Category Archives: Tips

Things to do in Kampot for 3-day trip

Editor’s note: Below is another article by our favorite traveler, Langda! Check out his recount of his camping experience and suggested things to do in Kampot below.


People say “Work hard and play hard”, and this quote has become one of my favorites. After spending most effort achieving things at work, I rewarded myself with a camping experience at Kampot for 3 days 2 nights along with Small World team and several other new friends. I was inspired by natural and recreational places and activities there and think it would be useful to share my experience of things to do in Kampot, specially to workaholic travelers who are staying in Cambodia and making a plan to escape from Phnom Penh during the weekend. With this article you will learn how to go to Kampot, the things you can do there, and how much budget you should prepare for.

Boat in Trapang Sangke Community
Boat in Trapang Sangke Community

How to go to Kampot from Phnom Penh?

Kampot province is not far from the city. It just takes about 3 hours from Phnom Penh city, which is just a few nap takings to me. We rent a minibus which can put up to 25 people with a professional driver included. The price is about 270$ for our case (3 days and 2 nights). In case, you do not have that much of people, a couple or a group of 5 people, you might consider taking a minivan which is very affordable, between USD 7.00 and 8.00, which you can book online here

This is the mini bus that we rent. And it was taken inside the Wat Sampov Pram.
This is the mini bus that we rent. And it was taken inside the Wat Sampov Pram.

First thing to do in Kampot

Our first place to visit was Bokor mountain, formerly known as French colonial hill station resort then a site of a royal home for summer vacation. You can also reach the top of mountain by motor. Besides getting fresh air and catching cloud (fog) experience on the mountain, there are 5-star hotel and casino, Thansur Bokor Highland Resort, there to enjoy. One of the best spot view you should not miss there is to visit Wat Sampov Pram, five (pram in Khmer) rocks represent the ship (sampov).

The picture of the rocks you will see at first when you enter the temple
The picture of the rocks you will see at first when you enter the temple

From the entrance of the temple, keep walking to the right direction, from there you find a spot which is a bit dangerous there since there is no holder protection when you come close to the top; yet it is worth going there because you are able to see the beauty of the green forest in full HD. There are more things to do in Kampot’s Bokor mountain actually.

kampot bus on bokor mountain beautiful spot
Me in that dangerous but stunning spot I mentioned 🙂

Sleeping in a tent at Kdark La Tente is one of things to do in Kampot

Next, we headed to our booked accommodation, Kdark La Tente, which is one of the best options I would recommend for a camping experience in Kampot, only if you are not a fan of staying at a fancy guesthouse or hotel. It is just 21km from the town. Personally speaking, I think in order best enjoy the trip in such a beautiful paradise like Kampot is to sleep in a tent and experience the following activities wake up and see the beach while brushing your teeth, play football in an open area, catch the shrimp at night, and openly share your impression to the other fellows around the bonfire at midnight. You are allowed to do all of these things at Kdark La Tente, and it costs only USD 5.00 per person per night. The tent itself can stay up to 3 or 4 (4 people for the big one) people. For reservation, I strongly advise you book ahead for such a demanded place via their Facebook page here.

Kampot Kdark La Tente Bon Fire
The tent, bonfire area and me with the ball
One of things to do in Kampot is to sleep in a tente
Shoot from the kitchen angle right after my breakfast

Visiting Mangrove Community is one of the things to do in Kampot

This is probably one of the must do things in Kampot. For day 2, we went to visit Mangrove Lodge called Trapang Sangke Community. From this visit, we have learned how mangrove life is being threatened by deforestation practiced by rich and powerful people according to the chief of the community. And this has affected the life of the fishermen there which forced them to leave their home for Thailand and Vietnam for better living. Thus, this community is created with the purpose of raising awareness of how important mangrove is to both people and underwater life.

Chief community was sharing about mangrove protection
Chief community was sharing about mangrove protection

After the sharing session, we were given a chance to experience growing mangrove by ourselves. To do that, we need to buy young mangrove tree which costs 1$ per tree. Also a boat rental, USD 15.00 including return, is needed to go to a growing area. These are provided by the community.

