Kep, Cambodia streets

Kep, Cambodia – Travel Guide

The old colonial beach resort of Kep is just a short drive away from Kampot (around 30 minutes), making it an easy place to escape for a lazy day in the sun. It’s also definitely worth visiting the beautiful national park or poking around some of the decaying pre-war French villas.

Kep is quiet – but is developing slowly as more visitors go there – and makes for the perfect place to relax and dine out on freshly caught seafood, in particular crab. The main public beach is a wide sandy cove, popular with tourists and locals alike, especially at the weekends when Phnom Penh residents arrive in droves to enjoy the seaside.

If you are looking for the best things to do in Kep, plus our pick of the top places to try the famous Kep crab, keep reading! 

Kep, Cambodia – Travel Guide

Kep Map & Resources

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Best Time to Visit Kep, Cambodia 

The dry season, which spans from November to February in Cambodia, is the best time to visit Kep. This is when temperatures are at their most pleasant – though be warned – if you want to hike in Kep National Park you will still get *very* sweaty! 

Kep views
This photo is more aesthetically pleasing than my sweaty t-shirt.

Where To Stay in Kep, Cambodia

Despite Kep being quiet, there are a whole load of accommodation options to choose from, ranging from budget to high-end. While most choose to stay in the middle of the city due to its proximity to the Crab Market and the abandoned mansions, there is also the option of staying a little further out, close to Kep National Park. Bear in mind that if you are on the main road which connects Kampot to Kep, it could be as much as a half-hour walk to the Crab Market. 

Abandoned house Kep
Urbexers love Kep for obvious reasons!

“During the time I spent in Kep, I stayed further out of the city. It was easy to walk everywhere as there is pretty much one road which leads to the Crab Market and then on to the beach. It was hot and exposed (definitely wear suncream) but saved me some cash on tuk tuk rides!”

Sheree Hooker, Editor at South East Asia Backpacker

Top Accommodation in Kep

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Captain Chim’s Guesthouse is a great option for budget travellers. Their cheapest room (with a private bathroom!) starts at just $8USD per night. It is very close to the pier where the boats leave for Rabbit Island, so is a good option if this is your next destination!

Located where Kep Fitness Retreat used to be, Pina House is a welcome escape from the hustle of the main town. Opposite Don Bosco school, they rent clean and comfortable bungalows. There is a small restaurant on-site – you should absolutely not miss the incredible handmade pasta dishes!

Pina House, Kep
The beautiful bungalows at Pina House.

Veranda Natural Resort is an exclusive nature retreat nestled in a quiet hillside, with private luxury bungalows. It isn’t the cheapest place to stay in Kep but it is undoubtedly one of the nicest! Don’t miss the morning buffet, served with incredible views! 

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.

Kep Melting Potes is another great budget option known for its friendly and welcoming staff. You can expect a rundown of the local attractions when you check in and there is a good vibe in the evenings – perfect for those seeking a bit of a more sociable stay in Kep. 

Things To Do in Kep, Cambodia

1. Take a Stroll

Meader along the long promenade overlooking the sea, stopping for snacks along the way. There are a range of places to chill in a hammock and watch the world go by while you enjoy your favourite tipple. 

Kep Crab sign
Why not have a walk along the seafront while you’re in Kep?

2. Visit the Pepper Plantations

La Plantation is the biggest organic peppercorn farm in Asia, set amidst stunning wide-open countryside. Free guided tours run several times a day with the last visit at 4 pm. They also run cooking classes if you fancy working on your culinary prowess!

Good to Know!

If you are visiting Kampot and Kep, it is worth bearing in mind that La Plantation is easier to access from the latter. 

3. Chill on Kep Beach

If you’ve already been to one of the islands off Sihanoukville, you probably won’t see that much appeal in Kep Beach. However, if you have yet to visit these Cambodian islands, you may find it suffices for an afternoon. 

Kep Beach, Cambodia
Kep Beach is a nice spot during the week.

The beach gets super busy with locals at the weekends and on public holidays so avoid this time if you are looking for fewer people. Bear in mind that its central location means you’re unlikely to be able to enjoy secluded sands. 

