the turn of the century through the 1960s Kep was Cambodia's
premier beach town, drawing holiday-makers to its breezy
shores and nearby
Bokor Hill Station. Back in the day,
luxurious villas of the privileged class dotted the seaside,
but now remain as ruined vestiges of an earlier era, slowly
being cleared away for new developments. These days Kep is
known more for
oceanfront crab shacks and relaxed
tropical atmosphere. A few short, picturesque slivers of
the shore including
Kep Beach where many of the
and restaurants are clustered. Though probably on the cusp
of significant tourism development, Kep still has a rustic
feel to it - jungled mountains, quiet beaches, crab shacks
and a gradually growing number of
Kep is a place to relax and dine by the seaside and use as a
base to visit
Rabbit Island (Koh Tunsay,) to
national park, to see the nearby
Getting to/from Kep
KAMPOT to/from KEP
The road from Kampot to Kep is paved and
picturesque, though currently in rough condition -
with stretches of
broken pavement and parts under construction. It’s a 25km, 45+
minute trip though scenic Cambodian countryside - small villages and
rice paddies. Motorcyclists, be aware of some uneven pavement and
invisible humps in the tarmac. Many ethnic Cham people live in the
area and along this stretch of road. You may notice Cham women
wearing the hajab and Arabic script on some signs.
From Kampot, follow the Road 33 east to the White Horse Monument
intersection. Bear right. At the next main turnoff (a small
roundabout with a Vishnu statue,) turn right onto the oceanfront
road to go to the Crab Market or continue straight past to Kep
Motodups from Kampot start at about $3-$4 one way and $8-$10 round
trip. Tuk-tuks run about $10-$17 for a round trip depending how long
you spend in Kep and number of passengers.
PHNOM PENH to/from KEP
There are two primary
routes to Kep from Phnom Penh: 1) Follow National Route #3 (NR3) to
Kampot and then take Road 33 to Kep (see Kampot section). NR3 is in
excellent condition. Road 33 is in fair condition; 2) Follow NR3 to
the fork at Road 31. (There is a petrol station in the center of the
fork.) Bear left. Take Road 31 south to Kampong Trach city. (Road 31
passes through some beautiful countryside.) Turn right at Kampong
Trach and proceed to the Kep loop turnoff. Look for large overhead
signs marking the turnoff. This route bypasses Kampot.
Taxis Private taxi: Private taxis run about $35-$40.
Bus Three or four bus companies
run regular daily buses from Phnom Penh to Kep, combining the
destinations of Kampot and Kep, some going to Kep first, some
Kampot. To shorten the trip make sure to get a bus that stops at Kep
first. In Kampot the buses arrive/depart the bus station on the east
side of town. In Kep the buses arrive/depart at the Kep Beach
Phnom Penh Sorya Transport Bus
PP to Kep (direct) : 7:00, 8:00, 9:30, 12:00, 14:30 (18,000R/pax)
Kep to PP : 6:45, 7:00, 7:45, 12:30, 13:30 (15,000R/pax)
Full-size a/c buses
Phnom Penh Station: Next to the Central Market.
Capitol Tours and Transport
PP to Kep (direct) : 7:00, 13:00 (17,000R/pax)
Kep to PP : 7:00, 13:00 (15,000R/pax)
Full-size a/c buses
Phnom Penh Station: Capitol Guesthouse, corner of Streets 107 and
Moto-remorques (‘tuk-tuks’) await passengers at the bus station,
Crab Market, beachfront and other tourist locations. Most hotels can
arrange a motorcycle rental. There are also a couple of rental
places around the beach intersection. Some rent bicycles as well.
Kep is known for its fresh seafood, especially the crab, which is
absolutely excellent - literally straight from the ocean to your
plate. No visit to Kep is complete without at least one fresh
seafood lunch or dinner at the oceanfront. The Kampot Pepper Crab is
a local culinary classic - fresh from ocean crab fried or steamed
with generous bunches of fresh green and black Kampot pepper corns,
some of the finest, most famous pepper in the world.
