Takeo province is often referred to as “the cradle of Cambodian
civilisation” Takeo province has several important pre-Angkorian
sites built between the 5th and the 8th century. The provincial
capital, Takeo town is an easygoing place that possesses a fair
amount of natural and manmade beauty. The natural beauty is in
the Scenic River and lake area that faces a pleasant town
parkway. The low-lying area seems to include much of the
surrounding province area, which is probably why a kingdom that
once had its heart here was referred to as Water Chenla. There
seems to be water everywhere in the surrounding countryside
during the rainy season.
The man-made beauty mostly comes from a series of canals and
waterways that were cut through the surrounding countryside,
many a very long time ago, connecting towns, villages, rivers
and Vietnam. Nearby Angkor Borei town (connected by water to
Takeo town) may have been the heart of the Funan Empire, which
is called the “Cradle of Khmer Civilization” by Cambodians. Much
older than Angkor, the Funan empire had its heyday between the
1st and 6th centuries and stretched across a vast area, from
South Vietnam through Thailand, down through Malaysia and into
Indonesia. Bold, silver and silks were traded in abundance in
the kingdom, or, as some say, the series of fiefdoms.
Although Cambodians claim Funan was created by Khmers,
neighbouring Vietnam argues that they were the people of origin.
Archaeologists from the University of Hawaii of the USA have
made research trips to Angkor Borei in an attempt to piece
together the history and story, and story, as well as relics, of
the Funan period. In an odd recent twist, Reuters News Service
reported in early November 1999 that locals saw the research
team digging up ancient relics and figured the stuff must be
valuable, so they started digging and looting objects from the
area. Fortunately, the Cambodian government seems to be moving
in on the problem quickly to try to save what they can of this
important piece of Khmer heritage.
That was not the first time the locals have created problems in
the piecing together of ancient history. Much of what did remain
in the form of ancient ruins in Angkor Borei was destroyed not
too long ago in the modern past. The officials that runs the
museum that’s dedicated to the history of the Funan empire told
me that much of what was still standing from this period (from
parts of ancient walls to partial structures) was thought to be
useless by locals and was bulldozed and razed to make way for
more “useful” modern day structures! Talk about having a bad
track record. Fortunately artifacts and history have been put
together in the museum.
Takeo Province is full of other interesting sights as well and
because of the short distance and good road from Phnom Penh, all
are great day trips. Some sights can be combined in a day trip.
If you have a bit more time, spend an evening in Takeo town and
take in all the sights. There is a pleasant little place to stay
overlooking the river and lake area.
Takeo province is 3,563 square kilometres big. It’s located in
the South of the country bordering to the North and East with
Kandal, to the West with Kampong Speu and Kampot and to the
South with Vietnam. The low-lying area seems to include much of
the surrounding province area, which is probably why a kingdom
that once had its heart here was referred to as Water Chenla.
There seems to be water everywhere in the surrounding
countryside during the rainy season.
Therefore the province consists of the typical plain wet area
for Cambodia, covering rice fields and other agricultural
plantations. The province also features one of the biggest
rivers of the country (symbolizing the provincial border to the
East), the Tonle Bassac (also known as the “Red River”).
How to get there
Phnom Penh and Takeo province are linked by the National Highway
No 2, which remains in reasonable condition with a few potholes
to slow the velocity down. Hour Lean and PPPT bus companies both
run air-con buses between Phnom Penh and Takeo (6000riel,
2hours, 77km). They leave from the Central Station just
southwest from the Central Market in PP. Leaving of to PP from
Takeo you may find the buses in front of the Phsar Leu. Both
buses have to pass Tonlé Bati and Phnom Chisor, both interesting
sides of attraction.
The price from PP by share taxi is around 6000riel, by minibus
around 3000riel. Travellers continuing by road to Kampot should
take a moto (5000riel) for the 13km journey Angk Tasaom and then
arrange a seat in a minibus or share taxi (5000riel) on to
For 1000 riel you can get anywhere in town. The daily rate is
US$ 5 plus fuel for distant sights.
