Svay (pronounced Swai) Rieng is on of the smallest and sleepiest
Cambodian provinces that just happen to have one of the
country’s busiest highways running straight through - National
Highway No 1, which links Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City in
Vietnam just after you cross the Mekong River by way of the Neak
Loeung Ferry. It is also one of the poorest provinces of
Cambodia due to the poor quality of the land. Most of the
provincial population eke out a subsistence living based on
farming and fishing.
Svay Rieng is the provincial capital, a sleepy town just 43 km
from the Bavet border crossing. This is a fairly prosperous
place as a result of the border trade traffic, business people
and travellers passing trough. The town is a very friendly place
and makes for a pleasant overnight stop whether coming from or
going to Vietnam.
Svay Rieng town is situated near the Waiko River and its vast,
scenic marshlands, the result of a wide stretch of the river
drying up significantly over the years. It’s a pleasant setting
and one that can be enjoyed at several different spots along the
river and marsh. A bridge over the Waiko, not far from the main
part of town, bears a plaque that states prime minister Hun Sen
donated the bridge.
During the long Vietnam War, American forces believed that this
was the place, where Vietnamese communists had their
intelligence headquarter. For sure there were undoubtedly a lot
of Vietnamese communists hiding especially in the South of
Cambodia during much of the war, but there wasn’t a strategic
centre like the Pentagon here. In 1969 the Americans began
unauthorised bombing in this area and in 1970 joined with South
Vietnamese forces for a big ground assault.
Svay Rieng is a small low land province with 2,966 square
kilometres. Majority of land is arable land and it is under
Mekong water half a year. It’s located in the Southeast of the
country bordering Kampong Cham to the North, Prey Veng to the
West and Vietnam to the East and South. The Southeast of the
province occupies a jut of land sticking into Vietnam, so the
Southeast of the province is literally surrounded from Vietnam.
The province consists generally of the typical plain wet area
for Cambodia, covering rice fields and other agricultural
plantations. The land state is due to the American carpet
bombing a real pity – no forests and cratered countryside are
the results. The province also features two of the biggest
rivers of the country (actually they symbolize the provincial
borders) the Tonle Bassac and the mighty Mekong.
How to get there
Share taxis leave Phnom Penh from the Chbah Ampeau taxi park to
head to Svay Rieng. The fare from Phnom Penh to Svay Rieng is
8,000riel. Grab an extra space for a bit more comfort (costs you
more). Hour Lean Bus Company operates a daily direct connection
from PP to Svay Rieng (cost $2, 3 hour ride).
If you come from the Bavet border crossing with Vietnam it might
be a little bit difficult to find a taxi, as most of them prefer
the more lucrative option of taking foreigners all the way to
Phnom Penh. Try to find a taxi with other travellers and to
stuff yourself for a 1-hour trip into the taxi ($1-2).
Phnom Penh to Svay Rieng:
This trip is a fairly easy lone for motorcycles, as you can
easily skirt the potholes that slow down the cars. Keep those
eyes open, though, as the share taxis that ply this stretch from
Phnom Penh to the Vietnam border all seem to be trying for the
Cambodian Land Highway Speed Award. They do fly and they don’t
let a little thing like a motorcycle hinder their flight.
Where to eat
There are some cheap food stalls around Phsar Svay Rieng for
those, who want a faster and budget feed. Snack stalls are
opening at late afternoon till the night along the river.
The following three restaurants are just east of Monument Circle
and quite close to each other. They are all open throughout the
day, starting at the crack of dawn with Chinese noodle soup and
omelettes with French bread. All have signs and menus in
English, and pleasant staff.
Svay Rieng Restaurant:
It’s a pleasant, small restaurant with Khmer and Chinese food.
This doublewide restaurant is very popular with the locals. They
have some Western food as well as the usual Khmer and Chinese
Rasmey Nimol Restaurant:
This corner restaurant catches a breeze better than the other
two. They also serve up good food.
Serei Pheap Thmai Retaurant:
This is the one with the deck overlooking the water mentioned
earlier. They have good food and the staff can speak English.
Boeng Meas Restaurant:
This nice little wooden restaurant is built on stilts near the
riverside and is considered to be one of the best in town. All
Khmer favourites are clearly listed on the proper English menu
and the service is swift.
Where to stay
Tonlay Waiko Hotel: (tel: 044/945718)
This is the biggest hotel on side just 300m off the town
including a restaurant and a nightclub. It was renovated in 1999
and now remains the best option in town. As the National Police
Chief owns it, you can feel totally save. They offer quite
spacious rooms with attached Western bathroom, satellite TV and
video, air-con and fridge for about $10-25.
Santepheap Hotel: (tel: 011/682760)
This is one of the nicest guesthouses in town even if its room’s
look quite used (old). The staffs are very friendly and eager to
help in any way. They have rooms downstairs without windows and
upstairs with one. The rate is $4 without bath and $5 including
Vimean Monorom: (tel: 044/945817)
This is a fairly new place with rooms that feature two beds and
a Western bath. The rooms are US$ 10 with a fan or US$ 15 with
a/c. Going there you might have the impression of an old Soviet
The Three Guesthouses:
All on different sides of the same corner, these guesthouses
have more than the location in common. They all have fairly well
cleaned rooms and are US$ 4 a night without a fan, US$ 5 with.
As it is quite common in Cambodia even small cities, such as
Svay Rieng have at least one bigger market. You may also find a
market in Svay Rieng centre (Phsar Svay Rieng), which is a very
busy area with local shops dealing the local daily consumer
products, like fish, fruits, vegetables, meats and packed
products (a lot from Vietnam). Most of the food and drink shops
are surrounding the market.
What to see
Bavet International Border
Located 48 kilometers from Svay Rieng provincial town is
the international border with Vietname. The Bavet
checkpoint is the main international border crossing for
people traveling between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh
Bavet's main attractions are two casinos that are within
short walking distance of the border. This casinos are
very popular with foreigners crossing the border. There
is also a market, Psar Nat, where goods are transferred
between Cambodia and Vietnam.
Brasoth Center is located in Prasout Commune, Svay Teab
district, about 1.5 km (10mn) from Provincial Town.
Operation of Sporting Facilities.
Prey Ba Sak
Prey Ba Sake Located in Svay Rieng District at the
Southeast of the provincial town in the distance of 8.5
kilometres from the provincial town. The area of Prey Ba
Sak has 84 square meters and borders river of Vag Ko at
the North and the East, village of local people at the
west and the South.
The resort of Prey Ba Sak can provide income to the
state and attracts local visitors to spend their visit
and pleasure there. So, the resort is trending to
develop for local visitors in Svay Rieng province due to
their tradition, and for international tourists due to
the real Cambodian culture and civilization. Prey Ba Sak
located on the hill, the former place of ancient temple,
which was completely damaged by war. Nowadays, in order
to change this place to be the attractive site for local
and international tourists, the provincial tourist
office should initially rearrange the place and statues
for local visitors to worship during festival days or
their travel. Prey Ba Sak is the place, which has the
most complex forest among others in Svay Rieng province.