- Encounters with locals
- Off the beaten track
Although it is the country’s third largest city, Kampong Cham gives the impression of being a small and quiet town on the banks of the Mekong. Though I wasn't particularly impressed by the city, I was, however, charmed by the neighbouring island of Koh Pene where I spent two days. This remains one of my most beautiful experiences in Cambodia.
To access the island of Koh Pene from Kampong Cham is an incredible experience. You have to cross a 2600-foot long bamboo bridge, which is rebuilt every year during the dry season. We continued, but were only slightly reassured with an overloaded tuk tuk, and despite its apparent frailty, it withstood our weight! Pedestrians, bicycles, scooters, tuk tuks, carts and cars - everything goes on the bamboo structure.
To explore the island, it’s ideal to rent bikes. I really enjoyed visiting the Cambodian countryside, passing through the villages and rice paddies. The locals are very hospitable, and you'll have your dose of smiles with children who shout "hello" and "welcome to Cambodia" as you pass by. At the end of the day, don't miss the sunset on the bamboo bridge, because it's simply magical. It’s hard to pull yourself away from this little corner of paradise, so if you have the time, plan to spend several days there!
Note: the bus between Phnom Penh and Kampong Cham will certainly make a stop in the town of Skuon, where you can enjoy the large fried tarantulas and other grilled creatures...
Kampong Cham is a quiet, peaceful city located on the Mekong River; tourists usually stop off here when travelling on the road between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh or before continuing on their way north to visit Kratié, Mondolkiri or Rattanakiri. I should point out straight away that this is not the most beautiful city in Cambodia. However, the area around it does contain some significant things of interest.
In particular there's Wat Nokor, a pre-Angkorian temple hidden in the countryside just outside the city, and Phnom Hanchey, which sits high up on a hill from where there are very beautiful views over the region to be had. Both these places are definitely worth seeing. But what I liked best when I was in Kampong Cham was heading off to explore the surrounding area by motorbike. The roads are easy to negotiate and allow you to get deep into the countryside and explore the little villages found there. Wear a headscarf to protect your face as it doesn't take long to become completely covered in dust. A visit to Kampong Cham is ideal for those who enjoy getting off the beaten track!