Phnom Penh and Takeo province are linked by the National Highway
No 2, which remains in reasonable condition with a few potholes
to slow the velocity down. This is a maximum 2 hours ride for
merit skilled motorbikers.
If your motorcycle has a mechanic problem, head back to Phnom
Penh, as it’s only an hour away. Call your rental outfit in
Phnom Penh (always carry theft rental agreement) and they will
come down to perform motorcycle surgery or haul the bike back to
Where to eat
There are a couple of decent Khmer food restaurants near the
waterfront, after the canal that heads to Vietnam, Angkor Borei
and Phnom Da. You may also find plenty of cookeries in the area
around the Independence Monument. By night this is the place to
snack on Cambodian desserts or enjoy a “tukalok” (fruitshake).
And as for the night scene, there just isn’t much going on in
Takeo town –your best bet is to take it easy and remember that
Phnom Penh is only an hour away.
This is an alternative spot for a good Cambodian meal during the
dry season, when this part of the town is less stinky than the
area near the water. It has an English menu and some tasty soups
are a worth a recommendation.
Restaurant Stung Takeo:
This place is built on stilts, as the whole area becomes a giant
lake during the wet season. The restaurant overlooks the canal
to Angkor Borei, and it’s one of the most popular lunch stops in
town. It’s a good place to tuck into some Khmer food before
making a trip to Angkor Borei and Phnom Da.
Doun Keo Restaurant:
This place is one of the first restaurants that you encounter as
you enter Takeo from Phnom Penh. It’s a friendly simple place,
which feature rather decent Khmer and Chinese food.
Where to stay
There are some reasonable options to get your head on a bed in
Takeo, although the proximity of Phnom Penh means that few
travellers actually spend a night here. Backpacker options could
also be found at the empty Phsar Nat (also overlooking).
Mittapheap Hotel: (tel: 032/931205)
This hotel might be an option for those who have a particular
attraction to Cambodian Independence Monuments, as this one
overlooks Takeo’s. There is good cheap food nearby, a fortune.
Don’t be put of by the old house at the front, s the owners have
added a new wing in a leafy green garden at the back, with the
smartest air-con rooms in town. Prices range from $5-10.
Angkor Borei Guesthouse: (tel: 032/931340)
That’s a friendly family-run place, which has a bewildering
array of rooms available and all at the same price. Some of them
are bigger, some are smaller, some have TV and air-con, some
don’t, but in the interest of equality everyone pays the same.
Have a look before, than choose.
Boeung Takeo Guesthouse: (tel: 032/931306)
This is likely the best place in town, overlooking the lake. All
rooms are essentially the same (bath, fan, TV), but for $10 you
can get an air-con breeze. Ask for a room with a view, as it
won’t be more expensive. Prices from $5-10.
Phnom Sonlong Guesthouse: (tel: 032/931404)
This guesthouse is right next door to the Angkor Borei and
offers more or less the same array and equipment as the Ankor
Borei, but is a little less in the price. Some rooms have only
one bed, check it out before. Some of the staffs speak good
As it is quite common in Cambodia even small cities, such as
Takeo have at least one bigger market (some small marts too). So
you may also find a market in Takeo centre, which is a busy area
with local shops dealing the local daily consumer products, like
fish, fruits, vegetables, meats and packed products (also a lot
from Vietnam). Most of the food and drink shops are surrounding
Where to see
Angkor Borie is a town in the area of several ruins and
archaeological digs. The area contains artifacts dating
from the Funan (4th/5th century) and Water Chenla (8th
century) as well as the later Angkorian period. The
prasat ruins on top of nearby Phnom Da are 11th century
Angkorian. There is a smalll museum in the town.
