Kbal Chhay Waterfalls
Kbal Chhay Waterfalls, Cambodia
Located in Khan Prey Nup, about 16 kilometers north of the downtown Sihanoukville, Kbal Chhnay waterfalls could be reached by the site from Sihanoukville, take National Road 4 toward Phnom Penh. About 7 kilometers outside of town, there is a sign announcing the site. Turn left and go 9 kilometers along a trail. The water at Kbal Chhay comes from many sources along the mountain range, although only three of these sources are visible. The waterfall, which is 14 meters high, is at the point where those three sources joint.
Kbal Chhay was developed into a reservoir to supply clean water to the city of Sihanoukville, three years after being discovered in 1960. The reservoir construction, however, was interrupted due to civil war, and the site became a hide-out for the Khmer Rouge. In 1997, Kbal Chhay was marked for development, and a year later Kok An Company was awarded a contract to construct a road and develop the site for tourism.
Serendipity Beach at sunset, Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Sihanouville is located on the coast of Cambodia, about halfway between Thailand and Vietnam, on the Bay of Thailand. It’s locally known as Kampong Som. A spread out tourist town for both foreigners and local people from all over the country. Three sides of the town are bordered by tropical beaches and islands. Filled with empty beaches, crowded beaches, seafood, restaurants, bars, Buddhist Temples, casinos, hotels, and more beaches, the Sihanoukville is a colorful but tragic upstart in a land with thousands of years of history.
The distances between the beaches of Sihanoukville are a little too long to walk comfortably, but getting around is easy as the roads are wide and bike taxis (motodop) are everywhere.
The main reasons people come to Sihanoukville is the beaches. They are not as crowded as many of those in Thailand, by maybe cramped on weekends and holidays.
People can take part in many water sports like scuba diving, snorkeling, etc.
Kep Quiet Town
Kep Quiet Town, Cambodia
Kep is a quiet town, located on hills overlooking the beaches and islands. There are not much to do here, however the scenery is fantastic. Largely unpopulated, Kep was Cambodia’s original seaside resort town.
Kep is a small seaside town, and similar to Vietnam’s beach, it’s just offshore. It’s a half hour drive from Kampot, Cambodia and the Vietnam border, and 2 hours from SihanoukVille and Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Bungalows, villas, guesthouses and hotels are located just on the hillside and the beaches. There’s not a whole-day activity in Kep. The town is mostly a place for relaxation, enjoying fresh seafood, going for walks, trekking through the hills, boating, bicycling, and mountain biking, and a stopover on the way to or from Vietnam.
Koh Kong province
Buddhist monks in a mangrove forest in Koh Kong province, Cambodia
Koh Kong is Cambodia’s most popular eco-tourist province. Located along the Southern border with Thailand. There are mountains, jungle, rivers and waterfalls. Also, there are beaches, mangroves and tropical islands.
Koh Kong is mostly known as the passage town to and from Thailand, or a convenient stop-over for a visa run from Thailand. Located on the South-West corner of Cambodia, Koh Kong city, the capital of Koh Kong province, is a large forrested area with mangroves, rivers, and tropical islands. Around the town is the Bay of Thailand, Koh Kong island, the country of Thailand, and mountains and jungles. It was listed as one of the best eco-tourism places in the world to visit by the guidebook Lonely Planet. There’s a few eco-tourist lodges outside the town in the jungle and on the rivers, and hundreds of kilometers of unspoiled jungles for the real adventurer. Many destinations are only accessible by foot, boat, motorcycle or cow.
The people of Koh Kong, speak mainly Khmer (the Cambodian language), and most speak some Thai as well. You can also find many Chinese and Vietnamese speakers and well as a lot of broken English. Several Westerners have restaurants, bars, and tour services in Koh Kong, and they all speak English, as well as a host of other European and Asian languages.
Kompong Trach District, Cambodia
Kampong Trach is the district that borders Vietnam. You can pass through some picturesque rural areas while take on a road trip. There is a new side road to Kampong Trach town that skirts the base of Phnom Voar, (where the victims of the 1994 Khmer Rouge kidnappings were held.) These mountain areas of Kampong Trach were one of the last Khmer Rouge holdouts. Kampong Trach town is small and relatively uninteresting. The area’s main attraction is a series of limestone caves and tubes that have been carved.into a nearby mountain. The roof of a large cave in the center of a mountain has collapsed, making a small, enclosed jungle.
