Kampot, Cambodia: Live, Eat and Play on the Cheap

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The sandy beach in Kep, 18 km from Kampot, Cambodia. Monica Gray photos.

The sandy beach in Kep, 18 km from Kampot, Cambodia. Monica Gray photos.

Kampot is a small city is in southern Cambodia that’s famous for its pepper

By Monica Gray

Why Go?

Enjoying the view at former casino atop Bokor mountain in Kampot.

Enjoying the view at former casino atop Bokor mountain in Kampot.

Kampot is a small city in Cambodia with French colonial style architecture.

Colorful buildings with French inspired façade line the streets. Some of the buildings are crumbling and deteriorating from wind, rain, and neglect, but that’s what gives this town its unique style and character.

Kampot has a ton of restaurants, cheap food is conveniently located and is surrounded by beautiful nature. 

When to Go?

Cambodia has two seasons, the dry season and the wet season. The weather is ideal during the dry season when the temperature is around 28 to 32 degrees Celsius and there is rarely any rain. The dry season is from December to around April.

Getting There

Kampot is easily accessible by mini van, car, bus, or motorbike from Sihanoukville. It’s about 90 kilometers and is a 2-hour drive.

Visitors can get to Sihanoukville via bus or car from Phnom Penh, which is around 4 hours away. There is also a small airport in Sihanoukville, the Sihanoukville International Airport.

Getting Around

Kampot is a small town and visitors can easily explore the entire city in one day. You can hire a tuk-tuk, which is a 3-wheeled mode of transportation popular throughout certain countries in Southeast Asia. It’s a motorbike with a carriage attached to it, sometimes decked out in flashing lights and bright colors. They will happily take you around Kampot for a set price.

Visitors can also rent a motorbike for the day, which costs around $4-7 for 24 hours. You can also rent a bicycle for around $2 a day. Your hotel or guesthouse can easily set up both of these rentals.

Best Eats

Crab for dinner in Kampot. Time to get crackin'!

Crab for dinner in Kampot. Time to get crackin’!

Café Espresso

This is hands-down some of the best coffee in Cambodia. A couple Australians own the café, and you know they are serious because their menu says, “sorry, we don’t serve regular coffee.” Their food is phenomenal as well; they serve veggie burgers, breakfast items, sandwiches, and more. It’s open from 8 am to 4 pm.

Address: 17 R 717, Kâmpôt, Kâmpôt, Krong Kep, Cambodia

Phone: +855 92 388 736

Epic Arts Café

Epic Arts Café is run by youth who are deaf or disabled. One of the main goals of this café is to change the attitude towards the deaf and disabled and that ‘every person is counted.’

They also sell artwork, jewelry, scarves, and more at their shop called Epic Creations a few stores down from the cafe. Every so often, they give amazing performances open to the public that include dance, music, and crafts. The café is open from 7 am to 4 pm.

French designed buildings in Kampot.

French designed buildings in Kampot.

Address: Sovann Sakor, Kompong Kandal, Kampot, Cambodia

Phone: +855 33 555 5201

Email: info@epicarts.org.uk

The Rusty Keyhole

Craving some juicy ribs that transport you to southern America? These ribs are slathered in some sort of Asian barbecue sauce that is soaked through to the bone. They come with a side of coleslaw and either French fries, mashed potatoes, or a baked potato. For around $7, this meal will fill your stomach and send your taste buds to heaven. It’s open 8 am to 11:30 pm.

Address: Riverside Road, Kampot, Cambodia

Ekran Noodles Dumpling & Peking Duck Restaurant

If you’re looking for inexpensive and delicious dumplings, then this restaurant is for you. They offer dumplings for around $2.50 per plate. They also serve soup for around $4.

Address: Old Market, Kampot, Cambodia

Phone Number: +855 10 249 411

Where to Stay

Budget

Arcadia Backpackers has 3 km of tubing on the river and rooms overlooking the water.

Arcadia Backpackers has 3 km of tubing on the river and rooms overlooking the water.

Arcadia Backpackers

Arcadia is a social hostel for backpackers looking to meet other travelers. It’s right along the river, and you’ll find guests swimming in the river during the day and sipping on cool beers at night. They have dorms, double rooms, and bungalows.

Dorms start around $6 per night while the bungalows are $25 per night. website

Address: Teuk Chhou Road, Kampot 13205, Cambodia

Email: arcadiabackpackerskampot@gmail.com

Moderate

Samon Village

These bungalows are directly along the river that runs through Kampot. Some of their bungalows are designed as tree houses, so you have the chance to sleep high up in the trees.

