If you want to see the real Cambodia, get off the beaten path. While the popular tourist destinations in Cambodia have incredible features of their own, it’s the road-less-traveled that will really inspire you and make your trip unforgettable. To get a glimpse of the unknown, all you have to do is visit Koh Kong.
It’s no wonder that the New York Times has recognized Koh Kong as an “emerging eco-tourism destination” in Asia. This pristine province is home to a treasure trove of natural beauty and outdoor adventure. Go jungle trekking, jump on a mountain bike, swim in fresh water rivers, and climb gorgeous waterfalls. In addition to adventure, Koh Kong is full of friendly communities of Cambodians who are more than happy to have you and show you what rural life is like.
Although off the beaten path, Koh Kong isn’t “out of the way”. Situated in the south west corner of Cambodia, bordering Thailand, Koh Kong is actually quite a conveniently located. After your expedition in one of the most gorgeous areas in the country, you’re just a bus ride away from Bangkok and beyond.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Koh Kong:
1. Stay at Neptune River Bungalows
Neptune Bungalows offers an unforgettable stay on the Preat River in Koh Kong.
Sleep in a windowless tree house with the river breeze and melodic sound of humming frogs lull you through the night. When you wake up, head down for breakfast over the river with fresh eggs and fruit. After breakfast, hop in a kayak and paddle on the calm waters with the afternoon sun to kiss your skin. For dinner, enjoy freshly caught fish and organic veggies by candlelight.
The only way in and out of this resort is via motorboat operated by the friendly boat captains of Neptune. Bring snacks with you or dive taste buds first into Neptune’s delicious menu and full stock of ice-cold beer.
2. Visit TaTai Waterfall
TaTai Waterfall on the Preat River is a relaxing place to spend the afternoon. Do as the locals and bring a picnic with local crab and shrimp, some organic fruit from the market, some bottles of water and a bucket of beer. Lay down a straw mat on one of the many flat platforms alongside the waterfall and go to town.
Cool off in the falls with water from the Cardamom mountains that cascades over two flat platforms. The rocks are easy to climb and the platforms are large enough to walk around and explore. You’ll find small pools of water mini waterfalls to lay in and under.
There are plenty of resorts on the river that have kayaks on hand to rent or you can book a day tour with a company in the city.
3. Go on a Jungle Trek
The Cardamom Mountains are the perfect place to go jungle trekking in Cambodia. Rithhy Koh Kong Eco Adventure Tours offers multiple trekking options that run from half-day tours to over night excursions. No matter who is in your group, whether you’re traveling with kids or Olympic rock climbers, there is definitely an expedition to fit what you’re looking for.
Almost every tour will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to a long tail boat where you tour the unspoiled river, arriving at your hiking point in the jungle. You’ll hike through the forest where you’ll come across wildlife, swim in waterfalls, and visit Khmer (Cambodian) villages with a friendly and safety-conscious guide.
4. Go Camping on the River
Turn your jungle trek and waterfall adventure into an overnight camping excursion. You’ll explore the wilderness with a local Khmer guide who will take you on jungle hikes that span from 2 hours to 5 hours with stops for snacks, scenery, and a BBQ lunch in between. You’ll visit waterfalls, learn about the tropical forests and it’s creatures, and then set up camp overnight with breakfast in the morning.
These treks include pick up from your hotel, jungle transportation, meals, snacks, and camping gear to keep you dry and comfortable.
There are a couple tour companies that offer camping in Koh Kong such as Kampoul Adventure Tour and Ritthy Koh Kong Eco Adventure Tours.
5. Take a Day Trip to Koh Kong Island
One of the best hidden gems in Cambodia is Koh Kong Island and its unspoiled beaches. You won’t find any accommodation or development here! Koh Kong Island is actually an official military ground therefore development is forbidden. What does this mean for you? This means that the ecosystem is preserved, the beaches are far from crowded, and the scenery is in its natural form.
Book a day trip with Koh Kong Divers Tour Centre and you’ll get to spend the day exploring white sand beaches and frolicking in crystal clear waters. There are fresh water lagoons, fishing opportunities, and fantastic snorkel spots. Day trips can be customized to suit your desires.
6. Psar Leu Food Stalls
Half the fun of traveling to new countries is trying the local cuisine. What better way to explore the food and fare of Cambodia than at a food market where you can pick and choose from a variety of different dishes on sticks, in bowls, and in your hand.
You’ll find the Psar Leu Food Stalls in the center of Koh Kong City where you can get budget bites and fresh fruit every day. The energy here is always buzzing with busy people finishing their work days with a beer and BBQ, alongside moms and dads picking up some grub to take home to their families. All in all, this is a true Khmer experience.
7. Go Fishing on the River
Koh Kong is a unique area in Cambodia. The eco system here is pure and well preserved. That means that the fresh water rivers in Koh Kong are teeming with large populations of fat fish.
Spend the day out on a boat fishing in the middle of the river surrounded by bright green jungle and nothing else. You’ll have a BBQ lunch on board while you work on your fishing skills.
If you’re new to this while fishing thing, that’s okay. Your boat captain will show you how to bait your line, how to cast, and help you reel in your catch. The captain also knows the best spots to drop your line.
Afterwards, head back on shore where you will BBQ your fresh fish and have a delicious meal served with traditional Cambodian side dishes. Or you can opt to donate your fish to Cambodian families in need.
