Kampot is a small town that, like neighboring Kep, is now becoming a popular weekend destination for foreign tourists and more or less wealthy Cambodians. All of them are attracted by the abundance of attractions, including the ruins of buildings of the pre-Angkor and French eras, numerous sacred caves, as well as a huge selection of hiking and cycling tours, boat trips and much more. Near Kampot is the largest national park in Cambodia, Bokor.”. The city is also famous for its variety of fresh fruits: mangoes, durians (there is even a monument to him), coconuts and, of course, the legendary Kampot pepper. The specific climate, fertile soil and centuries of experience make it possible to grow here this truly magical seasoning, which is well-deservedly loved by gourmets from all over the world. Check liuxers for customs and traditions of Cambodia.
A small village at the beginning of the 20th century began to be built up by French colonists. And today in Kampot some buildings of that era are still preserved. Unfortunately, 40 years ago there were fierce battles between the Khmer Rouge and the Liberation Army, so a significant part of the city was simply destroyed. Some areas have not yet been restored. However, the economy of Cambodia is developing at a very fast pace, so there is every reason to believe that in the near future Kampot will be able to regain its former splendor.
How to get there
Kampot is easily accessible from Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. It is not a problem to visit these places from Vietnam through the villages of Prek Chak and Phnom Den.
Phnom Penh and Kampot are connected by a good (by local standards) asphalt road, known as National Road No. 3. Buses of route No. 168 departing for Kampot leave daily at 7:30 and 13:15 from the central bus station near the main market. Ticket price: 4 USD. Travel time: up to 5 hours.
Most hotels and guest houses are located in the central part of Kampot, on the banks of the river, you can spend the night here for 20-30 USD. Closer to the sea, in old French houses, cozy hotels with a higher quality of accommodation are open, which is reflected in the cost: 40-50 USD per night. But in these areas there is a special atmosphere of the colonial city.
In almost all hotels and guest houses, breakfast is included in the room rate. Credit cards are also accepted almost everywhere, but it is better to clarify this information in advance.
At more or less large hotels, there are restaurants that offer, among other things, Western European (primarily French) cuisine.
Entertainment and attractions
Fans of vibrant nightlife and ordinary tourist attractions in Kampot are unlikely to be interested. But tourists looking for an atmosphere of serene provincial life will definitely like it here.
In Kampot cafes, first courses are often served with a baguette – a sort of reference to the French heritage. And, I must say, this bread differs little from its Parisian counterpart.
In Cambodia, even in the smallest settlements – such as Kampot – there is a market. Kampot Bazaar is located in the very center of the city. This is a very noisy place, where for a small amount you can seriously buy fish, meat, fruits and vegetables. Here it is reasonable to buy a bag of the famous pepper for yourself or as a gift. Near the market, there are countless stalls offering street food and traditional drinks like chilled coconut milk.
When visiting Kampot, you should not miss the opportunity to visit the Bokor National Park, located an hour’s drive from the city. Its main attraction is an old hill station with a pagoda and an abandoned casino. The cost of a tour to Bokor is about 12 USD.
Limestone mountains lie in the vicinity of Kampot. The softness of the rock contributed to the formation of numerous caves, which the Khmers adapted for Buddhist temples. Excursions to the caves are offered by almost all Kampot hotels.
Warm clothes, comfortable sneakers and a flashlight are a must for a visitor to cold and damp dungeons.
The most famous caves near Kampot are Rung Domrai Soo and Phnom Chnork.
Rung Domrai Soo, or White Elephant Cave, is the largest grotto complex located in the immediate vicinity of Kampot. The cave got its name because of the light stalactite, which has the shape of an elephant’s head: as you know, in Southeast Asia, these animals are considered sacred.
There are also enough amazing natural sculptures in the Phnom Chnorke cave. And its walls are decorated with quite man-made bas-reliefs and sculptures of elephants. A Buddhist temple was built in the main grotto in the 7th century. Phnom Chnork Cave is located just 10 km from Kompot. You can get there by bike, moped or rickshaw.
Near the caves, local kids frolic, who will gladly offer a flashlight and help in walking through the grottoes. Rewards for young guides are welcome!