The South of Cambodia


Global Mark : na

Description : A fairly relaxed fishing village / border town with some animations at night...

Comments : The place is not overwhelmed with attractions but it is charming enough to justify one night stay if you do not wish to rush to the border or your boat.

What to do ? If coming from Sihanoukville, you won't have much time to visit before it gets dark : walking the waterfront and the market would keep you busy just fine / If coming from Thailand, you could arrange for a longer visit and go further around, acclimating yourself with the laid back Cambodian atmosphere / If in the adventurer mood, there are plenty of possible expeditions in the vicinity, in particular by boat up the river or toward deserted islands : this is an area which hasn't been too explored yet. Enjoy ! / Visit Cham Muslim villages / Relax on a small beach / Test your luck at the casino / Test your balance at the skating ring / Test your financial appeal at the red district 

What you may not like ? Some ticket scam (see below) / The rental cost of the boat to the islands if alone (about $20) / Having no time nor money to explore thoroughly / The prices quoted in Bahts (at the time of writing, 1 Baht = 100 riels) / The small but existent malaria risk in the area / Your lack of luck, lack of balance or lack of appeal...

How long ? Waiting for Thailand or Sihanoukville

Where to stay ? Plenty of touts waiting for passengers at the pier. Listen to their latest offer (as low as 70 for a room) but make sure they do not charge you for the ride (they will get a commission from the GH) nor take you too far away. The followings are close to the piers :

  • Otto's Restaurant & GH, the street south of the Tourist Office, 3mn from the piers / Dorm (10) B50, room w. mosquito net B100, w. shower B150 / German Manager / Go there for tips & stories on the area (incl. Thailand as Otto lived there as well), try to get a discount, the relaxed restaurants & the acceptable rooms, some in a separate house / What you may not like : the bad noise isolation in the wooden basic rooms & the common shower with basin.
  • Khoun Chhang Hotel, 150m south of Tourist Office, just before a bridge / Room w. shower B100 / Go there for classic hotel style rooms at cheap price / What you may not like : the lack of cleanliness, space or charm in the rooms 

Where to eat ? The street north-east of the market is full of small restaurants with dishes ready for selection (R1000, half portion R500) plus rice. Naems or Vietnamese pancakes (R500) are also available in the area.

A ticket scam ? Most people coming from Thailand should meet at one time a local guy claiming he can get a boat ticket to Sihanoukville for less than the normal B600 foreigner price. At least one may say the true : he has apparently got a friend at the ticket office who will sell him a B600 ticket (the price should be clearly indicated on the ticket) for B500. He will sell you back this ticket B550.
But other touts are apparently not so well connected and will buy you a local tickets (B400) which won't be valid unless you have had aesthetical surgery, learnt to speak Khmer and switched your backpack for a cage of chickens. A lot of foreigners have end up paying twice... 

Backpacker's Tips : Arnie, Germany (April 01)
 All English-speaking motodriver take a big commission from your money you spend everywhere (Hotels, restaurants, tickets, trips, sightseeing) / Best Hotel is Koh Pich for 400 THB incl. big room, AC, sat TV, fridge,
hot water / Good restaurant is a small no-name Vietnamese-restaurant next to the circle /When you take the speedboat from Sihanoukville the boat will stop 15 min before Koh Kong. All tourist were hassled to leave and enter small boats to the Thai border for 100 THB. The reason: The police catch 50 THB from each passenger. Stay at the speedboat and leave at Koh Kong. Say you want to stay there overnight. Take a boat from Koh Kong for 30 THB

Leaving Koh Kong ?

To Thailand : cross the river (B20, 5mn) then board a motorbike to the border at Hat Lek (B20, 15mn). The Thai border is open from 7am to 5pm and most travelers will get a one month visa. From the border, minibus regularly go to Trat via Khlong Yai (you will have to change bus) for B100 (1.5 hours). Cheaper but slower Songthaews also go to Khlong Yai (B20) and from there to Trat (B35)

To Sihanoukville : The speed boat leave daily at 8am for B600. You will therefore need to leave Trat very early in the morning (first minibus at 5m) to reach Koh Kong on time (1.5 hours bus + 10mn motorbike + 5mn river crossing + waiting time + border formalities). If in rush, you could take a speed boat from the border to Pak Long, where the boat should stop for a while at 8:15. It takes only 30mn but cost B100 and can be dangerous if the sea is agitated... Considering the above, I would personally recommend to take it easy and spend a night in Koh Kong...

To Phnom Penh : There are two flights a week on Thursday & Sat at 11:10 but it cost $45 one way. If you really do not wish to see Sihanoukville, the faster alternative is to take the 7am boat to Sre Ambel (B500, 3.5 hours) and continue with a shared taxi (R8000)

    Additional info on Koh Kong

The trip to the Thai border (Hat Lek) : SSS / L&R / B20 + B20 / 5mn + 15mn / Speed boat + motorbike
I did not have to walk long toward the pier before being approached by a boat captain : - "You go to Thailand ? Go with me !" Followed a short negotiation about the price : he asked B40, then B30 and finally agreed with my B20 request, the normal local price. At this tariff, boats are leaving with one passenger only so if there is several of you, there is no way you should be charged more !
Actually, another local did the crossing with me but he did not pay. It took us 3mn chromo to reach the other side, where motorbike drivers were, what a surprise !, waiting for me : - "You go to Thailand ? Go with me !" Followed a short negotiation about the price : he asked B40, then B30 and finally agreed with my B20 request, the normal local price. (I am taking it easy with that paragraph, I know)
After 10mn drive, we stopped at what looked like the immigration office. So I paid the driver and went toward the officials. - "Is it the border ?" - "No, the border is 1km further. We just control the passport". I looked back : good, the driver was still waiting for me. But once back on the motorbike, he realized he had a flat tire, dropped me and, oups !, disappeared within two seconds, not giving me any chance to react. Never pay before reaching destination. Never !
So I had a lovely 10mn walk toward the border, with a few verbal exchanges with drivers who had obviously never seen any foreigner on foot at this stage and were eager to capitalize on this strange situation : - "It is 10km away. I take you for B20 only !"
I was not in such a good mood when reaching the check points and it was a good thing as officials weren't smiling either. In Rome... 2mn on Cambodia side, 5mn on Thailand side (cards had to be filled) and I became an official Thailand visitor again ! 

See also the trip from Sihanoukville