Three-Country Route “Trat-Sihanoukville” Dusted Off for High Season

TRAT — Efforts to reach an agreement between three countries: Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, under the “Cambodia-Vietnam-Thailand Economic Corridor Cooperation Conference: CVTEC” to promote cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, transportation, tourism and MICE in the Southern Economic Corridor (SEC) have encountered numerous obstacles over the past eight years.

Recently, according to Prachachat Business report, at the CVTEC 2024 international conference at the Aiyapura Hotel on Koh Chang, Trat, hosted by Thailand with the support of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) and the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), things have started to come together.

Tourist Surge Expected to Bring 3 Billion Baht

Phuriphan Bunnak, deputy director of TCEB, explained that the MICE mechanisms will be a tool to promote and enhance the connectivity of trade, investment, logistics, tourism and MICE in the coastal areas of the three countries. These include four provinces in Thailand (Chonburi, Ranong, Chanthaburi, Trat), four provinces in Cambodia (Koh Kong, Sihanoukville, Kampot, Kep) and two provinces in Vietnam (Kien Giang, Ca Mau).

Phuriphan Bunnak
Phuriphan Bunnak

Each of these provinces has the potential to become a major tourist destination, is connected by land and sea and has the necessary infrastructure to provide standard facilities for meetings and seminars. This provides the opportunity to market a “1 Marketing 3 Destinations” concept aimed at high value tourists and MICE travelers. A test of the CVTEC sea route is planned for the end of 2024.


“Following this, the three countries must submit reports to the relevant government authorities to prepare the project. For the multi-purpose pier in Khlong Yai, Trat, a report will be submitted to the Director General of the Marine Department. In August 2024, the TCEB will hold a meeting in Ca Mau, Vietnam, to study the route, infrastructure readiness, facilitation and legal issues to conclude a joint agreement, with further discussions among the private sector companies.”

“If there are no problems, the route of the inaugural trip will be from Khlong Yai, Trat to Sihanoukville and may be extended to Ca Mau. This route is expected to last 3-4 years, with about 300,000 tourists traveling through Trat and earning about 3.1 billion baht annually,” Phuriphan said.

Pilot Route “Trat-Sihanoukville”

Wiyada Suang, an adviser to the Trat Tourism Council, told “Prachachat Business” that the concept of maritime tourism linking the three countries has been discussed since 2015, but has run into legal and other challenges.

At the meeting, it was discussed that there should be a route from Sihanoukville to the multi-purpose pier in Khlong Yai. Sixteen shipping companies and tour operators as well as government agencies from Cambodia and Vietnam agreed to open the route as soon as possible. The private sector will now move forward with discussions on the details of the route, schedules, port fees and management to prepare for the inaugural voyage by the end of 2024.


“The Cambodian operators are very willing. G.T.V.C. SPEEDBOAT from Cambodia recommends the routes between the islands. Union Group, the operator of Dara Sakor Port in Koh Kong, will provide a one-stop service for tourists. The multi-purpose pier in Khlong Yai, Trat, is being tested for use.”

“Thai operators are also ready. Companies already providing services at Dara Sakor Port and Koh Rong, Sihanoukville, and those providing inter-island services in Trat are interested in investing. The three countries need to agree on a common market strategy and plan to expand from Sihanoukville to Phu Quoc in the future,” Wiyada said.

Cambodia and Vietnam on Board

Long Dimanche, deputy governor of Sihanoukville province, Cambodia, said that the four coastal provinces of Cambodia are ready, especially Sihanoukville, which has three jetties, including the AUTONOME DE SIHANOUKVILLE for tourism, which provides convenient and fast services. Vessels must have an entry permit and there are shipping agencies that offer document submission services via QR code links.

If the tourist documents are submitted in advance, officials will provide services before the ship docks. Land, rail and air transportation systems will also be developed to connect to other cities. This conference will help attract international tourists to CVTEC so that trade and investment will follow.

