Kampot is a small town (pop.~40,000) in south-east Cambodia and capital of the province with same name. It is a gateway to Bokor National Park
There are regular twice a day bus services from Phnom Penh to Kampot three companies: Hua Lin near Olympic Market, Capitol near Orasay Market and second rate Phnom Phen Sorya (which is usually late for at least 30min on all the routes it runs) from the bus station on 217th street (near the central market). Buses leave early (around 7-7:30) , 9am or around midday. Expect to pay around US$5 for the bus (one way); you may get a free pick-up. Journey takes, depending on road conditions, approximately 3-4 hours after South Korea did one of the nicest roads in Cambodia.
Many guesthouses in Phnom Penh offer transportation directly from the guesthouse to Kampot. Convenient, although slightly more expensive. Expect to pay US$8 or more.
You can also get to Kampot from Sihanoukville by a shared taxi or minibus or with Sorya bus. Most taxis depart from the traffic pickup point next to the market. Two hour drive, US$3-5/person (although they start off asking $5 or more). The bus operators can help arrange a minibus with pickup at your guesthouse also. The shared taxi (Camry) would fit in 7 passengers, 4 at the back, 2 at front passenger seat and one next to the driver.
Driving from Sihanoukville to Kampot on a 100cc rented Honda can be lots of fun but if road conditions are poor may take 3.5 hours or more.
Getting around Kampot is easy on foot, given the town's small size. Alternatively, hire a motorcycle (100cc Honda Wave, 125cc Honda Dream, or 250cc dirtbike) from near the central traffic circle or from just about amy guesthouse or tour shop. At the time of writing there are at least three different shops renting motorcycles. Going price starts from US$5/day for a 100cc bike (which is more than enough cubic centimetres).
It takes about 2 hours by moto from Kampot to the Ha Tien Border, the scenery is very beautiful. If you start early you can catch the 10:00h ferry to Phu Quoc island. The border procedure is hassle free.
A good English-speaking moto taxi and guide in Kampot who took this traveller to Kep and back for the Kep Festival: Mr Kao Hemg, 012645185 or 0977009975.
As of December 2011 the new good quality tarmac road to the top of Bokor Mountain is now open to the public. Also there is no longer a $5 entrance fee to the national park. So you rent a motorbike and get to the top by yourself. There are also many more tour options available and they have dropped in price.
A major reason for many travellers to venture to Kampot is its close proximity to Bokor National Park with its ruined French colonial resort town at the top Bokor Mountain in the Elephant Mountain range. This is one of the most spectacular sites in Cambodia and well worth a visit. Most guesthouses arrange day tours to the national park, prices and quality of transport varies so check before booking. March 2011 most tours were $18 (after negotiating) to $20 including the $5 entrance to the National Park and lunch. At the time of writing day trip prices ranged from a pick-up transport at US$6 per person for a shared taxi with an English speaking guide / driver to US$24 for the whole car for the day (Mr Cheang Try, a war veteran and now a guide has many great stories to tell about the park, tel. 012 974 698). There is an additional entrance fee to the national park that you have to pay at the entrance gate to the park. As the road has improved smaller cars, even private cars should be able to get up the mountain.
As of July 2011, the starting price for the package inclusive of sunset boat ride (which cost about US$5) is US$25, but is negotiable down to around US$20 (or maybe lesser depending on who you talk to and your negotiation skill - try orchid guest house, its $10-15 there) provided you get to the right tour agency/office. It is not actually a trekking tour but just an hour one-way trek upwards after 30-40min travelling up from the entrance. Those who can't trek can still go up by the provided transportation although minor road construction is still taking place, but this is doable. It is noted that it might not be possible to travel up yourself but only with guide. Take note that except for the Bokor Palace Hotel and Casino, other buildings are now occupied by the families of construction workers. Thus, you would not be able to go in and explore, which makes the entire trip less interesting. Most animals from the region have also been scared or poached away by the construction and workers. Although its an extremely interesting expedition to see how landscapes can be transformed, and to hear the arguments for and against the developments from a good tour guide, if you are looking for a national park with animals or untouched waterfalls this will be far from what you expected.
Thhe tours include seeing the ruined buildings (includes a Catholic church that the Khmer Rouge squatted at for years during the armed struggle) and the waterfall (which only has water falling during the rainy season), lunch at the French Casino, and the same 1.5 hour drive back. While Bokor national park is also an important wildlife reserve the average visitor is unlikely to see much of interest. Tiger are present but very rare, although Gibbon can often be heard. The area is of note for bird watchers as the only accessible site for the Chestnut-headed Partridge as well as species such as the Blue Pitta and Orange-headed Thrush. Several tracks enter the forest, one from behind the old tea plantation, the second from near the waterfalls. It is possible to stay at the range station which is basic but comfortable and contrary to reports some food (as well as French wine) are available. After the construction work begins for the new hotel and road, wild animals sighting has become almost impossible.
