Chi Phat Community-Based Ecotourism

Chi Phat Community-Based Ecotourism

Chi Phat Community-Based Ecotourism
4
Cultural Tours • Historical & Heritage Tours • Hiking Trails • Nature & Wildlife Tours • Kayaking & Canoeing
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Monday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

4.0
67 reviews
Excellent
30
Very good
16
Average
6
Poor
8
Terrible
7

William
Malmö, Sweden2 contributions
Feb 2020
My girlfriend and I spent 3 days and 2 nights on a trek in the jungle with Lee Heng and a chef, both employed by the wildlife alliance eco tourism center in Chi Pat. This experience learned us (two researchers in conservation biology) things about the rainforest and conservation that no book could ever convey. Furthermore, we saw gibbons, long tailed macaques, large and small lizards, a brown viper, elephant traces, beautiful butterflies and birds (including 3 hornbill species) and much more.

Lee Heng was the best guide we could have asked for. We talked about everything from Pol Pot to French cheese. During most of the tour however, we flooded him with questions about his time as a poacher (80% of the people used to be poachers, now thanks to new income possibilities from eco tourism less than 5% poach), his and his family's life, the animals and plants in the forest, Cambodian traditions, and much more. Important to note, Lee Heng told us that neither he nor anyone he knows want to poach. They are very happy that the families can now make income from eco tourism instead, e.g. guiding, cooking, housing, etc.

Beyond seeing wildlife and having interesting conversations with Lee Heng, we got to experience Cambodian country side (in Chi Pat), contribute to making conservation a viable business that can compete with poaching rare animals for foreign markets and be embraced by a feeling of being deep in the rainforest (sleeping in hammocks with mosquito nets enhanced that feeling!).

You see plastic and other waste sporadically along the forest paths. I mentioned this to the manager in Chi Pat. Maybe if others mention this too they might do something about it. Don't let this disturb your experience though. I'm sure they will find a solution eventually, maybe encourage tourist to pick up a couple of items each or pay a guide to do a waste picking round every now and then.

All in all, one of the best nature experiences in my life!
Written March 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

OpReisMetSaar
Seminyak, Indonesia1 contribution
Jan 2020 • Solo
I did a 2 day trek at Chi Phat with 1 night in the forest and the experience was amazing! Seeing more of the authentic Cambodian life and experiencing the true friendliness of the people was amazing. I loved the boat trip at the beginning of the tour (I did tour #27). Also cooking on real fire in the forest was an awesome experience, as well as sleeping in a hammock (luckily with mosquito net!).
Only one disclaimer: the prices on Chi Phat’s website are way lower than the actual prices at the eco-center. Online it said tour #29 (3 days, 2 nights) would be $170 solo, however, it turned out to be $221 solo instead. Therefore, I chose to do another tour since, as a student, my budget is small. I had an amazing experience and did the tour with three others (for 3+ people, the tours are cheaper than solo or duo pax), so I absolutely loved it, but I did have to choose another tour than I initially wanted due to the high price.
Written January 19, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Charles m
1 contribution
Feb 2020 • Solo
Perhaps the best thing I did in Cambodia.
An authentic taste of Cambodian village life. Beautiful surroundings. I did the hike, the guide and cook were absolutely fantastic and spoke good English. Good trek through the jungle with great flora and fauna.

