Ream National Park
If you are looking for one of the most spectacular places on earth to visit, where you will have a vacation that you will think back on for years, don’t get caught up on all the traditional places that people choose for vacation spots. Most like to choose places like China, Rome, Paris, London, or Rio de Janeiro because they are caught up on all the history and hype surrounding these vacation spots. They truly are magnificent; there is no doubt about that. However, tens of millions of people visit these places each year. This brings the normal kinds of issues that accompany a place where lots of people go: crime, pollution, and over-crowding.
A place where there are lots of people inviting others who are there for nefarious reasons. They see each person as their next “mark,” and this can quickly turn a dream vacation into a complete nightmare. You sure do not want that.
In addition, because a lot of these places have been attracting people to them for hundreds, if not thousands of years, they have a lot of issues in terms of pollution and over-crowding. A lot of these cities were built at a time when everyone got around by foot or horse, so roads can be narrow, streets can be quite difficult to maneuver through, and getting from one place to another can be an enormous chore. Not to mention the fact that many of these places have real issues with clean water, sanitation, and litter. They are great, but clearly not ideal.
A Dream Trip Where You Would Not Expect
There is a place with an amazing history to it, where you can enjoy an incredible tropical getaway in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Plus, you can enjoy it at a fraction of what you would spend in other locations, while not being inundated by the kinds of issues that are found at other tourist hot spots. Where is this dream location? Believe it or not, it is Cambodia.
Specifically, the Ream National Park in Cambodia is one of the most beautiful places you will ever find. Located just 11 miles from downtown Sihanoukville, the capital of this region, this is one of the most spectacular locations on earth to visit, because up until recently this was a land that was virtually untouched. The national park had existed for years, but no man made intervention was spoiling the location. There were not large hotels, massive factories or industry, or huge fishing vessels scarring this majestic location.
The Ream National Park in Cambodia is a place that words cannot do justice to. With some of the most exotic animals on earth, many that are on the endangered or threatened list, you will find beasts of all kinds of species that
you simply will not see anywhere else. Thanks to this preserve, these animals have been kept from going extinct, giving the world the gift of being able to enjoy them as part of our planet’s ecosystem.
Amazing wildlife and plants are not the only things that make this land such an amazing place to visit. You will find incredible beaches, amazing accommodations, spectacular food, and incredible activities to enjoy, all for a small fraction of what you would pay to visit Beijing or Paris.
Eliminating the Stereotypes
Most people here Cambodia and their first reaction is, “Get real! I am not going there.” They think of the Cambodia that for decades was a place of conflict and a genocidal dictatorship. Truly, the history of Cambodia has been a dark one in the past, but this is an entirely new land. Since the Khmer Rouge regime was removed from power about two decades ago, this great nation has become a thriving democracy, one of the many you will find in this region of the world, joining South Korea, Japan, and the Philippines among others.
For two decades the rulers of the land made Cambodia an oppressive land, where innovation and modernization were not seen as a positive thing. Many of the doctors, teachers, scholars, and other intellectuals were executed by the regime making for one of the darkest times in the world’s history. Those days are over now.
Now Cambodia is not the land that time forgot. This is a blossoming nation that has all of the modern conveniences you would find in the most modern of places. Their resorts offer all of the newest technologies and innovations, and you will find no cleaner and more enjoyable place to visit.
While the country has fully embraced the 21st century, you will still have the benefit of enjoying the culture and history of this great land. On one of the nation’s most historic highways, you can feel like you are actually traveling through time, as on this six-hour drive from Siem Reap to the Cambodian capital city of Phnom Penh you will see poverty stricken villages where people live in shacks, to places where cows and oxen frequently block to road, to old colonial French villages, and cities where there are huge modern homes. Cambodia is a land of many adventures and you will be amazed and captivated by what a great place it is to visit.
About Ream National Park
While there are many great sites to see in the country, Ream National Park in Cambodia is the crown jewel of them all. It is 81 square miles of incredible sights and sounds that you will never forget. The park begins on the mainland of Cambodia, but includes the water that surrounds the
peninsula area of Sinahoukville, as well as 21 islands that come with their own tales and adventures you can enjoy.