As of July 2010 access to Bokor was intermittent due to the construction of a new road. Check with locals before planning on a trip here. It was possible to get up the mountain on a motorbike (250cc dirtbike or 125cc motorbike, both of which can be hired locally).
As of March 2012 the road to Bokor is open to the public for free. The road is a good condition tarmac road and 2 people on 1 125cc moped can make it to the top easily.
- Teuk Chhouu, (8km upriver of town on the west (far) bank). An area of rapids with eateries and an island. It is a nice place for swimming, tubing and relaxing, and local vendors sell fruit, coffee and water.
- Phnom Chhnork, (8km east of town on the Kep Road NH33). A pleasant ride through paddy fields and village life to these caves with pre-Angkorian (Funan) shrines and "lost worlds". Just after the rhino statue turn left (there is a sign to Phnom Chhnork Resort), cross the railway into a village. Straight ahead is Phnom Sera with some interesting caves and a quarry which feeds the local gravel industry. Follow the road 90 degrees left and 2 km or so to Wat Ang Sdok, pay the monks and walk across to the mountain. Take your torch (flashlight). $1.
- Secret Lake, (East of Phnom Chhou). An irrigation dam with a picnic area.
- Pepper Farms, (North of the Kep hills and NH33), . Enquire in town about how to see pepper being grown and processed. For a guided tour visit The Vine Retreat in Chamcar Bei village. Genuine Kampot Pepper is sold at Blissful Guesthouse.
- Also to be experienced are the fresh seafood(especially the crab with local Kampot pepper) and beaches at Kep (25km 25-45 minutes east from Kampot by moto or shared taxi) which makes a fun day trip. Although the beaches are not as nice as those in Sihanoukville (1 small brown sand beach and more rocky), it is quiet and during the week you will likely be the only visitors. Fishing boats can also be taken out to Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island), approximately 45 minutes from the mainland.
- Kampot mangroves, (From Kampot and around), . A traditional Khmer long-tail boat floats you to beautiful places where the flora, fauna and people dwell harmoniously. Voyage up the Kampot river and towards the heart of Bokor National Park.
Kampot has a relaxed and sleepy atmosphere. It is a great place to go and just soak up the atmosphere and catch your breath for a couple of days, either in town, at the beach, along the river, or up on Bokor.
Do Kampot province by dirtbike: Ride enduro style through the Elephant mountains, take on the hillclimb up Bokor or relax.
- Crazy Golf, (next to Magic Sponge GH). Play a few fun rounds of 9 hole mini golf for free. Have a cold beer before, during and afterwards!
- Fat Lewie's Bicycle Tours, (next to Sister II Restaurant), ☎ 089 863 670, . New, Western Mountain Bicycles for Rent, Half and Full Day Countryside Tours Around Kampot, Fat Lewie's provides job training for the orphans at Heritage House, and all profits go to help the orphanage and feed Fat Lewie.
You can buy locally grown, and of international acclaim, black pepper from the New Market (1km towards Phnom Penh from the central traffic circle), although it is recommended that should you wish to be relatively certain that the pepper you are purchasing really is locally grown, bring a trustworthy local with you.
There are plenty of places to eat in Kampot, ranging from the usual street kitchens to proper restaurants providing indoor seating. Most places are only a short walk from the central traffic circle. A delicious breakfast found in Kampot is Koh Kor Num Pain, a thick beef stew served with french bread. Fish and seafood are also plentiful, fresh and delicious.
Food stalls still open late at night.
Just north of the new bridge are two bungalows with over-the-water dining in stilt huts. Nature Bungalows even has a tiny artificial beach! Just south of the same bridge a Khmer seafood restaurant is also on stilts over the water.
- Blissful, On Guest House Street by Salt Workers Statue. 7:15am until midnight. Restaurant open until 9:30pm. A wide range of traditional Khmer and Western cuisine, large selection of vegetarian dishes, comfort food, great desserts, and some unique daily specials – professional western chef keeps the kitchen and its ingredients to meticulous standards and the Khmer and Western dishes are of a high quality with large portions. Every week a huge traditional Sunday roast. Happy hour 4-8 pm. Busy bar with great music is a good place to meet other travellers and backpackers. Cocktails, shots, local and imported beers and wine by the glass or bottle. At the bar you will also find the “Vodka Corner" stocked with flavoured vodkas using local produce including jasmine and jackfruit from the garden and Kampot pepper vodka - a unique flavor. Water refills, to help cut down on the use of plastic bottles and packaging. Refilling a 1.5 litre bottle costs R1,000 (25¢ US). And there are plenty of areas to relax in the lush garden: hammocks, comfy chairs and bungalows.