Traditional dining venues include restaurants at the
Crab Market and pockets of dining gazebos strung along
the seaside. The Crab Market is made up of a dozen rustic oceanfront crabshacks, most with a very local, friendly atmosphere offering a
wonderfully unsophisticated dining experience at the water’s edge.
As the Crab Market has become more popular over the last few years
some restaurants have become a bit too accustomed to tourists,
reducing portions and raising prices. Generally speaking, the
touristy places are slicker and easier but the scruffier places more
authentic and down-home.
At Kep Beach, picnic platforms line the road and another group of
platforms line the oceanside park near the Provincial Hall. Just
find an empty platform, sit down and the seafood vendors will come
to you. Most of the vendors have English language menus. Place your
they’ll have your seafood cooked and served within 10
Almost all of the hotels and guesthouses in Kep have restaurants and
bars, some quite good. Most serve a wider variety of dishes than the
local vendors including western and international dishes. Several
guesthouse restaurants are located along Road 33a within a few
hundred meters of the oceanfront road traffic circle.
After dark most of Kep closes down, though a few places including
Breezes on the beach, Toucan Bar and La Baraka in the Crab Market,
and Kep Rock Cafe near the Vishnu statue are open into the late
evening. Some of the seafood shacks at the Crab Market stay open as
late as 10PM or 11PM.
The Beach House
Poolside restaurant and bar at the Beach
House hotel at the end of Kep Beach. Menu of western and Khmer
dishes. Western breakfasts. Full bar - beer, wine, cocktails. Bar,
terrace and poolside seating.
Located on Kep Beach.
Oceanfront seafood restaurant. Proper
sit down restaurant with a good ocean view. Complete seafood menu -
fresh from the ocean crab, shrimp, squid, fish and more. Beachfront
dining gazeboes also available. Guesthouse rooms available, attacked
to the restaurant.
Stylish lounge and restaurant by the
sea. The beautiful garden, lounge beds, pavilions and view of Rabbit
Island make it a perfect place to spend a few hours during the day,
perhaps read and use the wifi. Delicious little menu with small
bites, fresh oysters, daily seafood specials as well as mats and
western options. Nicely lit in the evening making for a romantic
atmosphere. Excellent reviews from expats and tourists. Free tuk-tuk
from your hotel for dinner with minimum $12.50-$25 dinner
(one-way/round trip, respectively.)
Look for the Breezes sandwich shop
next to the Rabbit Island pier.
Brise De Kep
Very pleasant oceanfront balcony
restaurant at Kep Beach. Offering nicely done, reasonably priced
French and Asian fare with the emphasis on seafood. Good breakfasts
including a very nice Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) properly served
with all of the appropriate fresh herbs, sprouts and condiments.
Located at the Kep Beach intersection.
Comfortable restaurant with great views over the gulf of
Thailand with a variety of Röstis (Swiss style potatoes), tasty
sausages and serving some of the best pizzas in town. Homemade ice
Happy hour from 5.30 till 7.00 pm with great
cocktails and cheap beers (13 different kinds)
Kep Rock Cafe
Bar near the Vishnu Statue intersection.
Full bar, draft, spirits, cocktails. Spacious place with sports TV,
two pool tables, good music and food. Open into the late evening.
Motorcycles for rent.
Knai Bang Chatt
dining in a lovely romantic setting. Western and Asian dishes. Daily
set menus and a la carte. Book your lunch or dinner well in advance
and enjoy our pool and garden the whole day.
Open daily from 7:00AM - 10:00PM.
French and Khmer cuisine served in a
hillside restaurant with a sweeping view of the jungle and ocean.
“The gourmets can come taste our French and Khmer cuisine : pancakes
of Brittany, beef fillet in parsley butter, amok or the succulent
fish or beef fillet in oriental sauce.”
Located on the hillside. From Road #33A, turn east (toward the
hill) at the oceanfront road intersection.
