Introducing Northwestern Cambodia
Offering a blend of highway accessibility and outback adventure, Northwestern Cambodia covers a broad swath of the country, running all the way around Tonlé Sap Lake, extending from Kompong Chhnang west to the Thai frontier and north to the Dangkrek Mountains (Chuor Phnom Dangkrek), which mark Cambodia’s northern border with Thailand.
Of the region’s municipalities, Battambang – Cambodia’s second-largest city – attracts the most visitors thanks to an alluring blend of classic colonial architecture and excellent day trip options. Other towns serve as gateways to some of the country’s most captivating corners – Kompong Thom is a good base for a visit to the temples of Sambor Prei Kuk, Pursat makes a fine jumping-off point for the wilds of the northern Cardamoms, and Anlong Veng is a short moto ride from a string of eerie Khmer Rouge sites.
The remote jungles conceal some of Cambodia’s most inspired temples, forgotten to all but the intrepid for decades. Preah Khan and Prasat Preah Vihear are sublime spots but are only for those with a serious thirst for adventure. Koh Ker is more accessible than ever thanks to a new road and Banteay Chhmar now has a pioneering community-based homestay project.
The Northwest is where you’ll find some of Cambodia’s most important wilderness areas, most well off the beaten track. The Cardamom Mountains in the southwest are home to pristine jungle and rare wildlife, while the forests and marshes of Preah Vihear Province provide ideal habitat for endangered birds such as the giant ibis, Cambodia’s national bird.