Enjoy the beautiful sunsets and leisurely boat trips exploring the islands of the Mekong River.
Homestays at the Osvay villages act as a base for you to explore the hauntingly atmospheric Flooded Forest of Ramsar and the numerous inhabited islands, experiencing the rich bird habitat and fishing grounds. As the sun gently sets across the Mekong river, head to the river bank to take some of the most amazing sunset pictures; with the local fisherman trawling their boats collecting their daily catch at the end of the day. After a long day exploring, spend the sultry evenings talking to locals, before you bed down in a traditional wooden house.
O’Svay community-based ecotourism project has been formed by five villages ( O’Svay village, O’Run, Koh Phnov, Koh Hib, and Voeun Sien village) and four surrounding islands. It is a gateway to explore the Mekong river and its many islands. The project itself provides opportunities for local people to gain meaningful employment and at the same time, the project protects the local wildlife and biodiversity around the registered Ramsa wildlife site.
From Mr. T – the tourism coordinator at O’Svay ecotourism project: ” We have been running this project in our community for almost 10 years. At the beginning, nobody came, as people did not know we existed, but over the years we have started to see more visitors – both local Cambodian people as well as international visitors. People are interested in the natural beauty of this place, the opportunities we have to explore the Mekong river as well as some of the new activities like watching the Irrawaddy dolphins.
The increase in visitors has improved people’s lives in this community. Originally we also had several homestays, now we have many places for visitors to stay, and also we have now opened a community restaurant where tourists can come and eat their meals. This provides new opportunities for the villagers and is popular with visitors. We hope that we can grow our project, with more new ideas and services for them. Tourists are important to us! “
O’Svay community-based ecotourism project consists of five villages ( O’Svay village, O’Run, Koh Phnov, Koh Hib, and Voeun Sien village) and four surrounding islands. The project was established in 2007 with the support of the Culture and Environment Preservation Association.
The area around the Osvay ecotourism site was established in 1964 by King Sihanouk, when families from different provinces were encouraged to settle in this area to defend the Cambodian border from neighbouring Laos. As a result, the community is ethnically and culturally mixed with families coming far across the whole of Cambodia. Today, when you visit the area you will find an historic monument to mark this resettlement of the area.
O’Svay community is the most popular destination in Stung Treng province, as it is relatively easy to access from the provincial town. It is popular with both local Cambodian and international visitors. Borey O’Svay is well known for its preservation of wildlife, including birds, fish and the Irrawaddy Dolphins along the Mekong river, as well as for its forestry preservation and wetlands area which is registered as a Ramsar site.
The O’svay village has a tourist information office, and is centrally positioned to provide easy across to the surrounding area. The village is well equipped and has all the necessary amenities you might need during your visit. Internet access is surprisingly good, so you can easily upload your photos to share.
This small village has a community-run restaurant in the middle of the village, that offers an affordable alternative to homestay meals. The selection is basic, but they will always have at least 2-3 freshly made meals for you to choose from during the lunch and evening period. They also serve some of the best local coffees and teas you can buy in this part of the country. This community-run enterprise is conveniently placed in the centre of the village, so after several meals here you will be familiar with most of the local residents who pass by every day.
The accommodation is provided in traditional Khmer style wooden houses elevated on stilts and accessible via stairs. Bedrooms are equipped with bed, bedding, pillow, mosquito net and light. All houses have a local style bathroom external to the house that is clean and lockable. Amenities include a squat toilet and bucket shower. The house has safe charging facilities and free, clean drinking water. There is plenty of choice, with some houses being positioned closer to the Mekong River while other homestays are more centrally located close to the village restaurant.
The main attraction here, is the easy access to the Mekong river and relative variety of boat trips available from Osvay village. You can travel by boat as far north as the Lao border, and the other ecotourism site at Preah Rumkel either for a day trip or a way to continue your trip, or as far south as Stung Treng town.
There are a long list of option available to you, it all depends on your budget and your choice. Some of the most popular boat trips are:
The Floating forest, also called the Ramsar Forest by some, is one of the most popular boat trips that many travellers enjoy visiting. You will be amazed by the vast amount of trees growing in the middle of Mekong river, and their ability to withstand the force of the river flow and all it brings. As a result, the trees’ form has changed over time to adapt to their natural environment and their water location. If you are a professional photographer or just a keen enthusiast, this is a place to spend an afternoon taking some truly amazing shots.
Koh Phnov is surrounded by sandy beaches and you can find plenty of good swimming spots. If you venture deep into the forest and the waterfall, you can admire the Black Cormorants, Green Pigeons, and Parrots. The most spectacular bird is the vulture which arrives during the dry season.
Anlong Neak & Anlong Seima during the dry season offer a unique opportunity to learn about the legendary Dragon spirit in the area. The miracle of the area is that the western side of the river always flows from north to south while the eastern side flows south to north. It is situated in the lower part of the Ramsar area.
Bird watching is one of the other popular activities. so, why don’t you hire a boat and cruise the Mekong river in the search for a variety of birds that are nesting along the river. You will be rewarded with magnificent images of flogs of birds flying above the Mekong or nesting at the river banks.
If you are lucky you might even spot Irrawaddy dolphins in your trip.
Travelling from Pnhom Penh/Siem Reap, use one of the many buses and VIP minibuses to reach Stung Treng city. From there you have 2 options:
- By boat – Book a ticket at the tourism office in the centre of Stung Treng (2km from Stung Treng, on the national Road No. 7) It is around $12.
- By car/ motorbike : 45 km from Stung Treng towards the Lao border on National Road No.7. 16kms into the journey take the road on the left. From the Lao border to Stung Treng, it is 7km along the National road and then take a right.
From Preah Rumkel : $10 (you can try to bargain this price with the local community)
OSVAY COMMUNITY BASED TOURISM
OTHER TRAVELLERS EXPERIENCES
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I stayed one night in O'svay but I really appreciated it. A local guide will host you and you could sleep in the family house, the room was very comfortable but the only negative point is that you don’t have so much contact with the family. The food at the restaurant is very good, they serve fish from the river. About the activities, you should really have a boat trip on the Mekong River to see the flooded forest.
From O'svay, you can really admire the beauty of the Mekong River. It is clean but perhaps the water current is too fast for children, directly from the village. I took a boat from O'svay and I was delighted to see the Ramsar Forest. I didn't stay for a long time, but we proposed me to camp in the small islands. if you want to camp, you might stay two nights there. Two days is too short to appreciate all the wildlife nearby O'svay.
One the best thing was to eat the fresh fish from the Mekong River and see the sunset. Amazing experience.
Moreover, the comunity is important, and it is really nice to walk around the village and meet the people. They are still not used to see foreigners.
The room was very comfortable for a homestay. One aspect that I appreciated as well, it is the cleanliness of the village. ( a good waste management).
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