Long Villa Restaurant
Seaside restaurant situated right at the Koh Tunsay (Rabbit Island)
Boat Dock. Like most places in Kep, the emphasis is on fresh seafood
prepared both western and Asian style. Book a boat trip to Koh
Tunsay at the restaurant.
for watching sunset. A former fisherman’s house built with a pier
and a dock. Offering a variety of cocktails and a great menu for
lunch and dinner. A very popular Sunday brunch. Pool table,
ping-pong, volleyball. While you are there, hire a Hobie Cat, do
some windsurfing or kayaking on the ocean. Check the website for
special event. Free wifi.
Open Tue-Sun, 10:00AM - 11:00PM.
Veranda Restaurant & Bar
unique breezy tropical garden surrounded by mountain cliffs with a
sweeping view of the Kep seaside. Lively
open-air restaurant serving western and Asian food as well as
traditional seafood dishes. Come with family and friends. Range:
$2.50-$12. Generous portions, good wine selection, free Wifi zone.
Veranda Bakery & Coffee Shop: Freshly baked artisan breads,
Danishes, croissants, pastries, cakes, tarts, birthday cakes... 15
different ice cream flavors. Coffees, espresso, cappuccino, cafe
latte. Free Wifi zone. Range: $1.50-$4.50
Veranda Pool Bar: Private resort swimming pool surrounded by
mountain cliffs and tropical vegetation. Poolside cocktail bar.
Wines. Beers... SPA also available at the pool Bar.
Guesthouses and Hotels
A couple of dozen hotels and guesthouses
are scattered across the Kep peninsula. Several sit amongst the
jungle vegetation on side of the mountain overlooking the ocean.
Others dot the ocean’s edge, including a small cluster of places at
the Kep Beach intersection and a couple of new hotels near the
Rabbit Island boat dock. Kep, in general, is aiming at
mid/upper-range tourists and though there are plenty of budget
priced rooms available, accommodations in Kep are bit more expensive
than other coastal towns.
The Beach House
On the hillside overlooking Kep Beach.
Nicely furnished and decorated rooms with a/c, cable TV, large
en suite bathroom with hot water and balcony with a picturesque
sunset ocean view over Kep Beach. Swimming pool and Jacuzzi.
Poolside bar and restaurant serving western and Asian food. free
Located on Kep Beach.
Range $12 - $25
Bungalows fan-cold water or
A/C-hot shower with private balcony and en suite in a nice garden
setting. Comfortable thick mattresses - free wifi in all bungalows -
free bicycles - motorbikes for rent. Restaurant serving Khmer and
western food. Full bar with TV - sports, news, movies..
Brise De Kep Boutique
Range: $25 - $55
Ocean front bungalows with private
balconies and all modern amenities. A/C, Cable TV, stocked mini-bar and
free wifi. Wonderful ocean view. Free pick up from bus station. Tour
and travel services. Restaurant serving French, Vietnamese and Asian
cuisine and of course, fresh seafood.
Brise De Kep Guesthouse
Range: $10 - $20
Beachfront guesthouse offering clean,
affordable fan and a/c rooms with CTV and en suite with hot water.
Internet. The beach and seafood restaurants are 20 meters from the
front door. Nice balcony restaurant with an oceanfront view, serving
nicely prepared French and Asian dishes, with the emphasis on
seafood. Excellent Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) available all day,
but best at breakfast. Recommended.
Located at the Kep Beach intersection.
Basic, very affordable rooms 50 meters
from Kep Beach, very near the bus station. Fan rooms and dorm beds.
In-room wifi. Specializing in travel and tour services.
Located at Kep Beach intersection.
Range: $19 - $44
Nestled just below the national park.
Solar-Powered mud-brick bungalows built with natural materials, many
sourced in the valley, situated on the rainy-season creek. Man-made
'tree houses' with spectacular views. Two-storey family lodges with
incredible views down the valley, across islands to Vietnam.
Restaurant serving Khmer and foreign food. Wood-fired pizza. Fruit
and veggies grown onsite. Bar. Piano. Pool table, table tennis,
foosball. A 'natural swimming pool', complete with fish to nibble
(no extra charge). Jasmine Valley is very much in the jungle; a
peaceful retreat with adventure close by.
