Kampot and Kep

The seaside resort of Kampot and Kep, famed for their spectacular sunsets and splendid seafood, were founded as a colonial retreat for the French in 1908. The two towns are some 25km apart and most choose to stay in Kampot, make a side trip to Kep, and then head up Bokor Mountain on the way to Sihanoukville. Kampot is just a quiet riverside town with views of the mountains and a lazy grid of old colonial houses. There are a few nice little hotels and little to do but wander, chat with locals and expats at cafes, and peep the sunset over Bokor.

Things to do in Kep and Kampot:

Kep's most popular tourist activity is having a fresh seafood picnic on the waterfront. The road opposite Kep Beach is lined with picnic platforms. Just rent a mat or find an empty platform and the vendors will present you fresh, sometimes still alive crabs, prawns, squid and fish from which you can choose. Be clear about how much food you want and the cost before they begin to prepare your meal. All of the other restaurants/bars in Kep are connected to the guesthouses.

  • The Crab Market in Kep is a perfect place to get all your seafood. There are plenty of small cozy restaurants which line the shore where you can eat and drink while watching the fishermen bring in their catch. Best time to pop in is for the magnificent sunset. All the seafood is fairly fresh! Ask for the Crab Curry or for the delicious stingray!
  • The Beach House: This restaurant offers a large selection of reasonably priced and tasty Western and Khmer food. Large range of fresh seafood. The full bar has a fantastic selection of fresh fruit juices and lots of cocktails.
  • Vanna Bungalows: The restaurant features lovely home cooked Khmer food with a big range of seafood. Western food is also available. The large dinning area can accommodate large groups as you may come with a bunch of people starving for fresh seafood.
  • Kep Beach Guesthouse: This place offers a smaller range of food, but has a nice surrounding as it sits right next to the shore. The food is very delicious and comes at reasonable prices. The fresh prawns with Kampot pepper is a dish you shouldn’t miss here.
  • Star Inn: The restaurant is located opposite of the major beach just right next to all the small bamboo shacks. It features a rooftop restaurant serving Khmer and Western food including seafood. There is also a stylish separate beachfront bar overlooking Kep Beach. The prices are upscale.
  • Shopping If you would like to shop some food, especially seafood you should head for the daily market next to the water’s edge. This is currently the only place you can find the basic needs for you household. Local shops deal the local daily consumer products, like fish, fruits, vegetables, meats and some packed products.


Where to go in Kep and Kampot:

Bokor Mountain This is the day trip from Kampot. If you've spent a long time in Cambodia, navigating overcrowdedPhnom Penh, the tourist rush in Angkor, the dusty roads and lack of infrastructure in the rest of the country, you might see why the French sought out quiet, cooler climes, building this sanctuary to privilege on a mountaintop far from the maddening crowds. Bokor Mountain is part of the larger Bokor National Park, a thick jungle sprawl of giant ferns and thick vegetation.

Coconut Beach is a few hundred meters southeast of Kep Beach, just past the giant crab statue and across the NH33A from two gilded statues that locals say - with a great deal of justification - look like oversized chickens.

Kep Beach, which faces south and is thus not great for sunsets, is sandy but narrow and strewn with little rocks. The eastern end of the shaded promenade is marked by a nude statue of a fisher's wife. A waterfront promenade to the Crab Market was under construction as we went to press.

Kep National Park Despite its protected status, is in a sad state. Occupying the interior of Kep headland, it has no guest facilities. Access is via an 8km road open to 4WD vehicles. Activities include snorkeling excursions, fishing trips and seaborne visits to coastal mangrove groves.

King Sihanouk's Palace On top of the hill northwest of Kep Beach is a palace built by King Sihanouk in the early 1990s. Before his overthrow in 1970, Kep was one of his favorite spots and he used to entertain visiting foreign dignitaries on an outlying island nicknamed Île des Ambassadeurs. The king may have harbored thoughts of retirement here but his poor health and Cambodia's political instability meant that he never actually stayed at the palace, which remains unfurnished.

Mid-20th-century villas From Kep's northern roundabout, NH33A heads north past the mildewed shells of handsome mid-20th-century villas that speak of happier, carefree times and of the truly terribly Khmer Rouge years. Built according to the precepts of the modernist style, with clean lines, lots of horizontals and little adornment, they once played host to glittering jet-set parties


How to go to and in Kampot & Kep:

By Bus: To and From Phnom Penh: Via paved and in comparative good condition National Highway No 3 from Phnom Penh to Kampot and from there additional 25km to Kep. This road is more recommendable than the alternative National Highway No 2 leading to National Highway No 3 via Takeo province. The buses to Kampot departure each day at 7:30am and midday around 1:15pm from the central bus station near the central market. You may also take a bus directly to Kep taking National Highway No 2 and for the last strip Major Road No 31, which is a little bumpy. The prices with a usual old air-con bus for both ways are around US$4 per a person and trip. The trip usually takes approx. 4-5h.

By Taxis: Going from Phnom Penh with a shared taxi, you can find one at Phsar Dumkor in Phnom Penh or opposite of central bus station. The prices are between $26-$32 pp for a private taxi. The 3 hours ride is shorter as with the slowly bus.

By Motorbike: Via paved and in comparative good condition National Highway No 3 from Phnom Penh to Kampot and from there additional 25km to Kep via Major Road No 33. This road is more recommendable than the alternative National Highway No 2 leading to National Highway No 3 via Takeo province. You may also head directly to Kep taking National Highway No 2 and for the last strip Major Road No 31, which is a little bumpy and dusty during dry season. 

Getting Around Kampot is a tiny riverside town, all easily traversed on foot (if you can pull yourself from the guesthouse hammock). Kep is just 25km (16 miles) east of Kampot, easily reached on rented motorbike, motorbike taxi, or motorbike with trailer (called tuk-tuk).

Located near the sea, Kampot and Ket’s weather is much more temperature than the island destinations. The cool season runs from November to February and of course this is the best time to visit the area. High temperatures during this time are usually under 30 degree celsius with nighttime lows sometimes dipping below 20 degree celsius.

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