Map of Kampong Cham- Cambodia
Kampong Cham is the capital city of Kampong Cham Province in eastern Cambodia. It is the sixth largest city in Cambodia with a population of 63,771 people (2006) and is located on the Mekong River. Kampong Cham is 124 kilometers northeast from Phnom Penh and can be reached by either boat or by asphalt road. It takes about 2.5 hours by vehicle or 2.5 hours by boat from Phnom Penh to the city of Kampong Cham. Its geographic location is 12.00°N, 105.46°E.
The city is connected to the district of Tbong khmum by the Kizuna bridge, the first in Cambodia to span the Mekong.
The city is subdivided into four khums and 31 phums.
This relatively small city has yet to be heavily touristed like Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. Most travellers who do find themselves in Kampong Cham are in transit to elsewhere in the country, but those that choose to spend at least a couple of days in the provincial capital will enjoy the laid back atmosphere and quaint charm.
Most people in Kampong Cham are of course ethnic Khmer, but there is a sizeable Cham minority in the province’s towns, including a disproportionately high number of Muslims and Christians and those of Chinese origin.
If recent projects seem to be improving the state of things here (relative to other Cambodian cities), realize that both PM Hun Sen and former Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara are originally from this province and the current Governor is actually the PM’s brother.
They speak the Cham language.
Official Language Of Cambodia
Cambodia has a single official language which is Khmer. It is spoken by nearly 90% of the country’s population. The language is used in government administration, imparting education at all levels, media, etc.
French is one of the important foreign languages spoken in the country. The language was at one time the official language in Indochina and today, a number of older Cambodians speak French. French is also used to impart education in some schools and universities in Cambodia, especially those that are funded by the French Government.
Although French was the dominant foreign language in Cambodia for a long time, English replaced French since 1993. Currently, street signs in the country are usually bilingual, written in both the Khmer language as well as English.
The Cambodian Riel is the currency of Cambodia.
Kampong Cham features 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 buses frequent this route daily, so you should have no trouble getting between the two cities.
The National Highway 7 from Kampong Cham to Skun is in excellent condition and one of the best in Cambodia. Shortly after Skun however, the quality changes dramatically with frequent potholes and sometimes not even paved anymore. There is also a new alternative route to Phnom Penh east of the Mekong.
When travelling to/from Siem Reap, it may be worth taking the way via Skun too due to the better quality of the road instead of the road 71 shortcut.
Update: as of late 2012, repairs and upgrades on Hwy 71 have been completed and the road between Kompong Thom and Traung (shortcut between Siem Reab and Kompong Cham) is quite usable.
The widening of National Highway 6A (between Skun and Phnom Penh) is (as of June 2013) is still underway. It can be a little rough in parts, but not too bad. But due to the construction, there can be some traffic bottlenecks that can slow down traffic a bit.
To get from Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham, there are several options for buses. The standard rules for bussing apply here, and try taking as early a bus as possible, to avoid arriving close to or after dusk, where your choice of accommodation will be limited. The telephone numbers listed here are for locations in Phnom Penh.
Sorya, Telephone 023-210359. Bus station at Southwest corner of central market. 6 USD, with buses leaving throughout the day at 6:45, 7:45, 9:00, 10:00, 11:30, 13:15, 15:00, and 16:00. Typically a 3-4 hour trip. Times vary, on January 17, 2015, there was a bus at 9:45 and 12:45, do not rely on the times written on the big sign. Buses fill up so get your ticket in advance.
GST, Telephone 023-335199. 4.5 USD, but only leaving twice daily, at 9:00 and 15:00 with a 3-4 hour trip.
From Kratie, book at your guesthouse. Two departures a day, 7:30am and 10am. The 7:30 bus leaves from Kratie where the 10am bus comes from further north so you may not be guarenteed a seat. Travel time is 4 hours with one main stop at Memot. $6 or $8 durning Buddhist holidays.
Direct buses can also be caught from Kampong Thom at 8:00am and 10:00am for around $5-6
Most Minibuses and other non-Bus transports leave from or stop for a short time at the petrol station or just on the roadside of Highway 7 close to the Mekong bridge roundabout
Taxis are a less popular and more expensive method, costing about $10-$15 USD one way. These do, however, offer much more comfort and speed than a bus usually does, but make sure the vehicle’s air conditioning is functional before getting in!
Trucks are also an option, but with much less comfort than buses or taxis, and are not advised.
National Highway 7 is generally in a bad condition, with frequent holes- bumps and it alternates between a dirt and asphalt road.
