From the peaceful Kep in SW Cambodia we took the bus to Kampong Cham from where we are continuing to Mondulkiri province in E Cambodia. Because of the late arrival in the city we decided to spend the night in a guest house and hit the road in the morning. While exploring the city searching for dinner we thought that it would be a waste not to spend at least one day and explore the surroundings. We weren’t wrong, there is so much to be seen here in a day.The following information will help you in getting to know Kampong Cham, how to get to the city, where to stay on a budget, where to eat for about 1$ and the things you can do here.
1. Transportation to Kampong Cham from Phnom Penh
- It takes about 4 hours from the capital to get to the relaxed town by the Mekong. You can take the local bus (Sorya) from the Central Market, the ticket costs 5-7$, depending on which company you are traveling with and where you buy the ticket (through the guesthouse or on the spot).
- If traveling to Kampong Cham from Kep like we did, the bus ticket will cost 14-15$, because if you purchase it from the guest house where you are staying the middle man will take a dollar for himself.
Note: Half of the road is very good while other parts are covered with red dust. However it is absolutely possible to make it by motorbike, in case you are renting one.
2. Where to stay on a budget
Most of the guest houses (if not all of them) are located on the bank of the Mekong, there are few that are owned by westerners and the prices start from 10$ and up. Just skip them and go for the cheaper ones where you gonna pay 5$ for double bed room with attached basic bathroom and 3$ for dorms.
- The guest house where we stayed is the “Mekong Sunrise“. A room with double bed costs 5$, the bathroom is across the corridor but we can say that it was our own because on that floor there is only one room so it was just us using it.
- The wi-fi is great and you won’t have problems uploading photos or sending messages.
- There is a restaurant downstairs. We used the it just for a beer in the night, cause the prices for the food are little bit over our budget plan so we were having our meals at the markets with the locals.
- They are renting motorbikes for 5$ per day and bicycles for 1$.
3. Where to eat on a budget
The side of the central market that is looking towards the “LHR” gas station is a great place to have your cheap breakfast. The prices for vegetarian dishes are about 5000rl and you get free Cambodian tea. We ate in the “restaurant” called “Navi” and the food was super delicious.
If you are up for a cheap street food for diner also you should check out the food stalls in front of the “LHR” gas station, just across the central market and the place we recommended for breakfast. The stalls are there only in the evenings and they look like little outdoor restaurants. There you can find variety of noodles and other traditional Khmer food. For a vegetarian noodle and rice dish we payed 5000rl per plate. The beer is 2500rl.
4. What to do in Kampong Cham
- Visit the Wat Nokor – Beautiful and quiet Angkorian temple with a modern one in the inside. The amazing Bayon style architecture will bring you back in the times of the powerful Khmer empire. There is no entrance fee for the temple which is a plus for travelers on a budget, but there are Buddhist nuns and monks who are giving bracelets and ask for a donation. The place is super quiet and perfect for those who want to chill in a places filled with history. We spent an hour or more in the temple and all the time we were the only ones.
Note: Definitely a place to visit when in Kampong Cham
Note: Make sure to follow the A7 road towards Phnom Penh if biking from the town center. The road will automatically become AH11 and on the first roundabout you will see the Wat Gate on your left. The town map that every guest house is providing to its guest is not correct.
- Visit the Mekong island “Koh Pene” – At the time we were visiting the island the bamboo bridge was destroyed by heavy floods. Therefore we had to take a small wooden/bamboo ferry for 2$. The port was about 500m after the new big bridge, on the right side. Above the port there is a “bar” with beach chairs looking towards the river where you can have a cold coconut for 2000rl and chill in the shade while waiting for the ferry.
1. When you arrive at the island you will struggle a little bit with your scooter/bicycle to pass trough the deep sand. After the sandy road you will approach to a sign that points to the “Mekong Bamboo Hut” where you can chill in the shade but if you prefer to explore first you should continue on the modern road into the village.
Just after the concrete road you will approach the local primary school, continue for at least 1km more until you reach a complex of temples.
When you enter the site on your left there is a pagoda that was built not so long ago but the one in front of you we assume that is dating from the times when the French ruled the country because of the colonial architecture and the motives of the paintings on which you can see the French army.
The temple is not well maintained but you can have some quiet moments here alone.
2. For a perfect chill out to we recommend you to stop by the “Mekong Bamboo Hut“, owned by a Columbian/French couple.
The prices on the menu are reasonable, we had crepe with lemon and sugar for 1$ and one with Nutella for 2$. The beer is the same price like in all other guest house, 1$.
Its also possible to stay overnight and sleep in hammocks under the stars for 2$. There is Wi-Fi and bathroom with clean English toilets.
The owners are really helpful and very knowledgeable on the local culture and the things to do and see in Kampong Cham.
You can contact them here.
- Other places to check out in Kampong Cham:
- The Amica Eco-Village (Cheungkok eco-village)
- The French Light House
- Phrom Proh and Phnom Sray