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Koh Kong

Introduction

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 ” Krong 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.

Geography

Koh Kong province is 11,160 square kilometers 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.

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. Travelers need not to fear natural disasters such as erupting volcanoes or earthquakes, and the country is not directly affected by tropical storms.

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%.)

Population

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 kilometer.

Economy

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

Border Crossing:
Koh Kong (Cambodia) /Hat Lek (Thai):
Open from 7:00 -17:00.

By Bus and Taxi:
It is always traveled 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 motor 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 motor 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
Overland:
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 motor  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 motor 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.

Attention:
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.

Share Taxis:
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.

Motorbike Info:
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.

What to See

Chi Phat is located in Koh Kong province, which is in the Southwest of Cambodia. Chi Phat is mainland South East Asia’s largest remaining tract of rainforest situated directly in the heart of the Cardamom Mountains. With mountains, mangroves and low land swamps on the one hand and many cultural artifacts such as burial jars and wooden coffins on the other hand, Chi Phat and its surrounding area has a variety of attractions to offer both to local and international tourists. Tourists can take a walk through the forest trails and meet warm and friendly village people.

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 or Koh Por? Both? Apparently it is still not clear what name to give this waterfall located in Koh Kong province, Cambodia. Possibly Kbal Chhay is not used as often, now that Koh Kong is asserting itself on the tourist map. Kbal Chhay is also the name of neighboring Kampong Som province’s only waterfall and as such a major tourist destination there. Operators naming this Koh Por makes sense as it distinguishes it from the other Kbal Chhay. Accommodation is to be had in Koh Kong town as well as food. Nothing exists near the falls, so bringing something with you is advisable. It’s a great place to while away.

The waterfall of Kbal Chhay has many sources from the mountain rank at the seaside. The history of Kbal Chhay waterfall was found in 1960. Until 1963 Kbal Chhay arranged as the clean-water sources for providing to Sihanouk Ville, but the arrangement was failed became a hidden place for Khmer Rouge.In 1997, Kbal Chhay was changed to the developing zone. In 1998 Kbal Chhay was for bid by Kok An Company on constructing road and changing this site as tourist resort for local and international tourists. Nowadays, the Royal Government of Cambodia has changed his site as the clean-water sources for providing clean water to Sihanouk Ville. 

The Kbal Chhay Prek Koh Waterfall, Koh Kong is one of the favorite tourist attractions in Koh Kong. The travelers coming from various parts of the world like to go to visit the Kbal Chhay Prek Koh Waterfall, Koh Kong as it has some of the most spectacular scenic views of the adjoining areas.

The tourist can enjoy some time of absolute peace and tranquility as the Kbal Chhay Prek Koh Waterfall, Koh Kong is placed away from the commotion of the provincial town. Your kids are going to have a wonderful time if you take them for picnic to the Kbal Chhay Prek Koh Waterfall, Koh Kong. The cool waters of the waterfalls along with the vegetation surrounding the Kbal Chhay Prek Koh Waterfall make it a perfect picnic spot.

The travelers can hire a car and go to see the Kbal Chhay Prek Koh Waterfall, Koh Kong which must feature in the itineraries of the sightseeing attractions pf Koh Kong. It is situated in the Neng Kok Village of the Bakclong Commune in the Mundol Seyma District of the province of Koh Kong. The Kbal Chhay Prek Koh Waterfall is about 22 km from the heart of he province of Koh Kong.

The Kbal Chhay Prek Koh Waterfall, Koh Kong is the nature and wildlife reserves where the travelers might get to see some of the rare species of flora and fauna.

Where to Eat
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.

Baan Peakmai:
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.

Otto’s:
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.

Where to Stay

Hotels:

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 *

Guesthouses:

Cheap Charlies Guesthouse
Juliana Guest House
Khounchhang Hotel
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 Karaoke 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.

Shopping

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.

Koh Kong map