In the south of Cambodia, Kampot is a backpacker’s favourite, with many expats now calling the town home. Famous for some of the best black, red and white pepper in the world, visitors can explore the several plantations around the town and appreciate Kampot’s beautiful french architecture.
Situated along the Preaek Tuek Chhu River, Kampot was the former capital of Cambodia under French rule but now boasts a sleepy provincial town that attracts an abundance of tourists year-round.
Only one hour away from Sihanoukville, Kampot has a chilled vibe and stands in sharp contrast with the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. With endless waterfalls, bustling night markets and countless coffee shops and eateries, Kampot is becoming one of the top destinations for laidback travellers across the globe.
Kampot Map & Resources
Best Time to Visit Kampot
With temperatures usually floating between 23 and 32 degrees Celsius in the dry season, the perfect time to visit Kampot is from December right the way through to March. Whilst the region can witness the odd thunderstorm throughout this period, the generally warm temperatures in the dry season make these months the best time to explore Kampot’s nature – making the most of the river setting and surrounding waterfalls that the town has to offer.
Where to Stay in Kampot
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The sleepy fishing village of Kampot has much to offer in the way of accommodation, and whilst the area is not too big, there are a couple of well-known areas you can stay in when you visit.
- Main Town: Perfectly located close to all the cafés, markets, restaurants and shops, Main Town is suited to anyone who wants to stay in the central tourist area of Kampot. The city is not a busy place but it has much to offer visitors including delicious local cuisine, charming architecture, trendy coffee spots and a growing expat community.
- Riverfront: This is a budget-friendly area popular with backpackers searching for a good deal. It’s located a little further out of the main town. Ride a bicycle and take in the views as you whizz past rice paddies, water buffalo, street food vendors and lots of smiling locals.
Best Hostels in Kampot
1. Karma Traders Hostel – Top Pick!
For the social backpacker who also wants to unwind, book a stay at Karma Traders Hostel. With dorm rooms for as little as $5USD per night and weekly scheduled socials such as ‘Taco Tuesdays’ and 2-for-1 cocktail happy hours every day, this hostel is a budget-friendly option with a lively atmosphere.
During the day, guests can enjoy spending time around the pool and playing with the friendly hostel dogs before heading up to the rooftop bar and enjoying live music in the evenings. The hostel is also a clear favourite for local expats so it’s a sociable place to unwind and chat after a long day of exploring.
Just over a kilometre from the town centre and also close to the night market, this is one of the newest hostels in Kampot. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the modern amenities, clean and bright interiors and beautiful large outdoor swimming pool.
The rooms are spacious and private rooms have a mini fridge and ensuite bathroom. Overall, it is a clean, practical and comfy choice.
Benefiting from a central location, excellent menu and comfortable rooms, the Rikitikitavi hotel has a rooftop terrace that offers guests fantastic sunset views over town. Couples will particularly love the relaxing ambience of the double rooms and there are even family rooms to accommodate those travelling with the kids in tow.
This special place offers riverfront jungle bungalows. Essentially, it’s a small slice of heaven! As well as being beautiful, Eden is an eco-friendly business that aims to take care of the environment.
Here you will find solar hot water showers, eco-toilets, fresh home-grown produce and yoga sessions. This scenic retreat is ideal for solo travellers looking for solitude or couples in search of a private getaway.
Things to Do in Kampot
1. Take a Riverboat Trip ⛵
Kampot is situated along the Preaek Tuek Chhu river so there are loads of water-based activities to do here (such as boat trips along the river and stand-up paddleboarding) as well as just lazing on the banks and enjoying the views. But there is so much more to do and see in Kampot than just enjoying the beautiful river setting…
2. Visit a Pepper Plantation ፨
Famous for its pepper production, no trip to Kampot is complete without a visit to a local plantation. When it comes to geographical status, Kampot pepper is as linked to the region as Swiss watches are to Switzerland. With flavours ranging from super spicy to very sweet, a plantation visit will allow you to taste the pepper varieties as well as see how it is made on-site.
The most popular pepper plantations for tourists to visit include Sothy’s Pepper Farm, La Plantation and The Vine Retreat. Surprisingly, most of these tours are free! All you’ll need to pay for is your transport to and from the plantation and all the pepper that you’ll be likely to bring back with you.
3. Explore Bokor National Park ?️
If you can get your hands on a moped, it is worth making the trip to visit the Bokor National Park. With a scenic route that rivals the Hai Van Pass in Vietnam, the journey finds you meandering your way 1000 metres up to the top of the national park. During the climb, you’ll be able to look down on the beautiful Kampot region, as well as pass countless monkeys and mini waterfalls along the way.
The journey takes around one hour from Kampot but this shouldn’t deter you as the road is well-paved and manageable for any vehicle.
Once you get to the top, you’re welcomed by an abandoned French resort and colonial-hill station that used to be the go-to holiday destination when Cambodia was under French rule. Over the years, the site gradually fell into disrepair and the area became a favourite among urban explorers.
After the news broke that Sokha Hotels and Resorts were going to ‘rejuvenate’ the site and turn the old hill-station into a luxury hotel, those with a love of exploring abandoned places united in their grief at losing one of their favourite urban playgrounds.
These days, you can still find derelict buildings in Bokor National Park and there is even a small Chinese village situated amongst the clouds. The site also has an abandoned train station – but the old hill station now functions as the swanky Le Bokor Palace Hotel.
This place provides a bizarre yet wonderful adventure and is unlikely to be similar to anything you have seen before. But remember to pack a warm jacket! The drive up may be warm but once you’re at the top and 1000m above sea level, it does get chilly!