Range: $28 - $120 (Breakfast included)
pool. Fan and sea breeze-cooled thatched bungalows with big terrace. Ten nicely decorated, spacious wooden or
concrete bungalows surrounded by a garden and fruit trees. Rooms
equipped with comfortable 1.6m mattresses, bathroom with hot water,
mini bar. Free Wifi access throughout the lodge. Free bicycle.
Restaurant serving out-standing Khmer and Western food. Comfortable
bar with pool table. Western-managed, very friendly staff.
Kep Lodge also
offers Deluxe Double and Deluxe Twin bungalows. These tastefully
decorated and roomy luxurious bungalows are equipped with a/c or fan
(with mosquito nets), satellite TV/DVD with a big DVD library at
your disposal, mini-bar, in-room safe, hot water, shower, king or
queen size beds, 15 - 21m 2 sunset terrace with a sofa corner and
hammock, wide front glass door and tea & coffee making facilities.
US$50-US$70 including breakfast.
Also offering a
new family deluxe house with two separate air-conditioned rooms, big
balconies of 2 floors for $100-$120.
Free strong WiFi (1.5 Mb download).
Located on pepper street 1, Kep City, Cambodia.
Range: $7 - $30
Brand new little hotel offering fan and
a/c rooms with cable TV, in-room wifi and en suite bathrooms with
hot and cold water. All new amenities. Some rooms with balconies.
Large parking area.
Range: $15 - $40
Cozy, affordable individual bungalows and rooms in a garden area set
back a bit from the main road. Five private a/c bungalows with
air-conditioning and garden view. Eight a/c guesthouse rooms with an
ocean view. All bungalows and rooms with en suite bathroom with
hot/cold water. Free wifi. Restaurant, bar and all tourist services
and info. Getting good reviews from customers. Located just off Road
#33A, a hundred meters north of the oceanfront road intersection.
off Road #33A, a hundred meters north of the oceanfront road
Knai Bang Chatt Resort
Range: $92+ - $260+
“The essence of Kep” A lifestyle property with three villas from the
1960s and 18 a/c rooms. Beautiful
views and spacious garden. Large infinity swimming pool at the ocean
side. Kitchen offering Fusion Asian and Continental dishes. Full spa
and beauty treatment center, a library and the Sailing Club bar and
restaurant. Outstanding service. 3% of room revenue goes to “Hand in
Hand,” a 5-year sustainable development program.
Le Bout du Monde
Range: $15 - $85
Individual and separate
bungalows/residences/suite in traditional Khmer architecture, built
on stilts and made of wood and stones. Located in landscaped gardens
at the top of a breezy hill with a spectacular, sweeping view of the
Gulf of Thailand. French and Khmer cuisine with fresh ingredients.
Hot water, mini-bar, fan and safe in room (Khmer villa and
Located on the hillside. From Road #33A, turn east (toward the
hill) at the oceanfront road intersection.
Range: $60 - $160 (Breakfast include)
Stylish, very well
appointed boutique bungalows in a peaceful, lush tropical garden
setting. AC, large flat screen TV, DVD, spacious en-suite bathrooms.
All bungalows with veranda, some with private rooftop patio.
Swimming pool. Restaurant serving fresh regional cuisine.
Long Villa Inn
Range: $29 - $79
All new Oceanside bungalows with picture
windows, private balconies and some with an ocean view. Clean,
comfortable rooms with a/c, CTV, in-room safe, free wifi and en
suite bathroom with hot/cold water. Oceanfront restaurant serving
seafood and international dishes. Tour and travel services including
boat to Rabbit Island.
Located next to the Rabbit Island
Range: $38 - $58
Stylish guesthouse in a lovely
mountain’s edge garden setting. Nicely decorated and furnished a/c
rooms with free wifi, LCD TV with cable, IDD, safety box, mini bar
and en suite bathroom with hot water. Large family rooms available.
Large swimming pools. Spa, massage and steam room.
Kep Village, Sangkat Kep, Khan Kep,
Kep Province, Cambodia.