8. Dirt Bike in the Mountains
Experienced with 250cc dirt bikes? Looking for a thrill? Try a scenic off road adventure thorough the jungles of the Cardamom Mountains. You’ll be fitted with helmets, finely tuned bikes, and a local guide who knows these trails like the back of their hand.
You’ll visit waterfalls, take in some incredible mountain views, and even stop by a local village where you can purchase homemade snacks and local beer. Lunch is also included to keep your energy going.
If you’re up for something a bit more intense, join up with Off Road Vietnam who offers a 4-day motorbike excursion from Koh Kong to Phnom Penh.
9. Explore Peam Krasaop Wildlife & Mangrove Sanctuary
Dolphins. There are dolphins in Cambodia! There is your #1 reason to visit the Peam Krasaop Wildlife and Mangrove Sanctuary in Koh Kong.
This 260-sq-km sanctuary is home to a brilliant variety of fish, birds, hermit crabs, flora, and fauna thriving in their natural habitat. You’ll also come across curious monkeys- so watch your belongings!
Wander out on the 600 meter long mangrove walk and climb the 15 meter observation tower to get a bird’s eye view of your surroundings. There are wooden paddleboats to rent at the docks for a self-guided tour.
Just about any and every tour company in Koh Kong City will be offering a day tour to this Cambodian sanctuary which you can sign up for same day! Ask about the dolphins while you’re there and the tour guides might have some suggestions on the best time to spot them.
10. Go Scuba Diving
Whether you’re an experienced diver who wants to go on some fun dives or you are new to the world of diving and want to get Open Water Certified, you can do it all in Koh Kong with Koh Kong Divers.
The PADI certified center offers all courses from refresher courses – Dive Master Training courses with small class sizes and knowledgeable instructors. There are a variety of dive sites in Koh Kong including islands, bays, and even the mangrove park filled with schools of fish, crabs, and octopi.
Better yet, snorkeling, fishing, and sunset BBQs are included on your dive tours! It’s the total package that you shouldn’t pass up.
11. Chill Out on Sner Beach
Sner Beach doesn’t see too many tourists come through. So when you show up, the local Khmer vendors and restaurant staff will be delighted to see you! Prepare yourselves for first class service where you’ll be waited on with a smile.
With beachside tables and chairs, you can sink your feet in the sand while you sip on a cool cocktail underneath a shady umbrella in between refreshing swims in the ocean. This is the life.
You’ll have your pick from freshly caught fish, squid, and crab that the local fishermen bring back daily. All seafood dishes you order from the local food stands will be incredibly fresh, totally delicious, and ridiculously cheap. Go crazy.
12. Visit Rocky Beach on Koh Kong Island
Koh Kong Island is the largest island in Cambodia, spanning 20 kilometers long and 7 kilometers wide. While there are many beaches to explore, Rocky Beach is one of the most enjoyable with plenty of activities and gorgeous scenery. If you want a quiet beach away from the crowds that still lets you get your feet wet and your skin tan, this trip is highly recommended.
This 2-kilometer beach is made up of course camel-colored sand with dark blue water- a serious contrast to many beaches you’ll find in here Cambodia. Lined with palm trees and sprinkled with large boulders in the water that are perfect for climbing, let your inner child go wild with adventure.
Tours to Rocky Beach with Koh Kong Wonders & Excursions include snorkeling, mangrove exploring, and visiting nearby local villages. It’s the perfect way to spend the day.
13. Adventure at Cardamom Mountain Resort
Outdoor enthusiasts, listen up. Staying at Cardamom Mountain Resort is a one-stop-shop for all of your adventure dreams. Situated in the jungle of Koh Kong, you can sleep in traditional Khmer bungalows with a few added luxuries under a straw roof. From the foot of your door, you have the entire gamete of nature adventures waiting for you.
Surrounded by all sorts of terrain and bodies of water, this resort offers every tour you could ever want. Go on a light jungle trek where you can swim in a waterfall, visit the national park and learn about the ecosystem, embark on a 3-day excursion in the jungle with a knowledgeable guide…there really is no limit to what you can do here.
14. Stay on a Private Island
If luxury is what you’re looking for, here it is. Song Saa Private Island is an all-inclusive experience in the heart of Koh Kong.
Wake up to views of the sun sparkling off the water in your private island villa. Each villa has its own private pool overlooking the turquoise waters with cushy lounge beds to catch the sun. Enjoy dinner with your table literally in the pool while your feet soak and the sun sets.
Outside of lounging, you can walk down a long wooden jetty and jump into the clean fresh water or take some kayaks out on the river to explore. The restaurant is incredible and the service is 5-star. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
15. Wander Koh Yor Beach
Koh Yor Beach, located on the west side of Koh Poi River, is a lovely place to spend the afternoon wandering the shore collecting seashells and taking photos. A sleepy beach destination, Koh Yor flies under the radar and only sees a couple groups of tourists per day which is fantastic for you.
For lunch, have a seat at the popular Crab Shack that sells fresh pepper crab and soft shell crab, along with many other seafood delights.
To get there, have a tuk tuk drive you just 6 kilometers from town. On your way to Koh Yor, ask your tuk tuk driver to stop by Bak Khleng, a local fishing village full of welcoming locals, where you can pick up some snacks for the beach, contribute to the local village economy and get a glimpse into how the other half lives.