4. Make a Splash at Arcadia Hostel ?
Arcadia Backpacker Hostel is located just outside of Kampot in a village called Snam BrampI and is home to Cambodia’s very own waterpark! There is a waterslide, rope swing, climbing wall and kayaks. Whilst guests of the hostel get to use all the facilities for free, you can turn up and pay to use the park for the day, spending your time both relaxing by the river and enjoying the slides.
5. Take a Day Trip to Kep ?
Just a 30-minute tuk-tuk drive from Kampot is the sleepy fishing village of Kep. Famous for its crab market and tasty seafood restaurants, it is the perfect place to relax and unwind off the beaten track. No trip to Kep is complete without trying some local crab dishes and there are many restaurants along the seafront so a hearty meal is very easy to find.
For adventurous travellers, an alternative route to Kep from Kampot is via the Crab Shuttle, a boat service that runs daily trips between the two towns on a converted fishing boat.
6. Visit Wat Ey Sey ?
This is a hidden and very isolated temple which gets hardly any visitors, so try not to disturb the monks! It’s definitely worth the journey though, if only for the refreshing mountain stream en route, and the tiny bamboo jungles full of squirrels.
7. Cool down in Veal Pouch Waterfall ?
Whilst waterfalls are abundant around Kampot, Veal Pouch is a must-see. The road leading to the waterfall can be a bit tricky on a moped or motorbike but once you arrive, there are numerous natural pools to bathe in as well as cute little spots to rest and enjoy the flowing streams.
Try going on a Sunday as the locals are often there enjoying the sun, plus it’s a great opportunity to have a chat over a cold Cambodian beer!
8. Go Firefly Watching ✨
Head out on an evening boat and witness the sun melt behind the epic Bokor Mountain. If you get lucky, you can see fireflies over the water, dancing through the sky. Many of the guesthouses and tour companies over town offer these trips and they are very budget-friendly.
9. Explore Kampot’s Caves ?
There are loads of caves outside the city just waiting to be explored. Although you may be disappointed with the size of these caves if you’ve already visited a few in Vietnam, they are a nice way to spend a day.
10. Check Out the Night Market ?
Kampot has a bustling night market where you can try out all the local delicacies as well as stock up on any trinkets and presents to take with you back home.
Situated next to the famous ‘Durain Roundabout’, this market is home to countless local food stalls which makes it the perfect place to try out multiple Cambodian dishes including the infamous Lok Lak and Amok curry.
11. Jump on a Bicycle ?
Kampot is a wonderful place to explore on two wheels. Plenty of cycle tours are offered by the various tour companies around town which will take you around the more off-the-beaten-track locations, however, you don’t need a tour group to get peddling! Many of the guesthouses in Kampot rent bicycles to guests for just a couple of dollars a day.
Food and Drink in Kampot
With a bustling tourist population and Kampot slowly becoming a clear favourite for expats due to its relaxing way of life and cheap prices, there’s a huge array of foods and cuisines to try across the town.
There’s an abundance of cute western cafés and multiple Cambodian joints meaning there is something for every kind of foodie! Here are just a few firm favourites to add to your lists:
Cafe Espresso – Best breakfast in town! ?
This industrial-style cafe brews its own coffee beans and offers an extensive range of Western breakfasts with a subtle Cambodian twist. Travellers love the large open space and friendly staff and it also doubles up as the perfect place to work and plan your adventure!
Cafe Espresso is closed on Mondays so be sure to pencil it into your itinerary – it shouldn’t be missed!
Epic Arts Cafe – Support an NGO! ??
This social enterprise cafe was opened in 2006 to increase work opportunities for people with disabilities in the Kampot area.
The menu is full of Cambodian and Western dishes with a fabulous selection of cakes and milkshakes to wash down your meal. What’s better is that with every penny you spend, you’re helping to contribute to more inclusive arts projects across the country.
Ecran Noodles and Dumplings – Best dumplings in Kampot! ?
This local joint is situated slap bang on the river and visitors can enjoy the tastiest dumplings there whilst watching the world go by. With vegetable, pork and shrimp dumplings to choose from, it’s the perfect dinner spot or lunchtime snack. The prices can’t be complained about either.
Bob Marley’s Pizza – Cheapest beer in Kampot! ?
Hands down, Bob Marley’s Pizza is home to the CHEAPEST beer in Kampot with local lager priced as little as 50 cents! A clear favourite with locals, expats and tourists alike, a Cambodian pint (served in an ice-cold glass) can be accompanied by a range of pizzas with extensive toppings. This is another great spot for dinner or the perfect place to line your stomach before a big night on the town.
Getting Around Kampot
The best part of a visit to Kampot is that there isn’t much traffic. Although bus is the primary method of travel out of town, Kampot is very walkable and you can also easily see the surrounding area by renting a bicycle or hopping in a tuk-tuk.
How to Get to Kampot
From Phnom Penh – Buses leave the city twice daily, at around 7.30 am and 1.15 pm. Some buses go via Kep, and this journey takes around five hours. Others go direct to Kampot, taking around three and a half hours.
From Sihanoukville – The easiest way to get to Kampot from Sihanoukville is by taxi. Find some friends, and the journey should only cost you $9-10USD each. If you wanted to get the bus, there are three daily and it will cost you around $5USD for the journey.
Where To Go Next
Kep: If you’re a lover of seafood and you didn’t get the chance to do a day trip to Kep, head here next. Just 25km east of Kampot, a tuk-tuk should cost you around $8USD.
Sihanoukville: Cambodia’s biggest beach resort, make Sihanoukville your next stop if you’re a beach (and party) lover. Buses and minivans leave daily.
Koh Rong: If tropical islands are more your fare, use Sihanoukville as the jumping-off point for Cambodia’s islands. Lively Koh Rong is a backpacker favourite.