The boat that is to take us to the planting area
The boat that is to take us to the planting area
One of things to do in Kampot is to plant mangrove trees
Mangrove planting activity

After mangrove planting activities, we crazily threw away dump to one another like in a gun war.

Most exciting place to do in Kampot

After finishing our lunch at the community, we then headed to the Arcadia water park, a place that allow you to best enjoy swimming in Kampot river with the trilled tube and more. These activities should not be missed from your things to do in Kampot. To play those toys, we need to pay USD 5.00 each. Life jacket is provided. And there are 4 different kinds of you-have-the-guts activities such as blob & rope swing, water slide, pontoon and Russian swing. Is there any other things to do in Kampot?

The photo of the 4 thrilled activities in Acardia water park. Source is from TripAdvisor’s users.
The photo of the 4 thrilled activities in Acardia water park. Source is from TripAdvisor’s users.

Experiencing Kayak and Paddle boat in Kampot

This is the most popular to do thing in Kampot that you should not miss. The last but not least of our Day 2 was to see the sunset while kayaking. We visited Bopha Prey Guest House, which is located on the other side of the river (Acardia’s). This is a good place as  starting point for kayaking around the river there. We rent a canoe kayak while some might prefer paddle boat and drive along the river. Each costs USD 5.00/hour. Besides sea foods, this restaurant also serves finger foods at an affordable price. This was the exhausting day for me because of heavily swimming and kayaking.

Bopha Prey Guesthouse
Bopha Prey Guesthouse

Try out Zipline across Kampot River

On the third day, which was the day we have to back to Phnom Penh city, we visited River Park, to enjoy experiencing zip lining across the river. It costs USD 6.00 per person. To be honest, I was not impressed by this because the distance of the line is too short for me to notice the best view of the river.

Kampot River Park Zipline starting point
Kampot River Park’s Zipline starting point

Visiting Kampot Pepper Farm

After that we ended up our trip by visiting Sothy’s pepper farm and having lunch there before leaving Kampot for Phnom Penh. From the farm, we got to see and learn the process from growing, harvesting, and packaging Kampot pepper. During such a hot weather I enjoyed drinking coconut there a lot. Also, the better part is to eat fried crab with Kampot pepper.

The entrance of Sothy’s pepper farm
The entrance of Sothy’s pepper farm
The process of picking different types of pepper (grey, red, black, and white)
The process of picking different types of pepper (grey, red, black, and white)

Finally, I hope you enjoy reading this article and find it useful to make decision on your trip of what to do in Kampot either for your holiday or a quick escape from the Phnom Penh city at your weekend. Stay tuned for our more articles of other things to do in Kampot.

Read more of places you can go after Kampot:

Travels during Peak Seasons: Tips and Tricks

If you have plans for travelling during major holidays, such as the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration, it is important to think ahead and set your expectations. What is it like?

Well, you know how much of a difficulty it is to book plane tickets and hotels during Christmas and New Years? Booking boat or bus tickets is not much different. Just because you plan to travel within the same country that is teeming with bus companies, does not make it any easier. But let us help you make it less difficult.

Viral photo taken from the Internet. This is not an actual depiction of the travel season in Cambodia.

 

Tips for travels during peak seasons

  • Check the Cambodia Public Holiday 2017 calendar to see if your plans fall on a holiday.
  • If travelling on a holiday, make sure to book a few weeks ahead (this is also true for hotels).
  • Do some research regarding transportation options if the expected destination will be crowded.
  • Go to the pick up point or bus or boat station early to check in on your expected bus.
  • Bring your own water and snacks. Yes, the company might promise some drinks and snacks, but remember that it is travel season, so they might run out. You never know.
  • Bring a hand fan. Sometimes some things never go right when you travel. It can be hot and crowded, so it would be hard to get decent air anywhere.
  • Keep personal belongings safe at all times. Being extra vigilant is important during these times. Crowds can easily divert your attention from your valuables.
  • Consider the type of vehicle you want to travel in, factoring the possible number of travelers you will be travelling with.
  • Travel light if you know it will be crowded. There is no use dragging a trolley around if you will be travelling for a short time only.
  • Travel ahead of schedule to avoid the crowds.

