KOMPONG THOM, 145km from Siem Reap (and slightly further from Phnom Penh), straggles along NR6 and the Stung Sen River. The town used to be known as kompong pos thom, “place of the big snake” – apparently because the locals used to take offerings to a large snake that lived in a cave on the river, but this may be yet another Cambodian myth as no one now has a clue where the cave is. Most visitors stop over to visit the temples at Sambor Prei Kuk, 30km northeast, and the attractive Phnom Santuk religious complex; a couple of hours is quite enough to have a look around the town itself. Kompong Thom is also a possible jumping-off point for the remote Preah Vihear, two days’ journey to the north, though access is now easier from Siem Reap via Sra Em. Closer, but even more of an adventure to reach, is the massive Preah Khan (Kompong Thom) – go now before the tour groups do.

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