Chruos Phaork is located in Pou Village, Preah Bat Choan
Chum Commune, Kiri ong District 44 kilometers (1h:6mn)
from Provincial Town. It is the Nature Wildlife and
Chup Pol Temple
Chup Pol Temple is located in Doun Peaeng Village, Baray
Commune, Doun Kae District, about 3 kilometers (4mn)
from Provincial Town. It is the Historical Sites and
Museum is located in Takeo province, there is a museum
located at Ang Kor Bo Rey District. The museum is just
built under auspice of EU organization for keeping and
displaying status and ancient objects of Phnom Da in 6th
century for tourists and researchers.
Neang Khmao Temple
Neang Khmao temple is located in Rovieng commune,
Samrong district, off National Road 2, about 27
kilometers north of Takeo provincial town or about 52
kilometers south of Phnom Penh. This temple is inside
Wat Neang Khmao.
Constructed of sandstone and brick in the style of Koh
Ker, the temple was built by King Jayavarman IV (AD
921-941) in the 10th century for the worship of
Brahmanism. The site originally consisted of three
temples built side by side, however, only two are still
standing, and both are heavily damaged.
Phnom Ba Yong
Phnom Bayang is located in Por Rorng village, Preah Bat
Choan Chum commune, Kirivong district, about 43
kilometers south of Takeo provincial town or about 121
kilometers south of Phnom Penh. From Phnom Penh, take
National Road 2 via Bati, Sam Rong, Daun Keo and Trang
Bayang temple was built between AD 615 and 635 by King
Pavavarman II on the top of Phnom Bayong, a
313-meterhigh mountain. Its diameter is 13 meters by 9
meters and it is 12 meters high. Constructed of laterite,
brick and other stones, it is heavily damaged. Pieces of
the temple litter the
ground; the roof has collapsed, and the laterite rampart
has been damaged.
Bayang temple is a historical site that attracts both
foreigners and Cambodians doing research about their
ancestors. The road to the mountain, however, is old and
difficult to access in the thick forest. The temple is
reachable by climbing 390 steps. In addition to Bayang,
there are four other temples on the mountain-Preah Kor
temple, North Kanang temple, East Kanang temple and
Kampoul Kanang temple. All are for Brahman worship and
contain a Silva lingam.
Visitors to the site will come to understand how
Cambodian history and culture was influenced by the
outside world. Because without access to the mountain,
however, the only people who will visit the site are
researchers studying Cambodian history.
In Kirivong District, there is a stream, Pha Oak, which
flows 1,000 meters from its source to where people
congregate to swim or bathe. The stream is 6 meters wide
during the rainy season and 2 meters wide during the dry
season. The sound of the water falling from the
mountaintop is almost musical, and the scenery is
Phnom Chiso (Chiso Mountain)
Phnom Chiso is a historical site located in Sia village,
Rovieng commune, Samrong district, about 62 kilometers
south of Phnom Penh or 27 kilometers north of Takeo
provincial town. To reach the site, take National Road 2
to Bati district and Neang Khmao temple. Turn right at
the sign for the site and head down the dirt trial for 5
more kilometers. Phnom Chiso is 13O-meter-high mountain.
Phnom Chiso temple was built in the early 11th century
by King Suryavarman I (AD 1002-1050), who practiced
Brahmanism. Constructed of sandstone and other stones,
it is 60 meters long and 50 meters wide and sits atop a
mountain. The temple is surrounded by two galleries. The
first gallery is 60 meters long on each side. The
second, smaller gallery, is in the middle, where there
is the main worship place with two doors and a wooden
statue. There are beautiful sculptures on the lintel and
Phnom Chiso Pagoda was built in 1917, destroyed by war
during the 1970s and rebuilt in 1979. Behind it is a
hall called Thammasaphea, kof and a worship place. There
is an ancient water tank made of concrete. People
usually climb the staircase on the west side of the
mountain, which has 390 steps and descend by the south
side staircase, which has 408 steps. Another set of
stairs in front of the temple links the temple to Sen
Chhmos temple, Sen Phouvang temple and Tonie Om, a lake
considered sacred by Brahmans and used for washing away
sins. A large rock yard nearby about 100 meters long and
80 meters was once the site of several other temples,
but only parts of these temples remain standing.