Points to Consider

There are many things that can happen during trips when its travel season or peak season. As a result, it is best to set your expectations ahead of time:

  • It can be difficult to travel when everybody is also travelling, so it is best not to expect a relaxing time.
  • Bus companies can change their schedules during these times
  • Bus companies can add special schedules to accommodate their travelers.
  • Sometimes pickup or drop off locations can change due to possible traffic or closed roads.
  • Due to increase in travelers, some bus companies will not tolerate any delays or lateness caused by travelers.
  • Bus companies may or may not move some bus travelers to other vehicles in order to accommodate the crowd.
  • Buses may sometimes carry additional passengers – depending on the bus company rules.

Travelling is definitely fun. However, it may not always be a walk in the park. That is why it is important to consider your options and plan ahead.

We hope this small information would be useful for you when travelling during peak seasons.

Border between Thailand & Cambodia (round trip)

Editor’s note: We continue with our last post from Hugo‘s experience. This started from the post Border processing in some countries in South East-Asia (part one), which was then followed by the post Border between Vietnam & Cambodia (round trip). As always, images and content are provided by our contributor. Please enjoy.


thailand cambodiaI am living & working in Phnom Penh. I had to go to Bangkok for few days due (or thanks) to some business meeting. As always, I took a bus to reach the Thai border from Cambodia and I arrived to Poipet. First, you have to know that Thai are driving on the left (like British) & Cambodian are driving right side (such as French). Due to that and legacy, most of the bus coming from Cambodia cannot cross the border and continue until Bangkok. Therefore they are in partnership with other bus companies on the other side of the border.

Thus, I am warmly recommend you to ask the bus driver how is it going to be working once arrived at the border. Most of the time, the other company is waiting for you once the bus arrive and follow you until you enter into the bus to reach your final destination. If you don’t want any issue on that point, I will recommend you to take a direct bus but they are only few of them and are more expensive.

Once arrived to Poipet crossing point, you have to check out from Cambodia and walk until checking point of Thailand. Most of the time, the queue is really huge, you have to be patient!! I pass without any problems. As a French citizen I don’t have to pay for Visa in Thailand (and I think that it’s free of charge for most of citizenship – However have a look at your embassy website again!). Once you arrive in Thailand, if you are looking for a bus, a coffee, a guesthouse or whatever, you have to keep going straight and after 5 min walking on your left you will have many buses companies that are going everywhere in Thailand.

I finally reached Bangkok and stayed there for few days meeting. On my way back I just took a bus to the border and stay on the Thai part because I knew that I will be in a hurry if I wanted to pass the border (Poipet crossing point is closed between 9.30 pm until 7 am) as well as I don’t like passing border night time. I finally passed the border on early morning and everything was fine because I had my multiple entry visa for Cambodia. If you arrive without any Visa, please refer to my border story between Vietnam & Cambodia. However, if you are aware of the Visa application it shouldn’t be a problem.

When you arrive in Poipet (Cambodian part), you have many bus companies, just pick up the one you prefer!

I hope my stories helped you!

See you around!!

Hugo

Border between Vietnam & Cambodia (round trip)

Editor’s note: Below is the second part of the post Border processing in some countries in South East-Asia (round trip). Let us continue with Hugo’s experience at the border. This time it is at the Vietnam border.


I arrived in Cambodia by plane from France at the end September. I applied for a tourist Visa once arrived at the Phnom Penh International airport. Customs officers asked me for ID photo & 30 USD for one month Visa. It takes me 30 min to get my Visa and my adventure in Cambodia started.

