A Day in Kampong Cham, Cambodia

Mekong Shore, Kampong Cham

When I decided to take a tour through Cambodia in 2014, there were only a couple of places that I really knew of and wanted to see. I was interested in visiting the nation’s capital of Phnom Penh and of course, Angkor Wat. Part of the allure of taking the tour was being shown places I wouldn’t have gone to otherwise and it certainly delivered. One such place was the city of Kampong Cham.

Our next stop after Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham is a small city that lies by the Mekong River in Cambodia’s south-east. Given the developing state of tourism in Cambodia and it not being one of the few headline destinations, Kampong Cham is yet to see much in the way of tourists. Still, there are a handful of fun things to do here that really help you gain a better idea on Cambodia and its way of life. What follows is the sights we managed to see in just a day.


Kampong Cham

Kampong Cham Market

One thing I noted in Cambodia is that the markets are generally the centre of attention, which definitely applies in Kampong Cham. First thing, we made a beeline straight for the market in the middle of the city. Like a lot of similar places in Southeast Asia, it was a hive of activity with people, bikes and cars everywhere. Inside the covered market place, you found pretty typical wares and produce like you’d find anywhere else. However, I do distinctly remember all the skewers of barbecued meat and fish sitting out in the open catching my eye.

Barbecue Meat, Kampong Cham

After we had explored the market, it was out into the city’s rather quiet streets. This was likely because of the intense midday heat bearing down on us, while the locals were at work. We wandered quite a way along the small waterfront path, passing another market area, an abandoned fair ground and other less memorable spots.

One noteworthy exception was the large Chroy Thma Pagoda temple complex. The temples here were quite ornate with bold colours and elegant pagoda roofs. We didn’t come across any information about the complex though as it was deserted and everything was in Cambodian.

Chroy Thma Pagoda, Kampong Cham


Bamboo Bridge

Bamboo Bridge, Kampong Cham

Probably the most impressive landmark of Kampong Cham in my opinion is its Bamboo Bridge. This immense structure spans across part of the Mekong River to Koh Pen Island. While a bridge made of bamboo sounds simple enough, it’s anything but. This bridge is actually constructed each year after the monsoon season and was incomplete at the time of our visit. To allow people to cross when the bridge isn’t complete, a small and humble ferry makes up the difference and provides access to the island.

Bamboo Bridge Mekong River, Kampong Cham

Our visit to the Bamboo bridge began with a bicycle ride that was easy enough until we reached the riverbank. I have to admit, I’m not much of a cyclist and found myself riding far more often in Asia than I had since I was a kid. One thing I didn’t have experience with was riding on bamboo which lined both banks of the river, not to mention the section of bridge where the ferry dropped us off at on the far side. The only thing harder than riding on the lumpy bamboo was the riding on the sandy trails on Koh Pen Island.

Boat Sunset, Kampong Cham


Koh Pen Island

Kaoh Pen Pagoda, Kampong Cham

Once we’d reached the far side of the bridge, we found ourselves on Koh Pen Island. While only a couple of kilometres wide, the island’s unusual shape follows the bends of the Mekong River. From the riverbank we rode inland along the quiet gravel roads, past humble village houses. It was so relaxing riding around the serene rural setting and getting an unadulterated view of village life.

After not too long we arrived at the Koh Pen Pagoda, an elegant temple with ornate towers. The interior of the temple was decorated with exquisite murals detailing historic stories. Also at the temple were a number of monks and plenty of monks in training. They weren’t particularly interested in interacting with us visitors but it gave us a better sense of the place. First time I saw a monk smoke a cigarette mind you.

Kaoh Pen Pagoda, Kampong Cham

We continued riding around the sleepy island roads until the sun started to go down and it was time to head back. This made for great timing as it meant we crossed back over the Mekong as the sun set downstream. Watching a colourful sunset on the Mekong River, what’s not to like?

Mekong Sunset, Kampong Cham


Have you heard of Kampong Cham or its Bamboo Bridge? Would you be interested in adding Kampong Cham to your Cambodian itinerary?

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A quiet city on the Mekong River in Cambodia, Kampong Cham is home to many temples and the monumental Bamboo Bridge that leads to Kaoh Pen Island, via @travelsewhere A quiet city on the Mekong River in Cambodia, Kampong Cham is home to many temples and the monumental Bamboo Bridge that leads to Kaoh Pen Island, via @travelsewhere



7 Comment

  1. The temples seem really fascinating and I guess the area is worth a visit for watching the sunset over the river alone! So gorgeous!

  2. Sarah says:

    WOW that bridge is amazing!!!

  3. I second, that bridge is AMAMZING!

  4. The pagodas are incredibly beautiful! That Bamboo bridge is also impressive, especially for being rebuilt every year! Sad that there isn’t a more stable, permanent bridge though. #WanderfulWednesday

  5. Unta says:

    Cambodia is one of my favourite countries I’ve visited. I would like to go there again and to explore a litlle bit more.

  6. Fabi says:

    Great article, mate! An interesting read besides the usual info of the more popular places in Cambodia such as Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

    1. David says:

      Glad you liked it! It was good to see more of the country and hope to see even more next time.

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