Encompassing 82 sq miles (212 sq km) of coastal land, the varied landscape of Ream National Park includes white sand beaches, mangrove forests, and the Prek Toeuk Sap Estuary.
Ream National Park
Ream National Park park’s marine section comprises the islands of Koh Thmei and Koh Seh, as well as some offshore coral reefs.
Thmor Thom, a fishing community consisting of 200 inhabitants, is also located inside the park. Ream National Park is particularly rich in birdlife with a recorded list of over 150 species that includes the Indian pied hornbill, sea eagle, grey-headed fish eagle, and storks.
Its forests are home to sun bears, deer, snakes such as pythons and the king cobra, macaques, silver langurs, and pangolins.
Closer to the Prek Toeuk Sap river, visitors may chance upon monkeys and several kinds of kingfisher skimming the water. In the rainy season, it is also possible to catch sight of the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin.
Most visitors explore the national park on a boat trip along the river, which passes through lush mangroves and forests on its way to the sea. Boat trips are an excellent way to view wildlife on the riverbanks.
The river also offers good opportunities for swimming close to its beaches. Jungle hikes can be organized with national park rangers who speak English, as it is not possible for visitors to hike on their own.
Located offshore from the beaches of Sihanoukville, this group of 20 or so idyllic palm-fringed islands are a good day-trip option from the mainland. Basic accommodations are also available on some of the islands. While a few are completely uninhabited, tiny communities inhabit others, surviving on fishing and farming.
Koh Rong, the largest island in the group, has beautiful unspoiled beaches, perfect for strolls. Its calm waters are home to a variety of marine life.
Koh Rong Samloem, with its white-sand beaches, clear turquoise waters, and excellent snorkelling, is a tropical paradise. The island also has a dive school, known as Eco Sea Dive, and basic accommodation options.
Koh Pos is set to become the site for a Russian-owned resort complex. Work has also started on a causeway to link the island to the mainland.
Koh Ta Kiev, blessed with pristine white-sand beaches and fascinating marine life, is a great place for snorkelling. A jungle camp and trekking facilities are also available on the island.
Koh Russie, or Bamboo Island, has a lovely fine-sand beach on its west coast. The east coast, although not as inviting as the west, is frequented by day-trippers.
Kbal Chhay Cascades
A popular spot with domestic tourists as it was featured in the Cambodian movie Chao Pos Keng Kong (The Giant Snake), the Kbal Chhay Cascades offer the chance of a refreshing dip. Upstream there are rocky ledges and sandy coves for sunbathing.
However, the water flow reduces toward the end of the rainy season and the swimming is not so good. On Sundays, the place is packed and litter is a real problem. Facilities here include snack and souvenir stalls, picnic platforms, and changing booths. Visitors can also get to the falls by motos and motorcycles.
Kirirom National Park
The Kirirom national park occupies a remote plateau about a two-hour ride inland from Sihanoukville. It lies at an elevation of about 2,296 ft (700 m), making the climate here far less oppressive than on the coast, and Kirirom’s extensive pine forests reflect the temperate altitude.
Visitors can avail themselves of ranger-guided walks to Phnom Dat Chivit, or End of the World Mountain, from where the view of the Elephant and Cardamom mountain ranges to the west is spellbinding.
Ox-cart rides and gentle hikes to pretty waterfalls are also popular and there is a good web of forest trails. Wildlife here includes elephant, tiger, pileated gibbon, banteng, gaur, and sun bear, although sightings are rare. The park has a basic guesthouse with a restaurant, offering fine views over the forest, particularly at sunset. There is also an upscale resort with manicured lawns that is popular with weekenders from Phnom Penh.