Kampot, the sleepy town in the south of Cambodia is without doubt a highlight of the country. The city is known for its beautiful surroundings and the Kampot pepper that you can taste on the pepper plantations. Kampot was one of my first destinations in Cambodia and has enough to offer for a few days. It’s a destination where you should not only stay in the city, but definitely go out to the countryside!
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Top 5 things to do in Kampot
1. Bokor Hill
One of the must do’s in Kampot is to visit the Bokor Hill west of the city. In the 19th century, the French built their colonial buildings here and the remains of which can still be visited today.
From the center it’s about an hour’s drive on the winding road to the top. You can go by taxi, or by your own with the scooter which is a bit more fun.
While driving you will eventually drive through the clouds / fog. I thought it was really cool to see how foggy it could suddenly get and how this fog could be blown away by the wind in no time. We only drove through the clouds for a long time, until I suddenly realized that they wouldn’t go away. Unfortunately we also had no view on top of the mountain.
This was due to the tropical storm that swept across southern Thailand (and thus raged along the coast of Cambodia). So visit Bokor Hill on a clear day. Bring a vest and possibly long pants, because on top of the mountain it can be quite cold, even in clear weather.
2. Banteay Srey Project Spa
A very nice initiative in Kampot is Banteay Srey Project on the western side of the river. Here, vulnerable Khmer women are trained to give them a better future. You can take yoga classes every day (except Tuesdays) for $ 5 at 9:00 AM. They also offer treatments and various relaxing massages. You can also go there for vegan food.
There was a relaxed atmosphere and I felt really pampered. Only women are welcome at the Banteay Srey Spa, but men can participate in the yoga classes.
3. Epic Arts Café
Another great project is the Epic Arts Café in the center of Kampot. Locals with a disability work in this cafe. Epic Arts is an English art organization, based in Cambodia and elsewhere. They offer local people with disabilities the opportunity to participate in society. They use art as a form of expression to bring people with and people without disabilities together.
In the café you can enjoy delicious vegetarian and vegan food and you support the organization.
4. Pepper plantations
If you visit Kampot, it’s definitely recommended to visit the famous pepper plantations. East of Kampot you will find La Plantation, an organic pepper plantation on the lake. Take a tour and taste different kinds of pepper. You can also have lunch in the restaurant.
It’s about an hour’s drive to La Plantation, on a dusty road with loose stones and potholes. But the surroundings are fantastic!
The small town of Kep is located about 30 km east of Kampot. This coastal town is known for fishing, especially crab fishing. The caught crabs are prepared fresh in front of you. Walk around the market to taste different fish dishes.
There is also an island off the coast of Kep: Koh Tonsay, or Rabbit Island. During the day you can take the boat to the island to relax, but you can also stay overnight.
It’s nice to take a day trip to Kep, but you can also stay there for a few days. There are plenty of accommodations in Kep.
Where to stay in Kampot
Kampot is a small town, but the accommodations are quite spread out. So you can choose a basic bungalow on the river where you can sit in peace, but no longer within walking distance of the center. You would then have to take a tuk tuk to get to the center.
You can also choose an accommodation in the center. In the evening you can walk to the night market and there’s plenty of choice of eateries. If you would like to stay in the city center, find accommodation around here.
How to get to Kampot
- Phnom Penh: It’s approximately a 4 to 5 hour drive between Kampot and Phnom Penh. Prepare for a bumpy road!
- Sihanoukville: It’s about a 2.5 hour drive to Sihanoukville. You can then easily travel on the same day to Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem. Inquire with your ho(s)tel for a bus ticket to the pier.
- Ho Chi Minh: You can also easily travel from Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam to Kampot. All in all, this trip takes at least 8 hours. Preferably choose Giant Ibis. This bus company is generally safer and provides a good service.