Kampot and Kep
Though many visitors to Cambodia spend their time exploring the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat or rattling through the bustling city of Phnom Penh on a tuk-tuk, there is another side to the country that is far less frequented by the tourist industry. Nestled along the south-eastern coast are the two sleepy towns of Kampot and Kep. While these two locations have experienced much development in recent years, they still maintain their charm and beauty, and will add a pleasant French colonial touch to your busy trip.
Set a few kilometres back from the coast, the town straddles a wide section of river, lined with a number of hotels, restaurants and a local market. The best way to explore this little town is on foot or by bicycle.
Accommodation in Kampot:
Despite its nigh unpronounceable name, Rikitikitavi is an absolute favorite among travelers and expats alike. With spacious rooms and amiable staff, your stay is almost guaranteed to be a good one. Rooms look out over the river across the road that makes for a lovely view in both morning and evening. Twin, double and family rooms are available, each one decorated in true Cambodian style.
- Kampot Riverside Hotel
Also located right on the riverfront, just a couple of dollars extra will get you a room with a view of the river, one of Kampot’s two famous bridges and the stunning mountains across the water. Rooms are simple but clean and well-maintained, and breakfast consists of a generous portion of eggs, bacon, baguette and grilled tomatoes.
- Bohemiaz Resort
If you’re looking for something a bit more unique, head a little out of town to Bohemiaz. This fantastic little resort has replaced traditional hotel rooms with individual bungalows. The resort offers budget rooms and perfect-sized family rooms complete with bunk beds. Enjoy a swim in the pool, surrounded by green hills and grasslands, or stop and have a pleasant chat with the owners who love to get to know their guests.
Things to See and Do:
- Bokor Mountain
About 20km west of Kampot, as the crow flies, is the ghostly Bokor Mountain. Originally opened in the 1920s as a beautiful resort, one of the mountain’s main features is the once-grand Bokor Palace Hotel. The mountain’s buildings have been abandoned for many years and remain in a dilapidated state, however the mountain provides captivating views of the Gulf of Thailand and wandering around the old casino and church grounds makes for a spooky yet fascinating experience. Ask at your hotel for transportation to Bokor; trucks take visitors up and even provide lunch, or you can rent a scooter or dirt bike in town.
Kampot pepper is famous world wide and FarmLink is the best place to not only get hold of some but also to learn about how it is grown and processed. Here you can also sample and learn about more of Kampot’s well-known produce including palm sugar, durian and salt.
- Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple
The cave and its temple are located quite a long way out of town, however the views make the drive worthwhile. Wear a pair of decent shoes and go clambering through the caves to see the fascinating stalactite formations that resemble elephants, a phoenix and more. The temple itself has stood the test of time at over 1300 years old and is worth a visit.
Around Kampot Town:
Kampot town is not very big but there are some great things to see in and around the place. A stroll down the river front is a wonderful way to spend the morning. Explore the two bridges and stop for a tea or coffee at one of the many little cafes. A small market is also located in town and handmade souvenirs are for sale. Check out Dorsu and Tiny Kampot Pillows for some beautiful crafts and ethically produced, one-of-a-kind clothing.
About an hour down the coast from Kampot is Cambodia’s original seaside resort town of Kep.
Accommodation in Kep:
- Veranda Natural Resort
Simply decorated rooms are accentuated with large windows that look out into the green jungle. The resort’s infinity pool hangs over luscious hillside with views straight out to the ocean. Even the restaurant boasts an open air seating area that makes you feel truly immersed in nature.
- Raingsey Bungalow
Though the rooms are fairly basic at Raingsey Bungalow, the grounds and pool area are kept in beautiful condition. Spend some time relaxing in the serene pool or chilling under the shade in the cushion filled gazebo. Breakfast is included with the room and consists of fresh tropical fruits and crepes. Raingsey Bungalow is just a short walk from Kep crab market and an even shorter walk from some of the best eateries in town, including a great Italian restaurant.
- Knai Bang Chatt
This luxurious hotel is located right on the ocean and even features its own jetty and sailing club. It is the perfect location for those who enjoy water sports and a cool sea breeze. We highly recommend a night at Knai Bang Chatt for those looking for a quiet, romantic getaway. The hotel is located within walking distance of the best restaurants in Kep and is known itself for its delicious dishes served by the ocean.
Things to See and do:
- Koh Tonsay
Also known as Rabbit Island, Koh Tonsay is an emerald island covered in jungle. Boat trips leave from the mainland every morning and the trips last for the whole day. Rabbit Island is the perfect place to enjoy a time truly away from the worries of the world. Wander the quiet beaches, take in the stunning views or stretch out and delve into your favorite book. Lunch is cooked for you on the island by the friendly women who reside there and the boat will be ready to sail you back to Kep on the mainland as the deep red sun sinks down past the horizon.
- Kep Crab Market
Despite its name, the crab market in Kep has much more to offer that just crab. Take trip down to this bustling seafood spot, pick out the best looking crab, squid, king prawn or fish and have it tastily grilled before your very eyes.
- Ranch of the Plantation
Located along the Jasmine Valley road is a tranquil little spot that is home to some lovely ponies. There’s no more pleasant a way to explore the rolling coastal hills of Kep than on horseback and the ranch provides wonderful guided treks. This activity is suitable for adults and children.
Kep National Park
Kep National Park is home to some interesting wildlife and breathtaking scenery. Start your trip at the Led Zep Cafe, the owners of which have taken it upon themselves to mark the pathways and trails through the park. You can hike, bike or even drive through the park but be aware that in certain placed the trails do get a bit narrow for a car. Things to see along the trails include an old pagoda, a nunnery and even a gibbon rescue center.