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.
Many travelers see Koh Kong only briefly as they pass through on the way to/from Thailand, but that is changing and the province is becoming something of an ‘eco-destination.
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.
HOW TO GET THERE
Koh Kong may be approached directly from Thailand via the Cham Yeam crossing, and from Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh and Kampot by road. Several bus companies offer direct bus service between Koh Kong, Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh. Buses arrive and depart the bus station in Koh Kong. Bus company offices are clustered along Street 3 in the center of town. Read More…
THINGS TO DO & SEE IN KOH KONG
BEACHES AND ISLANDS
There are a few beaches within easy driving distance of the main town area. The nearest small beach resort on the opposite side of the river is popular with the locals. The resort has a restaurant by the water, bungalows and a muddy little beach. Koh Yor Beach near Ba Blong Village along the beach is much better as characterized by its long, narrow, secluded, white sand beach with a few little oceanside seafood shacks. The island of Koh Koh Khoa in the Gulf of Thailand, about a 45-minutes boat ride from Koh Kong City, has several unspoiled completely untouristed white sand beaches.
KOH KONG SAFARI WORLD
This site has a fully fledged animal theme park complete with animal shows and a small zoological park exhibiting tigers, bears, ostriches, deer and several other species from all around the world. There are regular scheduled dolphin shows, crocodile feedings, bird shows and orangutan boxing shows. Though some of the shows may be unfit for everyone’s taste, the animals appear to be fairly fed and cared for according to local standards.
Koh Kong is rich with waterfalls and rapids. The rugged rivers that run down from the Cardamom Mountains harbor spectacular jungled falls, some near to town, whilst others further upstream. Many of the falls are but a trickle in the dry season, and best visited during the wet season.
The Ta Tai Waterfalls, the nearest to town and the most popular local falls, sit close to the main road about 20km to the east. The falls are wide and two-levelled with a drop of about 6m, situated in a jungle gorge and fall over the rapids. Others such as the Koh Por Falls, the Tuo Kokir Rapids and the impressive jungle gorge Kbal Chhay Falls sit further upriver within a day trip distance.
Chi Phat, though hardly the most beautiful village in Cambodia, is an excellent base for a variety of outdoor activities. Visitors may swim in the river; cycle (or take a motorbike taxi) to several sets of rapids; and hike in the following areas: the forest to explore waterfalls; Phnom Peang Boran which is one of very few such sites in the Cardamoms and the only one known to have jars and wooden coffins of the heroes of mountain tribes (Khmer Leu) who lived in the Cardamoms Mountain during the late Angkorian era about 300 to 400 years ago; and a grassy opening in the middle of the jungle with a seasonal pond called Veal Ta Prak. Monkeys, hornbills and other rainforest creatures may often be seen along the banks of Stung Proat (an unlogged tributary of the Preak Piphot River accessible by boat). A village elder informed that the last time a tiger was seen in these parts was 1975.
Koh Kong’s first PADI scuba diving operation offers PADI courses (Fun Dives and Beginner through Professional courses) and scuba diving trips to local islands and reefs as well as multi day excursions. Koh Kong Divers report excellent visibility and frequent Black Tip and Grey Reef Shark sightings.
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 RESTAURANTS
The city is small with a couple of dozen restaurants in all, including just a few foreign-run restaurant and bars. Most of the restaurants are quite local and the emphasis is usually on seafood. The Thai food also is particularly good in Koh Kong – the restaurant at the casino and the Baan Peakmai in town both serve some of the best in the area. For sunset, whether for dinner or just for sundowners, The Bay Cafe and Cafe Laurent on the river road near the bridge both offer the nicest sunset views over the river.
Nightlife in Koh Kong tends to shut down comparatively early, with most places closing between 10 and midnight. Cafe Laurent and Bob’s Ice Cream are popular. The latest places open in town are the Cambodian clubs including the Pisey Club next to Apex Guesthouse and Pun Pun on the main road, both dark, boxy and loud, offering cocktail bars and catering primarily to young locals.