The national refuge was established in 1993, primarily as a way to preserve many of the threatened and endangered species of animals that indigenous to the area. This was not a concern of the dictatorship, but the new democratically elected government say the protection of these plants and animals as a primary mission and the park was created as a result.
You will find a wide variety of ecosystems within the Ream National Park. This includes rivers, estuaries, beaches, coral reefs, forests, rain forests, mangroves, and open water. This array of ecosystems makes it a prime location to find a large number of different species of plants and animals, one of the largest such arrays outside of the tropical rainforests of South America.
The park is divided by a large river called the PrekTeuk Sap. This flows directly through the park itself into the ocean where it ends. On the west side of the river there are two larger sized hills that dominate the landscape of this region. In between these two hills is a waterway, the PrekSampouch watercourse. PhnoumMollou is the larger of the two hills, reaching over 900 feet above sea level. Its peak is the highest point in the park. Between the two hills on the western side of the river is the PrekTeuk Sap estuary. This is a very narrow area of wetlands.
Because Ream National Park in Cambodia is inside a preserved wildlife, it is not surprising to see that there is a very small population that lives within the park preserve. The number is incredibly low on the islands themselves. Most islands have one village that primarily is there as part of the fishing industry. These are usually people that have lived there for generations.
Most who live in these villages live a very simple life, where fishing and day-to-day life is the primary focus of those who live there. There is no industry within the park, and the only agriculture is usually reserved for small farms. Much of the vegetation that is eaten grows naturally within the numerous forest area.
There is a naval base and a weather station that exists within the park. These are contained on two of the islands.
How to Get to Ream National Park
While there may be many destinations that a person selects once they arrive in the Park, the journey to your tropical dream vacation all begins in the same place. The entrance to the park is roughly 12 miles from the downtown Sihanoukville. Most people fly to the capital city of Cambodia and either take a bus or a short plane hop to Sihanoukville. Once there, you take a short bus ride to the entrance of the park and you are ready to enter your adventure.
The ranger station is located directly after entering the park. Just a short distance from the ranger station is the pathway commonly referred to as the “Sun &Mooon Gulf” route. This is because the route heads right into the Sun & Moon Gulf Resort. If you are staying in this location you can simply check in and you are ready to enjoy your stay. If you are heading onto any of the other resorts or if you are in need of a boat ride to one of the islands where you will be staying, you will find the accommodations here that you need to get to your destination. Simply go to the front desk of the Sun & Moon Gulf Resort and they will direct you as needed.
Accommodations and Services
Accommodations are very inexpensive for the services and rooms that you are receiving. Most rooms, no matter where you stay are no more than $25 per night. Even rooms that would be considered four or five-star service anywhere else in the world do not top this fee rate. It is truly amazing how little you have to pay here, and that is part of the price of being in a country that has not become saturated with tourism. This has helped to keep the price low.
Depending upon where you stay there are several different kinds of accommodations available. On the mainland, there are traditional hotels and resorts available to stay in. These rooms come with a private bathroom, double or queen sized beds, depending upon what you are requiring, and internet access. There are also other business services available, like fax machines and conference rooms if needed.
On the islands you will find that many offer bungalows, guest houses, or small dormitories for the living accommodations. Bungalows are private suites that have their own restroom, a double bed or queen sized bed, and a balcony. The view is absolutely amazing as you are right on the beach. There are also some of these bungalows on the beaches on the mainland.
The bungalows are a particularly attractive location for many travelers to opt to stay in because they are very subtle in appearance, making the tourist feel like they are trapped on a desert island. Because there are so few of these bungalows on the island, usually no more than 20, this means that there is not overcrowding from a large number of tourists. In fact, it is not uncommon to find that the closest person to you on the beach could be as far as several hundred yards away from you. You can literally have as much or as little space as you desire.
Some islands have guest houses on them. There is a naval base on one of the islands and many of the guest houses are found right outside the base. These guesthouses are perfect for families that need two or three separate rooms. Dormitories hold as many as 20 different guest accommodations depending upon the island that you are on.
