In the early 1970s, Pailin was a prosperous town stemming from the extensive gem deposits in the surrounding countryside. Because of its resources, it was one of the first cities invaded by the Khmer Rouge when they began their major offensive against the national government. The city offered no resistance and the Khmer Rouge soldiers were greeted as liberators as they marched into town. At this point, the deposed king had allied himself with the Khmer Rouge and most residents believed that they were fighting to restore him to power.
Pailin is just another Wild West town of Cambodia and like the gold-rush days of California, people seem to be everywhere in the hills sifting through mud puddles and scratching at the dirt, looking to strike it rich with the find of a nice gem. Still, there is more control of some aspects of life than in other areas of Cambodia.
But this seems to have attracted people rather than kept them away. Several people, who had moved to Pailin from Phnom Penh, gave this as the main reason they made the move. They liked the idea that criminals did not enjoy the same impunity that they seem to enjoy in Phnom Penh. The influx of residents from other parts of the country has produced a friendlier Pailin.
Nowadays the mixed lot of Pailin residents seem happy to see foreigners coming in for holidays and check the place out, realizing that their presence means that normalcy and revenue are arriving in Pailin. Even the Vietnamese residents seem to have been accepted, which is truly amazing given the hatred the Khmer Rouge have generally shown them. Pailin is worth checking out. The town is nestled in a beautiful valley with picturesque sunsets over the mountains that separate Cambodia and Thailand close by. Wat Gohng-Kahng is very famous and features the much-photographed landmark gate of Pailin town that you face as you arrive on the highway from Battambang. This wat is the centre of holiday festivities these days in Pailin and was the scene of the official Pailin reintegration ceremony in 1996, after the Ieng Sary faction of the Khmer Rouge worked out surrender and semi-autonomy deals with the Cambodian government.
Pailin and Cambodia in general was extensively mined during the three decades of war and remains home to numerous land mines and unexploded ordnance. People are cautioned to stay on marked roads. De-mining is ongoing with UN help, which brings in some of the few foreigners that the locals encounter.
The current population in this municipality is about 35,234 people or 0.25% of the country’s total population (14,363,519 person in Cambodia, 2007, provincial government data), with 19,059 male and 16,175 female. The population density is therefore 44 people per square kilometre.
The surrounding area of Pailin City was rich in a variety of gemstones which were mined almost clean to support the Khmer Rouge. They also logged the area to create personal wealth with no regard for the effect on the environment. Nowadays all you can find is low-quality, cheap, hand-faceted gemstones at the market in Pailin downtown.
After the exploitation of the natural resources available, the Khmer Rouge invested their money in the Casinos around Pailin.
The country enjoy tropical climate with warm and humid temperature. In the monsoon season, abundant rain allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of crops. This year-round tropical climate makes Cambodia ideal for developing tourism. Travelers need not to fear natural disasters such as erupting volcanoes or earthquakes, and the country is not directly affected by tropical storms. Cambodia has sun almost year round. The average temperature is about 27 degrees Celsius; the minimum temperature is about 16 degrees. December and January are the coolest months, whereas the hottest is April.
- Hot season: March- May (27c -35c)
- Rainy season: May – October (24c-32c.)
- Cool season: November- March (22c-28c)