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Anlong Veng

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Jan 14, 2022

Anlong Veng is a district and small town in the Oddar Meanchey Province of northwest Cambodia. Its sole claim to notability is its connection to the later days of the Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot, Ta Mok, Son Sen, and Khiev Samphan, the leaders of the organisation, all had homes here. The district also holds the graves of Pol Pot and Ta Mok, as well as the remnants of the structure where Pol Pot was convicted of crimes against the Cambodian people. What might otherwise be an overly morbid itinerary is redeemed by the stunning mountain scenery. There is a border crossing with Thailand‘s Si Saket Province 13 km north of Anlong Veng town.

Ta Mok’s eerie lake looms on the edge of Anlong Veng

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Anlong Veng is at a crossroads, literally and perhaps metaphorically. Once its inaccessibility made it attractive to Khmer Rouge fugitives, it is now at the hub of four glorious asphalt highways which blaze trails through the undeveloped hinterland of North-western Cambodia. Hwy 67 runs north to Choam and the border with Chong Sa-Ngam in Thailand bringing an influx of traders. It continues south to Siem Reap and its temples. The more recently completed east-west highway connects the town with its provincial capital, Samraong, in the west and the disputed Preah Vihear temples in the east.

The town is centred on a roundabout near the market. This is where the road to Preah Vihear meets Hwy 67. The town spreads north towards the man-made lake (see below) and the junction of the road to Samraong.

Next to the roundabout are the offices of G.S.T and Angkor Paramount Transport which both run buses to and from Siem Reap (2 hr, USD4, twice daily), and Sra Em (2 hr, once daily) for Preah Vihear.

Share-taxis and pick-up trucks connect with Siem Reap (2 hr), Samraong (1 hr), Tbeng Meanchey (2 hr) and others. The four main roads to Anlong Veng are now all sealed.

On the Thai side, the international border crossing is at the border of Surin Province and Si Saket Province and is accessible from either. The nearest town is Khu Khan in Si Saket Province. From Surin train station to the border takes about 1.5 hr. On the Cambodian side, moto-taxis and pick-up trucks are available in the tiny bazaar.

The town itself is easy enough to cover on foot. Moto-taxis are eager to take the town’s few visitors to the sites listed below for USD7-15. If haggling isn’t your strong point and you’re not desperate to see every last heap that has a connection with the Khmer Rouge, better prices can be had by taking on a motorbike driver for one-way journeys only. A motorbike to or from the border area should only be USD3-4. The sights in town can be reached on foot. Plenty of drivers hang about at the border, so don’t fear being stranded.

The below sights are either within the town or about 14 km up in the hills near the Choam border point.

  • Anlong Veng Lake and Spillway (About 500 m N of the roundabout, the road comes very close to the lake). This man-made lake was conceived and carried out by Ta Mok. Many large trees were killed by the flooding, and their trunks jut skywards like huge grey bones. The lake itself is unsettling to look at, but local people love the spillway created in the rainy season. Fishing, boating and the general splashing around are available, with just as many spectators as participants. 
  • Ta Mok’s Town House (The track to the house is about 1 km N of roundabout on the road to the border). The best-preserved of the Khmer Rouge houses, Ta Mok’s house in town overlooks the eerie lake that Brother Number Four created himself. Murals of Angkor Wat and Preah Vihear, as well as a map of Cambodia and a strangely bucolic scene of bathing elephants decorate the walls and are, as yet, undamaged by graffiti. 

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