These notes have been kindly supplied by Jean-Claude Racine, an experienced cruising yachtsman who spent some interesting time exploring this yachting frontier. We include them as a guide to other yachts contemplating the trip, but of course skippers should make enquiries with the Cambodian Embassy to verify the latest regulations.
If and when opportunities open up in Cambodia, the authors will research possibilities for more extensive cruising on this coast and include in future editions.
After having spent some time around the Thai islands of Koh Chang, Koh Mak and Koh Kut, you may be tempted to continue south to Cambodia.
This country, which suffered nearly 30 years of invasions plus the tragedy of the Khmer Rouge regime, is not yet ready to accommodate yachts. But if you are adventurous and do not fear the occasional visit of military types whose pay is long overdue, you will be rewarded by a totally unspoiled cruising ground and will meet shy but friendly Cambodians.
A 250-mile sail from Pattaya to Sihanoukville, the only significant harbour of the country, the voyage can also be useful for a visa run or boat permit renewal.
Proper documentation is a must for a cruise to Cambodia by sail or power boat. Failure to do so could lead to imprisonment and impounding of the boat. But strictly abide by the rules and you should have no problems.
Below is a brief summary of the rules, tips and procedural points provided by Jean-Claude Racine, Yacht Na-Maka-o-Kaha’i, email: jcracineattglobai.net.
For more details, click here.
Obtain a permit
Obtain a permit to sail to Sihanoukville (also known as Kompong Som or Kampong Saom) from the state-owned Kampuchea Shipping and Brokers (Kamsab).
Apply for a visa
Once you have received the permit, and only then, apply for a visa at the Royal Embassy of Cambodia in Bangkok. Attach the permit to call at Sihanoukville Port (no visa will be issued to crew of a pleasure craft without the permit). Make sure you have an international vaccination booklet.
You will need following Admiralty charts:
• 3967 Baie de Ream to Ko Kut 1:240’000
• 2103 Kampong Saom and approaches 1:18’000
• 3984 Hlaem Mae Ramphung to Ko Kut 1:500’000
• 3985 Ko Kut to Hon Khoai 1:500’000
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) probable departure date and ETA in Sihanoukville.
Sailing close to land
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 20 miles away from the coast), as the authorities there have a somewhat different view about pleasure yachts.
Do not leave your boat unattended at the Outer Quay and secure everything (jerry cans, bathing ladder etc.) that you cannot stow below decks. Close your boat from inside at night.
Water can be found nearby and 220V can be ‘borrowed’. Immediately outside the port, you can hire a motorbike taxi to go to the well-stocked fresh market in town. 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 in the country links Sihanoukville to the capital, Phnom Penh, which can be reached by a 4-hour bus ride. For security reasons, buses run only during daytime.
The outer islands
You may wish to sail to the outer islands of Kas Prins, Kaôh Tang or Kaôh Wai, just at the disputed limit with the
At the end of your stay, make an appointment with Kamsab for the clearance out procedure. Cambodian law does not have any provisions for pleasure craft, which are considered as merchant vessels and subject to very high fees. We have convinced the local authorities that visiting yachts should be treated differently.
Leave a good impression
Remember that the impression given by foreign yachts will determine future treatment. As everywhere, accept and respect the particularities of this country, its authorities and citizens.
While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this book is accurate, the charts of anchorages are based on personal experience and satellite imagery and are intended as a guide only. They should not be used for navigation. Please refer to Official Hydrographic Charts of the respective countries.
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