How to get to Kampot
|Leaving from||Duration||Prices from||See details|
|Kep||20min-3 hrs||$3 - $20||Kep to Kampot|
|Siem Reap||3-11 hrs||$15 - $140||Siem Reap to Kampot|
|Sihanoukville||2-2,5 hrs||$6 - $40||Sihanoukville to Kampot|
|Phnom Penh||2,5-5 hrs||$7 - $50||Phnom Penh to Kampot|
10 Things to do in Kampot & Kep
#1 Preah Monivong Bokor National Park
Want to escape the heat and crowds for a day? The Preah Monivong Bokor National Park offers a cool and scenic day out.
Cruise on a paved road through the highlands of the Dâmrei Mountains and get a refreshing view of the coastline and the surrounding Kep province. Strange stone formations and ruins from the French colonial era dot this national park, with everything covered in greenery.
You can walk around the spooky yet fascinating abandoned hotel left by the French colonists, which is part of the Bokor Hill Station.
The Bokor Hill Station is a remote settlement that consists of Le Bokor Palace Hotel & Casino and the Old Catholic church. The station was built by the French colonialists in 1921. The first stop is the hauntingly beautiful Old French Palace, which served as a sanctuary for French elites during the hottest days of the year. The building has a grand lounge area with a fireplace, spiral staircases, and terraces overlooking the sea—you won’t run out of backdrops for your photographs! A visit to this grand building will gives you an idea of what it was like to be living as a rich French colonist in Cambodia during the French colonial era.
Close by is the Black Palace, the former holiday home of King Sihanouk. It’s not quite as fabulous as it was back in the day, but it provides welcome shade while you catch your breath. After making a short stop at the Black Palace, you’ll drive by the Lok Yeay Mao Monument. This 29-meter statue was built to protect the spirit of travellers, fishermen and hunters.
Another worthwhile sight is the Popokvil Waterfall, which is a 5km drive from the casino. It only costs 2000 riel (0.50 USD) to witness this impressive body of water cascading over the rocks. It won’t be the best waterfall you’ll see in Cambodia, but it can offer nice refreshment, as you can also swim in the pool below the waterfall. Note: During the dry season, there won’t be much to see of this waterfall.
If you still have the energy and would like to go for a peaceful walk, follow the trail through the forest where you’ll hear nothing but birds chirping.
The best way to explore this National Park is by renting a motorbike in Kampot or Kep. It’s only a 20-minute drive from Kampot town, and 45 minutes from Kep. Motorbike rental costs $4 for a day, plus fuel. The roads are well-paved, so don’t worry if you’re an inexperienced driver; even beginners can ride smoothly. The entrance fee is only 2000 riel (0.50 USD). Take a jacket or sweater with you, because it can get chilly and foggy as you ride to higher altitudes.
#2 Pepper Farm (La Plantation)
Thanks to the favorable climate in the Kampot area, this region has a reputation for producing some of the best pepper in the world. The high exposure of sun combined with a sea breeze, the quality of the land, and rainfall during the rainy season make it an outstanding area to grow pepper.
La Plantation is a sprawling, organic pepper farm that offers free guided walks through 22,000 Kampot pepper posts. Providing a sustainable livelihood to hundreds of Cambodians and promoting eco-friendly farming practices is the central objective of the farm.
When you arrive at La Plantation, a guide will explain the history of the farm and how they grow and harvest pepper, spices, and local fruits and vegetables. At the end of the tour, the pepper-tasting session will teach you to recognize different flavors of pepper. (I personally loved the red pepper; its spiciness combined with fruity aromas give the pepper an exceptional flavor).
Want a glimpse into a traditional Cambodian kitchen? Learn how to cook a delicious Cambodian dish with fresh ingredients, and flavor your dish with the best-ranked pepper in the world.
With the chef’s help you will choose fresh ingredients from the Kampot market, and after you’ve cooked your Cambodian dinner, you’ll get to eat the local dish at a lakeside pavilion. The course costs $30 including pick-up, or $25 if you arrange your own transport to the farm.