For those who like to be a little more in tune with nature, there are also accommodations that allow you to sleep outside if you desire. You can rent camping equipment to just sleep outside in a tent. If you want to really go primitive, there are several hammocks that are setup so that you can simply sleep out between the trees under the stars. Many of the hammocks can accommodate couples if that is desired and needed.
No matter which of the 21 islands you decide to stay on during your stay you will find that the resorts that provide accommodations are made to be unobtrusive on the natural landscape of the island. This is one of the things that makes this stay so amazing. You can enjoy a five-star resort experience while feeling like you are truly part of the island experience. No huge high rises ruining the look of these islands. The bungalows and other accommodations are built to look like a natural fixture on the island.
No matter where you are in Ream National Park you will find great places to eat. There are many shacks along the beach areas that offer food for you. The options seem endless, as you can find many different kinds of Western dishes, including spaghetti, pizza, hamburgers, steak, chicken, and vegetarian meals. There are also places to dine on local Khmer cuisine that is absolutely amazing. All vegetables, fruits, and meats are harvested locally in the area, meaning that everything you eat will be fresh for the most part. There is simply nothing like it.
At many of the resorts there is a luau style banquet offered each night as part of your stay on the island. You can feast on a buffet of some of the most amazing dishes that have ever passed your lips. You will be amazed at how your tongue and taste buds will come alive with each morsel. It is truly an experience like no other.
The cost for food at local shacks and dining establishments is less than what you would pay for a hamburger meal at a fast food restaurant and about 100 times the taste. It is amazing.
Several bars line the beach areas as well. These are a great place to hang out at during the day, and an even better place to enjoy at night as you get out to get your groove on. Most drinks cost no more than $2, so you can enjoy without your wallet hurting. You will also find that local bands perform so you can dance while you enjoy a night out with friends or family, or if you are out looking for that special someone.
What to do in Ream National Park
If you are looking for the most peaceful place on earth, there is no place like coming to Ream National Park. There is a wide array of activities that you can do to just enjoy your time in the sun. It is the perfect place to enjoy a great day in the sun while your cares simply drift away.
If you are looking to really live it up and add a little danger and adventure in your life, then Ream National Park is the perfect place for you. You will be amazed at the incredible things you can do and see while visiting there. You will have memories that will last a lifetime to say the least.
Whether you are on the mainland or one of the islands, one thing you will love is the amazing beaches. In many places they are the most perfect yellow you have ever seen, while in others you can enjoy the most incredible white beaches that a person has ever seen. While just a beautiful sight to behold, what makes them some amazing is the clean and pristine appearance of these beaches.
Consider that for generations this area is being left virtually unscathed. The economic and governmental struggles of Cambodia made it so that these lands were left virtually untouched. It was just those small villages that contained the only inhabitants, so there is no pollution, no large number of cars traveling through the area, no huge fishing boats or commercial barges, or large skyscrapers. You are not going to see big high-rise hotels or massive tourist centers. Keeping the natural look of this area was one of the important focuses of the developers of this area, and they have done just that.
The government has also been very careful to limit the number of tourists that can come to this area. The primary concern is the threatened and endangered animals that live in this tropical paradise, and they are not going to allow those plants and animals to be further at risk by a large tourist population that can tarnish their ecosystem.
What this means for you is that the land has not been scarred by man. You will not find litter everywhere, huge electrical towers and wires, massive streets, congestion, or dirty looking areas. Instead, you will find beach areas that look virtually untouched by man. The power that is supplied comes from solar panels that are discretely placed near the bungalows and resorts. This keeps them from being obtrusive upon vacationers who want to enjoy the scenery and not a bunch of manmade inventions.
A limited population also means plenty of area to stretch out and enjoy. You can go to places where there will be more people around, but if you want to find a secluded beach area to enjoy some solitary time it is very easy to do so. You will not have to search for very long or very hard to find an area where you may be the only person within 100 yards of yourself. This allows you to just enjoy some real peace and quiet.
