Koh Kong is the capital of Koh Kong province in Cambodia's Cardamom Mountains. It is 8km away from Cham Yeam, which is connected by Cambodia's southernmost Thai border crossing to the Thai town of Hat Lek.
Koh Kong has an airport but it's not currently used for commercial passenger flights. Its runway is in a less than desirable shape (May '08) and air travel will not commence commercially for a while. It is one of Cambodia's greenest and most eco-friendly provinces, with its town being very little, but surrounded by Asia's biggest tropical mangroves, beautiful islands and mountains. Koh Kong Island is open to the public now for day trips, and will offer the possibility to stay there starting on November, 2012.
Koh Kong is linked to Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville by highway 48, which branches off National Highway 4 at Sre Ambel. The road is paved and complete with 5 bridges. It's a good scenic drive through some of Cambodia's least developed and unspoiled regions - the Cardamom Mountains. Minibuses and tourist air-con buses to and from Koh Kong leave mainly in the mornings. Afternoon departures depend on demand. Tickets to Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville should cost arounf 25000 riel (US$6.25). Sihanoukville travel agencies often ask for US$8-10.
There is no longer a boat from Koh Kong to Sihanoukville. It stopped in 2009 although some travel agents in Thailand still sell travel tickets for the (non existent) boat.
The border is at Cham Yeam, about 10 km by road northwest of the town. It faces Hat Lek in Thailand. Motos (US$2 to 2.5), shared taxis and taxis (US$9 to $10 for the entire car) run between the town and the border. Drivers will ask for more (asking for 400 baht is common) - don't let them. Negotiate in dollars rather than baht, baht prices always work out more expensive.
If you take a tuk-tuk from the border, you will have to pay 6-7 dollars for the trip, depending on your negotiations skills. You can share the costs if you travel with someone. If you take a Taxi, driver will ask you to pay 100 bath or 3 dollars each and he will wait till he has 4 people on board. You do not need to pay toll fee for passing the bridge in tuk-tuk or taxi. It's included in the price.
If you take a moto it might be possible that you have to pay toll a fee for the bridge (1400 riel for a moto), which can be paid in riel, USD or baht. The rate is stated on the toll booths: it's better to hand over your money at the booth so that your fare is not impacted later.
Current exchange rate is 1 USD = 4000 Riel Your driver will likely offer to exchange money to riel at overall poor rates - just politely refuse, there is no legal requirement to change any foreign money into Riels and the US Dollar is the de-facto consumer currency of Cambodia. There is of course a legal tender in Cambodia. In Koh Kong, and other border provinces, Thai baht is also accepted, but you'll get better rates if you exchange baht rather than shop with them.
If you're continuing further into Cambodia, beware of overpriced bus tickets: US$15-30 or more - do not agree to this. Agencies may tell you that the normal price is US$25 or 30, and, as such, USD15 is a big bargain - this is not true. The proper price to Phnom Penh is 25000 riel (US$6) if you get a ticket for US$8 you are doing well.
While problematic officials are increasingly less common, there are some old tricks that may be worth being aware of.
After you get your passport stamped with the Thai exit stamp, walk down the road, and the arrivals office is on the left side of the street. Ignore the fake quarantine station . If you allow the touts to direct you there, they will take your temperature, give you a bogus form and ask for 20-400Baht. You do not need this form and you will not be asked for it when you apply for your Visa or entry stamp.
The fee for a tourist visa is US$20. You may be asked for 1000-1300 baht (about $30 USD) or for $20 with an additional 100-300 baht fee. If you pay, you'll likely have your visa very quickly. Insisting on paying only $20 may lead to being made to wait, though the visa will come. Arriving early can help, as in the late afternoon a corrupt official knows that a delay could result in missing onward transport, which makes the bribe seem more attractive. Whenever you arrive, be polite, say hello (sue-saw-day) and thank-you (awkunh) in Khmer and you should find no problems.
Just be aware that $20 (+100 baht for no photo) is all you need to pay and you will eventually be let through. Past scams have included having to pay for a SARS form or for non-production of a vaccination certificate.}}
Cambodian visas are available on arrival. Tourist visas cost $20 and permit one stay of up to 30 days.
Alternatively, you can obtain an e-Visa for US$25, which is the same visa as the one for $20 but obtained online in advance. Having an e-Visa saves time at the border and a page on your passport.
$20 tourist visas (T class) are extendable for one month only ; anyone wanting longer stays and multiple entries in Cambodia will need a $25 business visa (E class, valid for 30 days and extendable once in Cambodia). Confusingly, E class visas are unrelated to the online visas. They costs $25 and require no extra documents or fees. Make sure the officials know that you know this.
Once you have your visa, brush off the touts and go to the arrival window to get your entry stamp into Cambodia.
From the immigration, you have to find your way down a small rugged road to the river. The first few motocycle taxi drivers will speak English well and ask for 400Baht. Ignore them, and keep on walking down the road. In about 250 meters there is the main group of taxi drivers, where the standard fare to Kokong town is 50B (including the bridge toll of 11B). It takes around 10 minutes to reach the centre of town.
Rent a motorbike from Fat Sam's Restaurant and explore the local area. By Cambodian standards the local roads are safe and most of the local people drive slowly.
Alternatively hire a tuk tuk or moto to take you to the local attractions.
Be careful when driving a motto, the locals may drive slowly but they follow NO rules. Expect them to be coming at you in any direction.
Around Koh Kong, there are islands, mountains, jungles, rivers, waterfalls, a zoo, casino, and a lot more.
Koh Kong Island is considered one of the best beaches in SE Asia. There are no accommodations on Koh Kong Island as it is military run and therefore illegal to spend the night, however day trips are offered various operators in Koh Kong.
