Kampot is located a few kilometres up the estuary on the banks of the Prek Kampong Bay River and was established as the main port town in the late 1800s. It remained so until the 1950s, when the southern port was built at Kompong Som to accommodate the deeper keels on larger ships. Nowadays Kampot is a sleepy provincial capital, and its charm lies in its colonial architecture which lines the side streets and the attractive riverfront.
This is a town to visit and relax, with a wide choice of budget guesthouses and hotels, and plenty of varied restaurants and bars.
Having lots of places to explore, Kampot can be enjoyed for a lengthy break from the hustle and bustle of the busier touristic cities of Cambodia.
Kampot's retro ambiance has become an infectious basis for its rise in popularity with travellers over the last 5 years.
Kampot is definitely more than pepper plantations and caves alone, so come and explore it for yourself.
The Anlong Pring (not ‘’Anlong Prayng’’, this is a better-known district in Kampong Trach but no Crane birds here) bird sanctuary is located in Kampong Trach district, Kampot province.
This sanctuary is an official IBA (Important Bird Area), along with over 12,000 IBA’s in 200 countries. Birdlife International (http://www. birdlife.org) is the driving force behind this program. Anlong Pring’s IBA is Cambodia’s 2nd Sarus Crane reserve since 6 January 2011. The 1st reserve was established in Takeo province in 2007.
The Anlong Pring reserve covers 217ha of seasonally inundated grassland. In March 2010, the site held nearly 300 Sarus Cranes, more than 30% of the global population! Still, they can be difficult to spot for visitors.
The Cranes usually arrive around mid-November, to use the wetlands as a feeding ground, and remain until early May when they begin their migration to the wetlands in the northern and eastern plains of Cambodia where they breed.
The Sarus Crane (subspecies sharpii) is a large crane found in parts of the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia. The tallest of the flying birds, standing at a height of up to 1.8 m, they are conspicuous and iconic species of open wetlands. The Sarus Crane is considered globally Vulnerable.
An entrance booth is being set up to collect a fee (max$5) that will go to the preservation of the reserve and the people living in the surrounding villages.
We recommend your own transportation for this trip. Tuk tuks might take you out to Anlong Pring but be aware that it is a long trip and that this is a new destination, most drivers are still unaware of its existence / location.
If you get lost, ask local people ‘’Sat Kreal’’, this means ‘’Crane Bird’’.
From White Horse Kep, drive east on #33. After 29km, #33 takes a sharp left turn. You continue straight onto #31 (gravel road) for 700m. Turn right under an archway, drive through great countryside for 9km until you arrive at a T-crossing. Turn left here, drive past the pagoda and turn right again. Continue 3km and turn left (there is a crane bird sign board here) (if you go straight instead, you complete the loop to the Kampong Trach metal bridge after 15km). After 200m turn left again, continue 1.5km and you arrive at the makeshift Birdlife Centre watch post. The last 500m is not accessible by tuk tuk.
Anlong Pring is indicated on the ‘’Kep-Kampot Surroundings’’ map.
Enjoy Kampot river through a leisurely boat trip, whether it is for sunset, to get into the mangroves or to get out on the sea.
Most guesthouses can arrange an upriver sunset boat trip for you through a local tour operator.
Alternatively, ring the original Kampot Boatman, Bart on (+855) 092 174 280) for trips on his longtail boat into the small estuaries of the river or go for a luxury boat cruise with Kampot Dreamtime Tours, wine and cheese included (+855) 089 908 417
The Bokor hilltop community was built in the early 1900s, as the thousand metre elevation provided a pleasant climate for a French colonial hill station. The 34 km road to the top was built by prisoners, many of which died during construction.
A hotel opened in 1925, named the Bokor Palace Hotel and a casino, church, school, post office, royal residence and houses were al supported by a 200 strong population. On the whole, the wealthy French would hold lavish parties and the Chinese would gamble, some of whom would jump off the casino garden terrace at the edge of the cliff after having lost their loot.