You will find on the islands that the power is off from 11 pm to 5 am each day. Because solar power is the only source of electricity, the island resorts ensure that they are preserving the power that they have. This may seem like a major inconvenience, but once you get to see a look at the stars in the sky you will not be complaining for long.
With the majority of lights out around the area, you will see some of the most spectacular views on earth of the stars in the sky. You will not have huge lights that you would find in most vacation spots. This means that they will not interfere with your ability to see the sky as it was meant. It is a totally amazing view that will leave you breathless as you see God’s creation like never before.
Water, Water Everywhere
If there are beaches then there is most definitely water as well, and the waters that surround these islands and the mainland are some of the most clear blue waters you will ever enjoy. They are clean and give you a great place to swim and enjoy a day in the water. You can swim out into the gulf area that makes up part of the preserve, or there are bays on some of the islands that you can swim in as well. These bays provide a “safer” feeling while you swim, as the waters are not as rough and a lot more peaceful.
If you are looking to get out into the water a little more, there are many great opportunities to enjoy this area to its fullest. Let’s start with fishing. If you are an avid fisherman, then this is the place for you. You can rent the equipment you need and spend the day out in the waters that surround the islands catching whatever comes your way. If you want to go deeper into the gulf you can rent a boat or join a tour. The costs to this are not prohibitive at all, giving you a very affordable choice for your day. There are amazing fish in this area and you will be amazed at the size of many.
You may want to do fishing of a different kind, and just enjoy taking a look at the different sea life that exists in the area. Tours can take you out so you can see the incredible array of fish and wild life that lives beneath the water. You can see sea horses, osprey, and many other animals that you would not readily find in other areas.
From November to March it is quite common to see large pods of dolphins swimming by. You can get up close and personal with these dolphins, as the tour boat will get within a few feet of them. It is truly an amazing experience.
You do not even need to go out onto the water to see them. They are usually quite visible from the land, and will come fairly close the island areas. Because they are protected in this area, they are aware that they will not be harmed within Ream National Park, so they will come reasonably close so you can get a good look.
If you really want to experience life below the water, you can get snorkeling and scuba diving equipment to get up close and personal with your neighbors in the water. You can take the adventure on your own, or join groups that will show you some of the most amazing areas and life you will ever see. There is an incredible coral reef to view, you can see beautifully colored fish, and exotic animals that find the waters around Cambodia to be the perfect place for them.
You can either snorkel or scuba dive directly around the shores of the mainland or beaches, or you can join a group heading out to deeper waters, and join their adventure. They will show you to the best places to go to see life at its fullest. You can also rent a boat and go to an area you want to see on your own or with your group. There are plenty of ways to get to see life up close and personal.
If you want to just spend the day out on the water enjoying the amazing sights, then you can do that as well. There are many boat tours you can take that will do nothing more than take you around the park so you can see the incredible sites that are offered. These tours will also take you to the different islands so you can get a look at them and enjoy them for the day. You can also take a transport from the mainland or an island to another area of the park and then come back later that day.
Trees and Wildlife Like No Other Place
There are many forest areas within the park, including upon the individual islands. You will find great tropical rain forests that are teeming with wildlife. The plants are amazing, and the animals you will find and get to see for yourself are truly spectacular.
One of the more notable of the islands within the park is Koh Rong, commonly referred to as “Monkey Island.” This is the second largest island of Cambodia, and has some of the most amazing features of the area.
This island has amazing beaches to it, but it also has some other sites that you will really enjoy. It is not called Monkey Island for nothing, as there are beautiful monkeys that crowd the forest. For those staying in the bungalows on the island, it is not uncommon to find a monkey enjoying a nice look from your balcony as the sun comes up. They are generally quite harmless, but you clearly don’t want to startle them.
Through the rain forest area there are many great paths you can take that allow you to view the plants, animals, and insects in their natural habitat. This is true of all of the islands, as they afford you the opportunity to take a nice leisurely walk enjoying the beauty of Cambodia. You can do this on your own, or you can join the many tours that go through KohRong island. They will help you to enjoy the beauty and point out the amazing features of this tropical island paradise.