Couldn’t recommend this enough!
Written February 21, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jakob S
5 contributions
Jan 2017 • Couples
The idea of community based ecotourism (CBET) in Cambodia sounded great, and we decided to spend a couple of nights in Chi Phat. There is a community with a visitor center organizing tours and accommodation. In theory, visitors get in touch with the local community while the locals and the environment benefit from the influx of tourists. So far so good.
In reality, it was impossible to book anything in advance through their website. After much back and forth, we got in touch with a helpful person through the Facebook page and FB Messenger to arrange for a spot on the boat up the river from the bus stop. This worked out very well and we arrived in a group of other travelers. The boat ride is two hours, by the way. Upon arrival, a woman from the visitor center explained everything in the briefest possible way. The next steps were to select accommodation options and book activities in advance. Already it became clear that in Chi Phat, there are two systems working against each other: some people had advance bookings, made through sites such as Booking.com. Everyone else had a choice between a bungalow ($15 per night) or a homestay. Unfortunately, during previous communication, the visitor center had used the words homestay and guesthouse interchangeably. We had wanted to stay in a "guesthouse" but received a homestay instead, which means a room in a local family's house. We switched to a bungalow, but here the problems became apparent: most places where already booked through online bookings, so we had single nights in different places. Not ideal, but okay, it's Cambodia etc.
The tours and activities were another problem, as what we wanted to do was either unavailable or overpriced ($120 for seeing an animal refuge). As soon as we asked about information about doing things ourselves, no help was offered. There are kayaks and mountain bikes for rent, that was as much information as we received. The kayaks were in poor condition, but served us well enough to watch the sunset on the river (beautiful!). We did a hike ourselves with no map or info from the visitor center, thoroughly disappointed because there are no markers whatsoever. The hikes available were 19km, 26km and 28km or something, with the shortest not available. No info on conditions (sunshine? shade? hilly? elevation gain?). We had the feeling that the visitor center wrote us off quickly as we were not so interested in their tours.
We had dinner there the first night, a table of four vegetarians who upon previous request for meat-free food were served a curry with meat at the bottom. Lots of apologies were made for this and it turned out to be a problem of just two ladles available etc. and all was forgiven, but of course it added to the experience which became worse and worse. We ended up eating elsewhere, which only serves that particular place and not the community.
This is the bottom line: the visitor center wants to be the go-between for everything between the places there and the tourists coming in, however they are currently doing a very bad job at this. In turn, many tourists book through other means, and many of the locals turn to other means to fill their bungalows. This creates tension between them and the visitor center - and we felt the visitor center was taking this out on us (we booked transport through our host in the end, which created further tension).
Written January 7, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Klara R
Panama City, Panama11 contributions
Oct 2016 • Couples
We visited Chi Phat village due to personal recommendations and had high expectations. We hoped to be able to do a jungle trek there as well as staying at a home stay in the village. We hitchhiked to Andoung Tuek and from there it seemed completely overpriced to get the last 17km to the village. Everyone asked 30-35$ for a boat or 7$ per moto to the village - what! The 'public' boat was not departing this day so we went from house to house and finally arranged a boat on our own for 15$.
We arrived in the village and went to the community center to find out about the trekking possibilities. We were quit surprised to see that much trash in both the river and through the city.
Actually we found that the whole atmosphere in the village was a bit unwelcoming and unfriendly. So was the community center. Nobody seemed to have any special knowledge about the trekking possibilities, and they were not at all interested in listening to our request. They ended up saying that all of the things we wanted to do was not possible at the moment. Huh, such a disappointment !
They arranged a home stay for us, which was quite OK standard even though that there came rain through the roof 2nd night and the food was a little expensive compared to what we got and where we where. But OK, fair enough - goes directly to the family and thus a good purpose.
Next day we rented a double kayak and got an almost rotten, dirty kayak and got to clean it ourself and take it down to the river through a pile of trash. The river upstream was a good trip and we swam in front of the rapid, which was nice.
Second day we went back to the home stay around 3pm and the parents literally dropped their children off, and I think we played with them for about 3-4 hrs without the parents checking in. We thought the mother might have had a birth depressions since it seemed the almost hated her children. Overall the atmosphere in the house was stressing and actually not pleasant or funny at all. We felt like a private ATM. The father and one of his friends wanted to sell their service and take us on a guided trip, since the community said it wasn't possible. They seemed to mock the community, and told us they could do it for us privately for almost same amount. We declined off course. Non of the business going on in Chi Phat seems authentic or legit at all, and it doesn't seem as Rainforest Alliance have visited for a loooong time. Go to Koh Kong city or somewhere else, and spend your hard earned money elsewhere- not worth it at all!!!!!
Written November 13, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Holdypaw20
London, UK226 contributions
Apr 2018 • Couples
An amazing experience all round. We loved our homestay (The Blossom Headed Parakeet) and found the staff at the community centre really helpful and friendly. The one day an one night tour of the jungle was amazing and definitely the best thing we have done on our 4 month trip around SE Asia. Our guide spoke perfect English and the jungle cook on the trek made us the most wonderful food. Sleeping in the jungle was an experience will never forget and we will never forget Chi Phat, what a brilliant project!

A quick note to those who expect to turn up and explore without a guide. Firstly the tour we did could definitely not have been done without a guide, secondly why bother? You are missing the whole point of the project. By getting a tour you are supporting the community and the project itself. Don't expect to be welcomed with open arms if you aren't supporting the project :)
Written April 8, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

katesollis
Canberra2 contributions
Nov 2018 • Solo
I wasn't quite sure what to expect when heading to Chi Phat. Reviews are very mixed, and it seemed quite complicated to get to the village from Phnom Penh.

I ended up deciding to check it out and definitely don't regret it. I did a 2 night trek in the jungle which included a visit to a waterfall and a boat ride. I would say that it's not the most scenic trek I have ever done, but if you're just happy to be in the jungle for some peace and quiet, it is fantastic. I went with two others, and we had our own personal guide (Mau) and chef (Lat) who were both lovely and very hospitable.

While I don't know all the details of others' experiences, I suspect that people are expecting a bit too much from Chi Phat. It is a small village with basic amenities and admittedly the tourist office is a little unorganised (they do seem to frequently forget to pick people up from Andong Teuk, but it is very easy to sort out when you arrive in Andong Teuk, they have a little kiosk with people who can help). I also found the people at the tourist office not to be the friendliest, however my experience of the guides were great.

In terms of accommodation, best to sort out while you are there and not book through sites like booking.com as I'm not sure they even track these reservations and it also means that they have to pay the 15% commission to the website. There will always be more than enough accommodation. And for solo travellers, don't worry about being there alone - it seems that there are probably at least 20 tourists there at any time during the high season.

Finally, in terms of the impact tourism is having on the village, my feeling from talking to a number of the locals is that it's very positive. Kids are staying in school a lot longer, and illegal activities such as logging has decreased dramatically.
The guides and cooks both receive the same income, with 80% of profits going to them, and 20% going to the tourism office (which I'm told is to help repair roads etc.). This equates to an income of $15 per day which by Cambodian standards is quite good.

I hope this review helps you to decide whether Chi Phat is the place for you 😊
Written December 3, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

NausNinD
16 contributions
Oct 2015 • Solo
I booked my stay on their homepage. The confirmation is an auto reply. So don't rely on them knowing you come only because of that. I called a day in advance to confirm boat transport.

At the bus stop in Andoung Teuk, a man with my name on a sign waited for me. The boat ride takes a bit more than two hours and is on a small, loud boat. The landscape you see is nice, but nothing spectacular. That's why I took a moto for the way back, which was cheaper and much quicker (about one hour).

When I arrived at the visitor centre, they did not know about my booking. I didn't get any explanation on the village itself, about breakfast or pickup time for the tour. There was no info meeting at 7pm as mentioned on homepage. All in all, I didn't feel very welcome.

I asked about a refill station for my water bottle. They sad they don't have one and that I should buy new bottles from the shops in the village (where a big water bottle costs 1$, which is a total rip-off). No water refill in an eco tourism village?! Seriously?
Later I discovered that the local Pub a few meters down the road offers refills for 1000 Riel per bottle.

My guesthouse was clean and the host was friendly, but didn't care much about me either.

I took a Mountainbike Tour which was rated 'easy' on their flyer. It was definitely not easy. A lot of parts I had to walk the bike down- or uphill. The guide walked big parts, too. At one break, he threw his empty water bottle in the forrest!! Again: ECO tourism?!

The waterfall we saw was nice, but dirty. Big foam carpets were swimming on the water surface.

The mountainbike had no suspension respectively it did not work. The first three gears were not working at all either, which is a not ideal thing for a tour in the mountains... The gear change for the remaining gears was hardly working.
If an official organisation like this offers a mountainbike tour, I expect proper bikes (even in Cambodia). There is a reason I wanted to bike instead of walking.

The village is really rural and you will definitely get a good insight in the life in the countryside.

All in all, the purpose for the village is a good one and needs support. But the way it is implemented is really bad. If you want to go there, avoid the visitor centre and book your stay directly with the locals.
Written November 16, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jun M
16 contributions
Feb 2017 • Couples
My girlfriend and I have done a 4 days trip to Chi Paht. The idea of the eco tourism is great and you can see it supports the locals to make a living.
Our guide for the biking tour was also very friendly.
Getting to Chi Paht can be difficult but usually its smooth if you follow the instructions online.
If you are just looking for jungle experience, it is a great place to go.
If you like the idea of Eco tourism and care about nature and supporting the local villagers in Chi Paht, do help to put CBET a bit under pressure. When we were there, there were a lot of customers for CBET. The cost of the tours are not cheap and CBET should make enough money to support the villagers and protect the nature. While the NGO did a good job to initiate the whole thing and appoint a committee, they apparently stopped to care about the project. The local CBET committee is inefficient.
If they would be more efficient, they could use the extra money for cleaning the trash at the riverside more frequently or supporting to build a high school in Chi Paht.
I hope awareness will be created and things get better over there.

We went there because we like the idea of eco tourism, but we hope that awareness will be created and things become more transparent and efficient.
Written February 12, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Pepiiite
16 contributions
Oct 2015 • Solo
On the paper, the treks and activities are great, but in reality, only half of what is written is possible/ half of the services are given: do not expect to see or learn anything!!!

Chi Phat is NOT in the mountains, I'd go to Koh Kong next time.

I went for a one-day trek to see the Plain of Jars (the whole point of the walk that was actually 6 boring hours along the main flat straight road) but it was not possible to reach there because the guide was lazy and did not bring a machete.

Also the guide did not speak english at all (I spoke enough Khmer to have him understand me.) But then he really refused to go to the Plain of Jar, arguing he doesnt know/it is raining season/he need a machete/cant cross the river (i went halfway in to prove him wrong but he still refused to continue, then i had to boring walk with my wet shoes). Really what is the point of paying $20 this guide if it is to follow the main wide straight road for 2-3h then 2-3h back?) Really the guide just did what be wanted to be back as soon as possible and did not care about having a happy customer as we pay in advance.

It is the worst organized and biggest disapointment I have been in 3 years in South East Asia. Also we stopped at a waterfall that was full of foam...

The homestay was also bad: I had to walk without light avoiding aggressive dogs to reach the house in the complete darkness and alone.

Only 1h sleep per night was possible because the homestay was just next to the electric generator, which is really loud (really close to the house) and stops at 4am. At 5am the village wakes up and everything is noisy again. However there was a mosquito net.

There is not a single restaurant one along the river. The food is just ok.
Written July 8, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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