Koh Kong – Gambling and jungle on the border to Thailand

Koh Kong – Gambling and jungle on the border to Thailand

A very special destination is the city of Koh Kong (which is actually called “Krong Khemarak Phoumin”) in the province of the same name in the southwestern part of Cambodia (not to be confused with the island of the same name, which is not the subject of this article).

Due to its location, Koh Kong City is especially popular with travelers planning to continue their journey to Thailand, which is of course very convenient, since the border is only about eight kilometers away (please check beforehand whether a border crossing is currently possible or allowed).

Koh Kong City had its origin as a logging town and was previously only accessible via the Prek Kaoh Pao River. In the meantime, the town is naturally connected to the road network, which also has the considerable advantage that the place can be easily developed for tourism.

There are few places in Koh Kong that can be decidedly named as a place of interest, rather it is the feel of the city itself that is likely to be of interest to visitors.

The city with its manageable size is also easy to explore on foot. In general, Krong Khemarak Phoumin is considered the “city of sin” of Cambodia: this is mainly due to the fact that the place could be reached only by boat in the past, something like a “lawless space” has developed. It is said that in Koh Kong City, in addition to illegal logging, there is also smuggling of wild animals, prostitution, gambling and a high number of HIV infections. Due to its proximity to the border, smuggling across the Thai border has also been very attractive.

Until the late 1990s, it was not recommended for travelers to visit the city and the entire surrounding region for security reasons. The reason for this was that the Khmer Rouge, who had run a communist regime in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 that resulted in a genocide that took the lives of about one-third of the Cambodian population (about two million people), were active there until 1998 (unimaginably, considering that by that time the top dictators of the reign of terror had actually been brought to justice)

This problem no longer exists today, though the illegal wildlife trade remains a major challenge for it.

All in all, it is certainly appealing for visitors to dive into the somewhat dodgier areas of Cambodia once – provided that one adheres to the local safety regulations and walks the streets with alert eyes and ears.