Looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination in Cambodia, look no further than Koh Kong province.
This lesser-explored region is full of natural beauty, from the lush Cardamom Mountains to the mangrove forests. The latter is especially noteworthy, as they are home to a diverse range of rare and exotic wildlife.
If you’re looking to escape the crowds and experience nature at its finest, Koh Kong is the perfect destination.
Koh Kong province is one of the most stunning places in Cambodia. Thailand borders it, and its capital city is also called Koh Kong.
The people who live here are friendly, and they mainly speak Khmer. However, since this province is close to Thailand, many speak Thai. You’ll also find a lot of Chinese and Vietnamese speakers in Koh Kong and a lot of people who can communicate in broken English. No matter what language you speak, you’re sure to feel welcome here.
Lodging, food, and transportation are all relatively cheap, so Koh Kong is easy on the wallet.
When To Visit
Koh Kong’s climate is tropical, with average temperatures ranging from 23-34 degrees Celsius. The best time to visit is between November and February when the weather is cooler and drier.
Attractions and Things to Do
There’s no shortage of things to do in Koh Kong province – nature lovers will be in heaven, as there are plenty of opportunities to explore the great outdoors.
Koh Kong City is generally a quiet town, but there are many reasons to stay here for more than one night, such as the nearby islands, rivers, tours into nature, and the buzzing nightlife.
Koh Kong Island
Cambodia’s largest island, Koh Kong, is a true paradise. The island is home to seven beautiful beaches all along the western coast.
Several beaches are lined with coconut palms and lush vegetation, and at the mouth of one of the little streams, you’ll find a hidden lagoon. On the east side of the island are six forested hills.
The southeast coast is home to the Venice-like fishing village of Alatang, with stilted houses and colorful fishing boats. Unfortunately, access to the island is controlled by a strong military presence, which adds to its sense of mystique.
The only way to visit Koh Kong Island is on a guided boat tour out of the nearby town of Koh Kong or Tatai. These tours typically cost around US$21 per person, including lunch and snorkeling equipment. If you’re interested in spending the night on the island, overnight camping trips are available for US$55 per person.
Another thing to remember is that the island is only accessible from October to May. From June to September, strong southwesterly winds make access impossible during the rainy season. It is also forbidden to explore the island’s forested interior, even during the dry season.
Peam Krasaop Wildlife Sanctuary
The Peam Krasaop Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most beautiful and vital areas in Koh Kong, Cambodia. The sanctuary is home to 260 sq km of lush mangroves, which protect the coast from erosion and provide vital breeding and feeding grounds for fish and other marine life. The mangroves are also home to a wide variety of birds.
The Peam Krasaop Wildlife Sanctuary is an integral part of the Koh Kong Conservation Corridor. It is one of the few remaining areas of mangrove forest in Southeast Asia that has not been destroyed by development. Much of Peam Krasaop is on the prestigious Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
Visitors to the sanctuary can explore the mangroves on a self-guided walk, hire a motorboat, or take a boat tour through the area.
If you want to explore the sanctuary on your own, head to the park entrance 5.5km east of Koh Kong, where a mangrove pathway weaves its way above the salty waters to a 15m observation tower. Taking a tuk-tuk or motorcycle costs $5/8 round trip.
A motorboat can navigate the sanctuary; you can rent wooden boats from the dock outside the entrance.
Local tour companies offer half-day and full-day group tours of the sanctuary, departing from the city boat dock. Prices for short tours are US$25 for a group of up to eight people. The sanctuary’s interior can be explored by half-day trip (US$60), while the full-day trip (US$90) includes Koh Kong Island (high season only).
You will have a chance to visit fishing hamlets on a boat tour. People in these villages use traps to catch fish. They keep the fish alive in nets until it is time to sell them.
Kbal Chhay Prek Koh Waterfall
Kbal Chhay Prek Koh Waterfall is one of the most popular natural attractions in Koh Kong Province, and it’s easy to see why. The waterfall is truly breathtaking, and the surrounding forests provide a stunning backdrop.
