Camping in Cambodia: A Truly Wild Ride!

Cambodia is not the easiest and safest place to camp or do road trips, and that’s why many may not even think of this as an option. The roads are mostly in bad condition and it is difficult to find a camping site, especially if you don’t know where to go. But don’t cross this off your list! Sometimes the most abnormal trips are the most fun!

Our plan was to drive from our village (Nesat, Sre Ambel) all the way to Battambang, but it didn’t go as we planned…
Our first stop was Tatai Bridge. This is a wonderful place to stop and eat in the beautiful scenery.

Almost the entire journey from Sre Ambel to Koh Kong is an empty national park. Trees after trees! This is a protected area and you can spot many beautiful birds along the way. We saw a hornbill and kingfishers.

We didn’t get far before the first problem… Our friend popped his tire! Fortunately, Cambodians are very friendly. We didn’t have to wait long before a truck stopped to help us.

We spent our first night in Koh Kong.
Koh Kong is a nice little town on the Thai border. It’s a lovely place to stay for a couple of nights, there are plenty of things to do, for example go watch river dolphins jump from the river to the ocean. I highly recommend staying at “Young Wild & free”! Here you will find lovely bamboo bungalows on the beach.

Then we got to the exciting road over the Cardamom Mountains to the first campsite.
The campsite had 4 platforms with a tarp roof. One local middle-aged man lived in one of them without any necessities. We saw him carrying a skinny dog to a pit he just dug, one of the dogs had died during the night. We sipped our morning coffee by the campfire and watched the rapids. We saw a big eagle hunting breakfast, this was the second one so far. We took a shower under the waterfall and packed our tent & gear on our motorcycle. Today we had a long trip ahead on a bouncy dirt road… Fortunately, the weather was on our side!

Next stop: Osam. As you drive through Cardamom mountains towards Osam, there is not much on the road. Make sure you have enough gas! 20k before Osam: FREE HOME STAY! It’s easy to find because there is nothing else on this road. There is a lovely old local couple who let you stay in their house for free. They have one separate room, wooden walls, and a metal roof with 3 big beds. They might ask you to leave stickers in the already almost covered wall. So sweet, right? They didn’t speak a word of English but if you know a couple words in Khmer, you will do fine.

We continued our journey and wanted to get as far as possible before darkness. Now we get to the most exciting part of our trip… One thing we all fear… SNAKE ATTACK!
We were driving on a dirt road past a big dam built by the Chinese. This was already the fourth dam on this stretch of road. Our friends drove a little ahead of us. Behind the curve we saw them stopped in the middle of the road pointing at something on the ground. We stopped as fast as our heavy bike could stop, leaving the brake marks on the road. We saw a 2m big snake laying across the road, covering the entire driveway. At this point we were already in striking distance from it. The snake, of course, got mad and decided to attack us. Luckily for us, after a few failed attempts, the snake decided to crawl back into the jungle. I knew Cambodia has all the possible venom snakes but I never thought we would see any! I get goosebumps every time I remember that moment!. We all knew there were no hospitals nearby.

This was not the only problem that came up. Due to rain and road works, the whole village of Osam was muddy. We both slipped down the road a couple of times and decided it was already enough adventure for one day. We were running out of time and the condition of the roads was so bad that our bikes could no longer continue so we decided to turn back. Before we started driving, we tried to look for food places, without success! Luckily one local man saw us walking around, hungry and he invited us to his home and we all cooked food together for us and his family. Table was full of German and Khmer dishes. This again, showed us how friendly the locals were. With our stomachs full, we continued our journey.

We had heard stories about this magnificent waterfall on the way back. It is near the “free Homestay” place I told you about. As soon as we arrived, we were so happy we decided to come here. We stayed there for a couple of nights. The scenery was amazing.

Double Rainbow! Perfect place to wake up!

If you have been planning a similar trip, write these tips down!
– Tent & camping gear you can buy from: Decathlon + Local markets
– Cambodia is known for its bad roads. Find out what condition all the roads are in before you set off!
– Lots of trucks! Watch out for trucks. Some of them drive like crazy. 
-When driving in Cambodia, beware of many things on the roads, such as cows, dogs, children, water buffalos, big bumps, and especially other drivers.
– Pack tire pump!
– Don’t drive alone. In case something happens in the middle of nowhere.

Getting Around:
Renting a bike in Cambodia is easy and cheap. 
Dirt bikes 20-30 USD/day, scooters starting from 4 USD/day!

Great road trip ideas in Cambodia:
– Battambang
– Mondulkiri
– Siem Reap
– Kampot (Bokor National Park)

If you are interested in more locations in Cambodia head over to this article about Bokor Mountain National Park

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  1. Malaika

    It sounds like you had a blast. Cambodia sounds fun. It was courageous of you to visit despite what you may have heard. I find sometimes some countries have a bad rep, but once you visit, you have a blast. Where are you off to next?

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