Pka Romyol Guesthouse
Range: $5 - $20
Pleasant, quiet, natural area a hundred
meters off the main road. Affordable fan and a/c rooms with cable TV
fridge, in-room wifi and an suite bathroom with hot/cold water. Free
bicycle use. Free pickup from bus station.
100 meters off of Road #33A, near the base of the mountain.
Ponleu Chhner Tra Cheak Chit Guesthouse
Range: $10 - $20
New guesthouse overlooking Kep Beach
offering clean fan and a/c rooms with CTV and en suite bathroom with
hot water. Seafood restaurant serving Khmer and western dishes.
Motorcycle and bicycle rental. Island tours $12.
Located at the Kep
$14 - $40
Private bungalows with picture window and balcony in a specious
manicured garden setting at the base of the mountain. A choice of
brick or wooden bungalows, fan or a/c, deluxe bungalows with flat
screen CTV, mini-bar and more. Swimming pool. Restaurant/ bar with
Range: $55 - $70
"New western management since April
2012, quality wooden bungalows and rooms, each with picture window,
private balcony, fan or a/c, Cable TV and en suite bathroom with hot
water. Stone Bar and restaurant with an ocean view with a nice clear
swimming pool. Picturesque setting, a garden setting at the base of
the mountain, 500 meters from the Crab Market area".
Rega Guesthouse and Restaurant
Range: $12 - $18
Near the Rabbit Island boat dock and
Kep’s traditional market. 15 rooms in a quite, relaxing garden
setting. Fan and a/c rooms from only $12. Free wifi. Motorcycles and
bicycles for rent. Restaurant and bar. French and Khmer cuisine.
Spring Valley Resort
Range: $20 - $50
Newly refurbished villa style
accommodations at the base of the mountain, surrounded by lush
vegetation, but just a few hundred meters from the beach area.
Large, nicely appointed rooms a/c rooms with all amenities. Swimming
pool with a shallow end for the kids. Restaurant.
Unique stilted bamboo bungalows on the
hillside overlooking the ocean, standing from 1 to 3 meters off the
ground. Clean, basic, private bungalows with fan room, mosquito net
and en suite bathroom. Fresh fruit welcome for all. Bar/restaurant
serving Khmer and international food, with the emphasis on seafood.
Motorcycle and bicycle rental.
Located just off Road #33A, a couple
of hundred meters north of the oceanfront road intersection.
Vanna Hill Resort
Range: $30 - $70 (buffet breakfast
Perched at 200 meters above sea level,
background by majestic Kep National Park. Offers 20 attractive,
self-contained rooms with en-suite bathroom hot & cold shower and
air-condition. The View Restaurant, Oasis swimming pool with Jacuzzi
and poolside bar offer breathtaking hillside views of the Gulf of
Thailand, Bokor Mountain and Phu Quoc Island of Vietnam.
Restaurant/bar with salad bar, bakery, ice creams and happy hour.
From Road 33A turn East (toward the
hill) at the Vishnu Statue/right turn to Crab Market.
Veranda Natural Resort
Range: $60 - $150 (including breakfast)
A high-end nature retreat in a quiet location, the resort
presents an exclusive concept with raised wooden walkways. Beautiful
sunset views. En suite bathroom with hot water. Fully outfitted
luxury rooms and family bungalows available. 24 hour security. 24
hour electricity. Free wifi. Very popular resort, receiving very
good reviews. Book ahead. Restaurant and pool bar. Bakery and ice
cream. Souvenir shop.
From Road #33A, turn east (toward the hill) at
the oceanfront road intersection.
The Vine Retreat
Range: $25 - $45
Unique, ecologically conscientious
guesthouse and organic farm in a jungle mountain area at Phnom Voar.
A relaxed, natural, picturesque setting. Comfortably decorated rooms
in a wooden guesthouse. Restaurant and bar. Salt water pool.
Trekking. Yoga and meditation retreats.