Bungalows range from $20 USD to $40 USD per night. They serve wonderful food and offer smoothies filled with a wide range of ingredients.

Address: Tuek Chhu Rd, Kampot, Cambodia

Phone number: +855 97 688 8078

Mea Culpa

This hotel has air-conditioned, clean rooms and delicious food. This hotel is only one kilometer out of the center of town, far away enough from the action but close enough to feel like you’re a part of it. Their restaurant offers a wood-burning oven for those craving a classic pizza. Rooms are around $20-40 per night.

Address: 44 Sovansakor Kampot, Cambodia

Phone Number: +855 12 504 769

Expensive

A fun day trip in Kampot is to climb up Bokor Mountain where an abandoned casino can be explored.

A fun day trip in Kampot is to climb up Bokor Mountain where an abandoned casino can be explored.

Rikitikitavi

This hotel also has a restaurant attached and is right along the river in the center of town. The staff is incredibly friendly and the rooms are clean and luxurious.

Their restaurant offers vegetarian and vegan meals as well as curries, burritos, and more. Private rooms range from $50-70 per night. They also offer free breakfast.

Address: Riverside Road

Phone Number: +855 12 235 102

A crab fisherman relaxes along the river in Kampot.

A crab fisherman relaxes along the river in Kampot.

Best Attraction

A few kilometers away from the city center is Bokor Mountain and is an easy day trip. The entrance fee is $1.50.

Bokor Hill Station, which is at the top of the mountain, is an abandoned ghost town and includes a casino and a church. It is about 32 kilometers to the top of the mountain from Kampot.

Visitors can explore the casino and its meandering, empty hallways. Some lead to tiny rooms while others lead to dead ends. It’s the perfect place to play a classic game of hide and go seek.

On a clear day, you can see the ocean and surrounding cities with a 180-degree view from the top of the mountain.

Visitors can rent their own motorbike and go up the mountain themselves, or they can go on a tour that will take them up the mountain. Temperatures at the top of the mountain are relatively cold, so bring appropriate clothing.

Tik Tuk Tours Kampot

This tour to the top of Bokor Mountain costs $35 for one to two people, and $40 for three to four people. 

Phone number: +855 13 299 939

Best Unusual Attraction

You can visit pepper farms in Kampot, Cambodia for some of the world's hottest peppers and locally made salt.

You can visit pepper farms in Kampot, Cambodia for some of the world’s hottest peppers and locally made salt.

Kampot is famous for its pepper. There are salt and pepper fields surrounding the town. Tours will inform visitors about the green, black, red, and white pepper harvest, and will take them through the fields to see a part of Kampot many people miss out on.

Tic Tuk Tours Kampot

Costs $25 per person.

Phone number: +855 13 299 939

Best Tour

An evening boat will take visitors on a sunset cruise along the river that runs through Kampot. You will glide along the river and watch the sunset behind the mountains, which melt into the night sky as you sip a cocktail and observe Kampot from afar.

Captain Chim’s River Cruise

This tour costs $5 and includes one free drink. It departs around 4 or 5 pm and lasts 2 hours.

Address: Captain Chim’s Guesthouse, St 724, Kampot, Cambodia

Phone Number: +855 12 321 043

Best Alternative

Kep is a small town 18 kilometers away from Kampot and is known for its fresh crab served with Kampot pepper sauce. Visitors can choose to eat at one of the many restaurants that line the streets, and the more adventurous can pick and choose their own crabs, bargain the price, and then have them cooked before their eyes. The latter option is a bit cheaper than sitting down at a restaurant.

Making colorful pillows at Tiny Kampot Pillows.

Making colorful pillows at Tiny Kampot Pillows.

Best Shopping

Tiny Kampot Pillows

You will find anything from pepper, pillows, scarves, jewelry and postcards in this tiny souvenir shop. Everything is relatively inexpensive and is superb quality.

Address: 2000 Roundabout, Kampot, Cambodia website

Phone Number: +855 97 766 6094

Kampot Night Market

The night market is a typical Asian night market. You will find anything from cheap souvenirs, clothing, fruits and vegetables, noodles, and shoes at this night market. Be prepared to bargain!

Books & Hammocks

This is a tiny shop with a friendly owner and used books and souvenirs. Prices range from around $4-6.  It’s open from 8 am to 8 pm.

Address: Guesthouse Street, Kampot, Cambodia

Phone Number: +855 96 535 0676

Monica Gray
Monica Gray boarded the plane to Bangkok with a one way ticket in October 2015 from the United States and has not looked back ever since. She is currently solo backpacking through Southeast Asia in search of adventure, delicious food, and amusing stories.  Read her blog, www.globe-trottica.com
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