Koh Kong is the most southwestern province of Cambodia. It is one of the biggest provinces in the whole country with a long undeveloped coastline and a mountainous, forested and largely inaccessible interior, which embraces part of the Cardamom Mountains, the biggest coherent rainforest of Southeast Asia. Its tourist attractions include abundant wildlife; big waterfalls and casinos on the border to Thailand, while an Export Processing Zone and new port facilities are being developed for international trade.
The province is an increasingly popular gateway to Cambodia from Hat Lek in southern Thailand, in part of the reasonably direct access to the port and beach resort town of Sihanoukville. While this was previously a gruelling journey by boat and pickup on rough bumpy roads using small ferries at river crossings, the donation by the Thai government of new road infrastructure is improving access greatly.
The name means " Kòng Island Province". Its capital is Krong Koh Kong, which is located in the West of the province right next to the Thai border. The city is surrounded with a large forested area connected to the mainland by bridges and ferries. It's generally a quiet town, but there are many reasons to stay in Koh Kong for more than one night such as the nearby islands, rivers, tours into the nature and the buzzing nightlife. The people of Koh Kong speak mainly Khmer, and most speak some Thai as well. You can also find many Chinese and Vietnamese speakers as well as a lot of broken English.
Your stay here will be economical as lodging, food and transportation is relatively cheap here. Please make this place a stop on your travels through S.E. Asia and you won't be disappointed.
Koh Kong province is 11,160 square kilometres big. It’s located in the West of the country and is bordering to the North with Pursat, to the East and South with the Gulf of Thailand and to the West with Kampot and Sihanoukville. The province consists mainly of a huge coherent mountain range, the Cardamom Mountains. Covered with lush deep rainforest it’s the biggest successional forested region in whole Southeast Asia, which is almost not populated but by some small tribes. There are quite a lot of creeks and rivers running to the see, Stoeng Kaoh Pa and Stoeng Me Toek are the biggest ones.
You won’t find the typical Cambodian plain wet areas, covering rice fields and other agricultural plantations, except from some river benches near the see. The highest point in the province is 1210m.
The current population in this province is about 207,474 people or 1,45% of the country’s total population (14,363,519 person in Cambodia, 2007, provincial government data), with 107,499 male and 99,975 female. The population density is therefore 18,6 people per square kilometre.Climate
The country has a tropical climate - warm and humid. 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. Travellers need not to fear natural disasters such as erupting volcanoes or earthquakes, and the country is not directly affected by tropical storms.
Climate: Cambodia can be visited throughout the year. However, those plans to travel extensively by road should be avoided the last two months of the rainy season when some countryside roads may be impassable. 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.
General information about the provincial climate:
- Cool season: November- March (17-27c)
- Hot season: March- May (29c -38c)
- Rainy season: May - October (27-35c, with humidity up to 90%.)
The economy of Koh Kong, in spite of recent progress of border development, although rapidly increasing, is low compared with most neighbouring countries. The main domestic activity on which most rural households depend is agriculture and its related sub-sectors. Manufacturing output is varied but is not very extensive and is mostly conducted on a small-scale and informal basis. The service sector is heavily concentrated in trading activities and catering-related services.
How to get there
Koh Kong (Cambodia) /Hat Lek (Thai):
Open from 7:00 -17:00.
By Bus and Taxi:
It is always travelled by backpackers; there are many comfortable means of getting to Bangkok and Phnom Penh via Koh Kong.
Bangkok to Phnom Penh:
1.) Take a bus to Trat.
2.) Take a Songthaw to Klong Yai, takes 2 hours
3.) Change to another Songthaw to Hat Lek, about 30 min. Then cross the border. You can get the Cambodian 1-month arrival visa on the border. $20 or 1000 Bath. The visa application form requires 1 passport photo.
4.) Take a moto to Koh Kong
5.) Express boat to Sihanoukville, departure 8:00am
To catch up with the Express Boat in a same day, you have to leave Trat very early in the morning. Or take the minibus.
6.) In Sihanoukville, take a moto from the port to the bus station. If you want to travel to PP in a same day, you have to hurry to go to the bus station. You have to ask for the moto fee before, otherwise you are asked to pay a higher fee.
7.) Take a bus to PP, around 4 hours.
It is possible to travel from Koh Kong to PP in a day.
Note: Moto and boat fees have to negotiate before you enter them for travelling.
