Kampong Thom is Cambodia’s second largest province, located in the centre of the country, bordering Tonle Sap Lake. The town of Kampong Thom sits on the banks of the Stung Sen River, and provides a good base for exploring the province’s sites, such as the temples of Sambor Prei Kuk, which pre-date the temples of Angkor, and the sacred mountain of Phnom Santuk.
The temples of Sambor Prei Kuk are around 30 kilometres away from the town of Kampong Thom. These temples are some of the oldest buildings in Cambodia, and the complex was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017. The site, previously called Ishanapura, was once the capital of the Chenla Empire which was at its zenith during the 6th century. Now there are around 100 temple ruins peppered throughout the forest. Ten of these temples are octagonal, which is unique to this site in Southeast Asia.
The temple mountain, Phnom Santuk, is only 15 kilometres outside Kampong Thom. This is a popular site for Buddhist pilgrims, and the top of the mountain is adorned with many Buddha statues and colourful monuments. To reach the top, visitors will need to climb up 809 steps, or there is also a more easy-going road. The way up and the summit offer wonderful views over the surrounding countryside and towards Tonle Sap.