Yeay Meng Bungalows & Restaurant
Range: $5 - $12
Traditional beach bungalows on Rabbit
Island, with or without en suite toilet. Palm trees, beach and a
beautiful ocean view. Restaurant servings seafood, Asian, western
dishes. family business.
Kep’s only convenience store, Long Villa Mart, is located at
the Rabbit Island boat dock, is pretty well stocked, offering beer,
wine, spirits, foods, meats, soft drinks, snacks, and beach clothes.
Good place to pick up supplies for the trip to Rabbit Island.
Other shopping in Kep includes:
Offers a wide range of souvenirs.
Starting with the world famous Kep-Kampot pepper, silk wallets, silk
bags, Buddha statues, "I love Kep" T-shirts, cotton kromas, and lots
of tribe things from Ratanakiri. "There is for sure a thing for
Antique shop. Offering a wide range of local items. Clothes,
handbags, wallets, bathing suits, silks scarves, pepper and spices,
sun cream, pharmaceutic products, antique sculpture and furniture.
At Veranda Resort on the hillside.
Things to Do and See Around Kampot and Kep
Kampot and Kep are so close to each
other that they share many of the same sights and attractions. Kep
Beach, Rabbit Island, Bokor Hill Station, and countryside tours are
perhaps the most popular day tours out of Kampot and Kep with tour
operators offering very competitively priced tours. The Kampot/Kep
area also offers several other attractions including pre-Angkorian
ruins and caves, jungle trekking, bicycling tours, river cruises,
island trips, fishing trips, isolated beaches, pepper plantations,
bamboo train rides and some beautiful rural countryside.
Whether you plan to do-it-yourself or book a tour, transportation
and/or tours can be found through one of the many local tour
operators or through your guesthouse. Shop around for the best price
and for exact type of tour you would like to take..
Tour and travel agency, guesthouse and general travelers services.
Boats to Rabbit island, fishing trips, countryside tours, motocycle
rental. Dorm beds for $3-$5. Daily buses to Vietnam (Phu Quoc, HCMC,
Chau Doc,) and Thailand (Koh Chang, Koh Samet, Pattaya, Bangkok)
Located in Kep at the Kep Beach intersection
Kampot Tours & Travel
Bar, restaurant and all travel and tour services. Bokor,
countryside, boating, cycling, ox-carts, Kep, Rabbit Island,
transport to Vietnam and Thailand.
Located in Kampot one block off the river road
Wild Orchid Adventure Tours
Day tours and overnighters to Bokor. Countryside tours, cycling
tours, motorbike tours, kayak tours. Kampot pepper plantation tours.
Orchid Guesthouse, ‘Guesthouse Road,’ Kampot.
Though suffering a bit the ravages of time, the architecture of
Kampot is pleasantly provincial, a mix of red tile-roofed shophouses
and old French colonial government buildings. Kampot has been an
active settlement for centuries but the location and layout of the
modern town was established during the French colonial period in the
late 19th/early 20th centuries. Many of the buildings along and near
the river were constructed during this period. The south end of town
harbors several European-style buildings including the governor’s
mansion and the old prison. Most of the other colonial era buildings
employ the classic 2-storey ‘Chinese shophouse’ design, many
displaying European design elements. Unlike many other Cambodian
cities, the shophouses are often individuated in design and facade,
lending to Kampot town’s quaint air.
Usually run out of Kampot, tours to the
old Bokor hill station has long been popular. The Bokor Hill Station
on Phnom Bokor (Bokor Mountain) is a mountaintop collection of
crumbling buildings (hotel, casino, church, royal residence, etc.),
originally constructed by French authorities in the early 1920s as a
complement to the already popular Kep resort area. In its time,
Bokor was an elegant getaway for French officials and foreign
visitors to old Indochina - a classic colonial 'hill station'
located in the mountains to allow foreigner visitors accustomed to
more temperate climes to escape the tropical heat. Years of neglect
left ghostly ruins - vestiges of a different age, often shrouded in
fog and clouds, though the new development project rising amongst
the old ruins has detracted some from the eerie atmosphere. One
thing that the years have not changed is the absolutely spectacular
view of the coast and the cool (sometimes cold) mountain air. Bokor
is jungled and excursions beyond Bokor, including trekking, can be
arranged by local tour operators.