From Phnom Penh to Bangkok
Bus: Capitol Bus departure 7:30 am
Bus + Boat:
1.) Take a bus from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville. To catch up the boat in the same day, you have to take an early bus at 7:30.
2.) Take a moto from the bus station to the boat pier. Make sure you bargain for the moto fee.
3.) Take an express boat from Sihanoukville to Koh Kong. Departure: 12:00 noon. If you want to take the boat in a same day, it is not sure to get the seat as what you want but you can sit on the roof. Travel time around 3.5 hrs,
4.) From Koh Kong to the Border: take a moto driver.
5.) Cross the border. The border is closed at 17:00.
6.) Take a Songthaw to Klong Yai, travel time around 30 min.
7.) Change songthaw to Trat, around 2 hours.
8.) From Trat to Bangkok, there is also a night bus departure.
If the boat arrived later than 16:00, you have to take a risk not to be able to cross the border. In case the border is closed once you got there, you have 3 choices.
1) Stay at Eingdoy Hotel, 500m before the border, tel. 039-588109, room rate is around 10 – 15USD per night with TV, Pool Bar.
2) A small Guest House in the village nearby, 1.5 km from the border. Experience the local home stay; room rate is around 5 – 8 USD per night.
3) Go back to Koh Kong town by moto or boat for only 1USD per person.
You can also make the way from Phnom Penh to Koh Kong town in a share taxi. The departure is early in the morning around 7am opposite of the central bus station, where there are lots of minibuses and taxis waiting for customers. The ride will probably take around 8-10h depending on the season you’re travelling. The price is negotiable between $14-20.
If you would like to experience a very nice, but kind of rough route through a remote area of Cambodia, than it’s that tour you’ll have to go for. You need to take the National Highway No 4 from Phnom Penh in direction of Sihanoukville. After heading on the Highway for around 180km you’ll pass a small town called Kampong Seila, from which it is a couple of kilometres more to come to a T-junction. Now turning right you’re entering the Minor Road No 48. It’s a narrow road badly paved with laterite, which makes an adventure out of your trip. You should be well experienced to manage this bumpy, creek-crossing road during the wet season without tasting the ground. As the road led through a breathtaking countryside you’ll reach Koh Kong after approx. 140km. Be sure that the early bird catches the worm so don’t go to late as you want to manage the whole trip within one day.
Koh Kong offers many small restaurants and places to eat. There is especially two we would recommend: Otto's Restaurant, rooms and meeting place & the Foreigner Food Restaurant (But don't order any beef meal here, only Otto's can be trusted). It seems the larger restaurants have just cookbook cutouts for their menus with no prices listed. You will be charged according to what you look like. Don’t wonder if some of the restaurant owners are sometimes quite impolite; just pass them over if possible. The best budget meals are the stalls in and around Psar Leu.
That’s a Thai-style garden restaurant, which is the most alluring one among the few remaining opportunities. They have a huge menu including more than 35 vegetarian choices and a range of fresh seafood.
Set on the breezy veranda of the guesthouse, this Western-style restaurant makes a convenient stop for a quick breakfast before taking a boat to Sihanoukville. The dinner includes Thai food, several hearty vegetarian choices and a selection of central European dishes, including for example one of the best bratwurst Cambodia has to offer.
Heng Heng Restaurant:
This is quite a popular Khmer restaurant for tasty Chinese and Cambodian breakfast of noodle soup and “Bobor” (rice porridge), but it lacks the atmosphere to warrant a good stop for a dinner.
Samras Angkor Restaurant:
If you are eager to go for Cambodian dishes, that’s the place to pop in. They serve lots of fine Cambodian dishes here. Coming from Thailand you might try the famous Lok Lak or Fish Amok. If you’re to easily to distract by some loud karaoke music, it’s not your place though.
There are only five hotels here and the rest are guesthouses. The guesthouses are simple and basic rooms, some have Asian style (squat) bathrooms inside the room and the average price is 5 – 8 USD for fan and 8 – 15 USD with air-con. Some guesthouses have no-bathroom rooms for 4 USD per room and night.
Note: The first time you get here, the motorcycle taxis will try to overcharge you. The real rate is 2000 Riel or 20 Baht per ride.
Bopha Koh Kong Hotel *
Koh Kong International Resort Club (L) * Safari World is now open!
