The Cardamom Mountains are a mountain range located in southwestern Cambodia and eastern Thailand and cover the provinces of Kampot, Kep, Battambang, Sihanoukville, Koh Kong, Pursat, Kampong Speu and Pailin. It is one of the most extensive mountainous areas and is home to Cambodia’s vibrant ecosystem comprising deep jungles, valleys, rivers, wildlife, swamps and shores. It inhabits hundreds of thousands of people who depend on them.
Travelers exploring Cambodia can experience the Cardamom Mountains through one of the many wildlife conservation projects located in many cities, signing up for guided walks in the region and also taking our jeep tour to explore the area.
The Cardamom Mountains were home to ancient Cambodian tribal life between the 15th and 17th centuries, confirmed by remains, including many porcelain jars, tombs and coffins. In the 19th century, due to the presence of the Khmer Rouge and also hundreds of landmines, the mountains remained inaccessible to the outside world. It was only after the government started setting up wildlife conservation projects for demining that tourism began to develop here.
The Cardamom Mountains are known for their rugged nature, but the regions between Koh Kong and Pursat provinces are the most isolated and dense rainforests in Southeast Asia. The mountain extends over a vast area of more than 4 million hectares, covering a large part of southwestern Cambodia. This land is home to hundreds of endangered species of wildlife, flora, and birds. Cambodia’s highest mountain “Phnom Aural” is present in the region.
Five major rivers run through the Cardamoms, which in turn have created dozens of waterfalls. Some of the wild animals that tourists can observe are elephants, leopards, crocodiles, gibbons, bears and tigers, etc.
Places to visit
Wildlife Sanctuaries – There are two wildlife sanctuaries, both of which were commissioned by the King Nordok project in 1993. The Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary is located on the west side of the mountains. And the other is the Phnom Aural Wildlife Sanctuary, in the eastern Cardamom Mountains. Both are open for tourists to explore nature.
National Parks – Preah Monivong National Park, located in Kampot province, is an ASEAN heritage park that covers the western end of the Cardamom Mountains. Botum Sakor National Park is located on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand and covers the southwest of the Cardamom in the Botum district. The South Cardamom National Park is another tourist attraction found in the extreme south.
Wildlife Conservation Projects – Chi Phat is the most popular of all the conservation projects in Koh Kong, taking about a day to visit. The Wild KK project is another social enterprise in the Areng Valley, which focuses on the preservation of the ecosystem and wildlife.
Cardamom Tented Camp – It is an eco-lodge located in the Cardamom Mountains. Offering luxurious safari-style glamping tents, the lodge aims to minimize the human footprint on the natural world and serve as a role model in promoting sustainable ecotourism practices within both the national park and Cambodia as a whole.
It is recommended to bring essential items such as medicine, toiletries, good trekking shoes, umbrellas, sunscreen, hats and other things. Options housing is depleted quickly, so you better book accommodation well in advance and plan accordingly.
There are no ATMs here and all transactions are made in cash only. Carry enough cash on the go.