- Srey Mom Cafe, Opposite the 2000 monument (East side two blocks from the river and next door to Tiny Kampot Pillows), ☎ 012 987 457. 5pm until late, late. Western food, Draught Cambodia Beer. Pies, Pizza's, Burgers and Indian Food. And of course Mom's famous Samosa.
- Jasmine Restaurant - Closed, Riverside Road (just south of the old bridge). 10am - 10pm.
- Rikitikitavi, Riverside Road, 012 235 102,  serves excellent Western and Asian food up in an atmospheric terrace restaurant overlooking the river and mountains. Almost famous Saraman (Cambodian Beef Curry) and Amok Trai (Fresh Fish Curry). A little more expensive than most but value for the quality.
- The Rusty Keyhole, About 1.5km out of town on highway 33 out of town towards Kep, should be signposted on the right into the paddyfields - well worth the moto-ride or an evening stroll to watch the sunset over the rice fields ; 092 758 536. Sells delicious bbq ribs (they have actually been seen to fall off the bone!) along with a range of western and Asian food, sunset happy hour and great views of the river. Closed Tuesdays. (Check in Aug-Sept as they may close for the monsoon.)
- Epic Arts Cafe, Old Market Street (North side two blocks from the river). Breakfast until 5pm. An NGO run serves a menu of modern cafe cuisine (no ham sandwiches here!), juices and Italian coffee, with training of staff from, and proceeds to, the disabled community. Small second hand book selection and products from their project for sale. moderate - premium.
- The Lazy Farmer, 'Guesthouse Street opposite Magic Sponge' (East of the salt gatherers statue - middle roundabout). Good quality Khmer food along with a western/asian menu. Cheaper than the guesthouses.
- Cafe Espresso Kampot, 17 R717 (Across from 333 Bakery in the side street from Epic Arts Cafe), ☎ 092388736, . 7am - 11pm. Speciality coffee, roasted on site, ground fresh. Espresso machines & Japanese cold press, Australian style café fare- all day breakfast- Home made sauces, house smoked meats. Warm baked goods & good veg options, Spanish style canas con tapas after noon. Ever-changing eclectic menu. Free wifi, Stylish atmosphere, good service And one of the best bathrooms in town- On quiet colonial side street towards the Market from epic arts café- -open daily 7 till late- under $5.00.
- Sisters II, Two blocks off of the river (turn beside Bokor Lodge off the river) near the 2000 round about, ☎ 017-777-470. 7am - 5pm. All day breakfast. Owner also bakes lots of great cakes, a slice of yummy carrot cake costs 3,000 riel. Closed on Sundays.
Kampot has the best Teuk Rleuek (fruit shake) in Cambodia. Visit any of the numerous vendors located on the main avenues in the evening.
- What's Hot in Kampot, St National Road 3 (first left after the main traffic circle heading towards the Old Bridge), ☎ 016984156, . Wine bar serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, also offers its own unique tours and information. Also in store the Rogue Music Store and Clothing Shop upstairs selling clothes from the Dorsu Project and TIC range. Open Thursday to Sunday.
- WunderBar (New Location on the riverfront), ☎ 017257364. Stylish bar with garden area and great tunes, serve western & khmer food, kitchen open till 11 pm. Big selection of beers, cocktails, fruit juices. Dart, chess and new pool table with competition on Sunday 8 pm, admission $2. Open 6 days a week, 4.00 pm - 1 am.Monday closed. Good meeting point in the nighttime. friendly Swissgerman run.
There are many guesthouses in Kampot, mostly in the US$5+ price bracket. It is best just to have a look at the rooms - if you are not satisfied you can always try another place. In the city most of the guesthouses are located along "Guesthouse Street". There are also a number of guesthouses just outside of town across the bridge and along the riverfront.
Budget City guesthouses
- Blissful Guesthouse, Guesthouse St (100m south of bus station, east of Salt Gatherers' Roundabout), ☎ 092 494 331 ([email protected]), . Longest run Western guesthouse in Kampot since 2004. Lush tropical garden, restaurant with a wide range of traditional Khmer and Western cuisine, busy bar with great music, clean rooms, and laid back atmosphere. The perfect place to meet other travellers and backpackers. All rooms are fan cooled with private or shared western bathrooms, cold water showers (hot water if the sun has been shining). Double or twin with private bathroom $5, double room with shared bathroom $4, single room with shared bathroom $3, dormitory $2/bed. 24 hour access. Free wifi.
- Magic Sponge, Guesthouse St (east of Salt gatherers' Roundabout), . Funky converted villa with pool, table soccer (kickaire), crazy golf and a good restaurant/bar. Motorbike rentals and free bicycles available. From US$4.
