Phnom Penh to Chhlong via Kampong Cham by Motorbike

For this weekend Maraile and I have been planning to visit Kratie province, for a number of reasons among them the fact that much of the province is flooded right now. The plan for today is to leave in the afternoon and spent the night either in Kampong Cham, Kratie or Chhlong (Chloung) depending on how far we get. Saturday we want to spend in Kratie province and return at some point on Sunday to Phnom Penh.

We leave after lunch and travel the unavoidable National Road 6 northeast towards Kampong Cham. The good thing about this road is that it is in good condition; the bad part is that there is lots of traffic and cars are speeding precisely because the road is so good.

We don’t have a break until we reach Kampong Cham and ride straight to the River Crossing restaurant run by Joe. Joe is a rich source of local information. There are at least three ways of going from Kampong Cham to Kratie.

1. The first is to follow a dirt road all the way along the eastern bank of the Mekong River. This option is unlikely to work out because the road along the river is likely to be flooded in many parts.
2. The second option is to proceed on the national road to east for another 30 km or so and continue from there on a dirt road to Kratie, via Chhlong. This option involves a stretch of the same road along the Mekong River between Chhlong and Kratie but otherwise is unlikely to be flooded.
3. The third option is to follow National Road through Snuol all the way to Kratie. This is the safest option but means a long detour. Joe encourages is to try option two.

We follow the national road and actually have some difficulties finding the place where we leave it and continue on the dirt road towards Chhlong. Finally we find it and proceed on the secondary road. This dirt road is in good condition and allows for reasonable speed most times of the year. It is commonly used by mini buses and taxis between Kratie and Kampong Cham. It makes for a pleasant ride also due to the beauty of the landscape along the road, passing through scenic wetlands, rice fields and charming villages, some of them inhabited by Muslim Cham.

I have been traveling on this road various times before, mostly by minibus or by taxi. On one of these occasions I took also some pictures.

At this point we still hope to make it all the way to Kratie today, although the sun is already setting down.

We keep riding but don’t reach even Chhlong before dark. The road is getting worse while it keeps getting darker, finally we find ourselves riding very slowly around deep holes filed with water all over the street, with very little vision. At least it does not rain.

We decide to have a short break. Now it is dark anyway.

We reach the Mekong River and continue on the road along the river and pass through Chhlong few minutes later. However, only a few kilometers after we pass the center of the town, the road is getting narrower, with water closing in on both sides of it. Houses along the road are standing completely in the water and all the domestic animals are standing on the road.

When I was traveling this road by minibus in October 2003 we got stuck not far from here and it took hours until we could continue the trip.

Given this situation it does not seem likely that we make it to Kratie tonight. Indeed only a few minutes later we reach a point where the road in front of us leads seemingly straight into the water and is submerged as far as the eye can see, which is not far at this time of the day. However, people (in a boat) tell us that a number of long stretches of road are submerged. There is no way we can continue tonight and tomorrow only by using boats.

This is the road close to where it is submerged in water.

We ride back to Chhlong town, find a very simple guesthouse and book rooms, which are neither particularly clean nor very comfortable but serve the purpose. It is completely dark outside when we leave again to find a restaurant. Nothing indicates that anything would still be open. Dozens of dogs start barking in the dark while we walk down the street. Since nothing suggest that we will succeed in finding food we return to the guesthouse, chill out for some time on the charming balcony of the guesthouse and go to bed.

Hanging out on charming balcony

9 thoughts on “Phnom Penh to Chhlong via Kampong Cham by Motorbike”

  1. I lived in Chhlong in 2000 abs 2001 (one of 2 barang! at the time) and then there were no roads to get there. Can you tell me more about gettting there from PP via road? I am going back in October….

  2. Hi Rachel,

    Good to hear from you. I am surprised you are asking the way from PP to Chhlong after you have lived there for a considerable period of time.

