The quaint riverine capital of Kampot and the oceanside town of Kep sit along the coast a couple of hours east of Sihanoukville. The two are so close to each other that they share most of the same sights and attractions, though some are more convenient to one city or the other. For example Bokor is closer to Kampot and the Rabbit Island ferry departs Kep, but as Kampot and Kep are only 30-40 minutes apart, even if you are in the ‘wrong city’ it adds little time. Kep Beach, Rabbit Island, Bokor Hill Station and countryside tours are perhaps the most popular day trips with tour operators offering competitive prices. There are also Angkorian ruins, caves, jungle trekking, bicycling tours, river cruises, secluded beaches, salt pans,pepper plantations and more.
Kep City is a municipality in Cambodia with the status of a province. Kep is just a few kilometres from the border with Vietnam located and used to be Cambodia's most popular beach town but has fallen on hard times in recent years (especially due to the Khmer Rouge). Many of Kep's, mostly French villas are abandoned, but some of the town's former splendour is still apparent.
The see is lined with huge sidewalks and some large statues that now seem largely out of place. The king built a palace overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, but it was never furnished and now sits empty. A good, paved road connects the small town with the 15km far away Kampot. The slightly darker beaches than in Sihanoukville are mostly scattered with mangroves and black rocks, but Koh Thonsay (Rabbit Island) is just a short boat ride away (approx. 1/2h).
Kep appears to be experiencing something of a renaissance, with several mid-range and luxury guesthouses and bungalows recently opened or still under construction. The seafood is cheap, plentiful and delicious - particularly the quite famous crabs. Kep is also home to an extensive national park covering some mountains with deep green jungle.
The French established Kep City during the colonial time in 1908. Today Kep is mainly popular to the domestic tourists, who choose Kep as their holiday destination. What's more, Kep offers great seafood and magnificent views of the mountains and the beaches.
Taking a boat to the nearby islands is also a breathtaking experience. Another itinerary, which must not be missed, is an excursion to the serene waterfalls of 'Tuk Chhou" situated about 10 km from Kampot. Kep City is located in the Southwest of Phnom Penh. The city is accessible by the National Road No 3 from Phnom Penh via Kampot province (173 km) or by the National Road No 2 from Phnom Penh via Takeo province.
Especially during the Sixties, during the time of Sang Kum Reas Ni Yum the city was developed as a beautiful seaside tourist resort for the rich and government. The story related to the name of Kep said that there was a king named Sa Kor Reach, who had a mighty spell. He put a sleeping spell on a commander at AngKor Thum, than stole the commander's white horse and fled together with his troop to the Southwestern seaside.
When he took a rest at the seaside, he was overhauled by the commander's troops, who chased him from behind. Suddenly, he got on the horseback; the horse reared, and made him fall down on the ground together with the saddle. Then, he got on the horseback again and fled away without picking up the saddle, because the commander's troops almost approached him. So that's why this area was called ' Kep Seh ' meaning ' the saddle ', nowadays it's only called ' Kep '.
This province is located in the Southwest of the country, having an eighty kilometres coastal strip with the Gulf of Thailand. The provincial capital is named Kampot and sits near the base of the abundant green Elephant Mountains and the famous Bokor Hill Station. Compete to crowded Sihanoukville in the North of the province you may find quietness.
Kep Beach, Rabbit Island, Bokor Hill Station, and countryside tours are perhaps the most popular day tours out of Kampot with tour operators offering very competitively priced tours.
The Kampot 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.
Most visitors come here to have a look at the old French colonial architecture, which is one still in charming condition, to have a vantage point for visiting the near beaches or the small islands of Kep. Kampot province is also renowned for the quality of its fruits (durian, coconut, mango, etc.), its sea salt and of course the famous Kampot Pepper. The special fresh climate and soil type of Kampot as well as the experience from several generations of pepper farmers make this pepper unique and much sought-after by gourmets worlwide.
The small town of Kampot on the Tuk Chhou River is 5km inland from the sea. Fishing and farming are the main activities; durians and melons grow in abundance.
On the circle is the Prachummith Restaurant, which is close by is the Amar Restaurant. To the south near the river is the GPO and telecommunications building. At the north end of town, about 1.5 km away, lays the Central Market, with quite a lot of food stalls. All Kampot transportation is concentrated within the range of the market cycle, motors, taxis, trucks, and buses. The railway station lies further north, but isn't used anymore.