Wildlife is not the only thing to enjoy on the island. There are incredible waterfalls you can see, and the rivers and hills make for a majestic view, especially in the backdrop of this lush forest area. You will be breathless at all that there is available to you. The pictures you take will remind you of how truly beautiful Cambodia is.
If that isn’t enough to enjoy about KohRong, a trip to the High Point Adventure Park will really leave you captivated. This park allows you to enjoy Cambodia more than 100 yards above the ground. You move throughout this park by use of ropes, whether it is rope bridges, zip lines, or platforms suspended by ropes. This is literally hours of fun for you or the whole family.
If you are a big fan of Indiana Jones then this is the adventure for you. You will feel like you are a true adventurer as your slide across the zip line from one tree to the next. You can carefully maneuver your way across the rope bridges braving the crossing over “treacherous” waters as you go. This is one of those one of a kind adventures that you will find that only Cambodia can provide and Ream National Park is the place to experience it. Crossing these ropes while looking at the beautiful plants and animals around you is something that simply has to be experienced to truly appreciate.
Koh Rong is not the only amazing island inside or Ream National Park. Its sister island, Koh Rong Sanloem, is also a great place to visit. This island is home to the Cambodian Naval base. They are a small group, but the base is a fun place to visit. The accommodations for this island are in guest houses, six of them to be exact, that are right outside the base itself. Also, there is a dormitory and a few bungalows. The primary way to carry things on the island is by use of cart pulled by water buffalo. It is a real treat to visit the island.
As a tourist island, it has only been open for business for two years. This is true of many of the islands you will see. This means that there are very few problems, if any, with crime or pollution.
There are a large number of invertebrate species that you will find on and around the island. Many of these are protected because the species is threatened. You will also find some rather unusual forms of birds, including the King Fisher, Osprey, and Great hornbill.
Getting Around the Islands
One of the great things about all the islands is that there are very well constructed paths everywhere you would need to get to. On some islands there are bus systems and roads, but these are not readily used, because they are just not necessarily. For those who are having a little more difficulty getting around, you may find these a great convenience to get from one point to another, and they are very inexpensive to employ their services.
For those who are up to, you can easily walk to any place on the islands in less than an hour, or you can rent a bicycle to help get you around. The paths are well built, so no worries about rain washing them out and leaving a big gap where you can get hurt. You can get around to any place you are seeking to find or, if you so desire, you can simply take a bike ride. The courses are made to be fast and fun and you will enjoy the view while you are cruising along.
On the part of the park that is connected to the mainland you will find a great many things to do. Not only are there great shops and businesses for you to find clothes, souvenirs, and other things you may want to take home with you, but you will have a great day in the bars, clubs, and restaurants along the beach, or just enjoy a beautiful day on the beach itself.
This was once a thriving getaway place for the elite of Cambodia, who recognized that it was a spectacular and rejuvenating place to visit. The occupation of the Khmer Rouge ended that, but with them gone, it is thriving again. Developers have added several beautiful, yet unobtrusive hotels along the beach that provide first class accommodations for less than $25 a night. That is a price you will not beat anywhere.
At night the beach area comes alive with a great many events meant to entertain and fascinate you. You will not only find great clubs and bars to go to where you can dance or listen to music while sipping your favorite drink, but you will also find great gathering places to meet people from all over the world, or mingle with the local people of the area. It is a wonderful and safe place to visit that you will truly enjoy and find yourself wishing you had never left.
The Main Attraction
While mentioned several times in this article, the reality is that the main attraction of Ream National Park is nature itself. You will find few places on earth where the sun looks more beautiful, and the variety of exotic wildlife makes this an absolutely amazing place to visit. You will see many animals, plants, and insects that you cannot find anywhere else, and you will get to experience it all in their natural habitats. No visiting an animal at the zoo here, you will get to see these animals in person. Some you may not want to get too close to. The water buffalos, for example, may be fun to look at, but they can be quite angry when they want to be.
This is the tropical vacation of a lifetime, and the best part about it is that you can enjoy it without the commotion and congestion you would find in many other locations. You will truly love it here and will want to keep coming back.
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