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Charming Towns: Kampot & Kep

The Statue at KepKampot 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.

If the crumbling French architecture, shady boulevards and riverfront dining aren’t cause for love at first sight, visits to Kep beach resort, the ancient Funan Empire-era temple ruins or a hike in Bokor National Park will ensure you’re permanently endeared to this Cambodian beauty spot.

 

A 30 minute ride from Kampot lies the once jet set beach resort of Kep. Over the past couple of years wealthy Cambodians have rediscovered the town and began renovating buildings.

So, what can you do here? Well, this southern area of Cambodia is completely beautiful and as yet untouched by tourists. If you want to be in a rural part of Cambodia that is within an hour moto ride from a National Park, the ocean, caves and miles of rice fields… this is the place for you.

Skip Sihanoukville and save yourself the money. Wander around, chat with locals, and peep the sunset over Bokor. You will discover that not only are the people in Cambodia beautiful… the land is as well.

Kampot Pepper

Kampot Province is renowned for its excellent pepper. By many, peppercorns from Kampot are considered as the finest in the world. This fine pepper is for sale at the Cambodia Cooking Class. They come in attractive gift bags made of silk and profits go to FarmLink, a foundation to help small farmers in the region.

Relaxing Kep

Sunset over Bokor Mountain, Kampot, Cambodia

A 30 minute ride from Kampot lies the once jet set beach resort of Kep. Nowadays it is a strange, small place with lots of abandoned villas overlooking the ocean.

The beach is small and dirty, but the seafood offered on the wooden platforms there is the best you’ll ever get. All kinds of fish, crab, squid etc. And for very affordable prices (although a little bargaining is needed!).

Rabbit Island, Koh Tonsay, off Kep Cambodia

When you want to find a nice quiet beach (see the picture above), rent out a boat to Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island). Interesting to walk around as well.

The main island you see offshore though is Phu Quoc – claimed by Vietnam – but any Cambodian will tell you it was stolen by the Vietnamese and looking at the basic geography of the coastline, they have a point.

Where to Stay?

Sunset view in Kep Cambodia

Over the past couple of years many guesthouses and restaurants have sprung up in Kampot. The new restaurants are mainly located on Kampot’s riverfront, while guesthouses can be found all around town.

In Kampot travellers on a budget should definitely choose Blissful Guesthouse, run by the friendly Danish Angela.

Near the river is the Little Garden Guesthouse, although unfortunately the rooms have no river view.

A bit more upscale but right on the river and well worth the money is the small Rikitikitavi Guesthouse, run by a Dutch/British couple.

In Kep, Veranda Resort has bungalows with an open-air veranda, and luxury private rooms and villa’s. This 3 hectares compound with raised wooden walkways is beautiful but it comes at a price: $35 – $150. There is also a swimming pool.

Opposite is Vanna Bungalows, a much cheaper option at bungalows for$ 15 – $25/night. A little further up the hill is Le Bout du Monde. Same great view of the ocean, Phu Quoc, and Bokor, but much cheaper ($15-85). The new Kep Lodge is also a good option ($28-38). The cheapest option in Kep is Botanica ($8-10).

See our complete list of accommodation in Kep.
Things to do and see Around Kampot & Kep.


Weather

EAT

Kep: Crab with Kampot pepper

Eat the wonderful Crab with Kampot Pepper at the food stalls in Kep.

VISIT

Famous Kampot Pepper

Visit a pepper farm and learn more about the famous Kampot Pepper.

RELAX

Rabbit Island or Koh Tonsay

Get away from it all and while away some time on Rabbit Island.