Visitors can enjoy picnicking amidst the natural beauty or take in the majesty of the waterfall. Thanks to its location away from the busy city, it’s a perfect place to unwind and enjoy some time in nature.
Tatai and Koh Por Waterfalls
The Kbal Chhay Falls provide a remarkable sight for visitors, but there are many other waterfalls in Koh Kong to explore. Monsoon season brings rivers to their brim, creating beautiful waterfalls in the Cardamom Mountains.
The Tatai Waterfalls are the easiest to reach if you wish to explore one.
It offers a beautiful sight with two tiers dropping from 6 meters and 15 meters respectively.
And if you’re hoping to explore more of the area’s waterfalls, the Koh Por falls are also well worth a visit. They’re spectacular, set among huge boulders and rocks, with giant gorges surrounded by jungle.
Koh Yor Beach
Koh Yor Beach is located on the western side of the Koh Poi River, opposite Koh Kong City. There isn’t anything spectacular about this beach, but it’s an excellent place to collect shells. The beach is usually empty. Cross the river bridge north of the town center and go left at the roundabout, 2km from the bridge. From the roundabout, Koh Yor Beach is 6km away.
Lam Da Beach
Lam Da Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Koh Kong and a favorite tourist spot for its long stretch of golden sand shining in the sun’s warm rays. The beach is located in Lam Da Village of the Koh Kapi Commune, about 20 kilometers from the provincial town, around 1 hour and 45 minutes by car.
Lam Da Beach is a great place to spend a day swimming and sunbathing, with plenty of room to spread out and relax.
Wat Neang Kok
Wat Neang Kok is a Buddhist temple best known for its graphic tableau of statues illustrating the violent punishments awaiting sinners in Buddhist hell. Wat Neang Kok is located on a rocky promontory on the right (western) bank of the Koh Poi River.
To get to Wat Neang Kok, cross the bridge and turn right after 800m. The statues are located 150m beyond a modern temple. Wat Neang Kok is worth visiting if you’re interested in seeing an exciting and unique representation of Buddhist beliefs about hell.
Places to Eat
If you’re looking for an excellent place to eat in Koh Kong, Fat Sam’s is a great option. This informal bar-restaurant has various food options, from fish and chips to Thai and Khmer dishes.
There’s also a good selection of beers, spirits, and sports programs on TV. It’s a great place to sit and watch the world go by. Fat Sam’s is also a great resource for information on Koh Kong and Cambodia, as the owner is a long-time resident of the area, and you will meet many travelers.
Fat Sam’s is located in the center of Koh Kong, just 20 meters away from the roundabout.
You can also get free WiFi, local guidebooks and maps of the area, and book tours and trips. Motorbike rentals are also available.
Happy Beach Restaurant is the perfect place to relax and enjoy traditional Cambodian cuisine with friends and family. The restaurant is situated on stilts right by the seafront, with covered decks where you can kick off your shoes and enjoy the view. The food is served on a wooden block in the middle of the table, and it’s all delicious! Make sure to try the Khmer curry. After your meal, you can curl up in one of the hammocks and listen to the waves crashing against the shore. The smell of sun-drying fish paste will add to the experience.
Happy Beach Restaurant is a little hard to find, but it’s well worth it. It is located northeast of town. Take the fork in the road to the right and continue for another 150 meters to get there.
Thmorda Crab House
Built on stilts over Kah Bpow River, this Thai seafood restaurant provides a breathtaking view of the Cardamom Mountains. The food is delicious and fresh, with very reasonable prices. Exotic cocktails and locally brewed beer are available in the bar, and music is on request. You can also catch live sports matches on the flat screen tv.
There are also night kayaking tours to see fireflies and sunset cruises. Best of all, it’s free to use their WiFi and kayaks. And their staff speaks English, French, Spanish, Khmer, and Khmer.
