The old colonial beach resort of Kep is just a tuk tuk ride away from Kampot (about 30 mins), and is worth a visit if only to poke around some of the empty, decaying old pre-war French villas, all completely wrecked by the Khmer Rouge. Kep is quiet – some might argue eerily so – and the beach is pebbled (not a speckle of sand in sight). The sunsets, however, are beautiful, as is the food – expect an abundance of fresh prawn, steamed shrimp, fried squid, and the famous Crab with Local Pepper (any of the cafes at the Crab Market overlooking the ocean will have the foodies amongst you in raptures).
There are also an increasing number of bars and restaurants popping up, all of which are excellent. The restaurant, ‘Breezes’, offers quality food in a great garden setting by the sea, with lounge beds and a romantic dinner setting, its competitors including Auberge De Wam behind Kep Market (with giant aquariums and views of the sea, islands and the Vietnamese coast), and Knai Bang Chatt – an upscale restaurant offering fine dining next to the sea.
There’s also the Kep Saloon (Kep’s very first air-con wine and beer bar), that’s got a creperie, ice-cream parlour and finger food on the menu), and the Kep Rock Café, a live sports bar which does a great Khmer-style BBQ to boot.
Beware: There aren’t any banks in Kep, so take out the money you’ll need in Kampot.
Places To Stay in Kep
Despite Kep being quiet, there are a whole load of accommodation options to choose from, ranging from budget (Tree Tops Bungalows offer 21 wooden bungalows and 2 tree top houses on a big fruit farm from $5 – $25 a night, and the sociable Kepmandou from $3 a night) to (a great deal) at high-end, such as Veranda Natural Resort – an exclusive nature retreat nestled in a quiet hillside, with private luxury bungalows. We’d also recommend the very popular Kep Lodge, situated just below Kep National Park with gorgeous ocean views, an infinity salt-water pool, free bicycles, a restaurant serving Khmer and Swiss specialties, and excellent WiFi. For more information, go to www.keplodge.com or www.visitkep.com
The beautiful Kep Lodge pool area from above
Things To Do in Kep
- Stroll along the long promenade, stopping at The Crab Market, or some of the cafes near the pier, where you can also laze in hammocks and gaze out onto the ocean.
Kep’s beautiful crab market at sunset
- Visit one of the pepper plantations.
- Go horseriding in the countryside courtesy of The Plantation Ranch.
- Visit the limestone caves or hike to the top of Phnom Salei (in the mountain areas of Kampong Trach).
- Get some sailing instruction from The Sailing Club and Wam Tours (which have boats and kayaks for rent). You can also hire one of the Sailing Club’s three Hobie cats or take a speedboat out to sea.
The sailing club on the waterfront in Kep
- Take the 30 minute boat ride to Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) – we’d definitely recommend staying overnight!
Take a trip to the beautiful Rabbit Island
From Phnom Penh (3-5 hours): Buses leave the city twice daily, at around 7am and 1pm. Some buses go via Kampot.
From Kampot (30-45 minutes): Only 25km away, this journey should take 30-45minutes and is paved and smooth. A good one to travel by motorbike.
Where To Go Next?
Sihanoukville: Hit the beaches of Sihanoukville (aka Stuckville!) for some R&R after all the hiking and trekking. Find out more about Sihanoukville here.
Battambang: If you’re willing to travel a little further, then head up to Battambang for some cycling, swimming and eating. Check out our guide to Battambang here.