A relatively small city approximately 130 kilometres northeast of the capital, Phnom Penh. Kampong Cham is the capital of the province of the same name and the third-largest city in Cambodia. A peaceful provincial capital spread along the banks of the Mekong, it was an important trading post during the French period.
Hosting a population of less than a million and yet to be heavily visited compared to the coastal retreat of Sihanoukville (formerly Kampong Som) or Siem Reap, the tourist town closest to the Angkor Wat temple complex.
Kampong Cham carries with it plenty of colonial French charm and has a genuine “wild west” feel. From a tourist point of view, it is generally ignored or used as nothing more than a transit hub to access other parts of the country. However, those who do choose to spend time here will enjoy the laid back atmosphere and quaint charm.
Most people in Kampong Cham are ethnic Khmer, but there is a sizeable Cham minority in the province’s towns, including a disproportionately high number of Muslims and Christians.
Due to minimal foreign investment and no large scale tourism, Kampong Cham is a poor city, with few modern buildings, though not lacking in French architecture from the colonial period. However, with the completion of a modern two-lane bridge across the Mekong River, the city has begun a slow recovery from decades of decline. The people of Kampong Cham are, like all Cambodians, very friendly and open to engaging with tourists.
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