Koh Kong Province: A Hidden Gem for Visitors and Investors
Koh Kong province is a hidden gem in southwestern Cambodia bordering Thailand by land and the Gulf of Thailand by the sea. This is one of the country’s most diverse and beautiful province, with a long undeveloped coastline, mountainous and forested landscapes, and a rich cultural and historical heritage. It is also one of the most advanced and promising areas in terms of economic and social development, offering numerous opportunities and solutions for visitors and investors. In this article, we will explore some of the reasons why Koh Kong province is a great travel destination for those looking to discover, enjoy and invest in Cambodia.
Beauty of nature
Koh Kong province is home to some of Cambodia’s most breathtaking natural landscapes, wildlife and biodiversity as includes the most part of the Cardamom Mountains with Cambodia’s largest national park Botum Sakor. These areas have different ecosystems such as rainforests, mangroves, rivers, waterfalls, islands, coral reefs and beaches. It is also home to many endangered species such as elephants, tigers, gibbons, dolphins, turtles and birds. Some of the best places to visit in Koh Kong province for nature lovers are:
The Cardamom Mountains
The largest mountain range in Cambodia, covering about 20% of the country’s land area. They are a hotspot for biodiversity and conservation, with many rare plants and animals. They also offer scenic views, hiking trails, waterfalls, and caves.
The Tatai River with its Waterfalls
A beautiful river that flows through the Cardamom Mountains and into the Gulf of Thailand. It is a popular destination for kayaking, boating, fishing, and swimming. It also has several eco-lodges and resorts along its banks, where visitors can enjoy the tranquility and beauty of nature.
The Koh Kong Island
The largest island in Cambodia, with a length of 22 km and a width of 7 km. It is a paradise for beach lovers, with white sand, clear water, and palm trees. It also has some of the best snorkeling and diving spots in the country, with colorful coral reefs and marine life.
The Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary
A protected area that covers about 25,000 hectares of mangrove forests, islands, and coastal waters. It is one of the largest mangrove ecosystems in Southeast Asia, and a habitat for many birds, including returning endangered species, fish, crabs, and monkeys. It also has a 600-meter wooden walkway that allows visitors to observe the wildlife and the environment.
A valley in the Cardamom Mountains that is home to about 1,500 indigenous people from the Chong ethnic group. They live in harmony with nature, practicing subsistence farming and fishing. They also have a rich culture and history, with their own language, beliefs, and traditions. They have also been promoting ecotourism as a way to preserve their environment and culture, and to generate income for their community. They offer homestays, guided tours, cultural shows, and handicrafts to visitors who want to learn about their way of life.
A village in the Cardamom Mountains that is part of the Chi Phat Community-Based Ecotourism Project. It is a former logging and poaching hotspot that has transformed into a conservation and tourism hub. It is run by a local community organization that manages the natural resources and provides services and facilities for visitors. It offers various activities, such as trekking, cycling, camping, wildlife watching, and volunteering. It also supports the local economy, education, health, and environment.
Culture and History
Koh Kong province has a rich cultural and historical heritage that reflects its local identity and diversity. It has been influenced by various civilizations, such as the Khmer Empire, the Thai Kingdom, the French Colony, and the modern Cambodia. It has also been shaped by its geography, climate, and natural resources.
Koh Kong province is a place of diversity, where different ethnic groups and cultures coexist. Some of the people you can meet here beside the Khmer title nation are:
The Cham Muslims, a minority group that lives along the coast of Koh Kong province, mostly in the villages near the Peam Krasaop Wildlife Sanctuary. They are the descendants of Malay settlers who came to Cambodia centuries ago. They have their own language, religion, customs, and dress. They are famous for their fishing skills, their hospitality, and their tolerance.
The Thais, a community of families who have lived in Koh Kong province for several generations, mainly in Bang Kayak, a fishing village next to the Peam Krasaop Wildlife Sanctuary. They share some cultural and linguistic similarities with the Thais across the border, but they also have their own identity and traditions.
The Chinese, a recent group of immigrants who came to Koh Kong province following the development of various infrastructure projects, such as the Special Economic Zone, two hydropower dams in the mountains, and the Dara Sakor Development Park with its new airport. They bring with them their business acumen, their cuisine, and their influence.
Another way to appreciate the diversity and history of Koh Kong province is to look at its architecture: from wooden shacks and colonial buildings to modern apartments and swiftlet houses.
A traditional Cambodian wooden house is a type of dwelling that is built on stilts and made of wood. The house is usually raised above the ground to protect it from floods, animals, and insects. The house has a sloping roof, a spacious veranda, and a central living area. The house is often decorated with carvings, paintings, and plants. A traditional Cambodian wooden house reflects the culture, lifestyle, and beliefs of the people who live in it.
The French Colonial Buildings, a reminder of the French occupation of Cambodia from 1863 to 1953. You can find them around Koh Kong province, especially in the capital city of Khemarak Phoumin (Koh Kong). They showcase the French colonial style, with features such as balconies, arches, and tiles. They also tell the story of the historical and political changes that Cambodia went through during the colonial period.
