For decades in the dry season, the only connection between Kampong Cham and the island of Koh Pen in the Mekong River was a bamboo bridge, as the water levels were too low for ferries to cross.
Each year, the islanders built their almost 1 kilometre long bamboo bridge for cars, bikes, and pedestrians to be able to get to Kampong Cham and back. And every year, when the rains swelled the Mekong, the elements would tear the structure down, only to be rebuilt by hand after the monsoon.
That changed in 2018 when 2 kilometres upstream a massive, concrete bridge was opened to alllow for a faster, more convenient, but undoubtedly less ‘romantic’ means of crossing the Mekong. Despite this new connection, the islanders decided to still build a bamboo bridge every year, albeit a smaller (less wide) one, allowing only pedestrians and bicycles.
The island side of the bridge is nicknamed “Koh Pen Beach” where small, simple restaurants serve drinks and snacks. You can also go for a swim in the Mekong, and yes it’s perfectly safe: the water is clean as there are no industries to speak of upstream.
The bridge is open from dawn to dusk, including weekends and holidays. It costs 2000 riels ($0.50) to cross. Oh, and of course the bridge is only there during the dry season, roughly from the end of November till May.