Archive - May 2017

Koh Kong

Koh Kong: a natural hidden gem by the Thai border

Posted on: May 31st, 2017

Koh Kong is the nearest province to Thai border, surrounded by the sea on one side and by the magnificent Cardamoms mountains on the other side. It is an amazing place with intact natural beauty and far away from the main touristic routes.

The main city of the province is Koh Kong city, where you can start most of the excursions. Koh Kong is 5 to 7 hours away from Phnom Penh and the only way to get there is taking the road from Sihanoukville or Phnom Penh. Two bus companies are operating: Virak Buntham (which has an office in Koh Kong city) and Olong Pich, which pass by Sihanoukville first. If you want to fully discover this part of Cambodia you need 3 to 4 days, depending on where you come from and head after.

We arrived there on a Friday night, taking a taxi from Phnom Penh, and we went directly to Rithy guesthouse, where I had booked a room. I choose to book at Rithy’s because he is also organizing a lot of tours in the province.

Koh Kong Island & Mangrove Forest

On the first day, we did the Koh Kong island tour: it is a one-day excursion to discover Koh Kong Island. This island is still preserved from tourism and genuinely natural. At first I wanted to spend a night there but none of the hotels answered me on time. There are two hotels on the island: Koh Kong Island Resort and White Sand Villa. If you still want to spend a night on the island, Rithy tour is organizing a 2 days tour on the island where you either sleep in a hammock on the beach or in the only village of the island with the local community.

Coming back to my trip, we spend 2 or 3 hours on the island chilling and eating an excellent grilled BBQ fish, well prepared by our guides! Our group was really nice, which made the day even better! It was even more appreciated when we had to support each other trying to get back on the boat because of the very wavy sea. I almost lost my shoes!!

On the way back, we stopped at the mangrove forest which was really nice especially with the sunset.

Talking about that, be very careful with the sun: it is really hard in this region, especially if you are on the sea and my friend got some blisters because of it. In order to visit the mangrove, you stop at some point with the boat and you walk for around 10 minutes, then the boat is taking you back on another side. At the end of the day, coming back to the pier, we watched the sunset there with a beer. What else do you need?

Koh Kong

Koh Konh Island

Trekking, a night in the jungle & Tatai Waterfall

On the second day we went for a 2 days jungle trek. Don’t worry it is not difficult, everyone that is not 80 years old or hasn’t done sport for ages can do it!

You start at 8am and they bring you by car to the starting point (there is another option for these 2 days: you can a boat in the mangrove and do the hike up to a really good viewpoint). From the starting point we walked 4 to 5 hours with frequent stops all near a river where you can refresh yourself. We ate on the way and we arrived to the camp around 3pm leaving us plenty of time to enjoy this amazing experience. Then it was a great pleasure and a unique experience to swim in the natural swimming pool in front of the camp after this tough day! The camp is just near the river and in the middle on the nature, cutting you out from the rest of the world (also because you don’t have any network!).

Koh Kong

Our Jungle Camp

In the evening we did a fire camp with our guides and spent a really good time trying to understand their card game, which was at the end a Cambodian version of my French game card « the President ». At the end of the evening, we were watching the stars exactly as we were in an astronomy observatory.

Koh Kong

Delicious food and our natural swimming pool

The day after we woke up after the night in the hammock, which were quite comfortable for me and I was not even cold (on the contrary, my friends were freezing, probably also because I brought my sleeping bag). Then, we took our breakfast, did a quick dive in the swimming pool and started walking back. There, a car brought us to the Tatai waterfall, which were pretty nice. You can access by paying 4000 riels the entrance.

Koh Kong

Tatai Waterfall

For our last night, I had booked at Neptune bungalow, along the Tatai River. It was the cheapest one because the other hotels are resorts so a little too expensive. Even Neptune was not so cheap because the bungalow for 2 was 40$ for the night (but you can be 4 if you want). The owner is a very sweet German guy, he cooks for you really good meals and organize excursions like Tatai waterfall or tours on the river. To get there you have to go to the Tatai Bridge, call him and an old Khmer man is taking you there. In the morning we did a little kayaking (you can go up to a small waterfall just within 30m which is really nice!) and swam in the river. This day was really unique and nice because we were totally alone!

Koh Kong

Small waterfall near the river

In the end it was time to go back to Phnom Penh, to real life and to work after this great experience.

Going to Koh Kong is really doing something different than the traditional places everyone is visiting in Cambodia. It is a great preserved natural place, that everyone should experience having some time in Cambodia.

 

This travel memoir has been written by Marie, French expat living in Phnom Penh. Thank you for your precious tips on Koh Kong! 

< Original version in French below! >

 

Koh Kong est la province située en bordure de la Thaïlande. Elle est bordée par  la mer tout en étant entourée par la gigantesque et impressionnante chaine de montagnes des Cardamones. C’est un endroit fantastique qui a gardé tout son charme naturel et reste encore préservé du tourisme

La ville principale de la province est Koh Kong city à partir de laquelle vous pouvez commencer la plupart des excursions à travers la province. Elle se situe à 5 à 7 heures de bus depuis Phnom Penh. En effet, les seules routes pour y accéder viennent de Sihanoukville et Phnom Penh. Deux compagnies de bus desservent cette destination : Virak Buntham (qui possède un bureau à Koh Kong ce qui est plutôt pratique) et Olong Pich, qui passe par Sihanoukville avant. Si vous voulez profiter pleinement de cette partie du Cambodge vous aurez besoin de 3 à 4 jours en fonction de l’endroit d’où vous venez et de l’endroit où vous allez.

Nous sommes arrivés là bas vendredi soir après avoir pris un taxi privé depuis Phnom Penh. Arrivant tard, nous sommes directement allé à Rithy Guesthouse où j’avais réservé une chambre. J’avais choisi cette guesthouse parce que Rithy organise aussi diffèrent type d’excursion à travers la province de Koh Kong.

Le premier jour, nous avons l’excursion en 1 jour sur l’ile de Koh Kong. C’est une ile encore très naturelle qui reste préservée du tourisme. Au début je voulais y dormir mais quand j’ai essayé, aucun des hôtels de l’ile ne m’a répondu. Il y a deux hôtels sur l’ile : Koh Kong Island Resort et White Sand Villa. Si vous voulez tout de même dormir sur l’ile, Ritchie tour propose des excursions de 2 jours sur l’ile où vous dormez soit dans des hamacs sur la plage soit chez l’habitant dans le seul village de l’ile.

Revenons à nos moutons et à notre journée d’excursion! Nous avons passé 2 à 3 heures sur l’ile à discuter, se baigner et manger un excellent poisson au barbecue préparé par nos deux guides. Notre groupe était très sympa ce qui a rendu la journée encore meilleure! Cela a été d’autant plus vrai quand nous avons dû nous soutenir pour réussir à remonter sur le bateau alors que la mer était déchainée! J’ai même faille perdre mes chaussures!

Sur le chemin du retour, nous nous sommes arrêtée pour visiter la mangrove. C’était vraiment exceptionnel cette entrée dans la mangrove avec la lumière de la fin d’après-midi ! Faites d’ailleurs très attention au soleil dans cette région et spécialement sur l’eau, mon amie a eu des cloques à cause du soleil! Pour visiter la mangrove le bateau nous a laissé à un certain point, nous avons marché environ 10 minutes dans la mangrove et le bateau nous a récupéré à un autre point.

A la fin de la journée en revenant au ponton, nous nous sommes offerts une bière en regardant le couchée de soleil. Que demandez d’autre?!

Le deuxième jour nous sommes partis pour un trek de 2 jours dans la jungle. Ne vous inquiétez pas ce n’est pas impossible à faire, à part si vous avez 80 ans ou que vous n’avez pas fait de sport depuis des siècles. Vous partez à 8h du matin et ils vous emmènent en jeep jusqu’au point de départ (il y a une autre option pour cette excursion où vous prenez un bateau à travers la mangrove et vous marchez jusqu’à un très beau point de vue). Depuis le point de départ nous avons marché pendant 4 à 5 heures avec des arrêts fréquents, tous près d’une rivière afin de se rafraichir. Nous avons mangé pendant un de ces stops et nous sommes arrivés au camp vers 3h de l’après-midi nous laissant plein de temps pour profiter de cette expérience.

Là cela a été une superbe et unique expérience de se baigner dans la piscine naturelle en face du camp après cette dure journée! Le camp est juste à côté de la rivière et au milieu de la nature nous coupant du reste du monde (en grande partie aussi a cause du manqué de réseau!)

Le soir nous avons fait un feu de camp avec nos guides et nous avons passé un super moment en essayant de comprendre leur jeu de cartes qui au final n’était qu’une version différente du jeu de cartes français “Le Président”. Nous avons terminée la soirée en regardant les étoiles comme si nous étions dans un observatoire astronomique.

Après avoir passé la nuit dans nos hamacs, ce qui était plutôt confortable au final (peut être aussi parce que j’avais mon sac de couchage ce qui m’a évitée d’avoir froid contrairement à mes amis), nous avons pris notre petit déjeuner, fait un dernier petit plongeon dans la piscine naturelle et recommencez à marcher jusque notre point de départ. De là-bas une voiture nous a emmené jusqu’au chutes d’eau de la Tâtai qui sont très sympa! Vous pouvez y accéder par vos propres moyens moyennant 4000 riels pour l’entrée.

Pour notre dernière nuit, j’avais réservé une nuit le long de la rivière Tatai au Neptune Bungalow. C’est le moins cher des hôtels situés le long de la rivière car tous les autres sont des ressorts donc hors de prix. Et même le Neptune n’était pas si peu cher car nous avons payé le bungalow 40 dollars la nuit pour 2 (mais vous pouvez y dormir à 4). Le propriétaire est un Allemand très sympathique qui cuisine pour vous des plats réellement bons. Il peut aussi organiser des excursions  comme les chutes d’eau de la Tatai ou des tours sur la rivière. Pour se rendre là-bas nous sommes allés jusqu’au pont Tatai, nous l’avons appelé et un vieux monsieur khmer est venu nous chercher pour nous emmener au Neptune bungalow.

Le matin, nous avons fait un peu de kayak (vous pouvez aller jusqu’à une petite chute d’eau qui est à 30 minutes en kayak) et nous nous sommes baignées dans la rivière. Ces deux jours étaient vraiment super car nous étions juste toutes les deux sans personne d’autre dans la guesthouse ni même le long de la rivière.

Et le temps est venu de rentrer à Phnom Penh pour retrouver la vie réelle et le travail après cette expérience super! Aller à Koh Kong est vraiment faire quelque chose de diffèrent au Cambodge en dehors des circuits traditionnels. C’est un superbe endroit préservé où chacun devrait se rendre si il a du temps à consacrer au Cambodge.

 

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Phnom Penh architecture

Understanding Phnom Penh’s history of architecture and urban development

Posted on: May 31st, 2017

Like many other Asian cities, Phnom Penh is growing fast. A rising economy and foreign investment are changing forever the face of its streets – with its good and bad sides.

If it’s your first time in Cambodia you will not have terms of comparison, but everything in this country is changing incredibly quickly. Come back after a couple of years (and we’re sure it will happen: it is difficult to come here only once!) and you will be able to see an incredible number of new skyscrapers, massive shopping malls and luxury office or residential buildings.

June will be an interesting month to learn more about these changes: the art collective Sa Sa Art Projects is organizing various related activities.

Don’t miss the opportunity to get to know more about Phnom Penh’s architecture and urban development!

Phnom Penh architecture

Koh Pich, also known as Diamond Island, is the perfect place to see the clash of architecture styles and influences in the recent development of Phnom Penh.

Since the 40’s the city has been growing a lot. The only exception has been the Khmer Rouge period, where the whole population had to leave, turning Phnom Penh into a ghost town.

During the colonial period, the French developed a lot of infrastructure and a comprehensive water system in order to prevent flooding, deal with the sewage and conquer land from the river.

In the 60’s and after the independence, the new king Norodom Sihanouk appointed the famous architect Vann Molyvann as the head figure of the country’s urban development and his unique style of modern architecture with a Khmer taste spread along the city. Today you can see some of his works in places such as Olympic Stadium, Chaktomuk Conference Hall and Institute of Foreign Languages (in the Royal University of Phnom Penh).

Phnom Penh architecture

The Olympic Stadium is one of the most iconic infrastructures in the city (but no, they never organized any Olympic games here!)

After Khmer Rouge, the city kept expanding. An example is the construction of the artificial island Koh Pich (also known as Diamond Island) in front of Phnom Penh’s downtown.

As a consequence, the river had to take land from other places to keep flowing and many families had to leave their houses. Other massive updates are the recent filling of lakes, such as Boeung Kak , with sand, for further construction. The French built these lakes as a way to deal with the excess of water during rainy season.  Moreover, the French put in place a complex system of canals and dikes to manage the fact that the whole city is built above wet lands. As a result, nowadays there are more flooding and the relationship between Phnom Penh and its three rivers, Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap, is more and more difficult.

To have a deeper understanding of the situation, take a look at the different events planned for the next month by Sa Sa Art Projects and Vann Molyvann Project, in the multi-exhibitions “Sensing the Capital” project. It highlights not only the changes in the city’s urbanism but also their consequences in terms of social and environmental impact.

Phnom Penh Architecture

The new space of Sa Sa Art Projects, with its exhibition “Kraanh Norneal”.

Check the “Kraanh Norneal” exhibition in the new space of Sa Sa Art Projects, open until June 18th (on street 350, near the corner with street 95): it exposes contemporary artworks (from video to sculpture, from photography to digital illustration) by young Cambodian artists such as Eng Rithchandaneth, Mok Sombo, Sao Sreymao, Sok Chanrado and Tan Vatey.

In their old gallery, inside the White Building (on Sothearos Boulevard), you can follow the process of the city conquering land from the river through its constructions, with the “Genealogy of Bassac” exhibition by Pen Sereypagna (until 31 of May). This is also one of the last chances to see the iconic White Building from the inside. Like for many other Khmer building of the 60’s, the demolition of the White Building  is already planned and it will be another victim of extreme construction. 

From June 21th to 27th in the Olympic Stadium, the exhibition “The National Sports Complex: Legacy and Vision” will show the history and future of this famous building from Vann Molyvann. On June 24th, Roungkong Project will organize a walking guided tour to old cinemas in the city, a unique opportunity to see other pearls from the exquisite Khmer architecture. 

In conclusion, on June 25th, artist Pen Sereypagna will manage a workshop in the new art space Kon Len Khnhom on street 360, tracing the evolution of Phnom Penh through its maps from 1940 until now.

Phnom Penh architecture

Sculpture by young Cambodian artist Eng Rithchandaneth, part of the “Sensing the Capital” multi-exhibition project.

Is is definitely a month full of interesting activities to understand the history of the city, its architecture and urban development. So, if you pass by Phnom Penh, make sure not to miss these events. Check Sa Sa Art Projects facebook page for more info!

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Explore Kampot’s surroundings

Posted on: May 29th, 2017

We know that the charm of Kampot has the power of relaxing even the most hectic traveler and the reasons to stay in town to enjoy its river and calmness are more than many. But we also know that, as soon as you get out of the city, Kampot’s surroundings offer a lot to explore and marvel at. Stay tuned from some suggestions on where to go!

kampot surroundings

Getting out of the city is a great way to meet some locals and experience a genuine Cambodian lifestyle.

Kep: a quiet coastal town with memories of a glorious past

Of course the first place to mention is Kep, the small and quiet coastal town popular since the sixties, when it was a resort area for rich Khmer families. Famous for its beach and its seafood market (crabs are so well known that they even deserve a statue in their honor on the sea in front of the town). Kep is also as a getaway to take the boat to Rabbit island, or Koh Tonsai, as known by Cambodians.

Koh Tonsai or Rabbit Island: palm trees, hammocks and glowing pankton

And here we go, Koh Tonsai is our next spot on this list! An island just a half hour boat ride from the coast, filled with nature and perfect to relax on a hammock, sunbath or swim in this gorgeous ocean. The beach is especially gorgeous on some nights, when the plankton appears in the sea and glows in the dark. Besides that, you can engage in snorkeling, fishing or trekking.

Natural Parks and Mountains: amazing views and local fauna

Back to the mainland, near Kep you have a national park with an entrance ticket of just one dollar, perfect for spotting the local fauna and trekking in a pure rainforest jungle. You can breathe some fresh air and maybe take the opportunity for that exercise you were looking for after eating such delicious seafood in Kep! Moreover, there’s a wonderful place to watch the sunset called, appropriately, Sunset Rock.

If you are passionate about birds, you should not miss the Anlong Pring bird sanctuary, not far away as well.

Not only for nature lovers but also for riders, a beautiful day trip idea to go to Bokor Mountain with a motorbike. There you can enjoy the view and have fun driving its winding road. You will be able to find a bit of everything, from wildlife (Bokor is also part of a national park) to an old vacant and forgotten casino on the top of the mountain. Worth some mysterious pictures for your travel album, namely if you are going in a foggy day. And, well, if you are really trying to do some kind of tour along the mountains and parks around town, you still have the Phnom Sor, or White Mountain, in the north of Kampot.

Traeuy Koh: local villages and salt fields

Tired of trekking and mountains? Much closer to the city you have Traeuy Koh, a small island just across one of Kampot’s bridges. Another option is to visit the salt fields in the surroundings which, depending on the time of the year, can provide you with one of the most incredible setting for photography in the whole country. Just imagine very shallow salt lakes where the water perfectly reflects the sky and you can picture it!

Kampot Pepper: a legend for a reason

There are also the well known farms of delicious Kampot pepper, famous all over the world for its distinguished taste. If you want to buy some, only trust the farms themselves. The pepper sold in Kampot’s markets is more often than not a fake one, cheaper and produced in Vietnam.

The famous Kampot pepper.

Secluded places: a secret lake, misterious caves, hidden temples

Not far away you can also find a beautiful lake, which somehow got named as the Secret Lake. If you are really into this kind of secluded places and want a beach only for yourself go to Angkoul beack! Ask your guesthouse or checkout the maps (typically available on bars and cafés in Kampot).  If, in the other hand, suntanning is not your thing and you are missing is some cool shade to break the Southeast Asian weather, check out the caves around Kampong Trach. Another interesting place is Phnom Sorsia, a Buddhist hill temples complex, a cave filled with bats and another one where you can see limestone stalagmites that resemble elephants (hence its name of Elephant Cave).

Crossing the border: your bridge to Vietnam

Last but not least, a good option can be crossing the border to Vietnam, which is just 40km from Kampot. The border is Prek Chak on the Cambodian side, and Xa Xia in Vietnam side. Ha Tien is a nice town nearby, around 20 minutes from the border and a lovely place to start exploring the country. It is also a good spot if you are on your way to Phu Quoc island, highly recommended and not so far away. Just bear in mind that you can not make your visa on arrival on the border to Vietnam, you should have it already with you (the nearest place to Kampot to deal with the visa process is Sihanoukville).

Kampot's surroundings

As soon as you pass the border you can check some Vietnamese “street market art”.

Hope you got some ideas on where to go if you are in Kampot and looking for something different. Its surroundings are definitely worth to see! Check out Camboticket website if you need to book tickets for your trip. You can even book tickets from Kampot to Ha Tien and other places in Vietnam.

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Reasons to visit Laos

5 Reasons to visit Laos, where nature takes over

Posted on: May 24th, 2017

Laos is a small country stuck in the middle of Southeast Asia, perhaps overlooked due to its neighbor countries. It doesn’t have the size of China nor the popularity of Thailand. Maybe it doesn’t even have the excitement of Cambodia and Vietnam or the exotism of Myanmar. However, believe us, here are the Top 5 Reasons why you would be crazy to not visit this beautiful country and you will find many more during your trip!

reasons to visit Laos

Typical landscape you can find in Laos

1. Marvellous Nature

For sure one of the main reasons to visit this country is to marvel at its nature, explore mountains and its little villages, travel on its rivers or simply swim in them, explore the countryside and chill at gorgeous waterfalls.

You can travel along the Mekong by boat or visit the Kuang Si waterfalls near Luang Prabang. Regarding mountain areas, great villages to use as base to explore are Muong Ngoi and Nong Khiaw. Besides the mountains to trek, there is a special vibe in those places: relaxed environment that follows the river’s movement and cheap bungalows with hammocks on the balcony. Here you can fuel your readings or philosophical reflections (and perhaps taking a naps too!).

If trekking is your thing, a good base as well is Luang Namtha in the far north, near the border with China, with the advantage of being able to experience different ethnic communities and their cultures.

Reasons to visit Laos

River that passes through Muong Ngoi and Nong Khiaw.

Another great place in terms of nature is the area around Thakhek and Ban Nahim, with lots of caves to explore and even a famous climbing spot. Even if not 100% natural, don’t miss Laos vast amount of coffee plantations in the south, on the Plateau Bolaven!