4. Take a Day Trip to Rabbit Island

Called Koh Tonsay in the local language, this small island is located a half-hour boat ride from Kep. If you’re looking for some chill time with a coconut (or cocktail) in hand, this is where you should go. Can’t get enough of that rustic island life? Check out our comprehensive travel guide to Rabbit Island for all the best things to do and places to stay. 

Scenery on Rabbit Island
Escape to Koh Tonsay for island vibes!

“Rabbit Island is a really cool place to stay for a night or two but be warned, it is not for those who like their home comforts. All the accommodation is very basic and as the island is so small, your options are pretty limited! Electricity is only available for a few hours a day and there is no WiFi. If you want to stay connected, I recommend grabbing a Cellcard SIM before you visit.” 

Sheree Hooker, Editor at South East Asia Backpacker. 

5. Sample the Local Cuisine

As a beach destination, it is no surprise that Kep is famous for its freshly caught seafood, particularly its crab. The Crab Market is the best place to try this and there are a range of great restaurants located there. The local speciality is the whole crab with Kampot pepper – trust me when I say, it’s delicious! 

Kep Crab dish
A crabtivating meal is a must while in Kep!

6. Explore the Abandoned Villas

As a once popular colonial seaside resort, the French influence is easy to see in Kep. After the Khmer Rouge took hold, the villas from this period were left to decay in full view of the beach, giving the hills of Kep an eerie vibe. 

While we’re not strictly sure you’re *allowed* to enter these abandoned buildings, we here at South East Asia Backpacker love a bit of urbexing! If you decide to explore, make sure you’re wearing sturdy shoes and keep a bribe handy in case anyone official stops you.

Abandoned mansions Kep
One of Kep’s many abandoned mansions.

7. Visit Kep Butterfly Garden

If you’re looking for a chilled way to spend an hour, head to the Kep Butterfly Garden. Follow the signs onto the unpaved path into the forest and continue until you reach the butterfly farm. Bear in mind that the Google Maps directions are wrong. Entrance is by a donation ($1USD which you are expected to pay before you’re allowed to enter – so more like an actual entrance fee).

8. Hike in Kep National Park

Towering over Kep Town, Cambodia’s smallest national park is a must for travellers who love walking and being outdoors. Consisting of an 8 km paved road, a series of less-trodden trails and some excellent viewpoints, you can easily spend most of a day exploring Kep National Park.

Led Zep Cafe, Kep
Taking in the views at Led Zep Café before the hike!

Arrive around 10:00 a.m. to coincide with the opening of Led Zep Café, where you’ll find a cracking breakfast as well as information and maps for the various trails and animals you could see en route!

Since the road was widened and tarmacked, it’s possible to take a scooter around the park but you’ll miss the best views. The trailheads aren’t well-marked nor do they have parking spots. Walking is the better option!

“Make sure you have a good breakfast before tackling the off-road trails! I didn’t have time for breakfast before tackling the steep climb up Phnom Kep leaving me exhausted and irritable upon reaching the top – there wasn’t even a good view to take my mind off it and I had to walk back down to Led Zep with my stomach rumbling all the way!”

Tim Ashdown, Writer and Gear Expert at South East Asia Backpacker.  
Hiking Kep National Park
Hiking through Kep National Park is a fun way to spend the day!

9. Check Out Phnom Chhnork Caves and the Secret Lake

The scenery between Kampot and Kep is breathtaking and the limestone mountains hide many a wild treasure. There are a range of caves to explore in this area as well as Buddhist shrines. Trips to the caves are often paired with a visit to the ‘secret’ lake. Created by the Khmer Rouge as an irrigation dam, the lake is easily reached by motorbike and is a good spot for a swim. 

Food and Drink in Kep, Cambodia

The food in Kep is amazing – expect an abundance of fresh prawn, steamed shrimp, fried squid, and the famous crab with Kampot pepper (sold at any of the cafés at the Crab Market overlooking the ocean).

