Cardamons:Osoam and Smugglers Trail

Discussion in 'Cambodia Road Trip Reports' started by bill, Mar 17, 2010.

  1. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Gary, Ian and myself recently completed a 3 day/2 night Cardamon trip on DRZ400's.

    Day One 11-03-2010
    Sihanoukville to Osoam


    Casual morning ride on blacktop to Koh Kong via Srae Ambel. Lunch at a riverside restaurant in KK then 3 hour ride to Osoam. Leaving for Osoam at 2pm was a good move as we were riding in the shade for a large part of the trip. River crossings were only a few inches deep. Track conditions were dry and easy on a dirtbike.
    Hardly any traffic with military guys posted along the track, usually near river crossings. According to a local NGO, around 120 cubic meter per day of illegally cut wood is being trucked out at night. Presumably the military are controlling this.
    Fortunately they're not interested in crazy barangs on dirtbikes.


    I'm wondering if this wooden bridge was the one in the youtube vid from Bards group ?
    Btw, the bridge is not required this time of year.


    Overnight in GH at Osoam. $5 per room with good mattresses and Mozzy nets. Spicy beef seems to be the specialty. Surprisingly cool at night, hence we didn't depart until 9am whilst waiting for it to warm up.


    Day 2 12-03-2010
    Osoam back to KK via Waterfall


    Impressive 60meter ? waterfall near Hydro project but reduced to a trickle this time of year.
    For scale, Gary is faintly visible in both pics



    Day 3 13-03-2010
    Koh Kong to Srae Ambel-Sihanoukville via old Smugglers Trail


    The trail turns off route 48 a few K's after the first bridge coming from KK. Its a good laterite road up to Ruessei Chrum.
    Where the track heads South after Ruessei Chrum, there is an approx 40km section of single track and steep rocky decents. Its best to approach this heading Sth as the steep rocky sections are quite difficult to ascend coming from the opposite direction. There are also several rickety wooden bridges along the way where the locals ask for 2000 riel ($0.50) per bike for bridge maintenance.

    Ian on smugglers trail

    There is one ferry crossing, they asked 5000 riel ($1.25) per bike but accepted $1.

    Gary crossing river

    It took 6 hrs from Koh Kong to Tcepat and we were all pretty satisfied after that.
    Best time for this track would be late Jan early Feb when its not too hot and the river crossings are low. I normally go solo on my offroad trips but wouldn't do the smugglers track alone.

    I have garmin gps tracks if anyone needs them or just wait for Auke to update the Cambodia gps map.
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    1. bill

  3. mikehohman

    mikehohman Ol'Timer

    Bill, thanks for the report! Looks like a nice trip, i enjoyed, the pix especially!
  4. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    Bill - Thanks heaps the report!

    Yes the small wooden bridge in your pick south of Osom is the bridge we did on Bards trip. You're looking across it from the Koh Kong side I believe. Amazing to see how low the water level is now. When we did it in late November the water was right at the bridge. A 4 wheel drive Kamaz truck went through the crossing and those trucks are 10 feet tall, the water was lapping into the back of the tailgate of the truck.

    I love the pics of your buddy with thongs on his cruiser riding to Osom, great stuff.

    What was the track to the waterfall like? Gorgeous find coming across that on the ride. On the Smugglers route track about how many KM's were offroad?
  5. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Thx Mike

    Yep, looking at the bridge from KK side, and yes, one meter+ of strongly flowing water that you encountered would be a lot more intimidating than the current 10cm.

    Credit goes to Zeman and Mike from Cambodian Expeditions who found the waterfall a week previous to my trip. Saved us a few hours of looking.

    The track to the waterfall is easy. Lots of new graded and rolled roads due to the hydro project.
    However it would get nice and slippery in the wet.

    The offroad/single track section of the smugglers trail would be roughly 40km's where it runs Nth from Thma Bang (refer gps map from Auke). The rest is combo of good laterite roads and tracks wide enough for one vehicle. Its a very good workout, especially the steep rocky ascents/descents.
    A few experienced offroaders in a previous trip came off on the rocky sections and Ian and me both had minor spills in some other sections.
    Its a really pretty track going through some nice forest. Not as majestic as the KK to Osoam route but more remote feeling due to lack of logging and dam project activity.
  6. Gromily

    Gromily Member

    Hey Bill,

    great report, thanks for making the effort. I'm planning a trip with a mate between April 10th - 14th from: Sihanoukville to Koh Kong, O Som, Pursat, Phnom Penh and back to S'Ville.

    Can I ask firstly about the road condition from KK to Osoam. You say you did it in 3 hrs, so I expect it must be pretty good road. Is it graded dirt or paved? From Alrikki's trip report of Jan 09 it looks mental, so I guess it must be in pretty good condition now to do it in 3 hours, not in 3 days! (Is it the same road, or have I got mixed up? The map I have shows only 1 road from KK to Osoam.)

    Secondly, do you know anywhere reputable to hire bikes in S'Ville? I'm not much of a mechanic and the idea of breaking down in the Jungle isn't so appealing to me.