A swiftlet house is a building designed to attract and house swiftlets, a type of bird that produces edible nests. The nests are harvested and sold as a delicacy, especially in China. A swiftlet house usually has a high ceiling, a dark interior, and speakers that play swiftlet sounds to lure the birds. Swiftlet houses are common in Koh Kong province, where they are seen as a source of income and a symbol of prosperity.
Economy and Development
Koh Kong province is one of the most progressive and promising provinces in Cambodia in terms of economic and social development. It has a population of about 126,000 people, with a growth rate of 16% per year. It has a GDP of about $200 million, with a per capita income of about $1,600. It has a literacy rate of about 80%, and a human development index of 0.622, ranking third among the provinces of Cambodia.
Some of the key sectors, opportunities, and solutions for the economy and development of Koh Kong province are:
Tourism: A major source of income and employment for Koh Kong province, with about 300,000 visitors per year. It is driven by the natural beauty, culture, and history of the province, as well as its proximity to Thailand and its accessibility by road, air, and sea. It also has a potential to grow further, with more infrastructure, services, and attractions being developed. Tourism is also a way to promote the conservation and awareness of the natural and cultural resources of the province, and to support the local communities and businesses.
Agriculture: A vital sector for the food security and livelihoods of Koh Kong province, with about 70% of the population engaged in farming, fishing, or forestry. It is based on the abundant land, water, and biodiversity resources of the province, as well as its favorable climate. It also faces some opportunities to improve its productivity, market access, and environmental management. Agriculture is also a way to preserve the traditional and sustainable practices of the local farmers, fishers, and foresters, and to diversify their income sources.
Fisheries: A significant sector for the economy and culture of Koh Kong province, with about 20% of the population involved in fishing or aquaculture. It is supported by the rich marine and freshwater resources of the province, as well as its tradition and expertise in fishing. It also confronts some opportunities to enhance its quality, legality, and resilience. Fisheries is also a way to protect the marine and freshwater ecosystems and species of the province, and to empower the local fishers and aquaculturists.
Renewable Energy: An emerging sector for the energy security and sustainability of Koh Kong province, with several projects being implemented or planned. It is enabled by the renewable energy potential of the province, such as hydroelectricity, solar power, and wind power. It also poses some opportunities to balance its social impacts, environmental impacts, and regulatory frameworks. Renewable energy is also a way to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions of the province, and to create new jobs and industries.
Koh Kong province has achieved several development milestones in the past two decades that have improved its connectivity, infrastructure, and quality of life. Some of these milestones are:
The Koh Kong Bridge: A bridge that crosses the Kaoh Pao river, linking the province capital of Khemarak Phoumin to Pyam, near the Thai border. It was the longest bridge in Cambodia at 1,900 meters, and it was inaugurated in April 2002. It was built by the Cambodian business and construction company LYP Group. The bridge is an important part of National Road 48, linking Koh Kong province to the capital of Phnom Penh. In a larger scheme, the bridge also finalised a long land transport route, connecting Thailand with Vietnam. The bridge is a symbol of the progress and integration of Koh Kong province, as well as its cooperation and friendship with its neighbors.
The Special Economic Zone: A designated area that offers incentives and facilities for investors and businesses to operate in Koh Kong province. It was established in 2006 by LYP Group, with an area of 1,000 hectares. It is located near the Koh Kong Bridge and the Thai border, with access to road, sea, and air transportation. It hosts about 40 companies from various sectors, such as garment, footwear, electronics, food processing, and logistics. It employs about 15,000 workers, mostly from Koh Kong province and other parts of Cambodia. It also contributes to the local economy, infrastructure, and social welfare. The Special Economic Zone is a model of the development and diversification of Koh Kong province, as well as its attractiveness and competitiveness for investors and businesses.
The Dara Sakor Project: A mega-development project that covers 45,000 hectares of land and 20 kilometers of coastline in Koh Kong province. It is planned to include casinos, golf courses, resorts, a deep-water port, and an airport. It is funded by a Chinese company called Union Development Group (UDG), with an investment of $3.8 billion. It is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global infrastructure and trade network. It started in 2008 and is expected to be completed by 2030. The Dara Sakor Project is an opportunity for Koh Kong province, as well as its relationship and cooperation with China. It is expected to bring economic benefits, such as jobs, income, and tourism, as well as strategic advantages, such as connectivity, security, and influence.
Koh Kong province is a hidden gem for visitors and investors who want to discover, enjoy, and invest in Cambodia. It offers a unique combination of natural beauty, culture, history, economy, and development that makes it a great destination for anyone who wants to experience the best of Cambodia. Whether you are looking for adventure, relaxation, or opportunity, you will find it in Koh Kong province. Don’t miss this chance to explore this amazing province and see for yourself what it has to offer. Book your trip today and get ready to be amazed by Koh Kong province.
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