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Top Things To Do in Kep and Kampot in Cambodia

Once overlooked by travellers, Kep and Kampot are now becoming a ‘popular destination’ for those that want to see more of Cambodia than just Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Kampot and Kep are located on the South West coast of Cambodia and 25 km separates the two towns.  For two towns so close together they do differ.  If you want the beach you head to Kep and if you prefer the gentleness of a river make Kampot your base.  Kep has more of a french influence whilst Kampot has more of a backpacker vibe. Kampot is becoming a hub for digital nomads looking for a more relaxed life than what Phnom Penh offers. Kampot is more of a ‘foodies’ haven but saying that Kep is famous for its crab and seafood freshly caught and cooked daily at the Crab Market.

Bamboo Bungalow Kampot
Bamboo Bungalow Kampot

We spent a few nights in each, but fell in love with Kampot more.  Maybe it was our accommodation in Kampot, staying on the banks of the Praek Tuek Chhu River in Bamboo Bungalows.

It was hard to leave Bamboo Bungalows and head back to frenetic Phnom Penh but Angkor Wat was calling.

Our YouTube Video on Kep and Kampot

How To Get To Kep and Kampot

You can travel easily from Phnom Penh to Kep by bus, then take a tuk-tuk to Kampot and the bus back to Phnom Penh.  We use 12goasia to book bus tickets in Cambodia. We travelled with Giant Ibis Bus Services throughout Cambodia and found them to be on time and comfortable and we would travel with them again.

Powered by 12Go Asia system

 

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Where is Kep and Kampot Cambodia

Map of Kampot and Kep

Map of Kampot
Map of Kampot in Cambodia

 

 

Kampot is located 133km from Phnom Penh, approximately a 3-hour journey and Kep is 25 km from Kampot.

Map of Kep and Kampot
Kep and Kampot location

Top Things To Do in Kampot

Spend a Day at the BoTree Organic Farm and Plantation

Pepper plants at the BoTree Plantation
Pepper plants at the BoTree Plantation

You can organise a tuk-tuk from your hotel to the BoTree Plantation and you can include a visit to the Salt fields along the way.

Why you should spend a day at BoTree:

  • take a Plantation tour
  • visit the Pepper shop and café
  • enjoy fresh juices, tea, coffee and beers
  • dine on home-cooked peppery lunches – a favourite was the Amok Fish which used white pepper, vegetarian options are available (lime coconut rice)
  • BoTree is family owned and run
  • Relax in the peaceful countryside
  • Visit the Kampot Pepper Shop in Old Market Street Kampot

What we learnt about Kampot Pepper on our Plantation Tour:

  • Kampot pepper is favoured by Michelin Star chefs
  • Kampot Pepper is the only pepper in the world with protected geographical status
  • Black Kampot pepper has intense hot pepper flavours and is perfect for robust meat dishes, slow cooking and savoury sauces, bbq meats and makes the best ever peppercorn sauce
  • Red Kampot pepper is fruitier and has a sweeter mellow taste and is perfect for game, duck, pork and lamb, shellfish, pasta, salads, avocados, aubergines and fresh fruits. Try red pepper on vanilla icecream – yum and on coconut.
  • White Kampot pepper has a nutty flavour with a heat that keeps on going on and is great with classic white sauces, cheese, Asian cuisine, soups and scrambled eggs.
  • Pepper is one of the top 3 things we use on a daily basis
  • The first pepper plantations were by the French who arrived in Cambodia in the 1800s
  • With Kampot Pepper, you will use less and it is the most expensive pepper in the world
  • It is better to use a pestle and mortar on Kampot Pepper than a pepper grinder
  • The Cambodia fish/chicken dish – Amok – is best with white pepper as it brings out the flavours
  • You can infuse Gin with peppercorns – add 25 – 30 red peppercorns to a bottle of Gin and leave for 2 weeks.  You can re-use the peppercorns in a 2nd bottle of Gin but leave them for 3 weeks
  • Long Pepper aka Pipali which is now available in Harrods grows in Kampot. To make Pipali Tea you use 8 pieces per pot or 2 pieces in a mug or cup. It is good for liver, weight loss and for a detox.
  • Green salted pepper is perfect for salads, greek salads where it can replace olives, goats cheese, pasta, steak, casseroles, dry peanuts and salted pepper mixes
  • it takes 3 years for the first harvest
  • there are 440 farms now in Cambodia growing pepper

Visit the Salt Fields of Kampot Cambodia

Salt  (sodium chloride) is a mineral substance.

Sea salt is beneficial for human health:

  • assists cardiopulmonary disease
  • facilitates blood pressure
  • stabilises blood sugar levels and more
  • cleans the lungs
  • prevents colds
  • cures rashes
  • prevents arthritis pain

Kampot and Kep has produced sea salt since 1930.

The province has 4500 hectares dedicated to the production of sea salt and can produce 140,000 tonnes per year.

The Cambodian domestic market requires between 80,000 – 100,000 tonnes each year.

