Border Mountains can be had from the hilltop.

 

Wat Rattanak Sopoan
About 50 meters from the foot of Phnom Yat is another pagoda, What Rattanak Sopoan. On the walls of the fence surrounding the pagoda is a bas-relief depicting the story of Churning of the Ocean of Milk (Cambodian calls Ko Samutra Teuk Dos) which is similar to the wonderful base-reliefs on the wall of Angkor Wat.
 

Waterfall
Waterfall Like all waterfalls, the rainy season is the best time to go with the water flowing best then. But there are still pools of clean water to cool off in during the dry season and the heavily forested hills provide nice scenery. Locals and folks on holiday from Battambang come here on weekends and holidays and the well-worn pathways and picnic spots are safe for your use. Hiking to the upper level brings you to more pools. Your best bet for getting out here is to take a moto-taxi or have one lead the way, as there are several turns on unmarked small roads.
 


 

 

 

 
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ͧѡ mr.Hotsia ç ç ѷ Richard Lustig