Kampong Thom central province of Cambodia is one of five provinces located at the lower part of the Tonle Sap Lake and rich in historical sites such as temples from the pre-Angkorian era.
The famous ancient city – Sambor Prei Kuk has about two hundred brick temples is located here in this province. The city was built during the time of King Isanavarman when he successfully united the territories of Chenla Kork and the Khmer water territory of Chenla Toek. Sambo Prei Kuk served as the capital of the Khmer Empire for many centuries. It is interesting to first visit Sambor Prei Kuk before visiting the splendid Angkor complex, as its design and style are the foundations that inspired the Angkor civilization.
There is an interesting fruit bat roost in the grounds of the old governor’s residence (a nice colonial era building). This is behind the market on the first road off the river. If the gate to the old governors building is open, you may be in luck, the house itself is sometimes left unlocked. All of the original furnishings are missing, but some of the bathroom fixtures remain and the house itself gives off a haunted vibe. The grasslands and rice-fields surrounding Kompong Thom of an extreme importance for wildlife conservation. These areas hold the largest global population of the endangered Bustard the Bengal Florican as well as occasional large waterbirds from the Tonle Sap floodplain (Adjutants, Pelican, Painted Stork). Other species include large numbers of wintering palearctic passerines (including Dusky Warbler, Yellow-breasted Bunting, Siberian Rubythroat) and the globally vulnerable Manchurian Reed Warbler. In March large numbers of Oriental Plover pass through the area making this possibly the best area in the world to see this species.
Visitng the areas, you can also have a glimpse of everyday life in the Cambodian countryside with many fishermen, ox-carts and small scale farmers. The best way to visit the grasslands is by en-listing the help of a moto-dop driver from in-front of the Arunras guesthouse. A number of these know the area (around Rolous village about 5km towards Phnom Penh) and speak English.