Reasons to visit Laos

A cave waiting for you, a perfect place to cool down from Asian tropical climate.

2. Architectural Gems

Of course, being a Buddhist country, Laos is not only a natural wonder but has lots of architectural gems. The beautiful temples in Luang Prabang are a must see. Besides the capital, Vientiane, the whole country maintains a tradition of cute wooden houses that are wonderful to visit. Try some homestay in a village to get the full experience of living with a local family and experiencing their everyday life.

3. Smiling People & Street Life

Here is the other highlight of your Laotian trip: the population has a very simple and humble life. Especially in the south you will be greeted by countless smiles.

Reasons to visit Laos

Hello!

Also, as in other Asian country, it’s always interesting to pay attention to the street life happening all around you…

Reasons to visit Laos

Street manicure in Vientiane.

4. Laos Secret War – Viengxai

We cannot forget the past conflicts the country suffered, especially the American secret bombings during the Vietnam War that damaged both Laos and Cambodia. An interesting place to visit related to this dark historical period is Viengxai. Here thousands of people were hiding in a complex system of caves and tunnels, basically an underground city, built to survive the bomb and napalm attacks.

5. Chilling

Last but not least, Laos is the perfect place for some quietness and relaxation. For instance the 4000 islands in the south are filled with places with cheap accommodation and a chilling environment. You will probably want to stay for a while…

Reasons for travelling to Laos

View from a bungalow in the Don Det island, just a couple of meters from the mighty Mekong.

Hope we gave you enough reasons to explore this beautiful country! Check the Camboticket website: there are all the ways to go from Phnom Penh to Don Det (in 4000 islands), Pakse and Vientiane, and from Siem Reap to Don Det, Don Khon (also in 4000 islands) or Pakse.

 

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asian outdoor games

Asian streets are for playing!

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017

Some of the most memorable experiences on your trip will be when you get out of the “tourist bubble” and engage with the locals. If you do, there will be endless moments of unpretentious fun, innocent interactions and cultural learning. One interesting aspect in Asian countries is that its streets are, more often than not, used not only to commute but also as recreational spaces. Places where families and friends gather to have food or drinks, play or simply hangout. Moreover, considering the interest shown by the locals in games, a great opportunity for connection is to join every time you see them engaging in some sort of outdoor sport of hobby. Asian streets are for playing!

From some kind of version of checkers in Vietnam…

asian streets activities

… to chess in Cambodia …

asian streets activities

asian streets activities

… to normal checkers in Laos but played with bottle caps!

asian streets activities

Also in Laos, you can try petanque, a game left by the French during colonial times (and that you can also find in Vietnam and Cambodia, that were part of the old French Indochine as well)

asian streets activities

Going to Thailand for a bit, why not joining local kids and playing with them?

asian streets activities

In Vietnam, kids also seem interest to engage in some kind of king fu role play…

asian streets activities

… while in Laos they still use many times traditional and beautiful toys:

asian streets activities

In Vietnam, badminton is so popular that people don’t mind to set up the nets blocking the whole sidewalk…

asian streets activities

… while in Cambodia they love to play with something very similar to the object used in badminton but with their feet (you can see it in the air in the middle of the photo, they kick it from one person to another without letting touch the floor)

asian streets activities

If what you want is some exercise, why not joining some aerobic/dance classes that you can find in the streets of any Cambodian big city? (If you are in Phnom Penh check the riverside, the Vietnamese Friendship park and the Olympic Stadium)

The most important thing is to not only meet other travelers but also local people, learn their culture, have fun with them. This helps breaking the barrier that often is set by default between locals and tourists, the poor and the rich, the westerns and the “easterns”. Empathy and connection can start with such a simple thing as a game and, you know, Asian streets are for playing!

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Kampong Chhnang floating village

Exploring the floating villages and ethnic communities near Kampong Chhnang

Posted on: May 20th, 2017

An easy getaway from Phnom Penh, Kampong Chhnang is a beautiful way to experience the

Cambodian rural lifestyle and its diverse cultures and ways of living. Being situated on a river

near the Tonlé Sap lake, its waterfront is composed by different villages made of wooden

houses on stilts and floating villages. Besides that, various different ethnic groups live happily

side by side, a must see if you are looking for an authentic cultural experience in your travels.