In addition, there is a mountain cave, Vimean Chan,
located about 150 meters south of the temple. It is a
quiet place for Brahmans or ascetics to meditate. During
the Americans' war with Vietnam, the site was bombed,
dislodging several large rocks that block the entrance
to the cave today.
Hun Sen Phnom Chiso Agricultural and Tourist site is
located in Samrong, Bati and Prey Kabas districts. It
includes a 513 hectare paddy rice field of dry rice, a
1,386 hectares field of wet rice and three water basins
- Thnos Ta Kong, Tuol Lork and Sen Pea Ream.
Phnom Chiso is very popular with visitors, especially
during festivals, when it is very crowded. The top of
the mountain affords visitors a panoramic view of Takeo
Province rice paddies stretching for kilometers.
Phnom Da is located in Prek Ta Phor village, Kork
Thalork commune, Angkor Borei district, about 24
kilometers east of Takeo provincial town by water canal
or about 102 kilometers south of Phnom Penh by the road.
This part of the country is flooded six months of the
year, during the rainy
season, and dry the rest of the year.
Phnom Da is a cultural, historical site that has been
renovated to provide visitors a place to relax or
research Cambodian history. The scenery is beautiful all
year. In the rainy season, there is a vast water basin
that produces lush, green rice paddies during the dry
Phnom Da temple was built on the top of a small hill in
6th century by King Rutravarman, who reigned during the
Norkor Phnom period, according to the French historian
Mibreno. The temple is 12 meters square and 18 meters
high. It was constructed of laterite, brick and
sandstone. A Brahman temple, it faces north towards
Norkor Kork Thalork, which was the capital of Nokor
Phnom at the time the temple was built. There is no
The temple's peak is damaged, and a sculpture depicting
the story of Churning of the Ocean of Milk(Cambodian
calls Ko Samutra Teuk Dos) has been broken into two
parts. A lintel illustrates the figure of sleeping
Vishnu. There are false doors on three sides and a real
door that opens on the north side.
In the flank of the hill are five man-made caves that
reflect the style of Phnom Da, which is similar to India
style. In each cave, there is a Shiva lingam and Uma
yoni, objects that Brahmans worship. During the Pol Pot
regime, between 1975 and 1979, the caves were used as
cremation places by the Khmer Rouge.
About 300 meters southwest of the temple is another
smaller temple known as Asrom Moha Eysei. Built at the
end of the 6th century in Zhenla Period, during the
reign of King Pavavarman I, the temple has five windows
and two doors. It is 5.5 meters square and 7 meters
high, it is built in the
Indian style and features a double wall of basalt that
In 1992, a number of clergymen and nuns built a pagoda
south of the hill. It is called Phnom Da pagoda.
Nearly three decades of war have left the road from
Phnom Chiso to Angkor Borei district in poor condition;
during the rainy season, flooding makes it impassable.
Nevertheless, the site attracts foreign tourists and
many Cambodians interested in researching Cambodian
history during the Koh
Kork Thlork Period.
After 1979, the Takeo provincial authority constructed a
canal, Canal 15, which links Takeo provincial town to
Angkor Borei district. This has made access easier since
the road between Angkor Borei and Phnom Da is still
difficult to travel, especially during the rainy season,
when it floods.
Phnom Ta Mao (Zoo)
Phnom Ta Mao (Zoo) is located in Tro Pang Sap village,
Tro Pang Sap commune, Ba Ti District, Takeo province.