    Cheers, G
  7. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Hi Gromily
    The road from Koh Kong to Osoam has been upgraded since Alrikkis trip.
    Its a dirt road and easy on a dirt bike.

    You can rent XR250's in Sihanoukville but they're all fairly old. Phnom Penh might have a better range but I'm not really in the know about that.
    Perhaps try a search as I think it may have been discussed before.
  8. Gromily

    Gromily Member

    Thanks Bill, good to know the roads a bit easier now. I'm looking forward to the trip...although, the old road was probably way more fun when it was in a crap condition.
  9. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Nice one Bill, thanks for the contribution.
  10. bard

    bard Ol'Timer

    That's a widened version of the bridge we crossed, very nice ride report Bill looked like a good tour.
  11. swamp

    swamp New Member

    nice pictures bill. looks like a great fun time.
    i sent you a message with my e-mail address.
    could you please send me the GPS data for your ride ?

  12. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Hi Swamp

    Your welcome to the gps data but I didn't receive your message

    Could you try sending it again
  13. bvt617

    bvt617 Member

    Hello all. Planning a return to Cambodia this June for a solo journey. Will probably hire an XR250 in PP and do a leisurely trip around to Kep and SV. Can anyone describe the road conditions north to KK and whether there is much to see and do in KK or along the way? Will not venture north to Osoam as I am only planning on staying a short time in Cambodia, so not sure what there is to see around the South West. I'll have my Australian licence and an International Drivers permit. Forum comments suggest some hassles with police in SV on occasion. Is that still happenning too? Will having a rented bike from PP be a big deal there in SV?
  14. N.DeGuerre

    N.DeGuerre New Member

    Hi. When you say "road conditions north to KK" do you mean the road from Sihanoukville via Sre Ambel to Koh Kong? It is in very nice condition by Cambodian standards... A Little busy until you leave National rd.4 by Sre Ambel and go left towards Koh Kong, but from there on it's very quiet. Nice scenery, but not much to do. Depending on what time of day you are driving, it can be very quiet. In Koh Kong you have the Koh Kong Safari World, the mangrove forest, etc. What kind of activities are you interested in?

    Regarding the police hassle in Sihanoukville... I have been based in Cambodia the last 4 years or so and have been in Sihanoukville 6 or 7 times I think, and I have never been stopped or had any problems with police there. SURE, there are a couple of spots where the police usually hang out (1 by the beach on a one way street, and 1 just after the golden lions roundabout on the way to town) and I see them stop tourists going the wrong way down the one way street or past the golden lions roundabout not wearing a helmet all the time but if you pay attention it's very easy to see the police when they are there, and just as easy to avoid them. They're usually not around after 15.00-16.00...

    There might be a couple of more regular places where they hang out down town, I don't know. Haven't seen any police down town, and have never been stopped there either.

    If having a rented bike from PP will be a big deal or not, I don't know. Sorry. I drive my own bike (a 125 cc :p ) and have never been stopped in all my time in Cambodia. Maybe you big bike fellows are more at risk of being stopped? :D
  15. Gregor

    Gregor New Member

    Bill, I am a first time poster on this forum. I would very much like the GPS tracks and waypoints for this trip. I am planning a ride with a small group in the next week or so. We would like to pass Southward through the Cardamum mountains to Koh Kong. I would appreciate any routing advice or GPS tracks from the group.

    big thanks,

  16. taj

    taj New Member

    Hi Bill,

    The trip looks great! I live in Cambodia and am keen to ride new routes...I would really appreciate the GPS tracks you recorded, be a lot of help!

    If you still have them could you please send to

    Thanks a millions

  17. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Hi Taj

    GPX tracks you requested posted at following link

    Please note I recorded these tracks in March 2010 so things could have changed since then. I've got no idea on the track conditions now.
  18. taj

    taj New Member

    Thanks Bill - much appreciated!!
  19. ntb

    ntb Ol'Timer

    Very cool ride. Thanks for the report. I have 4 questions.
    Can Smugglers route be done with out a gps? Is track easy enough to follow? Why would you not do this route solo? You find descents easier than ascents? The last I only ask because I find ascents much easier than descents (when in doubt give it throttle,lol) .
  20. harrythefinn

    harrythefinn Ol'Timer

    Certainly can be done without a GPS. Just follow the old fibre optic cable along the same route. Solo , if the bridges are down it is difficult to get your bike across the deep crossings / ravines by yourself., also any injury or breakdown stopping you from riding out may mean a looooong wait for any assistance as this road is not travelled very often, mobile telephone is not guaranteed , sat phone is OK obviously. Going either North / South or vice versa will have about equal ascents and descents , the steps (Lara Croft on many GPS tracks) I think are easier South / North.
  21. ntb

    ntb Ol'Timer

    Thanks harrythefin.Most of my rides are solo. I am kind of a lose cannon on my own. My best rides. I will for sure do this ride. And I will take caution.
    As we all know chrome don't get you
  22. harrythefinn

    harrythefinn Ol'Timer

    Look in your PMs.
  23. phuketrichard

    phuketrichard Ol'Timer

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