Bokor mountain is now part of the Preah Monivong National Park, and the former buildings are ghostly ruins. In recent years the go ahead has been given to a long term project to re-establish Bokor as a major tourist destination. This already includes the Thansur Bokor Highland Resort & Casino. Further developments should include a theme park of some kind, and even a cable car ride covering a short part of the rise.
The road to the top of Bokor mountain has now opened up to public again and the normal $5 entrance fee to enter the National Park does no longer apply! You can drive your bicycle, bike or car up to the top at your own pace. Throughout the year, it is possible to arrange a trekking tour to the top with the Bokor rangers, and guesthouses and travel agencies can arrange this.
Once at the summit, guests are able to rent rooms in the splendid new Thansur Resort. They won’t come too cheap.
The national park is home to a great deal of wildlife, including tigers, elephants, gibbons and rare birds. You are still able to walk freely around the various former ruins, some of them are under ‘renovation’, which present an eerie experience, especially when the low cloud is swirling around. On a clear day, and best in the early morning, a spectacular view of the Gulf of Thailand awaits; a grand panorama.
Treks into the surrounding jungle can also be arranged with the rangers, starting at the two-tiered Popokvil waterfall.
There are a number of caves surrounding Kampot / Kep. The most popular of which is what was a large circular cavern now open to the sky, with its roof having collapsed over a million years ago. Access is through a tunnel at the side of the limestone formation. This cave is next to Kiriseila Pagoda in Kampong Trach, 40km from Kampot Durian Statue. 4km on the left before KT is Phnom Salei, and 326 steps take you to the top for a spectacular view of the countryside.
Phnom Sorsir has several caves to explore, the path winding its way up the hill to a stupa atop, with stunning views of the Bokor mountain escarpment. This complex is also known as White Elephant Cave, a reference to the shape of a limestone formation at the base of the main cave. It is 14km east from Kampot Durian Statue.
Phnom Ch'nork has Pre-Angkorian ruins set within a limestone cave, its brick structures dating back to the 6th century ancient state of Funan. It's located 16km from Kampot Durian Statue. Turn left 8km east of Kampot Durian Statue. Continue 8km through countryside.
Good footwear and a flashlight are a must when exploring all of the caves, and be aware of broken stairways, low ceilings and slippery rocks.
Drive north on Phnom Penh road for about 1km (from Durian Statue) and turn right before the railway. After a few 100m you will see Kampot's old railway station. Still fairly well preserved it is worth to cycle over and have a quick look ...
Cambodia is dirt bikers paradise!
Stretching from the rough Cardamom Mountains in Koh Kong over the Sihanoukville coastlines into the limestone formations in Kep / Kampot, all levels of riders are able to get what they are looking. Rough rocky tracks, waterfalls, lakes, rapids, challenging river crossings, amazing viewpoints, ... Stray dog Adventures in Sihanoukville offers all tours (nationwide) with experienced guides and well-maintained equipment. Please respect the locals and slow down upon approaching villages to avoid accidents and dust clouds!
Stroll along the streets of Kampot, along its riverfront and find many colonial-style buildings of all sizes.
Situated on the corner opposite from Acleda Bank, adjacent to the park between the Old Market and the bus station. KCDI has a variety of programs for achieving its two goals of preserving traditional Khmer arts and assisting disadvantaged children. Occasional concerts are held which are open to tourists. Check out their notice board outside the building for date and time of concerts. Usually they have musical rehearsals from Monday to Friday which are equally open to the public.
This huge area of hills, vegetable and fruit plantations was one of the last Khmer Rouge strongholds until 1998. Today it is the poorest area of Kampot province and home to 3 companies holding farming concessions on around 35,000 hectares.
Koh Sla Dyke was a forced labour project under the Pol Pot regime. In 2003 the dyke breached and caused extensive floodings. Today it is still known as ‘the broken dyke’ (Tomnop Daich).
The Koh Sla area provides an adventurous exploration trip for motors (125cc/250cc). Road conditions can vary between good and bumpy/muddy. Tuk tuks won’t take you here.
