Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Kampong Cham is most well-known as the home of Cambodia’s Muslim population, the Chams. It’s also home to the world’s longest bamboo bridge.
Kampong Cham is something of a crossroads in the middle of Cambodia. People traveling to the provinces of Kratie, Steung Treng, Ratanakiri, and Mondulkiri often make a stop in Kampong Cham.
Kampong Cham is one of the most populous provinces in the Kingdom with a current population of nearly two million. It’s the 18th largest province in the country with an area of 4,549 square kilometres. In 2013, land in Kampong Cham was carved out to create Tbong Khmum, the country’s newest province. Kampong Cham is divided into nine districts and Kampong Cham city is the provincial capital.
Real estate in Kampong Cham is limited and mostly based on land sales. However, the province is also a key area for agriculture.
If you want to learn more about the other provinces of Cambodia and what they can offer to visitors and investors, you can read through our guides and location profiles. And our property listings are a good reference if you want to buy or rent land, house, apartment, or any kind of property in Kampong Cham.
Kampong Cham’s colonial past
Kampong Cham is mostly an agricultural province. Residents usually make a living from farming or fishing. The province is an important producer of rubber, cashew nuts, and rice. It also has an abundance of fruit orchards brimming with mangosteen, lychee, durian, and rambutan.
Except for the capital, most of the province is quiet and has a laid-back atmosphere. The streets are clean, traffic jams are non-existent, and there is less pollution compared to Phnom Penh and other urban areas.
In the centre and outlying areas of Kampong Cham, you can still see many old colonial buildings that harken back to the time when Cambodia was still a French protectorate. Read our complete guide about colonial buildings in Cambodia to learn more.
Land and other property in the cheap
Kampong Cham has an abundance of land that is selling at rates much lower than what you will find in other provinces of Cambodia. Land in the capital, of course, commands a premium. The same is somewhat true for any land along main roads.
In Kampong Cham’s capital, commercial land is selling for $850 to $2,800 per square metre. For residential land, the price is between $200 and $300.
Despite huge progress across Cambodia over the last few years, land prices in Kampong Cham have remained mostly unchanged. The province has yet to see any large-scale development plans that have sprung up in other areas of the country. But that could change in the coming years.
Kampong Cham has a scattering of apartments, houses, and villas for sale or rent, with most of them concentrated in the provincial capital. Average rental rates there for flats or apartments are between $400 and $1,200 per month. Rates are significantly cheaper in the rest of the province.
A short ride from Phnom Penh
Kampong Cham is easy to reach, being only 123 km away from Phnom Penh. There are two major roads connecting Kampong Cham to the Kingdom’s capital:
- National Road 6
- National Road 7
Both roads are in excellent condition compared to highways across the country.
Several bus companies have daily trips from Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham and vice versa. These include Capitol Bus, Giant Ibis, Mekong Express, and Sorya Bus. A bus ticket to Kampong Cham costs between $5 and $7, and the trip usually takes from two to three hours.
Aside from buses, there are also mini-buses and mini-vans plying the Phnom Penh-Kampong Cham route. Taxis can be hired, but they are quite expensive, with prices for a single trip running between $60 and $100. A much cheaper alternative is taking shared taxis.
Underrated tourism destination
Compared to nearby Battambang and Siem Reap, Kampong Cham doesn’t usually pop up on the list of Cambodia’s tourist locations. Yet many who stop here say there’s more than meets the eye. Here are some of the biggest draws in Kampong Cham:
World’s longest bamboo bridge
The Bamboo Bridge is by far the most popular tourist attraction in Kampong Cham. The bridge, which leads to the island of Koh Paen, has a length of more than one kilometre, making it the world’s longest bamboo bridge.
The bridge is not permanent. During the rainy season, it’s dismantled and then reconstructed again during the dry months. The bridge has been in place for the past 50 years, save for a short interruption during the Khmer Rouge era.