La Plantation is open every day from 9:00 to 18:00. Guided tours are free and are available in English, French and Khmer, but tips are always appreciated! The easiest way to visit the farm is by renting your own motorbike. Alternatively, they also offer pick-up and a return trip from Kep to the farm for $7 per adult and $3 per child. Visit their website for more info: http://kampotpepper.com/
#3 Arcadia Waterpark
Let your friends catapult you into the blue sky on the huge water blob, and spend your day chilling at the bar or on the floating platforms.
The waterpark is part of a hostel, and it’s a great place to have fun with your travel buds. After you’ve showed off your back flips from the tall slide, you can rent a kayak or tube to float down the river. As you paddle, you will pass by local villages and discover remarkable natural beauty.
There are also a few trails around Arcadia. The treks can take you to a 14-meter waterfall, to temples built within vast plantations, or to a mountaintop pagoda. You’ll meet locals along the way, ascending or descending with their crops and livestock. Make sure to fill your bag with food and water because there aren’t many stores in the area.
If you’d rather stay dry, there are ping pong and pool tables, dart boards and volleyball courts to use—and a climbing wall if you are bold enough.
You can find the Arcadia Waterpark in the heart of the jungle, just 15 minutes away from Kampot. Entrance is free for guests staying at the hostel and $7 for everyone else. A tuk-tuk can take you the park from the center of Kampot for only $5, and it’s open from 9:00 to 18:00. Make sure to bring enough money because there are no ATMs in the area.
#4 Kep Crab Market
The Kep Crab Market is a must-visit for all foodies! The scent of crabs, shrimp, squid and fish being slowly cooked filters through the air, so it’s impossible to miss this place.
Purchase fresh seafood from local fishermen and choose from over 30 restaurants to cook it for you. Feast on crab stewed in famous Khmer pepper while enjoying the cool breeze, and watch boats unload their catch. If you dine at sundown, you’ll get to witness a spectacular sunset as you eat your freshly-caught crab.
The market is small, but it’s lively: vendors moving their carts, tourists asking for bargains, and locals busy grilling seafood.
Having dinner at this market is part of the Kep experience, and it typically costs only $10/kilo of crabs. A tuk-tuk or motorbike can take you there from downtown Kep for only $3. Stalls are ready to serve your freshly-baked crab from 9:00 till 22:00.
#5 Phnom Kampong Trach Cave (water cave)
Set foot on purple-tinged soil, swim in a secret lake, greet the huge Sleeping Buddha, and take in the gorgeous limestone formations in Phnom Kampong Trach Cave.
The cave starts at the foot of a rocky mountain, where you can admire the Chinese-Vietnamese and Khmer pagodas that are almost 800 years old!
The Phnom Kampong Trach cave is near the border of Vietnam, about a 45-minute drive from Kep and an hour’s drive from Kampot.
Whether you’re coming from Kampot town, Kep, or Phnom Sorsia, it’s easy to find tuk-tuks which can take you to Phnom Kampong Trach Cave. The ride will cost you between $5-$20, and it takes you through beautiful countryside.
The entrance fee is $1, and you can ask the local kids to guide you around. Bring shoes that can get wet and a sarong to cover your knees, as Kampong Trach is a place of worship for local people.
#6 Caves at Phnom Sorsia (White Elephant cave)
This Buddhist hill complex is popular for its enchanting cave systems. As you pass under the rock formations, you will understand the reason for the name for Phnom Sorsia: the limestone formations resemble white elephants heads. These glitter under the low light pouring in from a small opening.
It’s easy to get there. On the way to Kep, just a few kilometers out of Kampot, you will see a sign for Phnom Sorsia. It’s about a 45-minute trip from both Kampot and Kep, and a one-way tuk-tuk ride will cost you about $5. From the parking lot, you will see a stairway leading up to the top, where you’ll find a colorful temple. Once at the top, on your left are steps that will lead you to the White Elephant Cave.