From Kampot Durian, head north on Nat Road #3 for 18km. Turn left under an archway, off the main road. From here directions are rather vague. If you stick to the main trail, you should arrive at a T-crossing after 22km, turn left and after 11km is Wat Koh Sla (nothing special there). Another T-crossing there, turn right and 32km straight to get back to #3.
In case you would get lost, ask a local ‘’Phlaw Thom, Lake Bai?’’ this means ‘’National Road, Number 3?’’
It is possible to do loops of over 100km in this area or to connect up to National Road #4, close to Kirirom National Park! Safe ride ...
Kampot Market (Phsar Kampot) is a typical provincial town market where you can find anything from oranges to pig heads, flowers to wedding dresses and gold necklaces to floor carpets. Take your time to explore this market which is bustling in the mornings and throughout the day.
There is an area with very basic food stalls serving up delicious soups, deep-fried treats and a variety of sweets.
The market can get muddy and less appealing during rainy days so best to be visited when it is sunny and dry.
Kampot's only air-con movie theatre.
Scheduled movies several times a week on 4m screen.
Movie schedule available in restaurants and guesthouses in Kampot.
Or check out the complete movie schedule by clicking on the Facebook link below.
Every Monday & Saturday at 4pm and every Wednesday at 7pm ''Killing Fields'', a masterpiece about 2 journalists during the Khmer Rouge time.
ALSO private movie room rentals:
* Small room up to 5 pax with 51'' plasma, surround, lounge platform with lots of pillows.
* Movie theatre up to 30 pax with 4m screen, pillow platforms, comfortable seating, air-con, ...
You choose your movie and the time.
1000+ titles available.
Snacks, food and cold drinks available.
Close to 2000 roundabout, between Sister 2 and Cambo-Ecotour
About 16km from the Kampot Durian statue, you can find the so-called ''Secret Lake'', locally known as ''Tomnop Tek Krolar''.
Established through hard labour under the Khmer Rouge regime, this irrigation dam, set perfectly in between the mountains and the rice paddies, provides the perfect location for a lazy afternoon on one of the many bamboo platforms. Tubing, swimming and even water peddle cycles are the leisure activities on offer. Snacks, food and drinks are available.
Drive east towards Kep for 12km. Take a left through the second archway. Continue on this dirt track, through the villages and rice fields for another 5 km.
Cambodian pepper production is documented as far back as the 13th century. The climate and soil found in Kampot Province provides an ideal combination for pepper plants, and many fruits.
There are numerous pepper plantations around the Kep/Kampot area, and its distinct aromatic flavor has made it a world renowned product, much sought after by gourmet chefs. More than a million pepper poles were producing thousands of tons for export up until the mid 70s. Local farmers using traditional and modern techniques have been able to revive, in recent years, a sustainable harvest of this world famous pepper. Kampot Pepper received the GI-label (Geographical Indication) in 2010 which pushed its revival on the international market.
The peppercorns go through several maturing stages whilst on the vine, but the best is surely the young green berries that grow in long bunches and are eaten fresh, great with any kind of stir-fry; season Sept – Feb. Harvesting is March / April, and the peppercorns are then dried in the sun.
A few large pepper plantations are located in Phnom Voar, on the way to the caves at Kampong Trach. A great opportunity to view the vines and buy some of this superior pepper ($10/kilo). (In the markets it might be mixed with lower quality pepper).
From Kampot Durian Statue, head east towards KT on road #33. Continue another 5km after the Kep White Horse statue and turn left at the Vine Retreat sign through the durian archway just after the school. Continue straight, over the railway lines and up the road for a few km until you arrive at the plantations. Altitude 56m.
For those who want to be quiet and peaceful in a 100% natural environment, this hill provides it all through great views over the ocean with Phu Quoc Island and Bokor Hill in a backdrop. From Kampot town, cross the old bridge and turn left at the 2nd crossing. Go straight over the small bridge (you are on Try Koh / Opposite Island now) and continue on the main track (through a salt flat, around another hill, ...) for about 8 km until you reach Coconut Hill. Countryside, salt fields and village life dot the gravel track and make this a very pleasant ride to do on a bicycle or motor.
