A thriving, mountainous landscape with stunning waterways and activities galore.
What. A. Place. Stung Areng ( also spelt Steung Areng) is truly what dreams are made of. Stung (river in Khmer) Areng finds passage through the Areng Valley, flowing through large rapids and over stunning waterfalls. Feast your eyes on the famous Cardamom Mountains that tower over all sides of the valley. The forest and river provide opportunities for wildlife spotting, trekking, cycling or boat tours all with local community guides. Stay overnight in a family homestay or camp in the midst of beautiful cooler-climate forest. Stung Areng has a vibrancy in its landscape that is foreign to many others parts of Cambodia and opportunities are endless here. What are you waiting for?
Stung Areng, located in the Areng Valley, Koh Kong Province is the result of hardwork by 8 villages, all working together with the support from the NGO Wildlife Alliance. Community tourism began at Stung Areng in 2016 and has been backed by all levels of government; from local to national. Tourism at Stung Areng is to help job creation and to protect natural and cultural resources, both of which go hand in hand.
In 2018, Stung Areng began welcoming tourists. Tith Ly, 30, is Chief of Stung Areng project. He comes from a local village and is a young man committed to success. Tith Ly spoke excitedly about what the future holds for Stung Areng and the positive impact it can have for his community and the environment.
“For the community I think the biggest impact is jobs. We have 149 service members in the project. That means 149 people have work as homestay hosts, forest cooks, motodop drivers (moto taxi), forest guides, or in management. About 45% of these people are women. Before, many people in the community were using natural resources in damaging ways such as hunting or logging. Now, they have another way to earn income for their families.
So it’s not just employment. Tourism here helps to protect forest, waterways and wildlife. We have three endangered species here: Siamese Crocodiles, Elephants and Dragonfish and many other animals that need the forest. The community also rely on herbs and plants from the forest too. So it is an important resource for many.
Since we started the community tourism project here the community cares more about keeping villages clean. So it has been very positive.
There are always challenges – especially working with three communes. But the future looks bright…and we’re only just getting started.”
Stung Areng represents 3 communes and 8 villages in the Areng Valley, Koh Kong Province. Tourism at Stung Areng is community-managed with the support of Wildlife Alliance. A young leadership team of 15 people manage the project. At Stung Areng there are 149 service members (half of which are women) whom earn a living from tourism.
The area itself is naturally stunning part of Cambodia. Stung Areng is at the bottom of the Cardamom Mountains, a densely forested and biodiverse mountain range. The forest is home for an array of wildlife: birds, elephants, fish, apes, deer, and crocodiles. The Areng river flows through the three communes of Stung Areng with waterfalls and rapids all along the way.
A multitude of nature based activities are on offer at Stung Areng. Try trekking, kayaking or cycling. Community members previously hunters and poachers, now local guides. take visitors to explore the nearby Cardomom Mountains on overnight hikes. There are 22 different families that offer homestays and Stung Areng has designated cooks that can prepare food in the villages or in the forest whilst hiking. The Areng Valley has nutrient rich soils and therefore many ingredients come directly from local farms.
Of all income from tourism, 80% goes directly to service members whilst 20% of goes to a community fund. This is designed to help the projects longevity and support its sustainable growth.
Stung Areng Community Based Eco-Tourism Centre
Stung Areng has a well set up tourist centre. Here you will find maps, information about the area and English speaking staff that can help you plan your stay. There is one main office and two subcentres spread across the villages. Each centre also has the facilities to serve meals as an alternative to in a local homestay. Each centre has toilets (Western and Khmer style squat toilets).
There are many options to choose from at Stung Areng. Base yourself in the village in a local homestay with a Khmer family. All homestays offer private rooms (fit two people) and are fully equipped with mosquito net, bedding, fan, towel and solar powered electricity. Bathrooms are external to the house with squat style toilets and bucket showers. All homestays are accessible via stairs.
All overnight trekking into the forest includes sleeping in a hammock with mosquito net. These can also be arranged in the village ($2).