Take the Crab Shuttle to Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay)

Source: Crab Shuttle Facebook Page

There is a daily boat between Kampot and Kep on a converted local fishing vessel.

They depart Kampot at 9.00 am from the riverside in front of Rikitikitavi hotel and arrive in Kep at 11.20 am and return from Kep at 3.00 pm from the pier to Rabbit Island and arrive back into Kampot in time for sunset.

$10 one-way and $15 return from Kampot or Kep. Rabbit Island return from Kep is an additional cost.

There are cocktails and drinks available onboard.

Bokor Mountain Kampot

Bokor Mountain is a National Park and an area of historic interest 8 km from Kampot. Tours are available, check with your hotel or visit one of the travel agents in town.

At the top of Bokor Mountain, there are the ruins of a resort built by the French in the 1920s – the Le Bokor Palace Hotel and Casino. The hotel opened in 1925 and closed in 1940.

The road to the hotel and its construction was started in 1917, it took 6 years to finish the road and claimed over 1000 deaths.

In 1959 Sihanouk reopened the resort and added a casino in 1962 and renamed the complex the Kiri Hotel.

Today Soka Hotels have added 3 new hotels and a casino on the site with plans for a housing estate. Lok Yeay Mao Monument is one of the first things that you see on arrival at Bokor National Park.  We recommend that you stop and enjoy the views.

Walk the Rainbow Bridge

The Rainbow Bridge
Rainbow Bridge Kampot – pedestrians and motorcycles only

The Rainbow Bridge also known as the Old Rainbow Bridge was built to span the Kampong Bay River and connect the two banks – east and west.  It was built in 1923-1925 but unfortunately, it was destroyed during the civil war on the 16th June 1971.  The bridge was rebuilt to carry pedestrians and motorbikes.

French Colonial Buildings of Kampot

French Colonial Architecture in Kampot
Admire the French Colonial Architecture in Kampot

Kampot’s French Colonial architecture dates back to the late 19th century and early 20th century.  Wander the streets and you will see some of them still in a dilapidated state and some that have been converted into boutique hotels and restaurants.

Markets of Kampot

Markets in Kampot
Markets along the riverside in Kampot

There are two markets to visit in Kampot:

  • The art-deco Old Market that was built in the 1930s
  • Night Market – although it is small but some of the food stalls serve up excellent Khmer cuisine

Shop at Tiny Pillow Kampot

Shop for local handicrafts at Tiny Pillow
Tiny Pillow Kampot for handmade local handicrafts

Shop for souvenir or special handcrafted gifts for yourself, family or friends at Tiny Pillows Kampot.

BoTree Pepper Shop Kampot

BoTree Pepper Shop
Visit the BoTree Pepper Shop

Shop for your supply of BoTree Pepper at 46 Old Market Avenue in Kampot.

Kampot Hotels 

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Bamboo Bungalows Kampot

Double room on the river at Bamboo Bungalows
Our double room on the river at Bamboo Bungalows

Our stay in Kampot was made extra special from our stay at Bamboo Bungalows.  We were fortunate to be able to book a double room overlooking the river.  These rooms are very popular and you do need to book them well in advance.

The rooms were comfortable and the lapping of the river certainly lulled us to sleep every night.  During the day we would relax on the balcony and watch life on the river pass us by. The hotel’s restaurant was excellent for breakfast, lunch and dinner and very reasonably priced. Tours are also available from the hotel.

 

Old Cinema Hotel Kampot

Pool at Old Cinema Hotel Kampot
Swimming Pool at the Old Cinema Hotel

Although we did not stay at the Old Cinema Hotel we undertook a site inspection.  The Old Cinema Hotel is located at 27 street no 700, Kampot.  When we visited it had just opened.

Bedroom at the Old Cinema Hotel
Double room at the Old Cinema Hotel in Kampot

We would definitely stay there next time we visited.  The hotel offers a swimming pool, bar and restaurant and luxury accommodation. It is a popular lunch spot for ex-pats and a great place to enjoy a drink or two before dining in their restaurant in the evening.

 

Kampot Restaurants

Epic Arts Cafe Kampot

Epic Arts Cafe Kampot
Enjoy breakfast and lunch at the Epic Arts Cafe in Kampot

Address: # 67 Oosaupia Muoy Sovann Sakor, Kompong Kanda, Kampot.  The Epic Arts Cafe profits help fund education for children with disabilities.

Lunch at the Epic Arts Cafe Kampot
Lunch at the Epic Arts Cafe in Kampot

They offer a great menu with vegetarian and gluten-free options as well and it is always busy.  Head upstairs to their Creations shop selling locally handmade goods. They are open for breakfast and lunch.

Bamboo Bungalows Kampot

Breakfast at the Bamboo Bungalows
Breakfast at Bamboo Bungalows Kampot

Dine by the river at Bamboo Bungalows for breakfast, lunch and dinner with outstanding views and an excellent menu.

