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.
Tour of Kep and Kampot
On this tour, we’ll discover two provinces, Kampot and Kep. We will visit Salt Fields where you will see and understand how local people produce salt which supports their families. After finished it , you will move to crab market. You will see many fresh sea foods and more kind of local foods. At the afternoon, move ahead to La Plantation where a very fantastic view place. Moreover, you will be guided to see you pepper trees and the process of pepper. Last but not least, taking a water buffalo pulling cart around the villages is a new and unique experience for you and an ideal eco-friendly way to explore and enjoy the local countryside.
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(Editor update 2022)
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.Check availability here
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 on Giant Ibis Bus Services throughout Cambodia and found them to be on time and comfortable and we would travel with them again.
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Where are Kep and Kampot in Cambodia
Map of Kampot and Kep
Kampot is located 133km from Phnom Penh, approximately a 3-hour journey and Kep is 25 km from Kampot.
Top Things To Do in Kampot
Spend a Day at the BoTree Organic Farm and 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 ice cream – 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 the 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 the liver, weight loss and for 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 in Kampot in time for sunset.
$10 one-way and $15 return from Kampot or Kep. Rabbit Island’s 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 is 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 from 1923-to 1925 but unfortunately, it was destroyed during the civil war on the 16th of June 1971. The bridge was rebuilt to carry pedestrians and motorbikes.
French Colonial Buildings of 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
There are two markets to visit in Kampot:
- The art-deco Old Market was built in the 1930s
- Night Market – although it is small some of the food stalls serve up excellent Khmer cuisine
Shop at Tiny Pillow Kampot
Shop for souvenir or special handcrafted gifts for yourself, family or friends at Tiny Pillows Kampot.
BoTree Pepper Shop Kampot
Shop for your supply of BoTree Pepper at 46 Old Market Avenue in Kampot.
Bamboo Bungalows Kampot
Our stay in Kampot was made extra special by 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
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.
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.
Epic Arts Cafe Kampot
Address: # 67 Oosaupia Muoy Sovann Sakor, Kompong Kanda, Kampot. The Epic Arts Cafe profits help fund education for children with disabilities.
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
Dine by the river at Bamboo Bungalows for breakfast, lunch and dinner with outstanding views and an excellent menu.
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
Visit Kep’s famous Crab Market and enjoy a locally cooked lunch
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
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 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.
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.
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 provide fruit for their healthy juices and salads.
In Kep Town there are many restaurants on the waterfront to choose from, here are some of our favourites.
Kep Crab Markets
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 a lot of stalls to choose from. Watch where the locals are queuing and join them.
Kep Sailing Club Restaurant and Bar
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 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.
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.
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
Flight Deals to Phnom Penh
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