Along highway 4 (Sihanoukville - Phnom Penh), about 30 km south of Traeng Trayoung, 20 km north of the Koh Kong turn-off, there is on the west side of the road a small turn-off which leads to a nice set of rapids called O'bak Retes. Great place to stop.
There are three things to do in Koh Kong which are easily accessible and vey beautiful to see: Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary (2 km out of town) it is an org run by local villages tying to preserve their local habitat. It is part of probably the largest mangrove estuary left in Asia. You can get there by bike; by foot; tuk tuk. If you hoof it ;wear a hat; bring water; and start walking early in the morning. It probably woud take 1.5 hours to walk. You pass some really interesting plant life growing in sand and mangrove mud flats. You can take a boatride on the estuary (hire a boatman) for about $20; it is worth it.
Baklang Beach. accross the bridge toward Thai border and turn left at the kings statue (looks like a Buddha). You can bike it. Very nice mangrove tidal flats. It is an easy 5km. There is a row of fish shacks lining the beach. If you want to eat something... ask the price first... the food tends to vary in quality, better to have a cold drink. During the rainy season the water is muddy but a very nice respite during the dry season. Baklang vilage is further down the road. Some fishing boats thats about it. If you bike go early and leave plenty of time; be back by dark.
Ta Tai River ... its the 1st bridge before you arrive in KK. Very nice to take a boat ride to the waterfall and have the boatman take you the other way back uder the bridge... down river. Cost about $25.
It is possible to take one of those long orange wooden boats from Peam Krasop WS to the Ta Tai River through the estuary skirting lands end. I understand it takes 3 hours. The cost one way is estimated at $90+. Those boats are not very comfortble to sit in for long periods.
If you should have problems with the Khmer language concerning Peam Krasop or Ta Tai boat trips ask: Larry at the KK Mangrove Retaurant at Peam Krasop.
If you are interested in Paleontology or Geology there might be something of interest for you. I had a Well drilled 1km from Peam Krasop. No water but at 40 meters.... black mud with mollusk shells came pouring out; most likely fossils. Out of town on the main road there are several sites where excavators have torn out the sides of high hills leaving nice cross sections. Could be intereting to take a look at. If you are alone or want company ask Larry at the KK Mangove Restaurant.
At night the river front past the bridge comes alive after 4pm. Sugar cane juice vendors and various others sell BBQ meat, beer etc. A nice walk.
Fat Sam's Restaurant on the roundabout in the town centre is a fabulous place to get an idea about what to do. They have free maps of the local area and rent well maintained motorbikes which allow you to explore the local area. They can also help you book tours through serious operators and tell you which local tour operators can be trusted.
Day tours and overnight adventure trips to Koh Kong Island and other Islands in Kong Province, Pream Krasop Mangroves(Asia's Largest), Waterfalls & Trekking in the Cardamom Mountainns are available from various travel & tour operators in the town.
KK Mangrove RestaurantThere is a new restaurant in town at the Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary . It is a quiet place where its nice to drink a freshly squeezed fruit juice; have a cold beer after the trip from town or munch on some thin crust pizza. No TV just watch the local world go by.
There are many guesthouses and small hotels in the central part of town and on the riverside street, partially thanks to Thais who come to Cambodia for gambling (the big casino can be seen on the way from the border). Basic guesthouse room with fan costs USD3-6 (or 100-200 baht). For USD10 and more you'll get an air-con room in a guesthouse or hotel. As often in Asia, the cheapest places and room rates are usually those found "on the spot" on arrival. Motorbike taxi drivers will be happy to deliver you to a guesthouse/hotel of their choice, if you're not sure where to go - just ask them (and notice after while riding there) how far from the centre is it and what's the price. Alternatively, just walk around and look for accommodation yourself - the town is quite small. Further south of the town there is a small group of 12 islands called the Koh Sdach archipelago, this area holds untamed beauty with white sandy beaches, crystal clear seas and paradise islands. This is a must for a visitor to coastal Cambodia. Currently accommodation is only available on two of the islands Koh Sdach and Koh Toteung and room rates go from $10 - $120.
Travel agent scam encountered last quarter of 2014. At least one local travel agent seems to have just copied tour descriptions from a serious competitor and sell tours that are not the same as in the descriptions. The same guys also have been known to sell highly overpriced bus tickets out of town ($15 for a ticket you can get for $8 from some one else). According to locals the company changes it's name frequently because of bad reviews on the internet. Currently known as Mr 42 or Koh Kong riverside Guesthouse they operate on the riverside.
Tatai is the next town east, 19 km away. $4 - $5 by motobike, US$10 by tuk tuk.
Tickets to Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville should cost around 25000 riel (US$6.25)and should be purchased at the bus station in the center of town. Some buses charge up to 15$ for a ride to Sihanukville. Buses depart around 7AM and there is also a 1PM bus to Phnom Penh. Timetable and bus departure times may change and services may be added or cancelled.
There are also vans and unmarked taxis leaving for different destinations in different times, check with locals around the bus station or in the restaurants around. For example a trip in a van to Kampot cost 7.5$
A bus to Trat should cost $7. This is the same bus that departs Sihanoukville and arrives at Koh Kong at 1pm. At the border you must change "buses". After getting your passport sorted out wait near the immigration office on your right. There is no bus to change to or any organized transportation at all. Hawkers will try to talk you into paying for another ticket, tell them you have already paid for a bus ticket. You may be waiting around for over an hour before anything happens but eventually someone should come around, check your ticket and put you on a shuttle bus. From the border to Trat takes around an hour. It is very important you know the name of the place you bought your bus ticket as the guy will ring to confirm with that business of they in fact sold a ticket. Even with a valid ticket if you can't give them the name of where you bought it you might find yourself buying another ticket. [Oct 2013]