Koh Pich Hotel *
Phou Mint Koh Kong Hotel *
Rasmey Makara Hotel *
Cheap Charlies Guesthouse
Juliana Guest House
Koh Kong Hotel Koh Lap Chai Den Hotel
Nokor Reach Koh Kong Hotel
Otto's Restaurant Rooms & Meeting Place
Pai Lin Guest House
Penh Cheth Guest House
Ponl Eupreah Chan Penh Vong Guesthouse
Poy Sian Guesthouse
Sovann Angkor Guesthouse
Bopha Koh Kong Hotel: (tel: 011/741040)
This hotel is easily to find, because its just two blocks east of the Sihanoukville boat pier located. It has its own restaurant and rooms at different rates.
Single Room: ground floor, air-con, fridge, Sat TV, $8 usd
Single Room: 3rd floor, air-con, fridge, Sat TV, $10
Double Room: air-con, fridge, Sat TV, $13 usd
VIP Room: air-con, fridge, Sat TV, hot water & sitting area, $25 usd
Koh Pich Hotel: (tel: 035/936113)
You may like this hotel, because it is up to international standards. Hotel, restaurant, nightclub, Karaoke & meeting hall for 60.
VIP Room: air-con, cable TV, fridge, $15 usd
Twin Room: cable TV, air-con, $15 usd
Queen Room: cable TV, air-con, $10 usd
Fan Room: bathroom inside, $5
Phou Mint Koh Kong Hotel: (tel: 011/948255)
Located on the river between the Sihanoukville boat pier and the Koh Kong Bridge, this is a new hotel with a beautiful view of the river.
1st Floor: air-con, fridge & TV, $10 usd; fan fridge & TV $6 usd; fan & TV, only $5 usd
2nd Floor: air-con, TV hot water & tub, $15 usd; air-con & TV $12 usd
Rasmey Makara Hotel: (tel: 035/936058)
This is a European standard hotel located south east of the traffic circle. Downstairs rooms are $10 usd with air-con, TV and bath. A single room cost $8, the double room cost $10 and the VIP room is at $13. The rooms have air-con, fridge, TV and Western style bathroom. The whole complex is very modern with garden area and sitting area, massage and Karoke are available on the grounds. The restaurant is known for tasty seafood and live music from 6 pm to 12 midnight.
Cheap Charlies Guesthouse: (tel: 016/853450)
There is no place to have a cheaper accommodation in town, 50baht per pax. The rooms are really basic and seem to some people as small cells with shared bathroom. Anyway the friendly family will make you feel like home. This place is also a good source for traveller info. A small restaurant is included serving tasty Western and Asian dishes.
Otto’s: (tel: 093/6211)
Otto's restaurant, rooms & meeting place has rooms for: Single room 80 baht, Double room 100 baht & large double room for 120 baht. TV is available for an extra fee. Otto's has good food, is a place to relax and is a central meeting place for friends both old and young. The food and drinks come at fair prices. River and island tours by boat can be arranged. Note: Otto's is open, it seems a few unscrupulous m/c taxi drivers are saying Otto's is closed because he does not pay them a commissions.
Pai Lin Guest House: (tel: 015/836570)
Pai Lin Guesthouse is located south east of the traffic circle. The rates are 100 Baht for a fan room and 200 Baht for a room with air-con. Bathroom is inside the room.
Most of the products are imported from Thailand, except vegetables, fruits and some local foods. There are a couple of clothing shops across the street from the eastern side of the market selling clothes from Thailand as well. Some small shops along the road on the southern side of the market stay open until 10pm.Where to see
Cham Yeam Resort
Kbal Chhay E91 Waterfall
Nature and Wildlife Reserve near Nengkok Village, Bakclong Commune, Mundol Seyma District, 24km (2h:15mn) from the Provincial Town.
Kbal Chhay or Koh Por
Kbal Chhay waterfall is located in Mondul Seima district, about 16 kilometers north of Koh Kong provincial town. Kbal Chhay or Koh Por is a natural site along a high mountain range and forest. To reach Koh Por, visitors travel along a stream amid beautiful scenery.
Kbal Chhay gets its water from the Pursat stream. The waterfall is 10 meters high and 8 meters wide during the rainy season. In dry season there is less water, so locals and tourists visit the site and relax under the big rocks that resemble a cave.
Kbal Chhay Prek Koh Waterfall
Nature and Wildlife Reserve near Neng Kok Village, Bakclong Commune, Mundol Seyma District, 22km (15mn) from the Provincial Town.