Bokor Mountain top in the area of the old hill station is currently
undergoing a development project, including refurbishing the casino
and hotel and the addition of a new hotel complex. A new hotel and
casino are now open and the road up the mountain has been completed
and is in good condition. The drive to the top take 30-45 minutes.
Full day Bokor tours can be arranged through your guesthouse or a
local tour operator. Tours run about $10/person inclusive for an
all-day tour including a sunset boat cruise on the Kampong Bay
River. The Park Office and turn-off to the Hill Station are 37km
west of Kampot on National Route 3.
Limestone mountains (‘phnom’) dot the
landscape between Kampot and Kep. Many contain limestone caves, some
adorned with exotic rock formations, and almost all containing
Buddhist shines. Make sure to bring a torch and wear shoes suitable
for climbing on rocks.
caves of Phnom Chhnork - Cave #1
Pre-Angkorian ruin set in a limestone cave amongst stalagmites
and stalactites that are slowly growing back into the ruin. Small,
4th-5th century AD brick structure associated with the ancient state
of Funan. A bit of carving is still visible. Look for the limestone
formations near the entrance of the cave in the shapes of elephants.
Cave #2 The entrance is about 300
meters from Cave #1 in the
same limestone outcropping. Very little in the way of formations,
but quite deep, requiring climbing over piles of rock and through
small openings. Small shrine.
The cave at
Phnom Sla Ta'aun Plain by comparison to other caves, but
still an interesting climb. Look for the huge rock balanced in a
hole in the ceiling. Small shrine.
cave at Phnom Sasear, also known as the ‘White Elephant
Cave.’ Located next to an colorful pagoda. The stairs up the side of
the outcropping provide a beautiful view of the countryside,
especially during the wet season. The cave contains a shrine at the
base of a limestone formation alleged to resemble a white elephant.
Kampot and Kep provinces harbor some
beautiful rural countryside just outside the town areas - bucolic
scenery, rice paddies and water buffalos with white egrets riding
their backs, countryside pagodas and little villages filled with
traditional stilted houses. There is some very nice rural scenery
along the road between Kampot and Kep. Keep your camera at the
ready. Tour operators offer full and half day area tours the can
easily be customized to your requirements, often including visits to
the caves, a pepper plantation, Kep, Rabbit Island, Kampong Trach
and a sunset cruise on the Kampong Bay River.
Kampong Trach is the district that borders Vietnam. The road trip
from Kampot to the main town passes though some picturesque rural
areas. There is a new side road to Kampong Trach town that skirts
the base of Phnom Voar, (where the victims of the 1994 Khmer Rouge
kidnappings were held.) These mountain areas of Kampong Trach were
one of the last Khmer Rouge holdouts. Kampong Trach town is small
and relatively uninteresting. The area’s main attraction is a series
of limestone caves and tubes that have been carved into a nearby
mountain. The roof of a large cave in the center of a mountain has
collapsed, making a small, enclosed jungle. Pagodas and shrines have
been built amongst the caves, providing for some excellent photo
possibilities. Bring a flashlight and wear good walking shoes.
From Kampot, take the Kep road, bear left at the White Horse
Monument and follow to Kampong Trach. After a few kilometers the
road changes to badly broken pavement. The side road mentioned above
requires a left turn onto a graded dirt road about 7 km past the
White Horse Monument. It is not a straightforward route and it may
be better if you go with a guide. Set aside the better part of a day
for the trip to the caves and back.