For seafood dining specifically, don’t miss Holy Crab at the Crab Market which serves Khmer and Western food, and yep, you guessed it – crab! It is significantly more costly than many other nearby options but hey, it’s the most popular. 

Holy Crab, Kep
It might not look like much from the outside but the food is banging!

You often find the restaurant next door to the most popular place in town is a bit crap, however, this is not the case for Kep Sur Mer, which sits to the left of Holy Crab. Offering a very similar menu at a more budget-friendly price tag, the local food here is great and the homemade ice cream is a must-try. 

Located inside Kep National Park, Led Zep Café is around 100 metres past the entrance. This quirky wee spot is well worth a visit, not only for its Instagram chic but also for its tasty light bites. If you’re planning on taking on a few of the nearby trails, you can find maps and plenty of other helpful information here.  

For the best breakfast in town, head to Kep Coffee, located just behind the petrol station close to the Rabbit Island pier. Although not the cheapest café out there, the Western cuisine on offer is mouthwatering with the breakfast burrito an absolute must-try. 

Kep Coffee, Cambodia
Kep Coffee also has WiFi – ideal for all you digital nomads!

If fine dining is more your jam, check out Knai Bang Chatt, an upscale resort offering a range of swanky dishes next to the sea.

Getting Around Kep, Cambodia

If you’re not deterred by the heat, walking is a good way to get around Kep. However, if sweating your butt off isn’t so appealing, you’ll find it easy to grab a tuk tuk too. Journeys can be arranged using PassApp or by flagging someone down on the street. (Chances are they’ll find you first!)

Walking around Kep, Cambodia
The main road even has a sidewalk!

How to Get to Kep, Cambodia

  • From Phnom Penh (3-5 hours): Buses leave the city frequently throughout the day, with the last being around 4.30 pm. Some buses go via Kampot.
  • From Kampot (30-45 minutes): Only 25km away, this is the easiest place to make the journey to Kep from. Minivans leave the city regularly and can be booked on They cost from around $6USD per person depending on the company. There is also the option to hop onboard the ‘Crab Shuttle’ boat which services the route daily. (Approx. $10USD one way, $15USD return.)

Good to Know! 

If you are travelling to Kep from Kampot during the dry season and construction work is happening (which it does frequently), you should be aware that the road will be very dusty, making riding a bike between the two places a much less pleasant experience than elsewhere! 

Where To Go Next:

  • Kampot: The laidback backpacker favourite of Kampot is a must-see for all those travelling in Cambodia. The countryside is divine and there is a huge expat scene in town, making messy nights and backpacker hangouts very easy to come by. 
  • Rabbit Island: An easy day trip from Kep but far better as an overnight experience, Koh Tonsay is arguably the most authentic of the main Cambodian islands. 
  • Sihanoukville: While we probably wouldn’t recommend visiting Sihanoukville itself (the city’s reputation has plummeted over the years and it has become a seedy seaside city), this is the jumping-off point for the dreamy Koh Rong, Koh Rong Samloem and Koh Ta Kiev


South East Asia Backpacker is a ‘travel diary for everyone’. This article has been written with the help of backpackers and local experts. We would like to thank…

🙏 Matt C | @travel.medics
🙏 Tim Ashdown | 
Gear Expert and Writer
🙏 Ian Wright
🙏 Owner |
Kep Sur Mer

Sheree Hooker | Editor @ South East Asia Backpacker + Winging The World

Sheree is the awkward British wanderluster behind Winging The World, a blog designed to show that even the most useless of us can travel. Follow Sheree’s adventures as she blunders around the globe, falling into squat toilets, getting into cars with machete men and running away from angry peacocks. In recent years, Sheree has also taken on the role of editor at South East Asia Backpacker.

Find her on: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

2 thoughts on “Kep, Cambodia – Travel Guide”


    I’ve been to both Kampot and Kep for at least 3 times.
    The information you provided gave me a more in-depth insight of what those places have to offer.
    Thank you and keep on the good work.

    1. Hey Homer!
      Thanks for your kind comment! I love Kampot and Kep and we’re super happy you found this guide helpful!

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