Bicycle and Motorbike, Kratie is about a 100 km ride from Kompong Cham along the Mekong. It is mostly a dirt road in good condition so it is possible even by bicycle to reach Kratie in one day. Otherwise stop in Chlong for the night. Take road 223 north out of Kampong Cham up to Stung Trang (Preaek Barang), then take the ferry over the Mekong (1500 riel) and continue along road 338. It should also be possible to first cross the bridge in Kompong Cham and take road 338 from there but this stretch of road is in a very bad condition (although the first few kilometers are smooth) and not recommended.
Boat services between Phnom Penh and Kampong Cham have been discontinued.
The city center is easily walkable and is found north of the National Highway. A couple of hotels and western-style restaurants cluster around the riverfront and a couple of streets further west, the central market area is found.
Most of the sights worth seeing are however outside the city itself, so you’re going to need some form of motorized transport.
An increasing number of visitors to Cambodia are buying their own motorcycles and then reselling them just before they leave the country (or return home), and this is a great way to see Kampong Cham. Smaller 110cc bikes are the ones seen driven by practically every Khmer in the city, while the larger 250cc bikes are more often driven by foreigners or expats. The smaller bikes are cheaper, but less suited for long distance travel and are more susceptible to theft. It’s your call, though most travellers end up buying 250ccs. If you choose to buy a 250cc, expect to pay anywhere from $500 to over $2500 USD, depending on the age of the bike. Note that Vietnam currently does not allow anything larger than 150cc into it’s borders, but this will likely change in the near future. There a few places to rent a motorcycle in Kampong Cham. A few are available from the Mekong Hotel ($6), Mekong Sunrise ($5) or Lazy Mekong Daze ($3!), on the riverfront to the North of the bridge.
There are plenty of motodops offering their service for travel not only within the city, but to outlying areas of the province. For a scant $4 USD, you can be shown the temples at Nokor Wat, the endless jackfruit fields, and other attractions near the city. Be warned though, if your driver takes you to stalls or shops to purchase souvenirs, he will be receiving commission off whatever you choose to buy. As usual, bargain with your driver. It’s better to set a price beforehand. For one way trips within the city, don’t pay more than 2,000 riel (and many will consider even that a rip off).
There are tuk-tuks in Kampong Cham, but as the city is not nearly as heavily touristed than others in Cambodia, such as Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, there won’t be many of these, but if you arrive by bus there will be plenty waiting at the bus station.
Some of the larger hotels and guesthouses (such as the Mekong Hotel and Mekong Sunrise) have bicycles for rent. They’re a good way to get to Wat Nokor and Phnom Pros/Phnom Srey as well as around the city, or for making a day tour to Wat Hanchey. Be sure to always lock your bike to a tree or leave it with someone trustworthy.
When departing from Kampong Cham, bus stations tend to be found near the roundabout on the main road in the city center. One is southwest of the roundabout, on the right side. You buy your ticket at the counter.
Bus Hoh Wa Genting, Telephone 012-923551. Approximately 7,000 riel, with buses leaving throughout the day at 7:30, 8:10, 9:00, 10:00, 12:30, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00 for a 3-4 hour trip.
GST Express, on the west end of the boulevard,
Rith Mony, on Highway 7 about 200 m from the Mekong bridge roundabout, has buses to a couple of destinations including Kratie and Phnom Penh. It is generally a bit cheaper than other bus companies but the buses are also a bit older.
Capitol, US$4.50, runs two daily busses leaving Kampong Cham also near Highway 7 one block west of the Mekong bridge roundabout. Departing at 8:00 and 14:00 with a 15 minute break. Also takes about 5 hours (Nov.2014).
Siem Reap – $9 taking 7 hours. (Oct 2013)
Border Crossing to Vietnam
The border from Trapeang Phlong in Cambodia to Xa Mat in Vietnam is open to international tourists. On the Cambodian side you have to organise your own transport either all the way from Kampong Cham or take first a Kratie bound bus to Krek and then a motorbike for the remaining 14 km to the border. On the Vietnamese side there are regular public busses running to Tay Ninh a few hundred metres from the border. Visas are not available at the border and the formalities may take a while. Be aware that people in Kampong Cham may tell you that this is not an international border although it is. When you get to Vietnam border it looks like that there is nothing, only some sort of highway starts from the gates. If you don’t have anyone to pick you up the employees will try to “sell” you a taxi ride. They have an pre-agreements done with local drivers who will try to charge ridiculos fares. Fortunately, bus station is just 500 meters away from the border so it is easy to walk there. Note that, most likely, nobody at the border will ever tell you about the bus station as they want to sell their taxis.