Top 5 things to do in Cambodia's remote Koh Kong Province
Fringed by an undeveloped coastline and housing a lush, mountainous interior, Cambodia’s remote Koh Kong Province is an adventure traveller’s dream. It may be well off the tourist trail but this region in the far southwest of the country offers a wealth of beauty, from pristine beaches to multi-tiered waterfalls and species-rich mangrove forests. Here ecotourism is leading the development, with sustainable accommodation and community initiatives, all set within Koh Kong’s magnificent natural surrounds. So what is there to do? Here are five ways to experience this unexplored corner of Cambodia.
1. Relax on the stunning beaches of Koh Kong Island
Located just to the south of Koh Kong town, this island of the same name is Cambodia’s own remote slice of tropical paradise. There is a small fishing village on the south-eastern corner, but the remainder of the island is home to swathes of stunning pristine beaches, freshwater lagoons, and lush mountains, full of monkeys, rare butterflies and an impressive bird life.
Relax in a beach-front bungalow just metres from the warm Gulf of Thailand waters, teeming with marine life, such as dolphins, sea turtles and a vast array of tropical fishes, or explore Koh Kong’s hidden coves in a sea kayak. While the island still emanates a rustic, bare-foot bliss atmosphere, such a paradise won’t stay undeveloped for long!
2. Explore the mangrove forests of the Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary
|You can explore Peam Krasop sanctuary via the 600 metre-long mangrove walk, complete with picnic areas, a suspension bridge and a 15-metre observation tower offering fantastic bird-spotting opportunities.|
Covering 23,750 hectares of mangroves and waterways, much of which is on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, the Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary is a magnificent landscape dedicated to protecting this undervalued tree species. Mangroves are vital to protect coastal areas from erosion, as well as functioning as an important breeding ground for numerous fish and crustaceans.
At Peam Krasop you can explore the sanctuary via the 600 metre-long mangrove walk, complete with picnic areas, a suspension bridge and a 15-metre observation tower offering fantastic bird-spotting opportunities, or hire a boat to explore its myriad of canals and small villages. The ecosystem here provides a livelihood for many of the 10,000 people who reside within its borders and fish in its plentiful surrounding waters.
3. Trek through the Cardamom Mountains
|The wild Cardamom Mountains offer spectacular trekking through untamed jungle. The birdlife is fantastic, particularly in the early-morning hours, and the small village of Chi Phat offers beautiful eco-lodges.|
Once home to Cambodia’s bush meat and logging industries, as well as harbouring ex-Khmer Rouge soldiers, the wild Cardamom Mountains offer spectacular trekking through untamed jungle. Over time the region has been transformed by locally based charities who have developed ecotourism initiatives to not only protect the wildlife, but create jobs and an income for local communities. Today ex-poachers work as jungle guides, taking guests through this stunning landscape of wild rivers and watering holes where gibbons and bears can be spotted. The birdlife is fantastic, particularly in the early-morning hours, and the small village of Chi Phat offers beautiful eco-lodges to wile away the hours in a hammock with a book in hand, surrounded by the calls of the wild.
The area is also home to the Wildlife Alliance’s Release Station for animals which have been rescued from illegal trafficking. Here tourists are offered a hands-on experience, allowing you to be directly involved in the rehabilitation of Cambodia’s wildlife.
4. Visit the waterfalls of Tatai and Kbal Chhay Prek Koh
Koh Kong province is home to a number of spectacular waterfalls, set within dense jungle where rare flora and fauna reside. Situated near Neng Kok village, Kbal Chhay Prek Koh Waterfalls are within a nature and wildlife reserve where an impressive birdlife can be spotted. Explore along the different levels of these multi-tiered cascades or take a dip in the clear waters at its base.
Tatai Waterfalls are equally impressive, dispersing over a large rocky outcrop along the Tatai River. Take a boat up to the base or go under your own steam with a kayak and enjoy the spray from these beautiful cascades. They are surrounded by large boulders where you can enjoy a picnic lunch or just take in the vistas on offer.
5. Support the local ecotourism lodges along the Tatai River
|Offering accommodation right in the middle of virgin rainforest, they are a place to unwind and relax with the sounds of nature all around you.|
While Cambodia’s troubled past has hampered development in Koh Kong Province, the ecolodges along the Tatai River are part of a sustainable and financially rewarding future for the region. Offering (often luxurious) accommodation right in the middle of virgin rainforest, they are a place to unwind and relax with the sounds of nature all around you. Built using environmental-friendly materials and ecologically-sound waste treatment systems to keep their environmental footprint to a minimum, they also employ local people in all aspects of their day-to-day functioning. For an escape to peace and tranquility, all whilst offering something back to the community, Koh Kong’s ecolodges are helping to make a difference.