Kampot, Cambodia

Kampot River  

Updated November 20th, 2017.

Less than an hour’s drive in a (fairly) comfortable minibus from Sihanoukville will take you to Kampot, where some people have been known to stay for weeks on end! Best described as a sleepy provincial capital with a rather ‘retro ambience’, here you’ll find colonial architecture, a chilled-out riverfront, and of course, Bokor Mountain.

Built up in the early 1900s as a French colonial hill-station, the community included a hotel called The Bokor Palace Hotel opened in 1925, plus a casino, church, school, post-office, royal residence and a number of grand houses. The buildings are now all ruins, and the mountain itself a part of the Preah Monivong National Park.

However, the ball to rebuild and regenerate is already rolling, with some seriously lavish hotel/casino plans in the pipeline (which will, apparently, include a theme park).

UPDATE: The very expensive new Thansur Bokor Highland Resort & Casino is now open!

Places To Stay in Kampot:

For budget backpackers, look no further than Titch’s Place – it’s the only backpacker place on the river. Utopia, from $6 a night, is another good bet, as is Olly’s Place (which also offers free windsurfing, paddle-boarding, kayaking and bicycles to guests!).

For something a bit more upmarket, The Columns is a restored French Colonial house on a quiet tree-lined street in the heart of old town Kampot and will cost you between $35 and $49 a night.

Villa Vedici on the riverfront is another good option: it’s got a big garden and swimming pool, great bar, and the restaurant (serving Western, Khmer and Mexican food), is delicious. You can also book a number of activities here – from kite surfing to water skiing, canoeing, wake-boarding, or even a simple sunset cruise.

Things To Do in Kampot:

Chillax on the riverfront. Enough said.

The luscious green countryside surrounding Kampot
Explore the luscious green countryside surrounding Kampot.

Visit Bokor Mountain and the Preah Monivong National Park – Home to wildlife including tigers, elephants, gibbons and rare birds. A lot of the area is being regenerated, but it’s still worth a day trip. You can cycle or moto your way up there at your own pace, no guide necessary, although you can also arrange a trek up there with any number of guesthouses in town. 

Visit Wat Ey Sey. This is a hidden, and very isolated temple which gets hardly any visitors, so try not to disturb the monks. Definitely worth the journey, though – if only for the refreshing mountain stream en route, and the tiny bamboo jungles full of squirrels.

Go on a cycle tour. The office on the riverfront offers one where you leave at 8.30am for 1hr cycling, 2 hrs trekking (plus time to relax, and swim). You’ll follow that up with a visit to various plantations and surrounding countryside, with a sunset cruise to top it off. Lunch, water and guide are included. Butterfly Tours are one such company who offer biking tours in Kampot.

Go on a firefly watching boat tour in the evening. Ox-cart tours, fishing, kayaking and windsurfing can be done from Kampot, too.Join in the jam – (if you’re a musician!) at the JAM-POT sessions every Tuesday and Sunday nights at Art Bar Craze. Or, if you want to try out Kampot’s original hang-out, particularly popular with expats (who call themselves ‘potpats’!), then head to Bar Red.

Visit the caves – and several superb cave temples, and at least one pepper plantation. Kampot pepper is world famous!

Trips & Tours in Kampot…

Getting There:

From Phnom Penh Buses leave the city twice daily, at around 7 am and 1 pm. Some buses go via Kep, and this journey takes five hours. Others go direct to Kampot, taking around three and a half hours.

From SihanoukvilleThe easiest way to get to Kampot from Sihanoukville is by taxi. Find some friends, and the journey should only cost you $3-5 each. Minibuses also leave for Kampot roughly twice daily.

Where To Go Next?

Kep: If you’re a lover of seafood, then head to Kep next. Just 25km east of Kampot, a tuk-tuk should cost you around $8 USD.

Sihanoukville: Cambodia’s biggest beach resort, make Sihanoukville your next stop if you’re a beach (and party) lover. Buses and minivans leave daily.

 

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