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Kampot

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Kampot

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Kampot is a small town (pop.~40,000) in south-east Cambodia. It is a gateway to Bokor National Park.

Get in

There is a regular twice a day bus service from the bus station on 217th street (near the central market), Phnom Penh to Kampot. Expect to pay around US$4 for the bus (one way). Journey takes, depending on road conditions, approximately 4-5 hours.

Many guesthouses in Phnom Penh offer transportation directly from the guesthouse to Kampot. Convenient, although slightly more expensive. Expect to pay US$6 or more.

You can also get to Kampot from Sihanoukville by a shared taxi. Most taxis depart from the traffic pickup point next to the market. Two hour drive, US$3 (although they start off asking $5).

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.

Get around

Getting around Kampot is easy on foot, given the town's small size. Alternatively, hire a motorcycle (100cc Honda Dream, or 250cc dirtbike) from near the central traffic circle. At the time of writing there are at least three different shops renting motorcycles. Going price starts from US$3/day for a 100cc bike (which is more than enough cubic centimetres) u

While Kampot's proximity to the Cambodian border appears tempting on paper, access is only via 'moto' or car, and most likely a combination of both. The border is also rarely used by foreigners and not a pleasant experience from the Cambodian end as it is isolated and the border towns unnattractive and not used to tourists. It is much easier and faster to go the traditional route, via Phnom Penh.

See

The main reason for most 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 trips to the national park, prices and quality of transport varies so check before booking. 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 upthe mountain.

Most Bokor National Park tours used to consist of a grueling and eventful three hour ride up the mountain (32km), but as of 2008 the road has improved considerably and the tours now spend more time on the mountain itself rather than on the drive. The 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 3 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.

It is also possible to get up the mountain on a motorbike (250cc dirtbike or 125cc motorbike, both of which can be hired locally), but youwill need to ask around first as the situation changes.

In addition to Bokor, also to be experienced are the fresh seafood and beaches at Kep (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 (brown sand 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.

Another nice day trip is a visit to Teuk Chrreu, a waterfall/rapids area up the river from Kampot town. It's a nice place for swimming and relaxing, and local vendors sell fruit and water.

Do

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 just get some island R&R or village rural life.

Buy

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. Price starting from US$3 for half a kilo of delicious dried black pepper.

Eat

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.

  • Blissful Guesthouse offers very decent local and European fare in their restaurant. One of the few places to do an 'English breakfast' that actually tastes like one.
  • Rikitikitavi, Riverside Road, 012-235102, [1] serves excellent Western and Asian food up in a terrace restaurant overlooking the river and mountains. Huge English Breakfast and an even larger 'Trencherman' English Breakfast.

Drink

Kampot has the best Teuk Rleuek (fruit shake) in Cambodia. Visit any of the numerous vendors located on the main avenues in the evening.

  • Rikitikitavi, Riverside Road, 012-235102, [2]. Fantastic bar with stunning views, cocktails, malts, wines and much more
  • The Rusty Keyhole sells delicious ribs and is a good meeting place in the evenings.

Sleep

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.

Budget

  • Blissful Guesthouse
  • Long Villa Guesthouse
  • Mealy Chenda
  • Ta Eng Guesthouse

Boutique

  • Rikitikitavi, Riverside Road, 012-235102, [3]. Beautiful, comfortable rooms, lovingly decorated, air-con, hot water power shower, spring mattresses, TV & DVD, US$30 and 35.

Contact

Internet access is available downtown for (at the time of writing- March 2008) 3000r/hour.

Get out

  • Kep - another resort town 25km east, famous for seafood
  • Sihanoukville - Cambodia's best-known beach resort



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