How to start your trip to Trat from Bangkok
Take the air-conditioned public bus at the Eastern Bus Terminal, locally called "Ekamai", to Trat. It takes about 4.5 – 5 hours drive with the stopovers at Chonburi, Pattaya and Chantaburi. The bus fare is around 150 Baht one-way.
The Thai border at Trat will close at 05:00 p.m., so your early journey is recommended. The first bus starts at 06:00 a.m. and the next leave every two hours.
Upon arrival at the Trat Bus Station, continue with minibus or van to the border of Hat Lek, passing through the town of Klong Yai where the van will load and upload some passengers here for a short while so just wait for it to go on. This leg takes about 1 hour ride and the fare to the border is approximately 100 Baht.
At Hat Lek border, you can exit Thailand easily through the Thai Immigration post at a walking distance where the van stop; then it comes the Cambodian Immigration Post which is nearby.
Entry into Cambodia at Hat Lek – Koh Kong Border
Cambodia visa application is easily done as though you arrive at the Phnompenh / Siemreap Airport or at Poipet Border. Fill in a visa form with 1 Passport-size photo and US$ 20 (1,000 Baht) cash for visa fee. Of course, you need to show your Passport. Be prepare if the Cambodian Immigration officials ask you for the health certificate as warned in our article on Poipot Border Crossing.
From the immigration, you have to find your way down a small rugged road to the river. Nothing to worry as there are old taxi or motorcycle taxi waiting to ride you there. It takes around 10 minutes for 50 Baht per head.
At the river, take river-boat taxi to Koh Kong with another 20-40 Baht – you may need to bargain with the boat owner if you feel like to. At Koh Kong, you may continue with speed/bullet boat to Sihanouville or Sre Ambel, provided there is any boat remained running on that day. If not, you have to find an accommodation on this Island. The most famous one is the "Koh Kong International Resort Club" which is the resort casino, and the cheapest room rates start at 500 Baht up.
The regular Speed Boat to Sihanoukville from Koh Kong starts at 08:00 a.m. and the trip takes 3.5 – 4 hours ride at 600 Baht. The boat runs into the open sea with scenic coastal beauty.
There is a newly-operated speed boat departing Koh Kong at 07:30 a.m. to Sre Ambel. The cost is 300 Baht per person and takes about 2-3 hours ride. This boat is rather small and non-A/C, so it is not suitable during Monsoon as the wave is high. The bigger one, but older and slower, leaves Koh Kong at 11:00 a.m.
Sre Ambel is nearer to Phnompenh as compared to Sihanoukville, but nothing interesting in this town. On the contrary, Sihanoukville, called Kompong Som by the local, is a resort beach in South Cambodia. You can overnight in this town or take your onward journey to Phnompenh by cabs or bus with about 4-5 hours drive.
General Tips and Advice:
1) The boats may make some stops on its way at Koh Sadat or Koh Bah-Klong where the local passengers get on and off. Your Passport and Cambodian Visa will be re-checked.
2) Foreign Travelers returning to Thailand through Koh Kong Border will be given another 30-days Thai Visa. This is contrary to its counter at Poipet Border.
3) Safety? – Generally traveling on this route is safe, but you should consider two possible dangers here. First is the Monsoon Season where the wave can be high – check the weather forecast before travel. Second is the possibility of meeting the sea pirates from Cambodia and Vietnam