A province known as a parking spot might be Cambodia's newest travel destination. Hungry travelers winding along National Road 5 between Phnom Penh and Battambang have been known to pause in Pursat to refuel with lunch, but few have discovered the province's three wonders waiting just a moto-drive away. The tomb of Kleang Mueng, the floating town of Kampong Luang, and the natural beauty of the Ouda are all unspoiled attractions that have failed to disappoint even the most seasoned adventurer.
More than 400,000 people make Pursat their home, a town known for its top-quality marble and located 186 km from Phnom Penh. Most residents make their living farming, digging marble, or sculpting. Locals and visitors alike are never disappointed with the beautiful scenery as they stroll along the riverbanks at sunset. Although the riverside is always busy, the cool waters and fresh air wash the town with peace and serenity. Photographers have countless opportunities for still memories here, whether they are walking or resting on one of the many benches available for tired wanderers.
Heading 5 km out of town, down a small road to the left of the bridge, travelers will find the tomb of Kleang Mueng. Oknha Kleang Mueng was a Khmer national hero who defeated the Thais in a battle in 1482. A new statue of Kleang Mueng stands proudly holding a long sword. Beside him is his wife, Khan Khiev. The gold-painted statue resides in a new shrine, given by Prince Ranariddh to replace the aging shelter that housed the previous Kleang Mueng monument. Locals revere Oknha Kleang Mueng and are known to visit his tomb during festivals and holidays to burn incenses and pray for happiness.
Travelers must move on to Kampong Luang in Krakor, a town floating on the Tonle Sap Lake just 40 km outside of Pursat. Khmer and Vietnamese fishermen reside amidst the more than 12,000 inhabitants. Among the floating buildings are a police station, schools, restaurants, doctors' offices, shops and bars. Most visitors are surprised to find the town equipped with all the facilities of a grounded city. Boats are the most popular and efficient means of transportation, and nearly every house lays claim to one. The town's size changes according to the lake's water level, which rises and falls according to the season. Kampong Luang is a maximum 7 km during the rainy season and 2 km during the dry season. Tourists are always welcome, regardless of the season, and often delighted when locals raise their hands in a friendly greeting to newcomers passing by. Hour-long sightseeing tours of the town cost $5, and motor taxi drivers can carry you from Pursat to Kampong Luang for 20,000 riel ($5) roundtrip.
It is best to conclude one's journey on a high note, so many travelers leave by soaking in the lucid water of the Ouda. This remote attraction refreshes even the most tired travelers with its gorgeous scenery and tranquility. Any stress brought on by the challenges of work or family life will be carried away in the natural splendor of the river, which flows from the Arai River in the Cardamom mountains. The mouth of the river, approximately 500 meters wide, is framed by thousands of large and small rocks. During the rainy season, the transparent water crashes over the smooth stones, but when the rains dry up, sentimental travelers can take a seat on the rocks to reflect on their journey. Opened just a few years ago, Ouda is located in Rokat Commune in Kravanh district 58 km from Pursat.
With travel comes experience. Pursat and its surrounding attractions are sure to season even the savviest traveler. Lunch along the highway, a dip into history with Oknha Kleang Mueng, a floating town tour, and a bath in the healing waters of Ouda will fill your photo album with unique memories to pass on for generations.