Introducing South Coast
Fringed with tropical beaches, pristine mangrove forests and unspoilt islands, Cambodia’s South Coast also boasts national parks of global ecological importance and two eerie, almost-deserted colonial-era resorts. With a cracking selection of attractions both luxurious and adventurous, the area is now on the most direct overland route from Bangkok to Phnom Penh.
Kampot, Cambodia’s principal seaport until the founding of Sihanoukville in 1959, still retains some of its French-era charm. A great place to chill out, it’s also a good base for visiting the misty highlands of Bokor National Park. Kep, once the country’s most exclusive beach town, was destroyed during the Khmer Rouge period and the civil war, but is making a slow, stylish come-back. The booming city of Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s main beach resort, is a short drive from Ream National Park and a one- to three-hour cruise from some of the country’s best scuba diving.
The western portion of the South Coast, wild and remote, is dominated by the impenetrable jungle of the Cardamom Mountains (Chuor Phnom Kravanh), one of mainland Southeast Asia’s largest and best-preserved forest areas. Ecotourism is starting to open up the Koh Kong Conservation Corridor, home to tigers and elephants, which stretches along NH48 from Krong Koh Kong, near the Thai frontier, to the Gulf of Kompong Som, north of Sihanoukville.
Near the Vietnamese border are some fabulous cave-temples and the Angkor Borei region, 5th-century birthplace of ancient Cambodian civilisation.
Last updated: Mar 24, 2009
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