Many people visit Kampong Cham just to see the Bamboo Bridge. On average, 500 to 1,000 people, including many tourists, cross the bridge every day.
Home of the King
One of Kampong Cham’s most important tourist attractions is a former royal residence. The stately home sits on a sprawling compound. It was abandoned long ago but still serves as a historical sight and general meeting place.
A short bicycle ride from the mainland across the bamboo bridge will bring you to Koh Paen, a large, quiet island in the middle of the mighty Mekong.
Koh Paen is reputed to be one of the finest places to relax in the countryside far from the din and bustle of city life. On the island are also some of Cambodia’s most beautiful villages.
Abandoned B-52 airstrip
A leftover from the Vietnam War. Located three km west of the town, it was used by US B-52 bombers on their bombing missions inside Cambodia. Long abandoned, only the remnants of the old runway, a pillbox, and control tower can be seen today.
Located a short distance from the centre of Kampong Cham, this 11th-century Angkorian temple is among the favourite for many visitors coming to the province. Wat Nokor was built during the reign of King Jayavarman II. Renowned for its impressive and elaborate design, it was included in the Unesco World Heritage Site shortlist in 1992.
The 1,500-metre Kizuna Bridge, which spans the Mekong River, was the longest bridge in the Kingdom until the completion of the 1,900-metre Thai-Cambodian Bridge in Koh Kong in 2002. The bridge, which linked together the eastern and western part of Cambodia, was built with funding assistance from Japan and officially opened in 2001.
Accommodations in Kampong Cham
Kampong Cham does not have luxury accommodations like you will see in Phnom Penh or in other urban areas. There is no Marriott or Sofitel there. Nevertheless, Kampong Cham has plenty to offer most visitors.
The top hotels include LBN Asian Hotel, 7 Makara Hotel, Reasmey Cheanich Hotel, and Kc River Hotel. They charge between $20 and $30 a night. Most of these have amenities like a swimming pool and sky bar.
There are also a large number of smaller hotels and guesthouses (with private rooms and dormitory-style shared rooms) that charge between $5 and $20, depending on the amenities.
Unique gastronomic experience in waiting
Kampong Cham is not your typical gastronomic paradise. Nevertheless, a unique, sumptuous dining experience is not hard to find there. Kampong Cham hosts restaurants and eateries offering Khmer, Western, and Asian dishes.
If you want a heaping of authentic Khmer dishes at the same time contribute to a worthwhile cause, the Smile Restaurant is a perfect choice. The restaurant is run by Buddhism and Society Development Association (BSDA), a local NGO. The restaurant and attached premises serve as a home and training ground for street kids, orphans, and other vulnerable, who get hands-on training on food preparation, table serving, and other aspects of the restaurant business.
If you are looking for the best seafood in town, the K2 Seafood Buffet Restaurant will not disappoint you. You can find some of the best local and Asian cuisine at Hao An and Bamboo Café.
Most of the international and Western restaurants in Kampong Cham are located along the riverfront. The names most prominently mentioned are Lazy Mekong Daze, The Pizza, Mekong Crossing, LBN Asian Restaurant, Destiny Coffee House, and Madinina Pizza.
Round and around
You can walk or bike around Kampong Cham city, but if you want to visit or see the sights outside the city, you can rent a motorbike or ride in one of the motodops or tuk-tuks around. Motodop or tuk-tuk fares for going outside the city start from $2, depending on the distance to your destination. You can rent a bicycle or a motorbike from rental shops, hotels, and guesthouses.
Kampong Cham is largely a safe and peaceful province, with only a few incidents of petty and serious crimes reported. Locals and tourists can walk at night by themselves without fearing for their safety.
Don’t judge a book by its cover
At first glance, Kampong Cham is a sleepy province with little else and nary a potential for development. But if you stay longer, explore farther, and dig deeper, you will soon realise that there is much more to Kampong Cham, whether you are a traveler, a visitor, or an investor. The potential of Kampong Cham is there for the taking.