Dinner at Bamboo Bungalows Kampot
Dinner at Bamboo Bungalows

 

 

 

A range of vegetarian options are available.

TOP THINGS TO DO IN KEP CAMBODIA

Originally established as a French Colonist retreat in the early 1900s Kep was also known as the  St Tropez of South East Asia.

Things to do in Kep

Hike Kep’s National Park – there is an 8km main trail walk available with outstanding views and opportunities to see local wildlife such as monkeys, squirrels, lizards, butterflies and more

Coastal Exploration – by Knai Bang Chatt – explore the coast on a kayak or paddleboard with a local guide

Kep Market
Visit Kep Market

Visit Kep’s famous Crab Market and enjoy a locally cooked lunch

Kep Beach
Chill out on Kep Beach

Chill out on Kep Beach

Abandoned villa from the 1930s
Abandoned Villa on the road from Kep Beach to Kep Town

Check out one of the abandoned villas owned by the elite (on the road from Kep Beach to Kep Town)

KEP  CAMBODIA HOTELS

Saraovan Hotel at Kep Beach

Our bedroom at Saraovan Hotel
Our bedroom at Saraovan Hotel overlooking Kep Beach

We stayed at the Saraovan Hotel on Kep Beach a few minutes walk from the bus station and the night markets on the beach.  The location was perfect for us, the views were outstanding, and there were a few restaurants close by. One of our favourites was the Italian Corner.

Kep Town is about a 25-minute walk along the coast or an easy tuk-tuk ride. Kep Town is famous for its Crab Market and freshly grilled seafood.

 

Khmer Hands Kep

 

Khmer Hands Bungalows
Bungalows at Khmer Hands

Khmer Hands offers traditional Khmer bungalows at Phum Thmey, Prey Thom, Kep City, Kep Province. Traditional Khmer decor is used throughout their very comfortable accommodation with ceiling fans, ensuite bathrooms and views of the garden or to the mountains. The stilted Khmer style bungalows are made from local stone and wood.

Double room at Khmer Hands
Double room accommodation at Khmer Hands

Taken from the Khmer Hands website – “We are a resort and school of cultural arts and hospitality working to bring hope and holistic health to the disadvantaged and at-risk through providing education and growing opportunities to secure safe and rewarding employment.”

We visited Khmer Hands after finding out about their resort and school from the Arts Cafe in Kep Town. When you visit say hi to Kris Warner, the owner for us, and tell him that To Travel Too sent you.

Khmer Hands Restaurant
Dine at the Khmer Hands Restaurant

Enjoy a unique dining experience in their restaurant with a view offering Khmer and Western Food. Their vegetable garden supplies fresh produce to the restaurant and their mango, banana and jackfruit trees provides fruit for their healthy juices and salads.

 

 

KEP RESTAURANTS

Kep Restaurants
Restaurants in Kep line the waterfront

In Kep Town there are many restaurants on the waterfront to choose from, here are some of our favourites.

Kep Crab Markets

Kep Crab Market
Enjoy freshly grilled crabs and seafood at Kep Crab Market

Head to Kep Crab Market for freshly grilled crabs and seafood.  You can choose your crab or seafood and have it cooked for you.  It can be very busy at lunchtime, but there are alot of stalls to choose from.  Watch where the locals are queuing and join them.

Kep Sailing Club Restaurant and Bar

Kep Sailing Club
Kep Sailing Club

Set in a restored wooden fisherman’s hut, Kep Sailing Club has great views. Head there for sunset and enjoy their special happy hour cocktails. They are open for lunch and dinner.

Arts Cafe Kep

 

Arts Cafe
Arts Cafe Kep

Arts Cafe is part of the Khmer Hands group.  Our favourite for breakfast and lunch, we did not make it back for dinner.  Excellent food, great prices, with great views and welcoming staff.

Italian Corner

The Italian Corner
Italian Corner on Kep Beach

The Italian Corner located on Kep Beach was our restaurant in the evening.  Just a few minutes walk from our hotel the Italian Corner offered Italian cuisine, pizza and European dishes.  There were vegetarian options available.  It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  You may need to book in the evenings in the peak season between December and March.

Conclusion

There is so much to see and do in Kep and Kampot we would recommend that you allow at least a week to enjoy both places.  We were impressed with the quality of restaurants and accommodation in both towns.  One of the many highlights was the visit to the BoTree Pepper Plantation and enjoying lunch dishes prepared with their unique pepper. The flavours were incredible, it does make you think twice about using pepper that we are used to buying on a regular basis.  As we learnt you only need a small amount of Kampot pepper to enhance the flavour of your dishes.

General Information for Kep and Cambodia

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Thanks for stopping by and welcome to To Travel Too – Australia’s top Baby Boomer lifestyle and travel blog, with an international worldwide audience in mind, run by the married couple, freelance writers and full-time travellers Jane and Duncan Dempster-Smith. Come with us as we explore the world. Our two mantras that we live by are 'chase time not money' and 'age is no barrier when it comes to travel'.

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