Kampot Pepper and
Kampot pepper, grown in Kampot province, has been renowned for more
than a century as some of the highest quality pepper in the world -
its distinct flavor and pugnacity, intense but light taste with
fresh lingering aromas has long been a prized as an essential spice
in the finest French kitchens. It is also featured in local
Kampot/Kep cuisine such as Pepper Crab (local crab fried in black or
green pepper corn) and beef steak in fresh pepper corn sauce. At the
beginning of the 20th century the Kampot plantations were in full
operation and Cambodia was exporting more than 8000 tones of pepper
annually. In 1960, there were 1 million pepper poles in Kampot. But
the wars from the 1970s through the 1990s put an end to regular
production for almost 30 years. Production was renewed in the late
1990s but faced new challenges. Pepper plantations now dot Kampot
province. Most general Kampot area tours pass through the pepper
plantations near Phnom Voar. The plantations of Angkor Chey near
Phnom Voar offer a particularly good look at the process or growing
and preparing the pepper. And it’s a good place to buy the Kampot
pepper straight from the source.
A single, kilometer-long crescent of sand near the tip of the Kep
peninsula, bounded by rocks at either end and the oceanfront road
along the back. Coarse sand, shallow, warm water. Very average
swimming beach. But still lounge, have an oceanside seafood meal and
enjoy the cool sea breeze. Dining platforms and seafood vendors line
the road behind the beach as well as the oceanfront further down the
road near the Big Crab statue. The beach can be quite busy on
weekends, but often deserted during the week. The road through Kep
traces the coastline to the beach and then circles back on itself.
Sometimes cars and vans must pay admission to drive the oceanfront
road along the beach area (2500R - 5000R). Motorcycles and pedestrians
are free. Be aware that the oceanfront road along the beach area is
a one way street and the police do occasionally enforce the law.
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Island near Kep
Rabbit Island is
a small tropical island located about 20-40 minutes south of Kep by
local boat. The island is blessedly undeveloped and lacks most
services except for some rustic bungalows and a couple of
rudimentary beach shack restaurants. Secluded white sand beaches dot
the edges of the island, backed by a hilly coconut palm interior.
Most services are near the west side beach. The surrounding waters
are relatively clear and warm, offering some snorkeling
opportunities around the rocks. Coral is scarce but colorful fish
abound. You can stay on the island or make a day trip of it - go in
the morning, lounge on the beach and return to Kep in the afternoon.
Rooms/bungalows on the island run $10 or less. Arrange a boat trip
to the island through your guesthouse in Kampot or Kep or just go to
the Koh Tunsay Boat Dock in Kep town next to the Long Villa
Restaurant (see Kep map on page 113.) Boats are almost always
available. A round-trip trip to the island and back runs $20 for the
whole boat, so bring some friends to split the cost. The round-trip
price is the same whether you stay a few hours or a few days. Tour
operators and guesthouses in Kep offer day packages starting at
about $7/person inclusive.
Trips in Kampot
River boat trips out of Kampot on the picturesque Kampong Bay River
are becoming more popular. The tour companies and many of the
guesthouses (Little Garden Bar) are offer several different sorts of
boat trips including short sunset trips upriver to the Tekchhou
Rapids; longer cultural/wildlife/eco trips upriver, often combined
with trekking in the National Park; downriver trips to the ocean to
explore the beaches and sand spits near the river’s mouth; do a bit
of ocean swimming; photograph the fishing boats at work or go ocean
fishing. A couple of the tour operators including those listed can
supply fishing gear. Boat trips are relatively reasonably priced and
the tour operators are generally amenable to customizing the trip to
Offering a fairly easy hiking experience, a trail/service road
snakes through national forest land around Kep Mountain - the small
mountain near the tip of the peninsula between Road 33a and the Kep
town area. The gently sloping trail winds past a couple of old
pagodas, though light jungles where you may spy monkeys or other
wildlife, and provides many picturesque overlooks along the way.
Kampot and the Elephant Mountains can be seen in the distance from
the northwest viewpoint, and the trail on the other side of the
mountain provides some striking views across the valley to a pagoda
on the next mountain and the beaches in the distance. The trail is
actually a small, dirt service road that rings the mountain in an
8km loop, part of the road in pretty good condition, some narrow and
overgrown. Suitable to hike of for a mountain bike or dirt bike. The
trail is most easily and conveniently accessed from the road next to
Le Bout du Monde and Veranda Guesthouse. The hiking is fairly easy,
but wear stout shoes and take water and mosquito repellent.