Kampong Chhnang floating village

More peaceful is impossible.

So rent a bicycle and come explore the different villages, going around slowly to allow you to

engage with the locals – you will definitely hear a lot of hellos while you are passing, so take

your time to stop and engage in some conversations. Try as well to understand where the

people came from, because in this area you will find different ethnic communities. Besides

Khmer people, like the majority of population in Cambodia, you can meet some Cham families,

Vietnamese and Kampuchea Krom, ethic Cambodians that before lived in the Delta Mekong

(now part of Vietnam but during Angkor era belonging to the Khmer empire).

Floating Villages

Cham girl in front of her cute house.

One of the most interesting communities due to its differences to the other ethnic groups is

the Cham people. They were part of the old Champa empire (that stretched from Cambodia to

south Vietnam many years ago) and are mostly muslim and with different traditions. You can

notice this for instance in the clothes they wear, the bits of Arab language you can find from

time to time, and the presence of a mosque in the village (the only mosque on stilts that we

ever found!)

Kampong Chhnang floating village

Mosque on stilts, definitely a reason to go back during rainy season to see people go praying by boat.

 

During the monsoons the whole area is flooded and people have to travel to their houses by

boat, but during dry season you can have a great time cycling on the road along the river and

see the different villages and their people.

Kampong Chhnang floating village

Lifestyle by the river.

Explore the various roads near the canals more close to the city as well, for a glance on the

beautiful traditional wooden houses on stilts.

Kampong Chhnang Floating village

We want to live here.

Besides the architecture, this is a great way to meet the locals and their way of life. They are

mainly fishermen due to the proximity to the Tonlé Sap lake, the most important source of

protein in the country’s diet.

Kampong Chhnang floating village

Karate-fisherman move.

The lake is upstream from the river, so if you want is possible to ask any local owner of a boat

to bring you there, passing of course through the fascinating Vietnamese floating villages.

Great opportunity to work on your bargaining skills!

Kampong Chhnang floating village

Floating village populated by Vietnamese families.

Other option is to cross the river by ferry to go to Kampong Leang, where you can hike the

Neang Kong Rei mountains or visit some ancient temples, built before the Angkor era. But if

you are more into relaxing mode, on the water front you can also find Phsar Krom, a series of

small roads filled with shops and street food stalls, and a nice promenade to walk or chill out

with the locals.

Kampong Chhnang floating village

Kitsch sculptures on the river front.

Hope we gave you enough reasons to come explore these communities and floating villages, have a look on Camboticket website for options on how to get here!

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Kampong Chhnang

Get out of the beaten track in Kampong Chhnang

Posted on: May 19th, 2017

If you are already tired of seeing so many barangs (the local word for foreigners) every place you travel in Cambodia, you definitely should get out of the main routes that pass through Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville or Kampot. If your thing is going out of the beaten track, one worthy place to have a look is Kampong Chhnang. On the route from Phnom Penh to Battambang, and just two to three hours by bus from the capital, it’s a small town on a riverside leading to the gigantic Tonlé Sap, the largest lake on the entire Southeast Asia.

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Phnom Penh Photo Guide

Phnom Penh Photo Guide

Posted on: May 8th, 2017

One of the most interesting things of traveling is to photograph and collect memories from your trip. But if one only take selfies or pictures of monuments there’s so much life and interesting stuff getting missed in your travel photo albums.

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Phnom Penh Nightlife

Phnom Penh Nightlife and cool spots to hangout

Posted on: May 8th, 2017

As the majority of backpackers end up staying in the area around riverside due to the amount of cheap guesthouses there, it’s quite common that most of the places they hangout in are around that area. But Riverside is definitely one of the least interesting in the city considering the type of dodgy bars you’ll find there… Phnom Penh has a lot to explore, and the nightlife scene is vibrant and filled with places for every taste!

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Silk Island

Phnom Penh Getaways: Koh Dach (or Silk Island)

Posted on: May 5th, 2017

A bit tired of the chaos and city pace of Phnom Penh? A short ride from it there’s a peaceful and relaxing island on the Mekong where you can experience a countryside lifestyle and genuine people. Rent a bicycle and come explore Koh Dach, also known as Silk Island due to its silk farms and weaving tradition.

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