Situated in the southeastern region of Cambodia, the small town of Kampot has become a magnet for backpackers and foreign travellers.
Unlike other larger towns and cities across Cambodia, Kampot’s captivating aura isn’t determined by how chaotic it is, but by its quieter and more welcoming atmosphere, and the many things you can see and do here.
Once in Kampot, you truly realise its tranquillity. You won’t be overwhelmed by street noise or near-deafened by endless car horns. Instead, you’ll be greeted with a warm, peaceful, and quiet Cambodian home filled with rustic French-colonial architecture and traditional Khmer-style buildings.
Reasons to visit Kampot
Most travellers visit Kampot for its relaxing vibes and the feel of a real Cambodian town, influenced by French architecture. But this doesn’t mean there is nothing else to explore.
The main reason why travellers visit Kampot is to explore the nearby Bokor National Park, which once served as a holiday resort during the French colonisation.
After a visit to the National Park, Kampot is a perfect base to explore nearby caves, a local pepper farm, the Kep Crab Market and the Arcadia waterpark to awaken your inner child.
However, you shouldn’t mistake sleepy and quiet for boring or lifeless. That’s definitely not the case here. There’s nightlife and adventure out there ready for you to discover. It’s not an all-out party scene (most places shut before 1am), but it’s also not a “One drink and I’ll be in bed by 10pm” kind of thing either — there’s a really nice middle ground.
Most of the pubs, bars, and restaurants are clearly designed for backpackers and foreign tourists — you can tell from the Western-influenced names alone! You have the Irish-themed Oh Neil’s pub, the American hipster-ish Jetzt Kampot bar, and the German-style Petra’s Snitzelhouse restaurant.
You’ll find most of them together on the eastern side of the Praek Tuek Chhu river, which runs right through the city. This river hosts many activities for you to do, as we’ll cover later on in the guide.
Where to stay in Kampot
As you probably already guessed, Kampot is pretty small. However, the size doesn’t reflect the number of accommodation options there are, nor is it an indication of how much there is to do.
The city has more than enough to satisfy even the pickiest of travellers.
If you’re stuck on where to stay, let’s break it down for you a little bit. The town comprises three distinct areas. Each has its own benefits and is suited to the different temperaments of travellers. We’ll say more about that in a moment.
Luckily, Kampot has more than enough transport for you to choose from, so getting around town isn’t really that difficult. Tuk-tuks and taxis are practically everywhere.
Location #1: Kampot’s town centre is the life and soul of the party
The centre of Kampot is arguably the most popular place to stay, especially if you want the nightlife. You’ll find a whole host of western and Khmer-style restaurants, bars, and pubs to suit every individual’s tastebuds.
Situated directly over the Entanou Bridge on the eastern side of the river, it has the highest density of accommodation anywhere in the town. Most places to stay can be found along the river itself towards the south, where it splits into two, or further inland to the east near the famous Durian Roundabout.
Prices vary. For a cheap and cheerful hostel, expect to pay around $4-$5, which will get you a bed in an 8-person dormitory.
For more upmarket accommodation, particularly your own private room, you’re going to pay slightly more — anywhere in the region of $14-$25 per night. If you’re going to pay that much, we recommend staying somewhere on the riverfront. The views are pretty spectacular when the sun begins to set.
Location #2: Choose the Thvi district for a more relaxing time
Thvi is on the opposite side of the Entanou Bridge, with less accommodation than the town centre — it’s also far quieter.
That’s not to say it’s boring. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
Thvi has everything the town centre has, but on a much smaller scale. The nightlife is pretty chilled out and is perfect for a casual beer or three — in fact, there’s a great riverfront cocktail bar called Dragon Club if you’re craving some sweet and fruity Kampot drinks.
Some accommodation in Thvi is a little more expensive, but prices are generally the same as Kampot’s town centre.
Location #3: Kampot’s Inner and Outer Northside is a rural countryside haven
The inner and outer northside of Kampot is definitely the most rural of the three locations. There is a smaller range of places to stay, spread out on both the east and west sides of the river further up into the northern districts. If you’re looking for a very quiet, remote spot then this is your place.
If you travel up the western side of the river past Thvi’s north border into Ou Touch, you’ll find a couple of solid accommodation spots — Arcadia is one of them.
If you travel up the opposite side of the river from Kampot centre, you’ll find a few upmarket villas and resorts — these aren’t particularly budget-friendly, to be honest.
However, if you continue further up north to where the river meanders, there’s a small collection of guesthouses and hostels in and around the water. These accommodation options really push you into the wild Kampot countryside. Expect to pay anywhere between $5-$20 per night.
PRO TIP: There’s no beachfront accommodation in Kampot — in fact, there’s no beach at all. Instead, you can choose from several cuisines along the waterfront or book a hostel or hotel on the banks of the river. Kep Beach, situated 30 km to the northwest in Kep town, is your only option if you want to visit a beach around Kampot.
How to get to Kampot
The easiest way to reach Kampot is by bus, whether you are coming from Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville.
There is also a railway station in Kampot, but the journey often takes longer, with extra time and costs to get to the railway station.
See below for estimates of the duration and costs of the most popular routes to 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.
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.
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!