However after one month, I had to extend my Visa. I went to some travel agencies asking for a 6 month Business Visa multiple entries but it was much too expensive to change my Visa from a tourist to a business one. Therefore I decided to leave Cambodia and cross the Vietnamese border in order being able on my way back to apply for a business Visa.

I took a bus from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh and I passed the border without any problems. As I am a French citizen I have two weeks free (without Visa) in Vietnam. Only few countries have this agreement with Vietnam, the others needs to apply and thus pay for a Visa to enter Vietnam. I am warmly recommending you to have a look at your Embassy website based in Vietnam, they always provide explanation on Visa application. If I have one advice to give you: you have to know clearly and from official sources (embassies website) how you apply for Visa (cost, validity, other requirements).

I stayed few days in Vietnam but I had to go back to Phnom Penh. Therefore I took a bus from Ho Chi Minh to reach Phnom Penh. As I experienced border processing in many countries, I promise myself to never crossing a border in which I need a Visa by night (bad memories…). Indeed, border are not my favorites places and if something happened I prefer it happening at day time in order being able to find a solution and not being stuck at a crossing point all night long. Moreover, be careful, some borders are closing by night but some remain open all night long (you always have to be informed about border opening hours which can be different on every crossing point – FYI, Thai border in Poipet is closed between 9.30pm and 7 am).

I left Vietnam without any problems. Because I was living in Cambodia, I knew that a tourist visa cost 30 USD and a Business Visa cost 35 USD (and I think everyone, except Asian citizen has to pay that amount of money). However, once arrived at the Cambodian border, customs officers asked me 45 USD for my business Visa. As I don’t want to support corruption which, for me, is ruining Cambodia, I told them that I will not pay 45 USD for my Visa. Then, they answered me that because they had a lot of work to do (10 Visa to stamp for 3 officers) I will have to wait. Because I didn’t give bribes, which are shared between bus driver and customs officer (I think…), the bus left without me (I was waiting my Visa). Thanks it happened during day time!! Once my Business Visa finished, I had a look on it and some information were missing (like the price) so I asked the officer to fulfill it properly, what he did. Here is another advice, always check your Visa once the officer give it to you, sometimes they are not properly fulfilled, which can leads you to some problems (which can only be solved by money).

However, I was still stuck at the border and my bus left. Therefore I took a moto and ask him to reach the bus. We reached the bus, I entered, and this bus driver was looking at me like: “you should have pay!”. Regarding this experience, I let you choose either you prefer paying more and avoid problems or if you prefer take the risk of not paying customs officers even if it can leads you to some trouble. We were more than 30 on this bus and I was the only one that didn’t want to pay more, so on this journey 300 USD went on bribes at the border (10 USD * 30 passengers)….

Anyway, after all these unforeseen development, I arrived in Phnom Penh as I wanted to. And I will keep not giving bribes at borders.

Hugo

Border processing in some countries in South East-Asia (round trip) (Part 1)

Editor’s note: We continue with our favorite traveler, Hugo, and his adventures in Cambodia. This time, he talks about border processing.

Recently, we’ve been having requests for information regarding Visa or border processing at the gates between Thailand-Cambodia, and Vietnam-Cambodia. This series is split into three, with this post as the first one. 

We hope you find this useful and entertaining.


This story and those tips are based on my own experience on crossing border, which is subjective. Thus, this is just a shared experience and habits, feel free to not take them in consideration if they are not relevant for you. ~ Hugo

My Golden Rules for crossing border:

border processing

  • Always check on internet opening hours of the crossing point
  • Always be aware of the Visa application (which are different depending on your citizenship) – refer to your Embassy
  • Be careful of the Visa validity: FYI: overstay cost you 10 USD per day in Cambodia & in Vietnam if you have 2 weeks free tourist entry, once you leave the country you have to wait a month before coming back.
  • Be aware of the time you will cross the border (night or day time)
  • Be patient and polite, even if something went wrong, you will for sure avoid problems.
  • https://www.canbypublications.com/cambodia/overland.htm