You must cross the bridge, continue 1.8km to the roundabout and turn right. Then turn right again after about 200m and follow the dirt road.
Wild Life Café (formerly Seta’s Ice Cream)
This riverfront restaurant is known for its delicious desserts and its wide variety of Thai and Khmer specialities. And if you’re looking for a place to start your day, they also serve breakfast!
If you’re looking for a romantic evening out, Wood House is the perfect spot. The French-Khmer couple who own and operate the restaurant serves up some of the best Euro-Asian fusion food in town, and they’re always happy to chat with their guests. There’s a good selection of cocktails and French wine by the glass.
If you’re looking for the perfect sunset spot on Koh Yor Beach, look no further than Crab Shack. This family-run restaurant is known for its generous servings of fried crab with pepper and its stunning views of the setting sun. While there are now several restaurants in the area vying for your attention, including one with the same name just south of this original Crab Shack, there’s no better place to enjoy a crab dinner than where it all started.
Riverfront Food Carts
Suppose you’re looking for a cheap and delicious meal while in Koh Kong, visit one of the many riverfront food carts. You can get a seafood barbecue for as little as $5-10, including crab, shrimp, squid, clams, and fish. You can also buy fried rice, noodles, and canned beer from these carts. So head on down to the riverfront at sunset for a cheap and delicious meal!
KK Mangrove Restaurant
If you’re looking for a place to relax and take in the natural surroundings, Koh Kong’s KK Mangrove Restaurant is excellent. It’s located within the Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary, so you can enjoy beautiful views while you eat. The restaurant serves fresh fruit juices, cold beers, and thin crust pizza.
If you are in Koh Kong, head to the Psar Leu street food market for a delicious and affordable meal. Some of the city’s best street food is available at this market. Near the southeast corner of Psar Leu are the best fruit stalls.
Koh Kong is not known for its shopping opportunities. Most of the products sold in the stores here are from Thailand. There are still a few shops that sell street clothing that stay open until 10 pm. If you’re looking for souvenirs, you might have better luck finding them in the markets.
Staying in Koh Kong City
Hula Hula Bungalows
Hula Hula Bungalows is the perfect place for anyone looking to get away from it. Recently taken over by a Polish couple, the bungalows are delightfully simple and airy and sit on a windswept stretch of empty sand that faces the setting sun. The restaurant offers a mix of Asian and Western dishes, including some Polish options, which usually close during July. A great place to kick back and relax.
Oasis Bungalow Resort
If you’re looking for a tranquil oasis in the middle of Koh Kong, look no further than Oasis Bungalow Resort. This beautiful property is set amidst a lush garden and features five large bungalows perfect for couples or families. The bungalows are top-notch, with stunning views of the Cardamom Mountains and an infinity pool that will take your breath away. To get to the resort, follow the blue signs from Acleda Bank.
The Asian Hotel is one of the best business hotels in town. The rooms are spacious and clean, with plenty of furniture and comfortable beds. The receptionists are English-speaking and very efficient. We recommend getting a room in the front (roadside) with a balcony with partial river views. The VIP rooms are also worth paying for, as they are enormous!
Getting to and from Koh Kong
The much anticipated Dara Sakor International Airport in Koh Kong province is now operational, though an official opening date has not yet been announced. The airport is currently only operating a pilot flight. Still, once fully functional, it will provide a much-needed air connection to the region, with flights to Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, and Phnom Penh.
In the meantime, visitors to Koh Kong province will have to use the airports at Siem reap and Phnom Penh.
The well-paved highway 48 links Koh Kong to Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh, which branches off National Highway 4 at Sre Ambel. It’s a nice drive through the Cardamom Mountains, one of Cambodia’s least developed and unspoiled regions.
Tourist air-conditioned buses leave Koh Kong mainly in the mornings, around 7 am. Afternoon departures are dependent on demand. Tickets to Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville cost US$6.25 — US$8 and can be purchased at the bus station in the center of town.
Beware of Service cancellations, and bus companies may change the timetables and departure times.