Svay (pronounced Swai) Rieng is on of the smallest and sleepiest Cambodian provinces that just happen to have one of the country’s busiest highways running straight through – National Highway No 1, which links Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam just after you cross the Mekong River by way of the Neak Loeung Ferry. It is also one of the poorest provinces of Cambodia due to the poor quality of the land. Most of the provincial population eke out a subsistence living based on farming and fishing.
Svay Rieng is the provincial capital, a sleepy town just 43 km from the Bavet border crossing. This is a fairly prosperous place as a result of the border trade traffic, business people and travellers passing trough. The town is a very friendly place and makes for a pleasant overnight stop whether coming from or going to Vietnam.
Svay Rieng town is situated near the Waiko River and its vast, scenic marshlands, the result of a wide stretch of the river drying up significantly over the years. It’s a pleasant setting and one that can be enjoyed at several different spots along the river and marsh. A bridge over the Waiko, not far from the main part of town, bears a plaque that states prime minister Hun Sen donated the bridge.
During the long Vietnam War, American forces believed that this was the place, where Vietnamese communists had their intelligence headquarter. For sure there were undoubtedly a lot of Vietnamese communists hiding especially in the South of Cambodia during much of the war, but there wasnt a strategic centre like the Pentagon here. In 1969 the Americans began unauthorised bombing in this area and in 1970 joined with South Vietnamese forces for a big ground assault.
How To Get There
Share taxis leave Phnom Penh from the Chbah Ampeau taxi park to head to Svay Rieng. The fare from Phnom Penh to Svay Rieng is 8,000riel. Grab an extra space for a bit more comfort (costs you more). Hour Lean Bus Company operates a daily direct connection from PP to Svay Rieng (cost $2, 3 hour ride).
If you come from the Bavet border crossing with Vietnam it might be a little bit difficult to find a taxi, as most of them prefer the more lucrative option of taking foreigners all the way to Phnom Penh. Try to find a taxi with other travellers and to stuff yourself for a 1-hour trip into the taxi ($1-2).
Motorcycle Touring Info:
Phnom Penh to Svay Rieng: This trip is a fairly easy lone for motorcycles, as you can easily skirt the potholes that slow down the cars. Keep those eyes open, though, as the share taxis that ply this stretch from Phnom Penh to the Vietnam border all seem to be trying for the Cambodian Land Highway Speed Award. They do fly and they dont let a little thing like a motorcycle hinder their flight.
What To See
Prey Ba Sak