Enjoy stunning sunsets from the banks of the river Mekong and soak up the atmosphere away from the tourists in this still typically Cambodian town.
For such a small place there is a surprising amount to do in Kampong Cham. Cross the remarkable Bamboo Bridge, visit the ancient Wat Nokor or just enjoy some great food with awesome river views.
Kampong Cham now has road links with most major Cambodian cities, including Phnom Penh. The highway between Kampong Cham city and the capital Phnom Penh runs along the Mekong and is in fairly good condition with buses running along this route daily.
Reliable Sorya 168 buses run between Phnom Penh and Kampong Cham with multiple daily departures. The journey takes 3 – 4 hours and, according to the Sorya website, buses now depart Phnom Penh hourly from 6.45 am – always check times when you book tickets. Buses fill up so book your ticket a day or two in advance from one of the many travel agents (transfer to bus station included) or at the Sorya office located at the corner of the central market in Phnom Penh.
From Kratie or Steung Trung it will probably be easiest to book travel to Kampong Cham from your guest house who will usually be able to arrange a mini bus.
Please note that you can no longer reach Kratie by boat from Phnom Penh as the service has been discontinued due to the new highway.
Tuk Tuks are available in Kampong Cham although there isn’t a huge supply of them. If you’re struggling to find one ask your hotel and they will call one for you.
Most of the restaurants in Kampong Cham are located on the same road facing the Mekong so if you’re planning on getting around on foot it would be ideal to choose a guesthouse near here. However most of the things to do and see in Kampong Cham are not in walking distance so you may want to rent a bicycle or motorbike or get a tuk tuk to make visiting these easier.
Kampong Cham is a great place to rent a bike because the traffic here isn’t too bad and everything to do or see is pretty spread out. Bikes are available to rent from Lazy Mekong Restaurant (amongst others) for $5 a day for an automatic and only $3 for a semi manual.
Not to miss
The ancient temple of Wat Nokor dates back to the 11th century and shares the same architectural style as those in the city of Angkor.
Wat Nokor is a small complex but nonetheless is a great place to visit especially to get pictures of the amazing structures without other tourists in the way. You may not even see another tourist whilst you’re here – quite the opposite of Angkor!
To get here follow the road to Phnom Penh for about 1 km and turn left when you see a dusty dirt road going down through a gate – the temple is also signposted.
As you walk around the temple a guard / policeman will most likely ask you for a small fee to look around. It’s only a minimal amount, usually a dollar, so it’s really not worth arguing over.
Bamboo Bridge to Koh Paen
When you first see the Bamboo Bridge you’ll likely wonder if it will hold your weight… then you see trucks loaded to the brim using it and realise its deceptively strong! It’s a pretty impressive structure especially when you consider it’s all built by hand and from one material. Every wet season the rains wash the bridge away and every dry season it is rebuilt.
You can walk or bicycle across the bridge but one of the best ways to cross and explore Koh Paen is by motorbike. There are some concreted roads and the island is relatively easy to get around. If you head right when you first get to the island you should find a small bar to stop for a drink and take in some impressive views of the Mekong. Keep an eye out for another bamboo bridge that quite literally skirts around a cliff edge.
You can only reach Koh Paen via the bamboo bridge in the dry season and you will have to pay a crossing fee of about 1000 riel. In the wet season it is still possible to reach Koh Paen by boat.
Other Attractions & Sights
Phnom Srey and Phnom Pros
Translating as man hill and woman hill, Phnom Srey and Phnom Pros is quite a large complex of temples, stupas and Buddha statues spread out over two hills. There’s also a large colony of macaques that live here who are great to watch playing around but just be careful if they get to close, they have been known to steal food and water amongst other items.
Although the buildings and statues here were built fairly recently, Phnom Srey and Phnom Pros is still a nice place to visit and explore for an hour or two.
The Phnom Srey and Phnom Pros are located at Kro La Commune, around 7km from Kampong Cham.
The Old French Tower
Situated on the opposite side of the river from Kampong Cham town is an old French lookout tower that was once used to monitor traffic on this stretch of the Mekong.
You can climb a steep staircase to reach the top of the tower where you will find good views of the river and surrounding area especially at sunset. However the building is in decay and the stairs can be difficult to climb so be careful and use your own judgement at the time if you plan to get to the top.
Wat Hanchey is another temple positioned on a hilltop in the area. Although it is located 20km north of Kampong Cham, the view of the surrounding landscape makes the journey more than worth it.
If you can make get there early (around 5 am) you’ll see a beautiful sunrise over the Mekong to your right.
Food & Drink
The majority of restaurants in Kampong Cham are all found on one street overlooking the banks of the Mekong. For such a small place the quality of food available is outstanding. Definitely try the Lazy Mekong they have a range of dishes which are all superb quality as well as fantastic pizzas. Also check out the Smile Restaurant which supports disadvantaged youth in the area by providing them training on the job.
In the early evening, food and drink stalls set up shop along the river front offering a great place to stop and enjoy the views of the Mekong. Trees line the side of the road and at sunset these stalls offer a really picturesque place to have a ludicrously cheap beer and chat to some locals.
Fresh sugar cane juice can be found on just about every corner in the city centre area. Some sugar cane presses are engine driven others are manually operated. It’s fun to watch and makes a refreshing albeit very sweet drink. It’s also a bargain at just 1000 riel a glass.
Unsurprisingly most of the accommodation in Kampong Cham can be found on the same street as the majority of bars and restaurants. There are now some newer hotels around a ten minute walk from the river which offer some very nice accommodation at reasonable prices. If you are looking for a swimming pool, try the more luxurious 7 Makara.
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