Nguyen Minh Luan, deputy governor of Vietnam’s Ca Mau province, approved an agreement to jointly develop investment, trade and tourism on the route. Ca Mau, with a population of 1.5 million, has major tourist attractions such as Quoc, Ha Tien and Kien Giang. As a major destination on the CVTEC route, located in southern Vietnam and surrounded by the sea on three sides, it is known for its world-class ecotourism and seafood wealth.

Chamnan Srisawat, President of the Tourism Council of Thailand, told “Prachachat Business” that the route from Sihanoukville to Trat (Khlong Yai-Koh Kood-Koh Mak-Koh Chang) has great potential and is attractive to tourists from all over the world. The natural beauty and freshness are in line with sustainable tourism trends, but the willingness of the private sector is crucial.

A joint steering committee between the three countries should be established. This route could be promoted at global events such as ITB in Berlin or Hong Kong, which could boost the economies of all three countries.

Urging the Government to Address Khlong Yai Pier

Natthapong Sa-nguanjit, governor of Trat, said the province is ready to support and promote the sea route connecting the three countries and facilitate cross-border transportation. A route test from Trat to Sihanoukville is planned, with future connections to Phu Quoc. Vietnam is expected to host the CVTEC meeting in 2025, which will provide more clarity. This route should not only take into account the population advantages — Cambodia with 20 million and Vietnam with 98 million — but aim to connect tourists from a world population of 8 billion people. If 5-10% of this population is captured on the CVTEC route, growth could be significantly increased, depending on the capacity of each country.

“Discussions with the Department of the Navy have been about looking at the laws for registering passenger ships for international routes to ensure convenience. A private company has expressed interest in leasing the multi-purpose pier in Khlong Yai from the Ministry of Finance,” Natthapong said.

The outcome of the conference was a six-point draft for the development of the CVTEC sea route: 1) The private sector must cooperate in the development of the Trat-Sihanoukville-Phu Quoc route. 2) The government must prepare the infrastructure, customs and immigration systems. 3) Shipping companies must be ready to serve international routes. 4) Marketing and promotion for high value tourists. 5) The private sector needs to discuss profitability and 6) Continuous meetings to advance short-term plans and move forward with long-term plans.

“Boonsiri-Seudamgo” Ready to Invest

Wiyada Amornpetchrakul
Wiyada Amornpetchrakul

Wiyada Amornpetchrakul, senior executive of Boonsiri Ferries Co, Ltd, told “Prachachat” that the company will start operating a high-speed catamaran from Dara Sakor Port to Koh Rong in late 2023. However, road conditions require an additional 2.5-hour drive from the Hat Lek permanent checkpoint to Dara Sakor Port, followed by a 30-minute boat ride to Koh Rong. A trip by water from the multi-purpose pier in Khlong Yai to Dara Sakor Port and Koh Rong would be more convenient and faster.

“We are interested in the new route from Trat to Sihanoukville, but need clear information on the costs on the Thai and Cambodian sides to calculate the break-even point, including shipping routes, service points, fees and administrative costs per tourist, as well as the convenience of using the multi-purpose pier in Khlong Yai, Trat.”

“Travel time must also be clear, as it is crucial for cost calculation and market planning. Customers will compare the costs of boat travel versus land travel for the cheaper and faster option, but reaching the break-even point for this route will take time.”


The managing director of Leopard Transportation Co Ltd, the operator of the “Seudamgo” speed boats that take tourists to Koh Kood and Koh Mak in Trat, told “Prachachat Business” that the potential for high-value tourists traveling the three-country route is promising. They are interested in joining the route from Khlong Yai, Trat, to Sihanoukville and extending it to Phu Quoc in the future as they believe the route will be popular worldwide due to its pristine natural beauty and proximity to Bangkok. Future connections to Pattaya, Chonburi, are also being considered.

“Marketing requires testing routes and increasing awareness. The company is ready to offer services with new boats with 400 and 1,000 seats. However, clear legal guidelines and regulations from all three countries are required first.”