Cambodia’s Kampot, Sihanoukville & Koh Rong

Padi field Kampot Cambodia

When you think of Cambodia, Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat and Phnom Penh’s Genocide Museum come to mind. Is there really nothing else to do or see in Cambodia?

During my trip there, we found a couple of exciting gems for the adventurous. There are activities ranging from via ferrata and rock climbing in Kampot to living on a treehouse overlooking the sea in Sihanoukville. Those alone will want you extending your Cambodia trip for it!

Cambodia map.jpg

Kampot

Kampot is a peaceful little province Southwest of Cambodia, a great respite from the bustling Phnom Penh. Here, rather than tourists looking for the nearest sights, you can find many seasoned backpackers who come here for work and travel, or simply as a stopover from months of Southeast Asia travelling.

Kampot, Cambodia
Kampot, Cambodia

Kampot province is renowned for the quality of its fruits (durian, coconut, mango, etc.), its sea salt and their famous Kampot Pepper. Kampot’s climate and soil type combined with generations of pepper farmers make Kampot’s pepper very much sought-after worldwide.

Cambodia

Famous attractions in Kampot include the Bokor Mountain, salt fields and pepper plantations. There are also plenty of villas and old shopfront trading houses to check out, making Kampot a pleasant area to wander through.

What to do and see in Kampot

Because Kampot is not as developed and touristy as Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, to get to most of the places stated below, you would require a driver. You can hire a tuk-tuk driver for a fixed full day fee to bring you around these places!

  1. Climbodia

As climbers, when we found out that there was an opportunity to climb in Cambodia, we unhesitatingly made a go for for it!

Climbodia is managed by David, a Belgium who discovered the limestone rocks that are perfect for climbing. This project is managed solely by him, who created the routes for rock climbing, via ferrata, abseiling and caving.

Climbodia, Kampot
Climbodia, Kampot

David is a genuine and sincere man, whom we corresponded through Facebook prior to our visit. On the night we arrived at our villa, he personally came down to talk us through the package, which included picking us up and driving us to the location. All equipment was provided by him and certified safe, and his helpers are all very professionally trained by him.

Climbodia, Kampot
Abseiling

We opted for a half a day tour (you can also choose a full day tour), which includes via ferrata, abseiling, caving and rock climbing. It was thrilling to be rewarded with such a panoramic view of Kampot at the top of the routes, and satisfy the itchy fingers of us climbers! Anyone with any (or zero) climbing experience can be part of this fun, as long as you are not afraid of heights! :mrgreen:

*IMG_0307

Rock climbing in Cambodia was definitely a different kind of travel experience, and a welcome change from the usual sightseeing.

  1. Bokor Mountains

    Bokor Mountain
    Bokor Mountain
  2. Salt Fields

    Salt field Kampot Cambodia
    Salt field Kampot Cambodia
  3. Padi Fields

    Padi field Kampot Cambodia
    Padi field Kampot Cambodia
  4. Pepper plantation

    Kampot, Cambodia Kampot, Cambodia

  5. Secret lake

    Kampot, Cambodia

This lake was unbeknownst to us until our kind driver brought us here. This path you see in the picture is actually in the middle of a lake. It’s submerged in water and yet, vehicles can still cross over! We were so amused at how the tuk-tuk and motorbikes can cross over through water without issues.

Accommodation in Kampot

We lived in Villa Vedici for the first night. It is situated on a private land pretty far away from the town’s hangouts. Surrounded by greens, the villa overlooks the lake, and opens to a backdrop of the Bokor National Park, a really peaceful property to lounge in. They’ve got a common room to watch movies, a play area that is equipped with a table tennis set, and a small porch with old weights.

Villa Vedici, Kampot
Villa Vedici, Kampot

Villa Vedici, Kampot

Villa Vedici, Kampot

Villa Vedici, Kampot

We, however, found it rather inconvenient as we had to hire drivers through the receptionist whenever we wanted to head out. It takes about 5 minutes by tuk-tuk to head to the main area of Kampot. That being said, we still enjoyed the untouched nature while we were there!

Read: What to do when you're all templed out in Siem Reap

Sihanoukville & Koh Rong Island

When you think of Cambodia, beaches are usually not the first thing that come to one’s mind. But in actual fact, situated near the Gulf of Thailand, Sihanoukville actually has a couple of beach islands off its coast! Sihanoukville is increasingly drawing backpackers and expatriates from Phnom Penh for beach breaks off the main island.

Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Though the beach isn’t the cleanest and can be overcrowded with tourists, it still attracts many who come here to enjoy the beachside bars and restaurants. There are even locals going around to sell manicure/ pedicure and massage services, and making friendship bands to sell.

Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Our purpose of heading to Sihanoukville, however, was to get to Koh Rong Island. Of the many islands around Sihanoukville (Which islands should you go?), what led us to finally settle for Koh Rong Island was the option of living in treehouses on the beach. I was intrigued by the idea of living on a treehouse and wanted to check something COOL off my bucket list!

Transport to Koh Rong

Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Serviced by fast boats from Sihanoukville at the fourth stop, Koh Rong is easily reachable in 45 minutes.

You can book through:

1. Speed Ferry Cambodia

Return tickets to and from Koh Rong island at $21.

The boats depart Sihanoukville at 8am, 11am and 3pm daily.

2. Koh Rong Dive Center and Koh Rong Island Travel

Return tickets to and from Koh Rong island at $20.

The boats depart Sihanoukville at 9am, 11am and 3pm daily.

View from our Treehouse
View from our Treehouse in Koh Rong

With 43 kilometres of beaches, Koh Rong island boasts seven bays, all teeming with marine life. This makes the island great for snorkelling, kayaking and diving. Koh Rong is almost as deserted and undeveloped as an island can get, perfect for those needing a city break!

Koh Rong, Cambodia

The island does not have mains electricity, so resorts rely on generators for power. Power is usually switched on when the sun sets until the next morning. Water is also a precious commodity, so most bathrooms employ an economical bucket flush system.

Accommodation in Koh Rong

There are many bungalows in Koh Rong, and our choice was Treehouse Bungalows, for the fact that they have treehouses facing the sea! It was a great change for us city dwellers to have the sounds of nature, rather than music, lulling us to sleep.

Koh Rong Treehouse Bungalow
Treehouse Bungalow, Koh Rong

Bearing in mind the limited facilities and amenities that a treehouse can offer on an island, we kept our expectations low. The novelty of living on a treehouse when we got there preceded any safety, cleanliness and hygiene concerns we previously had. There are no fans – only the sea breeze. The toilet had to be flushed down with water manually. The lock to our room door was as good as none – which led to a wild dog being the burglar to our treehouse and wrecking my day bag for the granola bar that was stored in it. 👿 We experienced a power outage on the only night that we stayed, and had to shower in the dark. There was no water heater, so on top of showering in the dark, we had to shower in the cold.

Koh Rong Treehouse Bungalow
Heading “downstairs” to top up toilet roll!
Dog that bit a hole out of my bag
Dog that bit a hole out of my bag. Pfft!

It might be a terrible experience for some, but we found it an exhilarating one!

If you aren’t afraid of living on stilts, don’t mind the basic amenities that a treehouse has to offer, dream of listening to the crashing of waves as you fall asleep, love to be awakened by the sound of crickets in the morning crisp air, wish to experience a sunrise view from the comfort of your room, then you should definitely try living on a treehouse on your own!

Koh Rong Treehouse Bungalow

Cost of Treehouse Bungalows:

$35 - Tree house with 1 double bed and private bathroom, beachfront

$25 - standard ground bungalow with 1 double bed and private bathroom, sea view

$30 - standard ground bungalow with 2 double beds and private bathroom , sea view

$35 - newly built ground beachfront bungalow with 1 double bed and private 
bathroom.

$35 - family ground bungalow with 2 double and 1 single beds, private bathroom, 
sea view

*all prices quoted in USD

For a virtual tour of Treehouse Bungalows, visit here.

Read: What to Eat in Cambodia - The Best Cambodian Food

Entertainment in Koh Rong

The majority of bars and accommodation are on the southeast of the island. Some call Koh Rong a party island, with music blaring out till the early hours of the night. The main generator on the island turns off at 2.30am, but one bar, Mango, which has its own generator, pumps on until 5.30am.

Koh Rong Restaurant
All sorts of meat at a restaurant on the island!

Plans for a massive resort complex, complete with golf courses, airport, casinos are underway. Koh Rong will soon be one of the most famous tourist destinations of Cambodia, so I strongly urge you to head there before development plans take shape if you’ll be passing by Cambodia!

 

 

6 August 2014, Wednesday – 15  August 2014, Friday

 

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26 Replies to “Cambodia’s Kampot, Sihanoukville & Koh Rong”

  1. Cool! Cambodia is on my list of places to go to soon. My husband has been and tells me I’ll love it!

    1. Hi Jia! You should! It’s so affordable and you can do SO many things there. 🙂

  2. We have been looking at Cambodia. I have heard some really great things about travel there and from what I gather once you are there prices are very affordable. Do you think it would have enough activities for kids?

    1. Hi Amber,

      Cambodia prides itself on all the historical temples. It would be interesting for kids to admire the architecture of the temples but if you’re looking for adventure/ theme park-related activities, I’m afraid Cambodia doesn’t offer that much! Happy to provide more info if you have more questions! 🙂

  3. This looks fantastic! I’ll be sure to come back and visit your blog when I finally visit Cambodia!

    1. Hi Sofia! Glad my post was of use! I’ll be happy to provide more info if you need! 🙂

  4. Wow! That was very comprehensive!

  5. Hi Mimi,

    I’m glad this post is of use to you! Be sure to follow me/ subscribe if you wish to be up to date with new Asia articles! 🙂

  6. I love, love, love that you found climbing in Cambodia! I wasn’t really into the sport when I was there, and this makes me want to go back right now! Glad to meet a fellow climber/traveler/blogger 🙂

  7. […] it’s tea), or offer to bring you around, they may be in it for your money. Once, a local boy from Cambodia put a snake around my neck and offered to take photo of me. He then conveniently stretched his hand […]

  8. […] whatever reason, Cambodia is the country in Southeast Asia that captures my imagination more than any other. Yes, I also want […]

  9. […] and then eventually heading off the beaten path to smaller cities and towns around the world, like Cambodia’s Kampot province and Cantabaco in the Philippines. In 2015, she went on a student exchange programme […]

  10. […] bugs off a street food cart isn’t your thing, check out Bel Around The World! Her post about Kampot, Sihanoukville & Koh Rong is off the beaten path for […]

  11. […] have had cat poop on my bed, be left stranded outside my Couchsurfer’s home, or lived in a treehouse if it weren’t for all the travelling I’ve been. I’d even learned how glaciers […]

  12. That’s a whole new list of places and things to do, which I did not know about. My primary interest still remains in Angkor Wat 🙂

  13. Rock climbing sounds like an awesome adventure. That would be my 2nd thing to do in Cambodia after Angkor Vat!!! The tree houses look super cool.

  14. Kampot seems to be full of both leisurely and adventurous activities. I like the green fields and the beautiful landscapes. By the way, what is via ferrata?

  15. Less visited destinations are often the best, as they’re less crowded and cheaper. I would choose rock climbing anytime! Also, love that the Secret Lake has a path in the middle 🙂

  16. Wooh! Cambodia looks so green. I would love to explore the countryside at peace. The rock climbing looks quite interesting. And the picture of a person riding on Buffaloe is so captivating. I wonder if locals use the buffaloes for transportation or its only one off the incident that you captured.

  17. Like you say it’s great to see something else other than Angkor Wat and Phnom Phen. The Padi fields in this area look amazing and photograph really well. I will be on the lookout for Kampot pepper so see if it’s as good as they say!

  18. You just reminded me how much I love Cambodia. The only thing I didn’t do in Kampot was the rock climbing!! I loved Sihanoukville though I know a lot of people don’t like it. Koh Rong I unfortunately got bed bugs so didn’t stay long. Would love to go back though and do it all again. I loved the tree house you stayed in, I am doing that next time 🙂

  19. Kathy - Walkabout Wanderer says: Reply

    Wow I can’t believe that Cambodia has via ferrata. I did this recently in Italy and absolutely loved it. I was wanting to do it again but didn’t think I would find somewhere in Asia.
    The tree house looks like a lovely experience. I would have also have expected it to be basic with low security but for wild dogs to get in. Wow! especially seeing as it is a tree house! Shame about your bag.
    I’m in Thailand now, perhaps a trip to Cambodia is necessary 🙂

  20. […] My accidental travel buddy in Vietnam has gone back to the Philippines while I continued my way to Cambodia. The morning of my departure, I tiptoed my way out of the room at Koniko Backpackers Hostel so as […]

  21. […] from the real world. Not sure how to get to these little slices of paradise, check out this great guide to Kampot and Koh Rong and get them added on to your Cambodia […]

  22. You have really explored Cambodia in depth. This is the best article i have read about Cambodia. The simplicity is magical, just the pictures fill my heart with warmth. The sight of the Bokor mountains is a treat to the eyes. I love these gems!

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