Next to some spectacular beaches and even more stunning islands, Sihanoukville also offers an amazing national park: Ream National Park. Many hostels, shops and hotels offer day-trips to the national park for about 25 USD per person and it includes most of the spectacular sights of the park. Tours have the advantage that they arrange everything for you. The main disadvantage is that exploring a national park with many other tourists is perhaps not the ideal way to fully experience it. You often have only limited time at certain places, which sucks if you really like the spot. And worst case scenario, a funny guy has joined the tour and can’t stop sharing his jokes with you the entire time. Not exactly the way how we wanted to experience the national park.
Therefore, we decided to visit the park on our own, and it turned out to be an excellent choice: it was less expensive (for less than 20 USD for two persons) and we were able to choose how much time we would spend on different spots. In this post, we like to share our tips for an independent visit to Ream national park with you and give an overview of the spots we really enjoyed.
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How to get to the park?
First of all, you have to arrange a way of getting there. To visit the park on your own, the only way is by renting a motorbike. That will be quite easy, as many shops in Sihanoukville and surroundings are offering this. Expect to pay around 6 USD for a full day.
Budget tip: Try to choose for a manual bike. They are often cheaper to rent, use less gasoline, and more importantly, they have more power. That way, you won’t have any problems to conquer a hill on your way to the park.
Once you have arranged your motorbike, fill it with gasoline. Ream national park is huge, so you want to avoid ending up lost and out of gaz. You will pay around 3200 riel for one liter. Try to go to a normal gaz station, as prices there are cheaper. Locals will try to sell you gasoline for 1 USD as this is easier to pay and earns them some easy cash.
Insider tip: Although it is a popular spot in Sihanoukville, try to avoid the Golden Lions roundabout when riding with a motorbike. At the corner of the roundabout and the way to Otres, you have crooked cops. They are mainly looking for a helpless pray: the tourist. Their strategy is simple: spot a tourist on a motorbike, let them stop and fine them with whatever they can fine them. Our tip, stay calm and follow these simple rules. At least, always wear your helmet and have your international driving license with you. If not, they will fine you. And even if you are wearing a helmet and carrying the correct papers with you, they probably find another reason you are not in order.
Best idea: avoid that part of the roundabout! And remember, you don’t smoke! This is the cops their last resort, asking for some cigarettes if you are unfinable.
The entrance of the Ream national park is easy to find, as it is next to the airport of Sihanoukville. Once you arrive at the airport, you will see signs to the headquarters of the park (situated along the airport). Use maps.me for navigation.
Insider tip: If you want to enjoy beautiful scenery along the way, we highly recommend the route we took. First drive from Sihanoukville to Otres beach. Keep driving along Otres until you will see a mini-mart on the left and turn left there. If you now continue to navigate with maps.me, you will see a route that will bring you to more rural parts of the region (encircling Sihanoukville). Along the way, you will encounter different birds, water buffalos, tiny villages and typical Cambodian landscapes. Keep in mind that this route is via different dirt roads, and some are in really bad conditions. You need to have some experience to conquer these roads.
On the map below, you can find two different routes:
- Route 1: From Sihanoukville to Monkey Maya
- Route 2: From headquarters to Sun and Moon resort
What to do in Ream national park?
First of all, we suggest you to visit the headquarters of the national park. When arriving from Sihanoukville at the airport, follow the road to the right (along the airport). After 200 meters, you will see the headquarters on your left. A park ranger will explain several guided options to you, like a trekking or a boat trip. Probably, these are a good way to explore the park, but when you are traveling on a budget, you might want to skip these ones. For a boat trip between mangroves you will pay at least 30 USD per person. Route 2 in this post will allow you to discover the mangroves a lot cheaper.
The park ranger will also explain to you that it is possible to visit the park with a motorbike, just by following the road next to the airport and will hand you over a map of the park. We suggest to start with this route (see below, route 1).
At the moment of writing, there was no entrance fee for the park, but you can donate a small amount of money to the park.
Route 1. From headquarters to Monkey Maya
When leaving the headquarters, drive to the left, along the airport of Sihanoukville. This route doesn’t start with the best views, as you in fact are just riding next instead of inside the park. However, when arriving at the sea side, the views get better: sea, palm trees, mangrove forest, desolated beaches, … The beach next to Monkey Maya (a guesthouse/ bar) is still untouched and makes a perfect spot to have a picnic. Bring your own food, get cold beers at the bar of Monkey Maya and enjoy the view!
Although the views are already perfect, you still did not enter the park, but were just riding next to the park. The second route will take you inside the park, allowing you to see the highlights without paying a lot of money.
Route 2 . From headquarters to Sun and Moon resort
When starting from the headquarters, head back to the right, to the main road. After a couple of hundred meters, there will be a road on the right that heads straight into the national park. It is called the Sun and Moon road. There is a good chance that the park ranger did not mention this road, as it allows you to see the highlights of the park without taking a guide.
Along the way, you will be amazed by the beautiful scenery, as you are driving in the middle of the national park. Don’t forget to look up once in a while, as you will probably spot some amazing birds as well. The road is a payable road. At a certain moment, you will need to pass a toll booth, where they will ask you to pay 2000 riel for using the road.
Along the road, there will be different road signs that indicate the highlights of the national park. We recommend to start with Lingam Peak scenic area (the farthest from the entrance), that is free to visit. Follow the road sign, until you will see the parking lot on the left. Keep on driving up the hill. On the left of the road, you will see a wooden staircase that disappears in the jungle. Park your motorbike here and follow the staircase. It will take you to a platform where you have a beautiful view over the sea. If you keep following the wooden road, it will take you back to the road, where you can pick up your bike again.
Another highlight is again indicated by different road signs (follow the signs to Prince island). After a while, you will see another toll booth where you have to pay $4 to see two amazing highlights of the park (wetlands and Prince island). The first highlight on your way is the walking plank into the wetlands. A wooden bridge will take you through some wetlands until you reach a platform that looks out on a mangrove forest (this is the place where the 30 dollar boat trip will take you as well, by the way). If you are walking quietly on the wooden bridge, you might be able to spot some wildlife.
End your trip with a visit to Prince island (in Google maps it is called ‘Thinker island’). Just keep following the road after your visit to the wetlands. You will reach a wooden bridge that crosses the ocean to Prince island. The island is stunning, especially during the sunset. Walk around the island, enjoy the mighty rocks and the little crabs while the sun is setting.
Afterwards, head back to Sihanoukville before it gets to dark. But don’t forget to look around you. The red roads of the national park get an even warmer color during the sunset and the palm trees against the orange sky make a memorable view!
Enjoy Ream national park!
Comments or questions about a visit to Ream national park? Don’t hesitate to contact us via the comment box below and we will gladly help you!