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Old French Lighthouse Historic Building

Old French Lighthouse Historic Building

  • Travel Location Kampong Cham
  • Looming over the Mekong River opposite town is an old French lighthouse. For years it was an abandoned shell, but it's been renovated and features an incredibly steep and precarious staircase (more like a series of ladders). Don’t attempt the climb if you're scared of heights. There are great views across the Mekong from the ...


Kampong Cham is a rather wonderful place and a lot of its charm comes from its riverside setting. Having one of Asia's great waterways slide through the center of town gives this sleepy town a kind of quiet majesty. The group tourists aren't here in numbers yet but it has slowly established itself as a stop-off point for backpackers. One of the sights to see in this little market town is a French-era lighthouse, situated on the other side of the river. Until a few years ago it was very overgrown and neglected but it has now been restored and this ochre-red giant is certainly an unusual landmark in this part of the world. If you are really brave you can climb up the endless ladder inside. You wouldn't want to be afraid of heights, however. Just north of the lighthouse is a Cham village with its own mosque and traditional houses; rent a bike and visit both together.

Just on the far side of Kizuna Bridge, and north a little, a proud remnant of the French period looks over the Mekong.

The French Watchtower was built in the 1900s, presumably to guard the rubber plantations against bandits sneaking up from the river, and renovated in 2005.

The Kompong Cham Governor’s house has a direct line of site to the watchtower and when a warning was needed a large fire would be lit in the tower announcing any impending danger. Today the tower is used to alert the motodops of the arrival of a tourist bus.

If you are fine with heights, a very steep staircase runs up the interior of the tower, allowing you to climb to the summit and enjoy the same views that the guards in the 1920s would have had. We’re not sure whether there’s a word for upside-down vertigo, but we think that’s what we got when we were half-way up. So we didn’t get to take a shot of the sunset for you, as we had planned.

The French watchtower
Off National Route 7, opposite Kompong Cham
Admission: Free

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Last updated on 16th May, 2016.



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