    To my knowledge, there are 3 options to travel PP to Chhlong. All of them involve going PP to Kampong Cham along the main national road, which takes about 2 hours and is very straightforward. I have detailed these options in this post:

    Option 1, follow National Road 7 to Kratie, which takes another 2-3 hours. The first 2/3 of this post describe the road from K Cham to Kratie, but in reverse order:

    From Kratie, you would then take the dirt road south along the eastern bank of the Mekong. It is unpaved but smooth and takes maybe 1 hour in the dry season. During rainy season, it can be muddy and time consuming, sometimes parts of the road are flooded:

    Option 2, you proceed from K Cham on the national road to the east for another 30 km where you turn left at a major gas station and continue from there on a dirt road to Chhlong. This should be a safe option at all times of the year. K Cham to Chhlong takes app. 1 1/2 hours.

    Thirdly, you can follow a dirt from K Cham along the western bank of the Mekong for about 30km, pass through Han Chey till you reach Stung Tran. There you find a ferry to cross the Mekong and proceed on a dirt road along the eastern bank of the Mekong. This is not the quickest way of getting to Chhlong but the most beautiful. It is not an option during the rainy season.

    Hope this helps,

  3. Hi Stefan
    Chhlong is my home town where i grew up. I am now living in Australia.
    I would like to know if there is any guest house or hotel in Chhlong or Chloug. I am planning to visit my home town this year 2006.

    Could you please help me to find the guesthouse.


  4. Hi Leng,

    Good to hear from you and sorry for my delayed response.

    There is at least one guesthouse in Chhlong and I suspect there are more. The one I visited was VERY basic and not very clean but it does serve the purpose. It is pretty much in the center of town on the right hand of the main road to Kratie.

    I am planning to return to Cambodia in 2006, too, maybe we meet in Chhlong!

    Best wishes,

  5. Dear Sir/Madam

    I have read your website am very interested that you arrived my province. You know in the front of Chlong by accross River is my homeland. My home land in Preak Prosab Discrict. your know in my home land have one mountain that is good resort of my homeland is PHNOM SOPORKALEY . Phnom is khmer word if in stand for Mountain in English.

    oh How are you both >


    Best Regard
    ROU Vitta
    Kratie Province

  6. Hi ROU Vitta,

    Thanks for your comment and good to hear from you. Indeed I went to your province a couple of times recently, and was delighted to find that there are now very nice roads on both sides of the Mekong River between Kg Cham and Kratie town. Hope to go again soon and maybe visit the mountain you mention.

    Take care,

  7. I lived in Chhlong for 2 years 2003 – 2005 on road 1 in the large house opposite Mr Li’s drug store. It was a wonderful experience, I worked for Partners for Development NGO as a maternal health advisor and loved it! I have since been back in 2007 where a friend and I hired bikes in Phnom Penh and rode to Kratie. The road was alot better than pictured here, in fact it was tarmac in most places – so much better, quicker and cleaner!! Though not sure how it will have stood up to the wet season??

    When I left there were only very basic guesthouses in town, but an old french property on the riverbank was in the process of repair by frenchman Nicolas who owns a lovely guesthouse in Kep. Although I think it was to be very luxurious (has its own pool) and not for casual rent.

    The road to Kratie was always okay – even in the floods there were plenty of boats to get on to get there, or even better, to cross on the mekong ferry to prek prasap and ride along the riverbank and cross just opposite Kratie which is what the locals would do. I rode that all the time and only took about 45mins. A day out to Phnom SOPORKALEY is well worth it – great views and lovely temple to rest in – we had a staff day out there and it was happy happy happy!!

    Snuol is the pits – red dust everywhere and just horrid really. Do not plan to stay there if at all possible, and the road from Chhlong – Snuol is not to be trusted, it was a tough journey every time, always bridges out or trees on road – so beware, instead, go via Kratie.

    I strongly recommend a visit to Kratie, lots to do and see and absolutely lovely meal to follow up at Joe’s Red Sun Falling on the riverside. Many happy times, well worth a journey up!

  8. hi every one,

    Chhlong is the best place to live and quiet

  9. Bonjour Monsieur

    Comment allez vous? Je suis désolée que j’ai écrit Français parce que j’habite en France mais je suis cambodgienne et je suis née à Chhlong à côté du grand hôtel au bord de la rivière.Je suis très contente que vous alliez au Cambodge et vous avez bien connu Chhlong.

    Wish you good luck every day.

    A plus

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