- Orchid Guesthouse, Guesthouse St (east of Salt Gatherers' Roundabout). Another straightforward guesthouse with fan and air-con rooms and food, opposite Pepper.
- Kampot Guesthouse, Guesthouse St. Another straightforward guesthouse with fan and air-con rooms and food, next to Orchid. This one has clean rooms, no fridge, great wifi and it's quiet because it's at the end of the street: sponge and blissful sometimes have music....
- Pepper Guesthouse, Guesthouse St. Converted villa guesthouse with simple restaurant and Wifi.
- Paris Guesthouse, Corner of Old Market St (three blocks from bus station). Brand new multi-story purpose built hotel.
- Homestay-Café, close to the river, opposite the hospital, ☎ 855-(0)77-526-443, . All rooms ensuite with hot water and fan.
- Long Villa Guesthouse. West of the (new) market on New Bridge Street, nice garden restaurant, clean rooms, fan and aircon.
- Nature Bungalow, (north of New Bridge 50m). Riverfront bungalows with over-the-water dining.
- Ta Eng Guesthouse is on a side street near where the road to Kep bends out of the town grid. Not very cosy. Curfew at 11:30. Rooms start at $5.
Budget Riverside Guest house
- Bodhi Villa, (1.5km north of New Bridge on the far (west) bank), ☎ +855 12 728 884, . Hugh and Jos have done well to make this place a lot of fun and a great place to relax. Friday Night Live music sessions are not to be missed, though this place fills up rapidly on weekends, so bookings are suggested.
- Olly's Place, by the river, 500 meters north from the west side of the new bridge (next to Bodhi Villa), ☎ +855(0)92 605 837, . Comfortable bungalows and rooms with mosquito nets. Paddle-boarding and swimming in the river included. Wind-surfing available. Food and drinks menu.
- Kampot River Bungalow, 100 meters before Olly's place. Comfortable bungalows and rooms with mosquito nets. Diving board inexpensive high quality food and great communal atmosphere. The cheapest of the three. Food and drinks menu. For reservation H/P: 011 52 36 27, 033 66 66 418... $6.
- Samon's Village, 50 meters behind Bodhi Villa, ☎ ", . clean and new (2012) Bungalows with moskito nets. With terrace and access to the river. Great local food. Very friendly and family-like atmosphere. No party crowd. Get to know the locals who live here, too. $8 (shared bathroom), $20 with bathroom.
Budget Countryside Homestay Bungalow
- Kampot Eco-Village Retreat, (phone for free pick up from within kampot or drive over the new bridge and follow the road until the temple on the left side. Now go into the little path on the right hand side and keep going for 600m), ☎ 855-(0)12-719-872, . checkin: anytime; checkout: noon. Kampot Eco-Village retreat is a home stay guesthouse that features traditional bungalows for $5 and free use of a bicycle as well as Cambodian specialties and your western favorites. Friendly family country-side location, Motorbike rental available. $5 per day, $25 per week, $80 per month.
- Les Manguiers, East Bank of the River (2km north of the new bridge on a rough dirt road.), ☎ 102 489 376 / 012 823 400, . Garden bungalow resort with table d'hote menu, kayaks and boat trips. Very French; trilingual staff. Call for pickup. $10 - 25.
- Villa Vedici, East Bank of the River (2km north of the new bridge on a rough dirt road, just north of Les Manguiers.). Swanky new garden bungalow resort.
- Mea Culpa Kampot, behind Govonors Mansion, ☎ 012 50 47 69 ([email protected]), . New guesthouse and restaurant in a nice garden setting, in a quiet part of the old French quarter of town. Clean, new nicely decorated fan and a/c rooms with cable TV, DVD player and en suite bathroom with hot water. Balcony. Complimentary tea and coffee. Patio restaurant and bar serving Khmer and international fare including pizzas from a wood-fired oven. $20-25.
Internet access is available downtown for (at the time of writing- March 2008) 3000r/hour.
- Kep - another resort town 25km east, famous for seafood, motobike for $3, tuk tuk $8.
- Sihanoukville - Cambodia's best-known beach resort. Big bus, minivan or Sihanoukville's G'day Mate western run van service.
- Ha Tien (Vietnam) - The border was opened for tourists in 2007. Motorbike drivers usually ask for US$10 to 15 for a ride to the border, but you can also get a motorbike taxi directly to Ha Tien for US$9 (around 2h). Some of the roads are not paved, but you will get to see some nice rural areas on the way. There are car taxis leaving for the border around 9AM for US$6 per person.
- M.T.T (call/txt TOM on mobile: 016 994 161) newly-launched daily Aircon Van's serving all above destinations twice, plus to Trat of Thailand
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