Koh Kong

Koh Kong is the capital of Koh Kong Province in Cambodia's Cardamom Mountains. It is 8 km from Cham Yeam, which is connected by Cambodia's southernmost Thai border crossing to the Thai town of Hat Lek.

Understand

The province is one of Cambodia's greenest and most eco-friendly, with its town being tiny, but surrounded by Asia's largest expanse of mangroves, beautiful islands, and mountains.

Get in

Koh Kong has an airport (KKZ) but has no scheduled flights. Its runway is in a less than optimal shape and air travel will not commence commercially for a while.

From Cambodia

Koh Kong is linked to Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville by Hwy 48, which branches off Hwy 4 at Sre Ambel. The road is paved and complete with 5 bridges. It's a good scenic drive through some of Cambodia's least developed and unspoiled regions, the Cardamom Mountains. Minibuses and tourist air-con buses to and from Koh Kong leave mainly in the mornings. Afternoon departures depend on demand. Tickets to Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville should cost around 25,000 riel (USD6.25). Sihanoukville travel agencies often ask USD8–10.

There is no longer a boat from Koh Kong to Sihanoukville. It stopped in 2009 although some travel agents in Thailand still sell travel tickets for the (non-existent) boat.

There is a daily bus leaving to Koh Kong from Kep via Kampot (USD16). It leaves at 07:30.

From Thailand

The border is at Cham Yeam, about 10km by road northwest of the town. It faces Hat Lek in Thailand. Motos (USD2-2.50), shared taxis and taxis (USD9-10 for the entire car) run between the town and the border. Drivers will ask for more (asking for 400 baht is common). Don't let them. Negotiate in dollars rather than baht as baht prices always work out to be more expensive.

You'll have to pay a toll for the bridge (1,400 riel for a motorbike, 2,800 for a tuk tuk), which can be paid in riel, USD, or baht. The price is stated on the toll booths: it's better to hand over your money at the booth so that your fare is not impacted later.

Your driver will likely offer to exchange your cash to riel at poor rates. Politely refuse. There is no legal requirement to change any foreign money into riel and the US dollar is the de-facto consumer currency of Cambodia. In Koh Kong, and other border provinces, Thai baht is also accepted, but you'll get better rates if you exchange baht for riel rather than shop with them.

If you're continuing further into Cambodia, beware of overpriced bus tickets: USD15–30 or more. Do not agree to this. Agencies may tell you that the normal price is USD25 or 30, and as such USD15 is a bargain: this is not true. The proper price to Phnom Penh is 25,000 riel (USD6). If you get a ticket for USD8 you are doing well.

Cambodian Immigration

While problematic officials are increasingly less common, there are some old tricks that are worth being aware of.

After you get your passport stamped with the Thai exit stamp, walk down the road, and the arrivals office is on the left side of the street. Ignore the fake quarantine station. If you allow the touts to direct you there, they will take your temperature, give you a bogus form and ask for 20-400 baht. You do not need this form and you will not be asked for it when you apply for your visa or entry stamp.

The fee for a tourist visa is USD30 as of 2015. You will be asked for more (37USD or 1300THB as of December 2015) by officials showing an official looking printed paper. It is a scam. You may insist on paying only USD30 (smile and be nice about it) and they will likely delay your visa a few more minutes. Arriving early can help, as in the late afternoon a corrupt official knows that a delay could result in missing onward transport, which makes the bribe seem more attractive. Whenever you arrive, be polite, say hello (sue-saw-day) and thank-you (awkunh) in Khmer and you should find no problems.

Alternatively, you can obtain an e-Visa for USD35 as of 2015, which is the same visa as the one for USD30 as of 2015 but obtained on-line in advance. Having an e-Visa saves time at the border and a page in your passport.

USD30 as of 2015 tourist visas (T-class) may be extended for one month only. Persons wanting longer stays and multiple entries to Cambodia will need a USD35 as of 2015 business visa (E-class, valid for 30 days and extendible once in Cambodia). Confusingly, E-class visas are unrelated to the on-line visas. They cost USD35 as of 2015 and require no extra documents or fees. Make sure the officials know that you know this.

Once you have your visa, brush off the touts and go to the arrival window to get your entry stamp into Cambodia.

From immigration, you have to find your way down a small rugged road to the river. The first few motorcycle taxi drivers will speak English well and will ask for 400 baht. Ignore them, and keep on walking down the road. In about 250 m is the main group of taxi drivers, where the standard fare to Koh Kong town is 50 baht (including the bridge toll of 11 baht). It takes around 10 min to reach the centre of town.