Local kids offer to serve as guides for a dollar or two. There are man-made steps, but you should still wear good sneakers, as the ground can be slippery. Be sure to wear long sleeves and pants because Phnom Sorsia is considered a holy place. You could also buy a sarong on the way and keep it as a souvenir to remind you of your trip to this cave system.
#7 Kampot Market
Fish out a bargain at the busiest place in town: the Kampot Central Market! Check out colorful sarongs and kramas, fill your basket with souvenirs, and try exotic dishes. Freshly-baked baguettes are also served.
From fresh produce to clothes, jewelry and household goods, you can find almost everything in this market. You will see goods spread out on the floor, carts bursting with crops, and finger foods sold on motorbikes.
From downtown, it only takes 5 to 10 minutes to walk to the Kampot Market, and stores are open from 8:00 to 17:00. Be prepared for the heat and flurry of people, but it’s the only way to fully experience a local Khmer market.
#8 Firefly River Cruise
Always wanted to see fireflies? Glide down the Kampong Bye River and watch fireflies dancing in the dark! No guarantee you will see them, but your chances will be highest with a new moon.
Most tours will leave before dusk, so you can watch the stunning sunset as the water turns different shades of yellow, red and purple. Most tours take around 2 hours. Captain Chim’s River is one of the most popular tours, only $5 per person including a drink. In more of a party mood? Check out Flying Dragon, or book a private boat for $20-$35.
Tip: Put on insect repellent, or wear long sleeves and pants to protect you from insect bites.
#9 Kep Beach
Rinse all the heat and stress away at Kep Beach! Laze around on the fine sand, go for a refreshing swim and treat yourself with freshly-caught seafood. Food stalls, cafes and restaurants are just across the street for hungry travellers. There are simple beach huts along the shoreline where you can find some shade and keep your belongings for an extra fee.
This single kilometer-long coastline near the tip of the Kep peninsula is a favorite Khmer holiday spot, so expect a lot of people, especially on the weekends.
The beach is located in the center of Kep and is about a 40-minute tuk-tuk drive ($8) from Kampot.
#10 Kep Butterfly Farm
Discover a hidden paradise in Kep! See the colorful butterflies, stroll through rich gardens and reconnect with nature.
If you want to take a break from the busy streets of Kep, simply take a tuk-tuk or a motorbike to Kep Butterfly Farm, located in a quiet and beautiful valley near the Kep National Park.
In this beautiful garden, you will find a dome that houses different species of butterflies. Outside are neatly-trimmed plants and trees, swings, benches, gazebos, and a view of surrounding farms.
From downtown Kep, you can hire a round-trip tuk-tuk or catch a ride on the back of a motorbike for $11. Be aware that the trip can be a bit bumpy. The farm is open from 7:00 to 17:00, with a $1 entrance fee, or $2 for a guided tour.
My favourite places to stay in Kampot
Located along a river outside of town, with palm trees all around, you ﬁnd Daom Djah Spirit. The excellent food and beautiful yet simple bungalows feel like a true nature retreat! It's a 15min ride to town, so rent a bike before you come here or ask the friendly staff to book a TukTuk for you.
Double Room with Shared Bathroom €12
Featuring a mini golf course, pool tables, and a pub with live entertainment, you deﬁnitely won’t get bored at The Magic Sponge. Located along Guesthouse Street, the city center and river are within walking distance. Owner William and his staff are very warm and welcoming.
Double Room from €21
Arcadia is heaven for backpackers. This hostel boasts an amazing waterpark featuring a waterslide and many other attributes that will guarantee a great day of fun. If you are not staying here, I still recommend to visit this place for an afternoon. Non-guests can access this waterpark for a small payment too. Once you got your wristband, get ready to launch your mates 10 meter high in the sky on the big blob!
Double Room from €14 and dorms from €4,50
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