Phnom Tamao can be accessible by the National Road No 2
in 40-kilometre distance from Phnom Penh. Then turning
right more five kilometers by a trail, it takes
45-minute drive from Phnom Penh. Phnom Ta Mao is a
varied site consisting of temples, mountain, nature and
a big zoo in Cambodia. Phnom Ta Mao has 2,500-hectar
land area called forest-protected area; in this area,
the Department of Forestry has taken 1,200-hectar land
area for planning trees and 70-hectar land area for
organizing zoo. The 70-hectar landarea consisting of
five mountains namely: Phnom Ta Mao, Phnom Thmor Dos,
Phnom Phdan Poan, Phnom Chhoy and Phnom Bang. Among the
five mountains, two mountains have ancient temples are:
- Ta Mao Temple (is located at Phnom Ta Mao): was built
in 11th century during the reign of the king, Soryak
Varman I dedicated to Brahmanism, the temple made of
Thmor silt and red-solid brick, located on the peak of
30-meter mountain of Ta Mao, near Ta Mao pagoda. Now,
the temple is damaged and is almost unrecognizable. -
Thmor Dos Temple (is located at Phnom Thmor Dos): The
temple is located on a 35-meter mountain of Thmor Dos,
Northwest of Ta Mao temple and was built in 11th
century. The temple made of Thmor silt mad red-solid
brick. Now, most of the temples are damaged. The people
want to go to this temple to worship than Ta Mao temple.
In addition, Phnom Ta Mao has a big zoo in Cambodia; the
zoo is under the supervision of the Department of
Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture and has 84 varieties
of animals and birds; two kinds of them are brought from
abroad. - There are 150-fourfooted animals consisting of
38 kinds. - There are 300 birds consisting of 38 kinds.
- There are 30 reptiles consisting of eight kinds. All
these animals are brought here by the Ministry of
Agriculture and by seizing from offenders who illegally
traffic in wild animals through out Cambodia. To take
care these animals, we need to expend US$ 120 per day
for food, and 22 staff and workers are working there.
The average number of tourists visiting Phnom Ta Mao is
500-600 visitors per week; but during the festivals,
there are 7,000-8,000 visitors per week. The local
people of four communes around the Phnom Ta Mao are
earning money from selling food to tourists. We can
extend package-tour program to the above two resorts
because these resorts are the popular sites for local
and international tourists, and their location is near
Phnom Penh. As the sites can attract many tourists, we
expect to lure investors to invest in tourist
facilitation and constructing the trail from the
national Road No 2 to the resorts. The Department of
Forestry has a project on constructing an inside trail
linking from Tonle Ba Ti to Phnom Ta Mao in Six-Kilometre
Phnom Ta Moa
Phnom Ta Mao is located in Tropiang Sap Villag, Tropiang
Sap commune, Bati district, about 40 kilometers south of
Phnom Penh, off National Road No. 2. Turn right at the
sign and travel another 5 kilometers down a dirt trail.
The site features mountains, the biggest national zoo
and ancient temples. There are five mountains at this
site - Phnom Tamao, Phnom Thma Dos, Phnom Pdaov Pun,
Phnom Chhoy and Phnom Bang. The entire site covers 2,500
hectares, most of it is the protected forest area. The
Ministry of Agriculture's Department of Foresty has
taken over 1,200 hectares for planting trees and the
Phnom Ta Mao National Zoo covers 70 hectares and is
under the supervision of the department. It features 84
varieties of birds, quadrupeds and reptiles. The
animals, which include alligators, elephants, lions,
tigers and bears, were collected by the Ministry of
Agriculture. Some were recovered from people illegally
trafficking wildlife in Cambodia.
