Jump to content

Sailing from Thailand to Cambodia


Recommended Posts

Thanks guy for great info and tips much appreciated

Sent from my GT-I9100 using Thaivisa Connect Thailand mobile app

Darwin - Ambon race was/is a great experience. A crazy party both in Darwin and Ambon. It also had the advantage when I sailed it a looong time ago of allowing you to sail Indonesian waters for 3 months. The Indonesians were a bit prickly about cruising back then but things probably have changed. Not if you are an Aussie though. They might think you are a refugee boat pushed back by Prime Minister Tony Abbott. A very sore point with the Indonesians at the moment. Sailing through Indonesia's myriad of islands is an experience I am glad I did not miss.

Link to post
Share on other sites


This is an article I have published in Sail Thailand a few years ago;

After having spent some time around the wonderful Thai islands of Ko Chang, Ko Mak and Ko Kut, you may be tempted to continue South to Cambodia. This country, which has suffered nearly three decades of invasions and the tragedy of the Khmer Rouge regime, is not yet ready to accommodate sailing yachts. But if you are somewhat adventurous and do not fear the occasional visit of some military whose pay is long overdue, you will be rewarded by a totally unspoiled cruising ground and will meet shy but friendly Cambodians. A 250 M sail from Pattaya to Sihanoukville, the only significant harbour of the country, can also be useful for a visa run or the renewal of the actual six months importation permit for your boat in Thailand.

Proper documentation is an absolute must to undertake a cruise to Cambodia by sail or powerboat. Failure to do so could lead to imprisonment and impounding of the boat. But if you strictly abide by the following rules, you should have no problem:

  1. Obtain a permit to sail to Sihanoukville (also known as Kompong Som or Kampong Saom) from the state-owned Kampuchea Shipping and Brokers (Kamsab) by e-mail à Mr. Yin Rin, Chief Boarding Agent, e-mail [email protected] or by fax at +855 34 933690. Your request should include your crew's and boat's particulars and an approximate date of arrival. Have this permit mailed to you.
  1. Once you have received the permit, and only then, apply for a visa at the Royal Embassy of Cambodia in Bangkok, 185 Rajdamri Rd., Lumpini, Patumwan, Bangkok 10330, phone 02 254 6630, and attach the permit to call at Sihanoukville Port (no visa will be issued to crew of a pleasure craft without the permit). The tourist visa costs US$ 20.00 per person. Make sure you have an international vaccination booklet available for your entry in Cambodia as a "fine" will be levied if you forget it.
  1. You will need following Admiralty charts:

3967 Baie de Ream to Ko Kut 1:240'000

2103 Kampong Saom and approaches (Sihanoukville) 1:18'000

3984 Hlaem Mae Ramphung to Ko Kut 1:500'000

3985 Ko Kut to Hon Khoai 1:500'000

You can order them by e-mail from Motion Smith in Singapore at [email protected] at the price of SGD 44.00 each + SGD 40.00 for a FedEx shipment to Thailand.

  1. Obviously, the trip from the upper part of the Gulf of Thailand to Cambodia should be undertaken during the northeast season. About a week before departing Thailand, inform Kampuchea Shipping and Brokers (Kamsab) by e-mail about your probable departure date and ETA in Sihanoukville. Kamsab needs enough time to inform the various posts of the Cambodian Maritime Police in time to avoid any problems with them if intercepted at sea.
  1. Do not sail close to land when entering Cambodian waters from Thailand and give a wide berth to the Koh Kong area (stay at least twenty miles away from the coast), as the authorities there have a somewhat different view about pleasure yachts. Enter directly in the Sihanoukville bay, using the channel between the islands of Kaoh Rung and Kaoh Rung Samloen. Contact Kamsab on VHF 16 to inform about arrival and confirm the docking at the "Outer Quay near the containers" (see chart). Kamsab will arrange for the "Committee" (about 8 or 9 officers representing each a particular branch, such as Immigration, Customs, Quarantine, etc.) to visit your boat. A ton of paper has to be filled out, but this is done in a friendly and hassle-free way. Serve coffee and soft drinks to the "Committee".
  1. Do not leave your boat unattended at the Outer Quay and secure everything (jerrycans, bathing ladder, etc.) that you cannot stow below decks. Close your boat from inside at night. Water can be found nearby and 220 V can be "borrowed" also. Immediately outside the port, you can hire a motorbike taxi to go to the well-stocked fresh market in town. "Imported" French wine and cigarettes can be bought at very reasonable prices in town. Have enough one dollar bills with you and change to a pile of Cambodian Riels at the entrance of the market. One of the two banks will provide credit card cash advances in US dollars only. Expect a higher than usual commission.

The only good route of the country links Sihanoukville to the capital, Phnom Penh, which can be reached by a four hours bus ride. For security reasons, busses run only during daytime. From Phnom Penh, it is worth going to Siem Reap and the wonderful Angkor temples. Again, do not leave your boat unattended if undertaking such a trip.

  1. You may wish to sail to the outer islands of Kas Prins, Kaôh Tang or Kaôh Wai, just at the disputed limit with the Vietnamese waters. Before leaving the Outer Quay, inform the Harbour Master in writing about your intentions. If some military want to board your yacht, refuse politely but firmly and promise a pack of cigarettes or a soft drink if they leave you alone.
  1. At the end of your stay, make an appointment with Kamsab for the clearance out procedure. As the Cambodian law does not have any provisions for pleasure craft, those are considered like merchant vessels and subject to very high fees. We have convinced the local authorities that visiting yachts should be treated differently and have reached an agreement to pay US$ 50.00 to the Harbour Master for whatever duration of stay (inclusive "borrowed" electricity) and US$ 50.00 for the assistance provided by Kamsab. One stick of foreign cigarettes given to the Committee for distribution among its members will keep them happy.

Remember that the impression given by foreign yachts will be determining for the future treatment given to them. As everywhere, please accept and respect the particularities of this country and its authorities and citizen.

--- end of article ---

I would like to add to this article that my wife and I have been hijacked by military men a few miles off Koh Kong who forcefully boarded our yacht with their guns and big shoes. Threatening us with their armament (e.g. machine gun), they forced us to sail into Kaspor River where I had to anchor in the middle of the river. Two military men stayed on board with my wife and I was brought to shore with a boat they had summoned. Interrogation and detention lasted 24 hours. Finally, as I had "bluffed" saying that I personally knew the Minister of Tourism of Cambodia and that I had sent a message to him just before being boarded, the guys became nervous and asked me to sign a declaration that the military men did not steal anything from the boat and did not rape my wife (sic!). After that, they brought me back on my sailboat and we could leave for Sihanoukville.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...