Updated January 4th, 2018.
The old colonial beach resort of Kep is just a tuk-tuk ride away from Kampot (about 30 mins) and is worth a visit to walk around the beautiful National Park or take a poke around some of the decaying pre-war french villas, all of which were destroyed by the Khmer Rouge.
Kep is quiet – but is developing slowly as more visitors go there each year – and is a perfect place to relax for a few days and enjoy a slower pace of life. The main public beach is a wide sandy cove and popular with tourists and locals alike – especially at the weekends when Phnom Penh weekenders arrive in droves to enjoy the seaside.
The sunsets are amazing, as is the food – expect an abundance of fresh prawn, steamed shrimp, fried squid, and the famous Crab with Local Pepper (sold at 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 Waterfront Beach Club and Lounge Bar offers a lovely chilled beachfront setting with free sunbeds, beach huts, guest shower and WIFI and it’s very own clean, quiet sandy beach with beautiful views over the Cambodian islands. Tasty cocktails, wines, beers, spirits and soft drinks will suit all budgets and a simple selection of snacks and ice creams are available. One guestroom B&B is available onsite if you fancy waking up in this wonderful waterfront location!
For more seafood dining, don’t miss Holy Crab at The Crab Market which serves Khmer and Western food, and yep, you guessed it – crab! Also, Knai Bang Chatt, an upscale restaurant offering fine dining next to the sea, is worth a visit.
Rock on the Beach is a live sports bar which is popular amongst expats and backpackers.
Places To Stay in Kep
Despite Kep being quiet, there are a whole load of accommodation options to choose from, ranging from budget (Tree Top 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 specialities, and excellent WiFi.
The beautiful Kep Lodge Pool area from above.
Things To Do in Kep
Take a stroll: Stroll along the long promenade overlooking the sea, 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.
Visit the pepper plantations: La Plantation is the biggest organic peppercorn farm in Asia, set amidst stunning wide-open countryside. Guided tours of the farms are available and there is a shop and restaurant on site.
Take to the sea: Get some sailing instruction from The Sailing Club, which have kayaks and Stand-Up Paddle Boards for rent.
The sailing club on the waterfront in Kep
Go horse-riding: in the countryside courtesy of The Plantation Ranch.
Trekking, caves and exploring: Visit the limestone caves or hike to the top of Phnom Salei (in the mountain areas of Kampong Trach). Check out this motorbike tour of Kampong Trach which starts in nearby Kampot.
Island Hopping: Cambodia’s islands are a fragile paradise, fast losing their backpacker vibe, so the time to visit them is NOW… 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 7 am and 1 pm. 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.
- Battambang: If you’re willing to travel a little further, then head up to Battambang for some cycling, swimming and eating.
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