A visit to Phnom Sor (White Mountain) is an advisable option if you are looking into spending a quiet afternoon, outside Kampot town.
Conveniently located just 8.5km north from Kampot, Phnom Sor can easily be reached by bicycle, motor, tuk tuk, ...
Try to get there in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the burning midday heat. Even though there is shade from the many trees, it is still a bit of a hike up to the top.
As you arrive you will notice that there is a decent staircase on your left and very narrow cement-on-rocks steps on your right. The staircase takes you to an uninteresting little stupa; lots of shade here, though.
But let's get up the main hill:
Go right and head for the top of the small hill in front of you. As you start climbing the narrow cement-on-rocks steps you will realize that they turn more into plain rock steps and gravel after 150m.
So, bring good footwear (and your own refreshments). The path forks once in a while but it is easy to figure out how to get to the top.
Wat Phnom Sor is a century-old temple where locals still come to pray and spend time with the monks who live around the pagoda. Great views over Kampot province's countryside, town and Elephant Mountain range.
From Kampot Durian travel 6km north on Nat Road #3, turn left under an archway and head for Phnom Sor right in front of you (2.5km).
Just 30km West of Kampot, at the foot of Bokor Mountain, lays Prek Tnaut, where since 2002 a local community is trying to establish a 176ha eco-tourism site and to raise environmental awareness for locals and villagers.
Supported by the WWF from 2003 until October 2010, the community is now self-sustainable and welcomes tourists & local visitors alike to come and enjoy the natural beauty of this mainly fishing community. Beside still being fisherman, the community is split up into 3 groups: traditional medicine makers, rattan producers & construction, and maintenance workers for the eco-project.
All proceeds and benefits are equally shared and re-invested into the community.
The village chief, Mr. Chhoum, believes that besides promoting nature and preservation of the area, this project might also protect them from land grabbing by corporate companies or other people with devastating plans on their mind.
Popular with locals during the weekends who come to enjoy the river and serenity of the surrounding nature, Prek Tnaut also offers home-stay possibilities ($3/pax) for tourists to support the community and to experience true Cambodian country life. One traditional village house can host up to 8 people. Khmer seasonal home-cooked food is served at $3/meal. Book your home-stay at least 1 day in advance.
Spend your day exploring the area, chill at the river, head upstream to the ''Temple of 100 Fields'' or take a boat trip into the sea and do some dolphin spotting ($20-$30/boat).
There is a $3 entrance fee for tourists. To leave your motorbike at the entrance the community charges just 1000riel.
For bookings and info, call 088 9022 099.
No English is spoken on the phone so get your guesthouse to help you out.
Inside the community, English-speaking guides are available.
Kampot's river, which is actually an estuary, in combination with the Bokor mountains in the backdrop create the magic of Kampot town and riverfront. Watch the fishermen driving their boats out into the open sea around 5pm from any establishment's terrace or mix in with the locals on the side of the river and enjoy the temperature slowly lowering into the night.
Enjoy the river itself by heading for one of the riverfront guesthouses such as Olly's Place, Kampot River Bungalow, Villa Vedici, Ganesha, ...
You could swim, windsurf (Olly's), paddle board (Olly's), wakeboard (Villa Vedici), jump of the railway bridge into the river (on your own risk), ...
Several tour operators and guesthouses in town offer sunset boat cruises, a pleasant way to end your day.
Dreamtime Tours offer boat cruises in style with cheese, wine, seafood BBQ for those that look for something different. Alternatively, a very interesting easy-going boat trip into the mangroves and smaller estuaries is on offer with Bart the Boatman.
The pagoda on Try Koh (over the old bridge, then 2nd to the left and straight) is a great place to sit and unwind, right at the river. Fishing vessels pass by around 5pm!
Kampot river is an element of nature there to be enjoyed to the fullest ...
Tek Chhou Rapids are a couple of kilometers past the zoo, and are a popular place to picnic and have a dip in the river.
