TAKEO Province
By: Moeun Nhean.Picture by : Nathan Dexterl. ( September, 2001 Volume 1 No.4 )

TAKEO PROVINCE Is widely thought to be the birthplace of the Cambodian civilization
As far back as the third century AD, Chinese traders described a kingdom located in modern Takeo they called Funan. They said this was a kingdom of walled cities peopled by farmers and artisans, as skillful in the craft of irrigation as they were in music and sculpture. Archeological evidence from the Angkor Borei ruins, where this kingdom had its base, suggests the site may have been an important seat of civilization since as early as 400 BC. Sandwiched between Kandal, Kampot and Kampong Speu provinces, and sharing its south-east border with Vietnam, Takeo province is often overlooked by overseas tourists but still ranks among the most visited provinces due to the number of Khmer tourists who flock there each weekend to visit the temples, ruins and picnic spots dotted throughout it. About 51 per cent of Takeo's 3,563 square kilometers is given over to rice production in the wet season, and 20 per cent in the dry, helping make it Cambodia's third strongest rice producing province according to most official estimates. About 85 per cent of the population, estimated at 815,375 in the 1998 national census, call themselves farmers. The province of Takeo consists of 10 districts, divided into 100 communes and 1116 villages. Takeo also has 20 fishing lots and is one the largest producers of fish per tonne in the country, most of which is exported. During the wet season, the eastern parts of the province turn into a large inland sea.

Points of Interest

Ta Prohm and Yey Peuv temples
Down National Route 2, about 35 kilometers from Phnom Penh, a large sign with a picture of a ruined temple marks the turnoff to this site.
Built by Jayavarman VII (of Angkor Wat fame) in the 13th century, Ta Prohm temple is a small but beautifully preserved laterite and sandstone structure in well-kept grounds. There are still several statues and bas-reliefs in good condition to be viewed inside. About 150 meters north of Ta Prohm is the much smaller Yey Peuv temple, which is in poor repair. Legend has it that Yey Peuv was Ta Prohm's mother. There is an entrance fee to visit Ta Prohm. Tonle Bati A famous picnic area just around the corner from Ta Prohm temple, set on a small peninsular jutting into the Bati River. On Sundays especially many locals come to sit in the small huts perched over the water and picnic on local delicacies such as chicken and frog provided by local vendors. Boats can be hired from here, and many people swim. Because it is a holiday spot for Phnom Penhois, it is often a little more expensive so before buying, remember to ask the price and always bargain.


Ta Mao Zoo (Phnom Ta Mao)

About 10 kilometers further along National Route 2, Ta Mao Zoo enjoys a picturesque location and is designed more in the style of a safari park. Foreign aid agency involvement has helped make this zoo one of the best in the region, and several enclosures (such as the tiger enclosure) are outstanding. There is a small entrance fee. Neang Khmao Temple This temple is a brick and sandstone structure about 15 kilometers further along National Route 2 or 58 kilometers from Phnom Penh. It is in poor condition but maintains an atmosphere of mystery. Neang Khmao means young black girl. It was built in the sixth century and is located in Rovieng Commune. Phnom Chiso and Surya Barpat Also located in Rovieng Commune, this haunting temple atop the hill of Phnom Chiso boasts stunning views and is an impressive ruin in itself. Located just two kilometers from Neang Khmao Temple in Rovieng Commune, Samrong District, the oldest sections of this beautiful ruin date back to the 11th century. The temple stands on the eastern side on the top of Chi So hill (Chi is a term used to address a person who has recently left priesthood and So is a person's name). To reach it, you can cheat slightly and drive to the top, or walk the 412 steps on the eastern side.

Trapaing Tea Village

About forty kilometers north of Phnom Chiso at the foot of the Chambab Hill, tourists can buy silk products as souvenirs from almost every household in this weaving village of more than 100 families. The villagers themselves are not dependent on tourists alone. Traders from Phnom Penh often come to buy from them to sell in the city and some silk is also exported.

Phnom Borei Phnom Da

This site is believed to be the birthplace of Khmer civilization. The Funanese, as the Chinese called the people who built it, controlled the entire south of modern Vietnam and Cambodia when construction of parts of this city began, perhaps as early as 400 BC. Built from bricks, laterite and sandstone, Phnom Da is situated on a 50 meter hill with stairs to the top. Phnom Borei Phnom Da is five kilometers from Angkor Borei town. The town can be reached from Takeo town by boat in the wet season when the road is impassable. The trip, through beautiful scenery, costs about 50,000 riel (US$14). There is a small museum in Angkor Borei.