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A Homestay in Kompong Thom at the famous Sambor Prei Kuk Temples

Our homestay and hosts

A few months ago I heard about a new homestay experience in Kompong Thom,  a rapidly growing city about half way between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. It was just recently, on our way back from Phnom Penh that Brandon and I had a chance to stop in Kompong Thom and try this new experience.  It was…interesting.

The truth is that everyone has a romanticized idea about the homestay experience…it involves delicious local food, conversations about life and values with your hosts long into the night and a wonderful nights sleep in the peace of an electricity-free village. Unfortunately, most homestays in our experience have none of these things. In fact they usually involve mystery meat, a lovely family that speaks not a word of English and a rather restless night of bugs, roosters and babies!

Brandon and I have an advantage, we both speak at least enough Khmer to chat, albeit briefly, with our hosts, but we both agreed, that put into Western travelers shoes the homestay experience could be a rather scary one.

With that said, I loved Sambor Prei Kuk and the amazing 7th century Pre-Angkorian temples it houses. After checking in to the homestay we headed by tuk tuk to the temples. Here we were met by our guide Bunteng, and had a delicious lunch of noodles and vegetables. We then set out on bicycles to explore the temple complex. Though there were more travelers here than I had thought there would be, it was still a very peaceful experience compared to the temples at Angkor Wat. Our guide pointed out fantastic details and I have to say that riding on dirt tracks on our bicycles from temple to temple was a real highlight for me. In the evening we even rode our bikes back to our homestay and when mine got a flat tire (I’m on a diet, I swear!) he just dropped it at the nearest house and borrowed their bicycle…it was a nice community moment!

The next morning we took an oxcart ride to some more distant temples, not the most comfortable form of transportation, but it did feel local and an adventure and I got to drive!

All in all, it was a fun experience and I liked being able to see the temples without feeling rushed and knowing that we didn’t have another long drive after, BUT, make sure you look at the photos below of the toilet, “shower” and keep in mind the things not pictured…crying babies, very loud roosters and rather large bugs!

We are offering the two-day Kompong Thom Experience and we are also offering a great Siem Reap to Phnom Penh one day tour that stops in Kompong Thom and visits the amazing temples there, but doesn’t spend the night. Email cambodia@journeys-within.com to find out more.

Arriving at the temple complex of Sambor Prei Kuk
The trees taking over after 1300 years
An interesting detail, since this is clearly not modeled on Khmer features there is intrigue into who was visiting Cambodia at this time
Biking through the temples, literally!
Ancient temples in trees
The floating temple. I am amazed at the durability of these amazing carvings, they truly have stood the test of time.
Driving an ox cart, I couldn't get the noise right to make them go faster so it was leisurely!
Enjoying lunch at the homestay
The shower room. The shower head didn't work anymore so you use that little green bucket to pour rather chilly water out of the water trough and onto your head!
The toilet...we were excited not to have to squat!

3 comments on “A Homestay in Kompong Thom at the famous Sambor Prei Kuk Temples”

  1. Hi, Came across your informative blog after your homestay in Kompong Thom was mentioned by a Kymer contact i have been introduced to, who lives in Phnom Penh. I am a Vancouver area resident and am just going into retirement. Will transition with a two month journey to Cambodia, Northern Laos and Vietnam, leaving Canada, on January 23. Am looking for soulful ways and means to tour this region, which would included sketching, so your comments were totally in character with my kind of travelling. Pre 9th Century temple ruins/fragments sound interesting too. What is the cost (which i imagine is fairly minimal) to stay at the homestay. Are there any expectations on their part to volunteer, or not. Don’t know if my skill set, as a Graphic Designer, would add to the local community. Do not have romantic notions about volunteering but if i can help for a few days i would. Have slept in the kind of place you described (reality check) in Thailand, in the mid 70s. Will my snoring scare off my local hosts i can only ask? Will put up with the roosters. I wasn’t planning to bring a sleeping bad – should i reconsider that? Any other words of advice? I would be hugely appreciative – altwein@shaw.ca. Can phone too if that save the hassle. Will try to make contact with someone soon to learn a little Kymer vocabulary before the trip. Have already started a bit on Vietnamese vocabulary.

    Many thanks!

    ps: will get help next week to set up my own blog

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