Khun Chhang Khun Phen
Khun Chhang Khun Phen stupa sits on a rock in the middle of the sea tributary, about 1 kilometer from the provincial town. The stupa is 4 meters high and made of concrete. Because the site is small-only 40 square meters, including the stupa-it can accommodate only 10 to 15 visitors at a time. The stupa is about 1 kilometer from the provincial town. Koh Kong residents worship there and often visit the site on national holidays and traditional festivals.
Khun Chhang Khun Phen is related to a Khmer legend. Once upon a time, there was villager's daughter named Thim, who was loved by a man named Khun Chhang. Khun Chhang was bold-headed and not very handsome, but his family was rich.
Thim, however, did not love Khun Chhang, they became engaged and Khun Chhang married her. She later betrayed her husband to love a commander named Khun Phen. When Khun Chhang learned of his wife's affair, he complained to the King. The King decided to cut Thim's body into two parts. After Thim died, Khun Chhang buried her at the same place where she was killed. Because he wanted her to be reincarnated, Khun Chhang put up a soul flag pole on the east bank of the stream, facing where Thim was buried. Then he built a stupa in memory of their love. Later, the west bank of the stream was named Chetdey (a stupa) village, and the east bank was named Dangtung (a flage pole) village.
Koh Moul Resort (Koh Kong Krau)
Koh Moul, the biggest island in Cambodia, is 22 kilometers long and 7 kilometers wide. The island is located in Koh Kong district, about 24 kilometers south of Koh Kong provincial town. Koh Moul is 350 meters above sea level. The island has many hills and is rich in natural scenery.
Koh Kong Krav has more than 10 waterfalls that range from 6 to 25 meters in height. Koh Moul features 6 beautiful beaches, known as Deum Dong Beach 1 to 6, that range from 3,000 to 5,000 meters long. All have beautiful white sand and limpid water. The water surrounding the island are full of black and white dolphines that appear along the beach from 9 to 10:30 in the morning and 5 to 7:30 in the evening.
Koh Sdech features a long beach, and the sea is filled with a variety of fish. The site is excellent for snorkeling or scuba diving, as the water is clear, and an array of coral can be seen growing at the bottom of the sea.
According to legend, there once was a king who commanded an army on the island. Because there was no fresh water, the king searched everywhere to find some. At last he found a rock near the sea. Thinking the rock might contain water, the king drew his sword and split open the rock, releasing an endless flow of water that local people still use today.
Lam Da Beach
Recreational area with parks and beaches at Lam Da Village, Koh Kapi Commune, Koh Kong District 20km (1h:45mn) from the Provincial Town.
Prek Chik O'srey Sranash
Nature and Wildlife Reserve on road 48, Chhmarbak Village, Bakclong Commune, Smach Mean Chey District, 6km (10min) from the Provincial Town.
Recreational area: parks and beaches. Road 48, Dong Tung Commune, Smachmean chey District. 17km(25mn) From Provincial Town.
Ta Tai Waterfall
Ta Tai waterfall is a semi-natural site located in Ta Tai village, Ta Tai commune, Smach Meanchey district, about 20 kilometers east of Koh Kong provincial town along National Road 48. There are 84 families living in this area. They earn their living by fishing and hunting.
The waterfall has two stages. The first stage is 5 to 6 meters high; the second stage is 12 to 15 meters high. Ta Tai waterfall was developed as a model site in Koh Kong to attract local and foreign tourists.
Ta Tai waterfall is also known as Ta Eysei waterfall. According to legend, a man named Ta Tai and his son went to the waterfall to fish because the waterfall was the joining point between fresh water and salt water. There was a storm and the resulting floods carried away Ta Tai's son. Four or five days later, however, the boy was found at the same spot from where he disappeared. When Ta Tai questioned his son, the boy said: "There is someone who took me to a secret place, where he turned into a vampire and wanted to kill me. But suddenly Ta Eysei (a hermit) appeared to save me and took me back." After hearing the story, Ta Tai and his wife believed that their son was saved by Ta Eysei or Neak Sachang (another mane of hermit). Ever since then, the Waterfall has been called Ta Eysei Waterfall or Ta Tai Waterfall.
Veal Achaut Waterfall
Nature and Wildlife Reserve on road 48, Dong Tung Commune, Smachmean chey District. 45km (1h) from the Provincial Town.