The two ancient temples of Phnom Tamao are:
Tamao Temple (Phnom Tamao)
Tamao temple was built in 11th century, during the reign
of King Suryavarman I and Udayadityavarman II (AD 1050 -
1066) as a place for Brahmans to worship. Tamao Temple
was made of silt stone and red solid brick, but is now
nearly unrecognizable. The temple is located near Tamao
pagoda on the top of Phnom Tamao, which is about 30
Thma Dos Temple (Phnom Thma Dos)
Thma Dos Temple is nothwest of Phnom Tamao on the 35
meter-high Phnom Thma Dos. The temple was built in the
11th century and is constructed of silt stone and red
solid brick. Much of the temple is 7.5 meters squar and
13 meters high. Its design is adapted from Khliang
style. This temple is more popular with visitors than
Ta Prohm Temple
This temple, adapted from Bayon Style, was built during
the late 12th and early 13th centuries, during the reign
of King Jayavarman VII (AD 1181 - 1120) as a place of
worship for Brahmans and Buddhists.
The temple is 42 meters long, 36 meters wide and 11
meters high. Today the temple body, the gallery, the wal,
the gopura (gateway) and the moat surrounding the temple
are heavily damaged. The temple was constructed of brick
and laterite and devided into many rooms. The outsite
wall is decorated with bas-reliefs illustrating the
Brahman story about the celestial nymph. Insite the
temple are five rooms and a 13th century Buddha statue
that faces east.
Tonle Bati is a popular lake and picnic area that has
bamboo shacks built out over the water that people can
rent out for eating and whiling away the day. It’s
generally a weekend get-away spot, which means it’s nice
and quiet during the week. Locals swim there, but the
water does not look real inviting.
There are all kinds of food and drink stands that sell
everything you need for a picnic along the lake. Note
that there are tours that follow you when you arrive on
weekends and try to get you to go to their own place.
It’s best to pass right by them and find a spot on your
own. Check prices beforehand on everything – they are
famous for handing you an outrageously high bill when
Tonle Bati is a place of worship and features two
ancient temples, Ta Promh and Yeay Peov, and a pagoda,
Wat Phnom Khliang
Wat Phnom Khliang, a Buddhist pagoda built in 1753, is a
natural cultural site located in Prey Slek commune,
Trang district, about 12 kilometers south of Takeo
provincial town near National Road 2. It is a popular
place for taking oaths and praying. During the Khmer
Rouge regime it was used as a hospital. The red gravel
at the foot of the mountain was dug to repair and
construct a nearby trail. The entire site covers 11
hectares, Phnom Kliang is the middle. The hill is 30
meters high, and at the top is a new pagoda built in
1992 sponsored by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The site attracts mostly local visitor who are
superstitious and who are looking for a nice place to
relax. At the top of the mountain is a granite stone
from which water flows all year. Local people believe
that the stone is magical. Bati, which was built in
Yeay Pov Temple
Yeay Pov temple is behind Wat Tonle Bati, about 100
meters from Ta Prohm temple. Constructed of sandstone in
the 12 century, it is 7 meters square and faces east.
Apart from the temple is a house on the bank of Tonle
Bati, about 200 meters from the temple, that once was
used by the royal family during holidays. Today this
place houses the offices of Bati Tourism Company, which
controls the 9.3 hectare site. The company has erected
48 resting cottages with zinc roofs and another 40
cottages with leaf roofs along the riverside. The
company has also built nine restrooms, and other
restrooms are available at local people's residences.
In additional, there is also a natural lake that is
7,000 meters long. During the dry season, the lake is
1,000 meters wide and 1 to 2.5 meters deep. During the
rainy season, it swells to 1, 500 meters wide and is
about 4 meters deep.
There is a fee to enter the site. The cost for cambodian
is 1,000 riel (USD0.25) for motobikes and 2,000 riel
(USD0.50) for cars. The fee for resting cottages is
5,000 riel (USD1.25) per cottage. Foreigners are charged
USD2 per person. Food can be purchased at the site.
The site is very popular, attracting 500 to 600
Cambodians and 100 foreign visiter per week. During
holidays and festivals, the number of visitors can reach
9,000 per week. The site also provide employment
opportunities and a good living for the people of the
nearby Thnal Teaksin and Tonle Bati villages.