Kampot & Kep
Most travellers head to southern Cambodia to hit the beaches at Sihanoukville. While the sandy stretches are worthy of putting your feet up for a few days, there’s more to see and do in that part of the country.
The charming towns of Kampot and Kep, the almost deserted (and nicer) beaches of Rabbit Island, pepper plantations, limestone caves, and Bokor Hill Station,
However, the latter is not what it used to be, as a modern (and ugly) resort and casino are now on top of the mountain.
Kampot is a quiet, relaxed, laid back, some would say sleepy but charming little town in southern Cambodia.
Did you know Kampot was chosen by CNNgo among Indochina's top 10 hot destinations?
They write: oozing French colonial charm, this scenic town nestled on the east bank of Kampot River is Cambodia's most under-rated destination.
Bokor Mountain and eating the freshest seafood on Kep Beach are perhaps the most popular day tour destinations out of Kampot. But Bokor Mountain is currently closed for the development of a luxury resort on the top.
So, what else can you do around Kampot? Well, there are plenty of other things to see and do: stunning landscape, pepper plantations where the famous Kampot Pepper is grown, and numerous limestone caves.
Ko Tonsay, or Rabbit Island as it is commonly known as, is a lovely and truly idyllic little island that sits offshore from Kep, just thirty minutes away by hired boat.
Koh Tonsay is two square kilometers. In the 1960?s it was used as a place to rehabilitate criminals, who were also used to defend the island.
Horse cart paths and wooden, thatch roofed motels were also constructed during this time. Most of this infrastructure has been destroyed.
Today, seven families live on the island. They earn their living by fishing and growing coconut trees. Rabbit Island has become a popular daytrip for tourists.
While Cambodia's Angkor Wat temples are its biggest tourist draw, beach-bound tourists — particularly those looking for more than the backpacker-on-a-shoestring itinerary — are waking up to the unexplored beauty that this country has to offer.
Cambodia is almost completely flat with the exceptions of the south and north east. During the French occupation, the French built a luxury resort town on the very top of one of these mountains called the Bokor Resort.
Work is now underway to build a new upscale resort on the top. The road up to this place used to be incredibly bad: bumping and humping all the way. Those times are over as there is a new and much expanded road up to Bokor Hill.
With the constructions the charm of this place has gone forever, read: Bokor Mountain WAS a National Park, now it's ruined.
The banner picture you see on the top of every page in the Kampot & Kep section is now history.
The construction of the Sokha Resort on top of Bokor Mountain has led to far more destruction than feared in the once National Park.
It's not only this new resort that is 'under construction': there are at least TEN (yes, 10!) other projects that have or will degrade the 'national park' to a fun or entertainment park.
A treasure lost...
In colonial times, Kep used to be the resort town for the French. It was ravaged by the Khmer Rouge, but is now slowly bouncing back. In recent years many new places have opened, some very luxury (and expensive).
There are however still options for travellers on a budget. See this list of accommodations in Kep.