Anchored to alluvial islands – some no larger than a house – this 260-sq-km sanctuary’s magnificent mangroves protect the coast from erosion, offer vital breeding and feeding grounds for fish, shrimp and shellfish, and are home to myriad birds.
To get a feel for the delicate mangrove ecosystem, explore the 600m-long concrete mangrove walk, which wends its way above the briny waters to a 15m observation tower. The entrance is 5.5km southeast of Koh Kong. A moto/remork-moto (tuk-tuk) ride costs US$5/10 return.
Although the main raised walkway is made from concrete blocks, there are various wooden paths that shoot off from the main trail. Travellers with little ones in tow should keep a vigilant eye on children as the walkway (particularly on the wooden sections) is not maintained well. If you're lucky, you'll come across cavorting monkeys with a fondness for fizzy drinks.
You can also hire a motorboat to take you through the sanctuary; wooden boats are available for hire from the dock at the sanctuary entrance (short tours US$5, long tours US$10), but a better plan is to head into the park’s interior on a boat tour out of Koh Kong.
On a boat tour you’ll have a chance to visit fishing hamlets where residents use spindly traps to catch fish, which they keep alive till market time in partly submerged nets attached to floating wooden frames. Further out, on some of the more remote mangrove islands, you pass isolated little beaches where you can land and lounge alongside ambling hermit crabs.
Much of Peam Krasaop is on the prestigious Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance (www.ramsar.org). The area, which is part of the Koh Kong Conservation Corridor, is all the more valuable from an ecological standpoint because similar forests in Thailand have been trashed by short-sighted development. Today Peam Krasaop's habitats and fisheries are threatened by the large-scale dredging of sand for Singapore.