Food vendors and gazebo structures provide the amenities for a kick back and soak it up lazy afternoon.
Since the construction of the Kamchay hydro dam further upstream there is less water in the rapids but still worth the trip.
This used to be the most surreal zoo you ever visited with inadequate enclosures to ensure a safe but pitiful existence for its caged native and non-native animals.
But there is good news! Conditions for the animals have improved dramatically, firstly through the assistance of Wildlife Alliance and now the Cambodian-based Footprints Organization, which has taken over the operation & development of the site.
For the zoo skeptics, you will be glad to learn that the new team have an educational focus and plan to transform the place into the region's first wildlife education park which, it is intended, will help turn the tide of animal poaching, trade and habitat destruction that is sending Cambodia's wildlife to the brink.
To support the park, join one of their Paws & Claws Encounters and know that 100% of profits go towards improving the quality of life for Teuk Chhou's wonderful animals.
And for those who like the 'surreal', the crazy statues and derelict amusement park rides remain, for a while at least!
Find the zoo 7km upstream on the west side of Kampot river. Entrance fee $4.
Often mistranslated as Fish Isle, Try Koh is literally speaking an island but in fact merely separated from the mainland by a small stone bridge. A oasis of countryside, rice fields, salt fields, Cham muslim fishing communities, Khmer village life, hills, ... Absolutely worth cycling or riding around for a few hours. Just a few km outside Kampot town (over old bridge, turn left at 2nd crossing and straight). As you cross the bridge separating the island from Kampot mainland, you will see a beautiful temple compound at your right hand side. A good spot to sit and wait for the fishing boats to come by on their way to the open sea around 5pm. Alternatively you can watch the boats venturing out into the sea from atop on of the hills on Try Koh.
It is not the easiest road to get to this hidden temple but the charming farmers, their settlements, the refreshing mountain stream, the small valleys and tiny bamboo jungles full of squirrels make it worth the effort and sweat.
Head out to Teuk Chhou rapids, 8km north from new bridge on Kampot river West bank road. Then, 200m past the sellers at the rapids, turn left under an overgrown square concrete structure onto a small sandy-rocky path.
It is possible on a small moto but it is a very rough track with lots of rocks sticking out of the ground (you could also just walk, it takes about 5h trek to reach the pagoda and return. Take water with you as there are no shops along this trek).
Follow this path (after 400m there is a fork, follow right here. After 600m the path gets less rocky) for 1.9km.
The path seems to narrow here. From here it is not possible to continue by bike as you have to hike up the steep path on your right hand side. From here it will take you about 30-40min hiking to get to Wat Ey Sey.
The first part is steep, the second and main trek takes you through very a picturesque landscape of hills and valleys, butterflies and peaceful quietness with another last steep climb to eventually reach the pagoda.
Remember that this temple is very isolated and gets hardly any visitors so do not attempt to disturb the monks in their daily activities unless they approach you and invite you. But feel free to wander through their garden while enjoying the stunning views over the hills and inspecting the many huge statues scattered throughout the compound.
Most guesthouses (especially those along the river) and travel agencies in Kampot know how to arrange a kayak or kano so you can explore Kampot river, mangroves, ... without the noise of a thundering engine. The perfect way to get the most out of the river's wildlife. Lots of great birds, butterflies, ... to spot.
Contact any guesthouse for a trip on the river or ring the original Kampot Boatman, Bart on (+855) 092 174 280)
Villa Vedici, a garden resort along Kampot river offers kite surf and wake board classes or if you are already experienced you can arrange here to take you out to the sea.
Well maintained equipment and a Western guide at your disposal.
Olly's Place has paddle boards, a great way to explore Kampot River and its estuaries in a quiet and relaxed fashion and to get the most out of the river's wildlife. Lots of great birds, butterflies, ... to spot.
For tailored day-trips in Kep/Kampot or longer excursions on the Mekong, Tonle Sap, ... contact Paddle Board Cambodia - SUP Kampot. www.paddleboardcambodia.com or (+855) 093 980 550