People have different ways of escaping the misery of living in a hot, noisy and polluted city. Many simply want a retreat with fresh air and natural landscape. Others prefer areas filled with water, where they can cool their bodies and souls down. Meanwhile, some Indiana Jones wannabes try to spice up their mundane lives with thrills and adventure. But, why bother choosing one activity when you can do all of them in one place? Taing Rinith recommends River Park, a resort in the province of Kampot that satisfies both chill seekers and excited adventurers.
To reach the River Park Resort (also known as Dong Prek Park), you first have to travel to the north of Kampot town, along the Kampot River, for about nine kilometers, and then turn right when you reach a pagoda known as Snam Brampi.
After going straight for about a few minutes, you will be struck by the gorgeous sight of the mountains and freshwater swamp forest. You will also feel the freshness in the air and cool breeze no matter how hot the day is. And as you get nearer, you will pass by a number of durian plantations owned by the locals; there you can buy the iconic “King of Fruits” of the country’s coastal region.
When you see the zip-line, consisting of a pulley on a 210-meter cable, set up 25 meters above the river, it means that you’ve finally reached your destination – the popular manmade River Park Resort.
On the east side of the river, visitors are climbing to a platform on a huge tree attached to the pulley on the zip-line. As one of them jumps from the platform, letting their whole body fly across the river, for the next 26 seconds you are likely to hear a loud scream, which could be a mix of joy and fear until he or she reaches the other side where he or she takes a boat back. With a ticket that costs $7.50, you will also be able to experience the same thrill.
While the zip-line has been the main attraction of the resort since its opening in March 2016, River Park has been famous overall for its offers of the exciting, adventure-packed experience desired by Indiana-Jones wannabes, starting with an exciting walk up the spiralling bamboo stairway.
Apart from common outdoor activities on the river, such as swimming, kayaking and many other water games, River Park is the first and currently the only place to feature bungee jumping, in which the thrill comes from free-falling and rebound.
Alexis Lapp, a businessman from Lyon and an adventurous traveller, came to Cambodia about three years ago with an aim to create an adventure park. When he saw the location, which would become his River Park, while kayaking in the river, he realised almost immediately that it was the ideal site for his dream park.
“The river, the mountains, the forest; everything here is beautiful,” he says. “It is a place where any adventurer would want to come while it also gives a great feeling of relaxation.”
It was not long before Alexis was negotiating with the landlords, and after an agreement was reached, he started setting up the park himself with equipment from Europe and conducting safety check every morning to ensure that every single step was smooth and secure.
After six months, the park was opened to the public and soon received local and international publicity through media outlets and social media sharing by the visitors who wanted to tell the world about their adventures at the park. According to the owner, about 80 percent of the visitors in the past two years were the local thrill-seekers while the other 20 percent were expats and foreign tourists.
The weight limit and minimum height for the zip-line are 110 kg and 120 cm. Since the activities at the River Park require climbing and balancing, they are advised for people in good physical condition.
Those who have bad heart conditions, acrophobia (the fear of heights), or do not really prefer excitement can simply relax in small shacks on stilt above the water, sipping the drinks and enjoying the local Khmer or seafood cuisine prepared by one of the restaurants at the park.
The most popular dishes at the River Park include the grill squids, flavoured with savoury gravy and stir-fried blue crab with Kampot pepper, both costing around $10, but the local dishes such as Samlor Mchou Trey (Sour Fish Soup) with steamed white rice is an equally good option. For dessert, you should try the iconic durians from the local plantation, priced at around $6 per kilogram. Yet, if you do not like their smell, the best alternative is tropical rambutan, also grown by the villagers. Meanwhile, the shacks are free on a normal weekday but have to be rented over the weekend or on public holidays at around $10 each for an entire day.
“I am very happy to give the local people a place where they can come for exciting adventures while I myself have a place to enjoy at the weekends,” says Alexis, adding that he plans to set up a returning zip-line and came up with more water trials on the river.
River Park is open 24/7. Check the resort’s Facebook Page for information and update.