Pagodas and shrines have been built amongst the caves, providing for some excellent photo possibilities. Bring a flashlight and wear good walking shoes. From Kampot, take the Kep road, bear left at the White Horse Monument and follow to Kampong Trach. After a few kilometers the road changes to badly broken pavement. The side road mentioned above requires a left turn onto a graded dirt road about 7 km past the White Horse Monument. It is not a straightforward route and it may be better if you go with a guide. Set aside the better part of a day for the trip to the caves and back.
Kampot Riverside, Cambodia
This is a provincial capital nestled in the coastal mountains with stunning scenery, colonial architecture and whitewater rapids. Some attractions downtown, besides the riverfront, are the central market, small caveswith Buddhist shrines, and the football stadium. Towards the ocean on the East side is theport of Kampot and many Cham Muslim communities and schools. Across the river is Kampot’s Wat or Buddhist Temple which is open to tourists. Past the Wat are Kampot’ssalt fields, and further out of town are Kampot’s famous Black Pepper (red and green too!) and Durian farms. Along the riverfront, mostly North of downtown’s bridges, are several guesthouses and restaurants, right on the river.
Across the River (West Side) the first big road to the right from either bridge, takes you to the Kampot Zoo (about 20 minute ride and $5 entrance fee), lions, tigers and bears (and maybe some monkeys), and the Kampot River rapids, Teuk Chhou, an informal park for eating, drinking, sleeping, and playing in the water. Take your own motorcycle or get a motorcycle taxi or Tuk Tuk for about $5-7 round trip.
Canoeing, Kayaking, and guided river tours are possible on the river.
Kampot is also known worldwide for its Pepper Plantations (black, green, red and white table pepper) and locally for Durianfarms (a giant, pointy fruit, weighing up to 12 kilograms). The Pepper from Kampot is the only food product in Cambodia exported worldwide, and will soon have the Origin Specific label “Kampot Pepper”. Pepper farm tours are a popular activity here.
Ream National Park
Ream National Park, Cambodia
Since 1995, Ream National Park has so far achieved a rare feat: thanks to vigilant, apparently uncorrupt rangers, they’ve managed to keep most of the mangroves, wildlife and beaches in pristine condition. The park’s 200 inhabitants have not been forcibly relocated (unlike similar schemes in Thailand) but have been allowed to stay and continue their subsistence fishing lifestyle. No new residents are allowed, keeping Ream’s ecosystem in reasonable balance.
Visitors may see the Cambodian navy with a base at Ream, and sailors may appear unexpectedly; usually they’re doing little more than cooking their lunch. The park has landscapes for anyone: mangrove forests, a mountainside waterfall, and miles of beaches unmarked by footprints. Nearly 200 bird species live here, including herons and cranes. King cobras and pythons have been spotted, too, so be vigilant on hiking trails!
It’s easy enough to get here on your own, either with a motodop or by renting a motorbike. There are 35 rangers in Ream park, and several speak English. Hikes to meditation mountain and Keng Kong waterfall are popular trips.
Another excellent option is a boat trip down the mangrove-lined Prek Toeuk Sap river, done with a group of other travelers. For 1-5 people it’s $35, and for 6 or more the going rate is $6 each. The Prek Toeuk Sap Freshwater River is salty in the dry season as seawater flows inland, and filled with freshwater from ponds in the rainy season. Flying fish cartwheel out of the water, and dolphin sightings are not uncommon.
Food or drinking water are not widely available in the park, so if planning a hike or an overnight trip, ensure you have enough of your own. Basic accommodation is available at Ream, as well, and some travelers like it so much here they decide to come back for a night or two.
Takeo in Cambodia
Being the lakeside town between Phnom Penh and Kep. Takeo feels like the provincial capital Cambodia forgot it had.
Takeo has a small waterfront area that faces east towards Vietnam and while it was once a bustling little port town, taking in volumes of trade from Vietnam that would arrived by canal, much now takes easier and cheaper route by land, leaving the port area a shadow of its former self.
Outside of the waterfront area, there are a smattering of colonial villas dispersed across town, some of which are in surprisingly good condition, a lovely old wooden house that now houses the Red Cross, and in a small indication of the Khmer Rouge presence that was once here, Ta Mok has a glistening testament to his paranoia with a large house built to the north of town (reached by walking along an earthen levee and a footbridge).
The sole remaining attractions here would be to visit some of the outlying villages – easily done by motodop or by boat (in wet season), and to drink a few warm beers at the Stung Takeo Restaurant while watching the waterside life. A very low key and little visited town, Ta Keo would be worth an overnight stay if you have the time, but otherwise a trip out to Phnom Da and Angkor Borei merits at least consideration, as it can be done as a part of a long day trip from Phnom Penh – the road to the Cambodian capital is sealed and in good condition./.