Two-person tents are also available. These include bedding ($10 per tent). The tents are not waterproof so are only suitable in dry months of the year October-April.
When venturing into the forest on treks meals a forest cook prepares your meals. In the village, meals are prepared either at one of the tourism centres or in your homestay. All food is made from natural, local ingredients and is Khmer style (delicious!) and can be prepared vegetarian if required. The villages also have corner stores and restaurants where you can buy noodle soups, rice and snacks.
Transport: Bicycle, Motodop and Bus
At Stung Areng, bicycles are available for hire for $10 per day or $5 for a half day. These are strong mountain bikes with many gears to suit dirt roads.
Motodops (motor taxi with a driver) are available to take you to nearby villages or back into Koh Kong. Note that motorbikes aren’t available for hire.
Local buses run each day going to and from Koh Kong town.
The roads to Stung Areng are dirt. So in wet season (May-September) the roads can be muddy and slow-going.
There are excellent English speakers at Stung Areng who can help arrange your stay and onward journey.
Stung Areng is a water wonderland with ample places to swim and relax next to waterfalls and rapids.
The team at Stung Areng create experiences that minimise impact on the environment. If you are hiking overnight there are no bathrooms in the forest. Toilets are traditional-dig-a-hole style in the forest. Thus, for larger groups (10+) hiring a bush-toilet is required ($20) to lessen the impact on the forest.
Stung Areng offers activities galore! Even after a few days here you may still feel like there is more to see. Do yourself a favour and choose a multi-day tour to ensure you have time to appreciate the unique beauty and hospitality of this region. Note – all activities that explore the forest and rivers here are difficult during the wet season (May – September). Best weather conditions are during October – December.
Stay overnight with a local family. It is these experiences with members of the Stung Areng community that will make your trip most memorable.
Spend the night in nature. Sleep in a hammock or tent under a starry night sky and wake to the sounds of birds.
With a local guide, trek through the Cardamom Mountains and gaze in awe at lush green forest and views from the tops of mountains. Treks range from 1 day to longer (5-6 day) excursions.
Go for a dip in natures bath. Areng River has many places to cool off from a days hiking.
Take a bicyle tour with local guide or hire a bicycle ($10 per day/$5 half day) to explore around Stung Areng.
Take a leisurely boat ride down the Areng river. Admire the stunning waterways and tall trees that grace the rivers edge.
Stung Areng has a multitude of tours available for every type of traveller and budget. From leisurely to demanding, relaxing to exhilarating. More is more at Stung Areng, we recommend staying for atleast 2-3 days. Pre-book your tour or arrange activities when you arrive at the information centre.
Stung Areng is located in Areng Valley at the base of the Cardamom Mountains, approximately 2.5 hours by motorbike from Koh Kong town.
On the road from Phnom Penh
If you are coming from Phnom Penh, buses to Koh Kong take 5-6 hours. These can be arranged easily via bookmebus.com. To arrive at Stung Areng you will need to get off the bus approximately 30kms before Koh Kong town at a junction with a dirt road (11.610733,103.2363506). There are makeshift shops here, and people are friendly and willing to help you find your way.
From here, Stung Areng is another 1.5 hours by motorbike or share bus (2-3 hours). Hitch a ride here from a local or wait for a share bus (approximately $2.50) to take you the distance Stung Areng.
From Koh Kong
If you are coming from Koh Kong the most affordable access to Koh Kong is via local minivan. One bus a day departs from outside Koh Kong market (11.6130119,102.9910333) at around 1-2pm, depending on the passengers. Don’t expect a VIP ride, however the bus is comfortable enough. The ride is slow going but has beautiful views once you turn off the main highway.
The same local minivan leaves at approximately 8am (most likely a little later than this) from Stung Areng and returns to Koh Kong for $5 per person. From here, buses can be arranged to Thailand and back to Phnom Penh from the bus station or in town.
A community arranged moto-dop (motor bike taxi) will get you back to Koh Kong in around 2 hours for $25. Alternatively, a ride to the junction is $20. From here, local minivans head to Sihanoukville, Kampot and Phnom Penh.
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