Lighthouses of Cambodia
Cambodia has a rather short coastline on the Gulf of
Thailand between Vietnam and Thailand; Kampong Saom (Sihanoukville)
is the only deepwater port. A French colony from 1863 to 1953, Cambodia
suffered greatly from the warfare in Vietnam (1955-75) plus the misrule of the
Khmer Rouge insurgency (1975-79). However, the country has stabilized and reopened
for Western tourism in recent years.
During the French colonial period, Cambodia had no major salt water ports; it was served by ships sailing the Mekong River through Vietnam. Development of the modern port of Sihanoukville (Kampong Saom) began only in 1955.
Nothing is known about the history of Cambodian lighthouses. The Koh Rung Samloan lighthouse shown at right appears to have been built during the French colonial period, but I do not know its date of construction. Additional information on these lighthouses would be most welcome.
The lighthouses in Cambodia are maintained by the Port Autonome Sihanoukville. In the Khmer language spoken in Cambodia, a lighthouse is called bangkol phleung hvar (literally "fire on a pole"); koh
or kaoh is an island, and kampong phe is a harbor.
ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS
World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume F of
the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List
numbers are from Publication 112.
- General Sources
- Online List of Lights - Cambodia
- Coming soon: photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
- World of Lighthouses - Cambodia
- Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Koh Rung Samloen Light, Sihanoukville, October 2017
Google Plus photo by Lars-Eric Ebert
- Gulf of Thailand Lighthouses
- Koh Poulo Wai
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 82 m (269 ft); white light, 2 s on, 2 s off. No description and no photo available, but Google has a satellite view of the station. The two Wai Islands are located in the Gulf of Thailand about 100 km (60 mi) southwest of Kampong Saom. The islands were claimed by Thailand and Vietnam as well as Cambodia. Vietnamese troops occupied the islands briefly in the summer of 1975 but withdrew in favor of Cambodia. Ecotours to the islands are available. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F3021; NGA 20496.
- Koh Rung Samloen (Koah Rung Samloem)
- Early 1900s. Active (?); listed with focal plane 120 m (394 ft);
two white flashes every 10 s. 18 m (59 ft) round concrete tower with gallery, attached to a small 1-story keeper's cottage or equipment building. Lantern removed. Lars-Eric Ebert's 2017 photo above shows the lighthouse being used as a communications tower, and a street view from the top does not show any light. The lighthouse was originally painted white with
one red horizontal band, but all the paint has worn off. Dror Miler has a January 2019 photo, Martin Kjellberg has a 2015 photo (fourth photo on the page), Oli Bryant has a 2010 photo, and Google has a distant satellite
view of the station. The Jenkins 1904 light list mentions this light as "intended." The communications gear was added in the summer of 2017; it is not seen in Prum Seng's April 2017 photo. The island of Rung Samloen lies on the west
side of the entrance to the bay of Kampong Saom. Located on the south
point of the island, about 25 km (15 mi) southwest of Kampong Saom.
Site open, and apparently the tower is also open. ARLHS CAB-005; Admiralty F3014; NGA 20532.
- Koh Koang Kang (Kaoh Tas, Kaoh Kong Kang) (2?)
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); white light occulting
twice every 9 s. 9 m (30 ft) octagonal cylindrical tower with gallery,
painted white. Wim ON6TZ's photo is at right, and Google has a satellite
view. NGA lists a skeletal tower for this light. Located at the eastern point of Tas Island, 8 km (5 mi)
west of Kampong Saom. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed.
ARLHS CAB-006; Admiralty F3015; NGA 20536.
- Kaoh Dek Koul (Rocher Dekol)
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 24 m (79 ft); green light, 1.5 s on, 4.5 s off. Listed by NGA as a 9 m (30 ft) skeletal tower, but the only possible location for this light is atop the Buddhist temple that crowns the island. Google has a sea view and an indistinct satellite view. Located on a tiny island off the Kampong Saom waterfront. Accessible only by boat, but passeneger ferry service is available. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS CAB-003; Admiralty F3016; NGA 20540.
- Koh Moul (Kaoh Kon, Îlot Cône)
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 19 m (62 ft); continuous white light. 9 m (30 ft) skeletal tower, according to NGA. No photo available and the light is not seen in Google's satellite view. The forested island of Koh Moul is connected tenuously to the mainland by a sandbar. Located on the north side of the northern entrance to Koh Kong Bay and the port of Krong Khemarak Phoumin (Koh Kong). Site status unknown. Admiralty F3012; NGA 20548.
Tonlé Sap Lighthouse
Note: Tonlé Sap is a large fresh water seasonal lake. During the dry season it is relatively small and shallow, but during the monsoon (June through October) the Mekong River backs up into the lake, greatly increasing its size. Navigation on the lake is limited to small craft.
- Chong Khneas
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane and light characteristic unknown. Approx. 15 m (49 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. The tower carries instruments, probably including an automatic weather station; it appears that a light is shown from a mast. Lightphotos.net has a photo, and Google has a distant satellite view. Located about 3.2 km (2 mi) south of Chong Khneas, a boat launching area at the end of highway 63, about 18 km (11 mi) south of Siem Reap. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed.
Information available on lost lighthouses:
- Phnom Penh. We need information on this lighthouse. It was located at the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers opposite downtown Phnom Penh. There is a high-rise hotel on the site today; Google has a satellite view.
Notable faux lighthouses:
- Kampong Cham. This tower stands on the east bank of Mekong opposite Kampong Cham, a district capital 125 km (75 mi) northeast of Phnom Penh. It is called "the old lighthouse" or "the French tower," but it doesn't appear very French nor does it appear to be designed as a lighthouse. Google has a street view and a satellite view.
Adjoining pages: East: Southern Vietnam | West: Eastern Thailand
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Posted August 11, 2007. Checked and revised February 5, 2019.
Lighthouses: 6. Site copyright 2019 Russ Rowlett and the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill.