Transportation in Koh Kong

Minivans were not supposed to go fishing!

Since the completion of the roads to Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh, buses have become the primary means of transport to and from Koh Kong. The once iconic and mildly terrifying ferry trips to Sihanoukville have been stopped since the roads were finished, so ignore offers of local boat owners to take you as the waters can be rough and the vessels unlikely to win any safety awards.

Shared taxis have are slowly disappearing – ask around at guesthouses and cobble together a group for private hire, or simply show up at the bus/ taxi station, although this can be a cramped and slightly overpriced option. Buses are both cheaper and more comfortable. There is an airport in Koh Kong but nobody we’ve spoken to has ever seen a plane there.

Fortunately the NH4 is in excellent condition and the drive to or from both Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville/ Kampot passes through some stunning scenery, notably the Cardamom Mountains. Several bus companies make the journey and all leave in the early morning, although both Virak-Buntham and Rith Mony also offer midday buses. Prices average around US$6 for and older bus, up to US$10 for a brand new air conditioned version or mini-van.

All guesthouses and hotels sell tickets or you can drop by the respective bus depots located in the city centre near the traffic circle or just turn up at the bus station, which is located to the northeast of the town, near the new shopping mall on Street 12. There is also one bus which makes the trip to Kep each day, leaving at 08:30 and costing US$20.

Getting to Koh Kong from Thailand

If arriving from Thailand you will have most probably booked a package ticket that will take you all the way to the border, if not to downtown. The reports of scams on these ‘package’ trips are endless, the most common being overpriced visas and drop-offs at whichever guesthouse is paying the highest commission rates at the time. Making the journey on your own, e.g. from Bangkok, involves several changes of bus but is recommended by many Koh Kong guesthouse owners. Comfortable air conditioned buses leave from Bangkok’s Mochit and Ekamai bus stations to Trat every hour, taking five hours at a cost of 250 baht. Then catch a minibus to the Hat Lek border, another one hour for around 150 baht.

On the Cambodian side of the border, the real fun starts, with everyone queuing up to rip you off, including the immigration officials. The cost for a visa on arrival is US$20, and one photo is required. Paying in baht will see officers ask for anywhere up to 1,500 baht, plus a US$1 ‘stamp’ fee and ‘overtime’ fee. Pay in dollars, keep your cool, and remember that an extra US$1 will probably feed a family.

You will undoubtedly be ‘helped’ by a friendly local taxi driver who will fill out your immigration details and generally go out of his way to make a wonderful first impression. Be very wary – unattended bags are free game for pickpockets and, like its border cousin Poipet, the shenanigans played out on unsuspecting tourists are near legendary.

Agree on a price before making the 10kms trip to Koh Kong and claim to already have a booking at a central guesthouse, which you will most likely be informed has been closed down. Prices to Koh Kong City should cost 100–150 baht for a moto, 150–200 baht for tuk-tuk and 300 baht for taxi.

Sihanoukville to and from Koh Kong

Full sized buses are now in operation from several companies between Koh Kong and Sihanoukville. Buses depart between 07:30 and 08:00, with a further two departures at midday. The four hour journey costs US$5. Offices in Koh Kong are on Street 3 in the city centre, and in Sihanoukville at the bus station near the market. Buses leaving Koh Kong also stop in the town centre, so avoid the trip and book at your guesthouse or hotel. The drive through tropical jungle is mesmerizing, so keep your camera at the ready – look out for the ‘Elephant Crossing’ signs to remind you how far away from home you really are.

Shared taxis leave when full from the bus station and cost a minimum of US$6 per seat, or US$65-$70 for private hire. The only benefit is that you may be able to talk the driver into stopping for the occasional photo. $$

Phnom Penh to and from Koh Kong

Large, air conditioned buses leave every day at 07:45, taking five-six hours to reach the capital. There is usually one service at midday. Buy your ticket from your hotel and ask for the nearest pick-up point.

The journey is roughly the same distance as that to Sihanoukville; although the scenery becomes less spectacular the closer you get to the capital. Shared taxis leave when full from the bus station and cost a minimum of US$10 per seat, or US$75 for private hire.

Getting around in Koh Kong

The Cambodian staple, the moto, is the best way to get around town, with short trips costing 1,000–2,000 riel. The town is very small and easily, and most interestingly, navigable by foot. The lack of paved roads makes bicycles largely impractical, and scooters (100–110cc) can be arranged at all guesthouses for around US$5-$7 per day. Dirt bikes for the adventurous can be hired from Neptune Guesthouse.