Get around

Rent a motorbike from Fat Sam's Restaurant and explore the local area. By Cambodian standards the local roads are safe and most of the local people drive slowly. Motorbike taxis around town cost 1,000 riel/km. Starting price is 1,000 riel.

See

Around Koh Kong, there are islands, mountains, jungles, rivers, waterfalls, a zoo, casino, and a lot more.

Along Hwy 4 (Sihanoukville-Phnom Penh), about 30 km south of Traeng Trayoung, 20 km north of the Koh Kong turn-off, there is on the west side of the road a small turn-off which leads to a nice set of rapids called O'bak Retes. Great place to stop.

Koh Kong Island

Nice beaches with white sand

Koh Kong Island is considered one of the best beaches in SE Asia. There is no accommodation on Koh Kong Island as it a military installation and therefore illegal to spend the night. Day trips are offered by Koh Kong Divers Tour Centre and other operators in Koh Kong. Koh Kong Island is the largest island in Cambodia, about 20km long by 7 wide. It has crystal clear waters, white sand beaches and a tropical forest.

The only settlement is the fishing village of Alatang on the south-east corner of the island. The west side boasts six pristine tropical beaches, most with their own natural freshwater lagoons leading to rivers running down from the high mountain peaks that lie above them.

In high season from October to late May the ocean is quiet with a moderate waves and With moderate wind, ideal for snorkelling, fishing, and every tourism activity.

Low Season the waves are very impressive, moving up the sand on the beaches. Contrary to what one might think, the low season is not that of rain, there is regularly the sun and rain.

Inhabited by monkeys; tropical birds such as the eagles and toucans; deer and marine fauna is very diversified. Regularly in the Bay dolphins and whale sharks. The island is 40 minutes from Koh Kong city by speed boat; one-way price is $10/person. Koh Kong city is only 10 km from the Thai border.

On the island of Koh Kong there are small monkeys, wild boars, squirrels, toucans, mynah and small parrots. You can also find a rare butterflys including among others the biggest moth Attacus Atlas.

As for marine life there are harmless whale sharks, dolphins, Parrot fish, Snapper fish, Barracuda, king fish, Cobia fish, Wahoo fish, swordfish, Grouper fish, Sea turtle, wahoo fish.

There are two beaches with bungalow accommodation on the island, a basic facility on 'third beach' and a choice of basic or more comfortable at Koh Kong Island Resort on 'seventh beach'.

The north end is controlled by the military, camping is allowed at your own risk on the 5th and 6th beaches and also at the military post in the village of Alatang.

Do

Day tours and overnight adventure trips to Koh Kong Island and other islands in Kong Province, Pream Krasop Mangroves (Asia's largest), Waterfalls & Trekking in the Cardamom Mountains are available from Koh Kong Divers Travel & Tours located next to the waterfront bar & restaurant on riverfront road.

Koh Kong island has recently opened its doors to night camping. All the information can be found through Koh Kong Bay hotel, 200 m left before the Thai bridge. A soon to be opened bungalow resort is also in the works.

Gecko Adventure Tours offers overnight camping, night canyoning, treks to remote waterfalls, experienced guides, with all gear supplied.

Fat Sam's Bar on the roundabout in the town centre is a fabulous place to get ideas about what to do. The staff are very helpful and know the area very well. They also have motorbikes for rent, free local guide books and maps of the area and can book trips and tours for you.

Eat


Cambodian Restaurants There are a number of restaurants clustered round the Roundabout in the town centre selling good local food

Drink

Sleep

There are many guesthouses and small hotels in the central part of town and on the riverside street, partially thanks to Thais who come to Cambodia for gambling (the big casino can be seen on the way from the border). Basic guesthouse room with fan costs USD3-6 (or 100-200 baht). For USD10 and more you'll get an air-con room in a guesthouse or hotel. As is often the case in Asia, the cheapest places and room rates are usually those found "on the spot" on arrival. Motorbike taxi drivers will be happy to take you to a guesthouse/hotel of their choice if you're not sure where to go. Just ask them (and note how far from the centre is it) and the price. Alternatively, just walk around and look for accommodation yourself, the town is quite small. Further south of the town there is a small group of 12 islands called the Koh Sdach archipelago. This area has white sandy beaches, crystal clear seas, and paradisical islands. It's a must for any traveller visiting coastal Cambodia. Currently accommodation is only available on two of the islands, Koh Sdach and Koh Toteung, and room rates are from USD10–120.

Go next

Tatai is the next town east, 19 km away. USD4–5 by motorbike, USD10 by tuk-tuk.

Tickets to Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville 40,000riel $10USD and can be purchased at the bus station in the centre of town. Buses depart around 07:00. There is also a 13:00 bus to Phnom Penh.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, February 27, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.