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Our trip to Chi Phat

“Chi Phat is emerging as one of the best ecotourism destinations in Cambodia”

So last month we spent a few days in Chi Phat village in the Cardamom mountains. We’d heard many good things about the place and had wanted to go for a while now. Needless to say, we were really excited to be headed there.

Chi Phat is emerging as one of the best ecotourism destination in Cambodia. In 2007, the local community started the Community Based Ecotourism (CBET) project in cooperation with the Wildlife alliance. CBET’s main objective was to create and develop a sustainable and green tourism activity within and around the village. After 5 years, the least we can say is that Chi Phat reached its goal. From getting a couple hundred visitors on the first year, the village hosted more than 2000 of them in 2012! And it wasn’t hard for us to understand the reason for CBET’s success: we had a blast.

After a 5-hour bus ride from Phnom Penh, we were dropped at a small wooden bus stop next to a river. There, we were given two choices to get to Chi Phat: a boat ride on the river, or a scooter ride. We opted for the boat, as it sounded like a lot of fun and would remind us of our day-tour to the floating village in Siem Reap. And fun it was: lots of running & waving kids along the way, small riverside villages, and dense jungle vegetation. As the boat was getting deeper into the jungle, it felt like we were explorers on their way to discover a new part of the world…

Once the boat reached Chi Phat, we were greeted by smiling locals who led us to the visitor center. There, we were presented with our activities for the next two days: hiking, mountain biking and kayaking… Let’s do it!

We were first introduced to our guide, Boun. Boun was a real treat to be around with: not only was his English really good but he was also very open-minded and easy-going. He first took us for a short walk into the jungle, up to a river were locals go swimming. We spent most of the late afternoon there, swimming and chilling by the river. The rest of the evening was spent at the village, eating dinner and chatting with locals and other visitors.

After a good night sleep and a Khmer breakfast, Boun came to pick us up at the visitor centre at 8am. He’d brought great mountain bikes with him: brand new and extra-light. And off we were for a 14km ride through the jungle. Remember, we’re in the Cardamom mountains, so the area is NOT flat. Uphill, then downhill, then uphill again. Tiring you ask? Well yeah. But so much fun! Along the way we’d pass by many locals driving on tiny and bumpy dirt tracks on their small motorbikes. Pretty funny to see them cross these narrow wooden bridges without even slowing down while we’d get off our bikes to cross them by foot (believe us, you’d do the same!). Eventually we reached our destination: a stunning waterfall in the middle of the jungle. The natural pool was perfect to get a nice, refreshing, and well-deserved swim.

Needless to say, we were pretty exhausted after that. But we still wanted to try the kayaking. Nothing physical this time: we just lazily paddled along the river, enjoying the jungle scenery. Perfect way to spend your afternoon.

After a short nap and another great Khmer dinner, you’d think that we were off to bed. No sir. It was Khmer wedding night! And those of you who live in Cambodia know what it means: louder-than-life speakers playing khmer and dance hits until midnight! As soon as we stepped out of the visitor centre, locals waved at us, inviting us for drinks at their tables. All right, let’s get this party started… People from all generations were dancing together under a small marquee. It was a perfect opportunity for us to practice the Khmer dance moves we’d learnt at previous weddings. Not sure that we were extremely good at it, but at least it made people laugh.  After a few other drinks, we eventually went to bed to make sure we’d catch our early bus in the morning…


We loved Chi Phat for both its adventurous and authentic sides. We will definitely get back there soon to see how we can make it a Triple A destination. It is definitely the kind of place Triple A customers would love to experience, so we’ll try to make this happen as soon as possible.