If you’re visiting Kep soon, you’ve come to the right place. After reading this guide, you’ll know which area to stay in, where to find the best restaurants and how to get around this chilled beach town in Cambodia.
What to expect in Kep
Once ruled by the French, Kep is a small beach town with a French flair. At its peak, the French’s enthusiasm for luxury made it one of the most inviting destinations in Cambodia.
Now, after being in the hands of the Khmer Rouge, Kep looks a bit different. Whilst some of the colonial buildings and villas remain, luxury probably isn’t the word to describe them anymore. Some of them have been left abandoned, which despite being a sad sight to see, it does make them a cool place to explore.
Being the smallest region in Cambodia, Kep really does boast that small and laid back beach town vibe. The golden-sand beach is a popular weekend destination for locals looking to escape the nearby bigger cities.
Is Kep worth visiting?
Without a doubt, one of the best things about Kep has to be its spectacular and fresh seafood. A sunset dinner enjoying some of the best seafood in Cambodia makes the trip to Kep worth it. Plus, you can explore the famous Kep Crab Market and try freshly-caught crab cooked in a delicious peppercorn sauce.
The seafood may be tempting, but if you’re looking solely for a beach holiday and destination, Kep isn’t the best that Cambodia has to offer. Those looking for white-sand beaches, swaying palm trees and dreamy waters should head to Koh Rong Samloem and Koh Rong instead.
How many days should you spend in Kep?
Kep and the nearby town of Kampot are often banded together. A lot of people choose to stay in one or the other, making a day trip to visit the other town.
If that’s you, and you only want to stay in one of the towns, we recommend making Kampot your base. Kep is only a 40-minute tuk-tuk from Kampot, so it can easily be reached for a day trip. Really, you can cover most of the things to do in and around Kep in one day.
Kampot has better nightlife, more amenities and a larger choice of things to do.
To help you make the most of your time in Kep, we’ve put together a list of the top things to do in Kep and Kampot.
Where to stay in Kep
Kep has a reputation for being small and modest, but there are still many places for you to stay. Being small, it means that choosing which area to stay in isn’t going to make or break your stay. Although some areas may suit you better than others.
Below, we’ve broken down the different areas of Kep and how accommodations vary between them:
Location #1: Eastern side of Kep — for budget travelers
The eastern area of Kep is very convenient if you’re looking to take the boat over to Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island) from Koh Tonsay Boat Terminal. You can find out more about Rabbit Island in our things to do in Kep and Kampot guide.
Budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses are pretty common here. A 6-person dormitory in a local guesthouse can cost you as little as $3-$4. Private rooms are priced upwards of $10 per night.
Location #2: Western side of Kep — luxury hotels and the famous Crab Market
The west side of Kep is where you’ll find the famous Kep Crab Market, as well as some pretty incredible seafood restaurants overlooking the sea.
You’ll also find luxury resorts and villas aimed more towards travellers with higher budgets and families.
Prices vary between $30-$100 per night (sometimes more). You’ll find some budget accommodation here too, but don’t expect as much choice as in the east.
Location #3: Kep Beach — beach and sea views
Kep Beach is probably the most desirable area to stay — the beach is there, after all. However, there aren’t as many accommodation options, which is very surprising. You’d think there would be, right?
There are only a handful of places directly on the beachfront. And the prices are much higher than in the east. You’ll be looking to pay anywhere between $20-$60 a night for a private room.
If you still want to be in this area, but don’t want to pay those kinds of prices, you can venture slightly north. The accommodations here will be more budget-friendly, but you miss out on the sea view.
Best places to eat in Kep
Kep is a beachtown so can you guess what that means? Delicious and fresh seafood that more than likely was caught the same day.
And, a number of restaurants and cafes are situated right on the seafront, offering unbeatable views. Here are our favourite places to eat in Kep:
Kep Crab Market — delicious and fresh seafood
Kep Crab Market is one of the most famous places to visit in Kep. People come to Kep in order to experience this market. Here you can choose the seafood that you want to eat and have it cooked right in front of your eyes within minutes.
If you want to find out how to get your hands on some tasty crab and how Kep Crab Market works, check out our things to do in Kep and Kampot guide.
Knai Bang Chatt Sailing Club — the perfect spot for sunset
Knai Bang Chatt Sailing Club is one of the pricier places in Kep. What you’re really paying for here is the location and ambience. The sailing club is an amazing spot to watch the sunset whilst enjoying some delicious seafood or a glass of wine.
The cocktails are probably some of the best you can find in Kep.
Majorelle Kep — incredible food paired with an unforgettable setting
Slightly further from the seafront of Kep, Majorelle is worth the journey. And in Cambodia, there’s always an affordable tuk-tuk roaming around looking for customers. The setting is beautiful, boasting incredible views and a refreshing mountain breeze.
The food is without a doubt some of the best you’ll find in Kep, offering dishes from all around the world. The food is amazing, but the owner is the star of the show, recommending the best dishes for you and always putting a smile on everyone’s face.
How to get around in Kep
Like we said before, Kep is a pretty small town, which means that you can walk to most places that you need to go. To give you an idea, the walk from Kep Beach to the Crab Market takes around 20 minutes.
If you’re not a fan of walking, a bicycle can help you to get to places faster and can also be a lot of fun. You can rent bicycles from a lot of accommodations or bike rental shops in town. Bicycles cost around $2-5 per day.
If you want freedom and the ability to explore where you want, when you want, then consider renting a moped. Tourists can rent mopeds up to 125cc without a specific motorbike licence.
There are a number of shops in Kep where you can rent a moped from, or ask your accommodation to help. Renting a moped costs between $4-5 per day.
Your fourth option is to hop in a tuk-tuk — motorised three-wheel rickshaws that you’ll find everywhere. They’ll be almost every colour of the rainbow, and are a cheap way to get around Kep.
A ride within Kep should cost between $1-4. If you’re looking to get from Kep to Kampot, the 40-minute tuk-tuk ride should cost around $15.
How to get to Kep
|Siem Reap to Kep
|Sihanoukville to Kep
|Phnom Penh to Kep
|Battambang to Kep
|30 minutes-2 hours
|Kampot to Kep
Now that you’ve finished reading this guide, you’re almost ready for your adventure in Kep. The next step is to create your personalised itinerary with our top picks of what to do in Kep and Kampot. Simply choose your favourite activities and places to visit, and you’re all set to make lasting memories in Kep.
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Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.