We read about the Chi Phat village and the eco tourism program it runs in on of the Asia magazines that I read in a Café in Siem Reap. Immediately, we wanted to go and squeezed it in into our itinerary. Chi Phat is a destination off the beaten track and it was definitely an adventure!
How to get there
Luckily, Chi Phat has a good website that provides all the necessary information and lets you book your stay in advance.
Still, getting there was a bit of an adventure. We took a bus from Phnom Phen to Koh Kong and told the bus driver to stop in Andoung Teuk. To be sure, we got someone to write the name in Khmer for us and showed it to the bus driver. The bus costed us 12$ p.p.
Once we got off the bus, we knew we had to look for the restaurant with blue pillars which was easy enough to find - since there were only two restaurants. At the restaurant we arranged to be picked up by boat. The boat costed us around 10$ p.p. and took about two hours. The boat ride was beautiful and we enjoyed the lush scenery, being excited about where the boat would take us.
Where to stay
Once we got to the village, we went to the visitor center and booked a homestay for 5$ p.p. We also decided to have dinner at the homestay for 3$ rather than at the communal restaurant.
Our host was very friendly and it was a very authentic experience. We showered using buckets and slept in the same room as the whole family only divided by a thin timberwall. The next night, however we decided to stay in a guesthouse and enjoy a bit more comfort and privacy.
What to do
Since we only stayed two nights in Chi Phat, we had one full day, so we decided to go mountain biking. It was us, the guide and a really nice English couple. The temperatures were high and the mountain biking was definitely exhausting, dusty and difficult at times. But riding through the lush green of the jungle, stopping to listen to the sound of Gibbons and birds, was worth all the sweat and dust. At lunch time we stopped at a nice swimming hole and got the chance to cool off and relax.
On the way back our guide picked us some bananas and showed us a place where they found ancient burial jars.
We absolutely enjoyed our stay in Chi Phat and despite it being a very authentic experience the village still provides a few comforts. The visitor centre arranges and organises everything you need and the staff is super friendly and helpful. You can book your ongoing bus from there and they even serve a nice cocktail in the evening. What surprised us the most, was that the visitor centre provided Wifi - who would expect that after taking a boat up the river for two hours into the jungle.
If you like adventure and nature we recommend you make some time for Chi Phat in your itinerary. The eco tourism project plays an important part in protecting Cambodia's wildlife and securing a sustainable income for the people in the village.