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The provincial town of Kampot in southern Cambodia doesn’t look like much at first sight.
It’s small and sleepy, with wide dusty streets and dilapidated buildings.
Yet it’s the place we stayed the longest in Cambodia—a few days turned into a week which turned into 12 days and it was only our expiring visa that forced us to leave this town we’d fallen for.
In our Kampot travel guide we include top tips on the what to do in Kampot, where to stay and the best places to eat.
At the end there is a map with everything mentioned.
- The Best Things to Do in Kampot, Cambodia
- Where to Stay in Kampot
- Where to Eat in Kampot
- How to Get to Kampot
- Travel Insurance
- Kampot Cambodia Map
- Is Kampot Worth Visiting?
- More Cambodia Posts
The Best Things to Do in Kampot, Cambodia
1) Enjoy the Slow Life
What is it that we loved about this small town that most visitors bypass in favour of the Angkor temples at Siem Reap or the beaches in Sihanoukville?
Kampot’s sleepiness is part of its charm. Traffic is minimal and it’s easy to get around the wide streets on foot, bicycle or motorbike.
Life feels slow here, unrushed, with hot afternoons meant for lazing in hammocks or swimming in the river.
2) Explore the Charming Architecture
The crumbling architecture isn’t beautiful, but it is charming—a mix of French colonial and Chinese-style buildings with fading blue and green wooden shutters and peeling yellow paint.
Kampot isn’t pristine but on certain streets where pink bougainvillaea blossoms on trees, it feels lovely.
3) Watch the Sunset
The riverside location at the foot of the Elephant Mountains is a huge part of Kampot’s attraction.
The river promenade attracts tourists and locals at sunset for strolls and happy hour cocktails.
Basking in the glow of the sunset, by the water, with a drink in hand is a must-do on any Kampot trip!
4) Explore Kampot’s River
Exploring and having fun in Kampot’s river is definitely one of the best Kampot activities.
You can choose your own adventure, whether it’s spending lazy afternoons in a peaceful riverside location or kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and swimming.
Champa Lodge rents out kayaks and paddleboards starting from $3 an hour.
If you feel like taking things easier, many guesthouses can arrange guided trips on wooden longtail boats down the river.
From town, you can also take a sunset and firefly river cruise ($5) on larger boats.
Why not try this private Kampot Kayaking Tour through the jungle, which includes accommodation pickup.
5) Stay a While Longer
Kampot is an easy, liveable town that’s great for digital nomads.
It feels like a real Cambodian city that doesn’t exist for tourism, but there are a number of expats—many working for the NGOs that are so common in Cambodia—so you can find good restaurants, cool cafes, and some comforts of home.
We’d love to return and rent a house for a month or two.
6) Eat Some Delicious Food
You can find everything from delicious pizza, veggie burgers and apple pie to street stands selling baguettes, freshly squeezed sugarcane juice, sweet potato cakes, and steamed corn on the cob.
We loved the excellent veggie burger and coffee from Cafe Espresso. See below for a list of our favourite places to eat.
Also, why not take a private cooking class for a chance for a chef-guided market tour and to learn more about Khmer cuisine.
7) Venture Into the Surrounding Countryside
There is also plenty to do in Kampot’s surrounding countryside.
To explore, you can take a guided tour like this Backroads of Kampot By Scooter tour, or hire a tuk-tuk, but we preferred to travel independently by motorbike (you could also rent a bicycle).
The countryside starts just minutes outside town. Potholed tarmac turns to orange dirt and concrete houses become bamboo shacks or stilted wooden huts.
It’s a land of rice paddies and palm trees, water buffalo and humped white cows, waving children and salt field workers.
8) Visit the Salt Fields
Kampot is the land of salt and pepper. The salt fields are just outside of town and one of the most interesting places to visit in Kampot.
Saltwater is brought from the sea 5km away into prepared clay fields and left to evaporate until salt crystals form.
On my morning run, I watched the workers raking the salt and carrying it off in heavy baskets.
At sunrise, it was a stunning place.
9) Visit a Kampot Pepper Farm
Further afield towards the beach town Kep are pepper plantations that produce some of the best pepper in the world.
The green berries are sun-dried to make black pepper, while the riper red peppercorns are boiled to remove the skin leaving the white pepper seed inside.
We spent the day at the Vine Retreat, a hotel and restaurant on a pepper plantation, a wonderful place to visit in Kampot.
Although the free pepper tour was brief, it was a beautiful place to have a delicious organic lunch with produce from their farm and relax by the pool.
There are other plantations in the area that run more detailed tours, but we couldn’t tear ourselves away from the pool to find out.
The free tours at La Plantation get good reviews (every day from 9am to 6pm), complete with the world’s first pepper mill museum!
This Kampot Pepper Plantation, Salt Field, Cave, Secret Lake Tour would make an amazing day trip.
10) Take a Yoga Class
A highlight of my stay in Kampot was cycling down the river to yoga classes at the women’s only spa Banteay Srey, a refuge and training centre for young women from difficult backgrounds to help them improve their lives.
It’s the perfect location for yoga—an open-sided upper level of a wooden house with views of the garden and river.
At $5 per class, it’s great value taking place at 9 am every day.
The spa feels like an oasis and is a lovely place to get a massage or treatment, have lunch in the vegetarian cafe, and relax on their comfortable riverside deck.
Next time I’m also tempted to try the yoga class at the vegetarian restaurant Simple Things. Some classes are free, and others start from as little as $4.
11) Take a Day Trip to Kep and Rabbit Island
Kep is a small coastal town 30 minutes from Kampot. It’s another sleepy town but lacks a town centre, so I think Kampot makes the better base for this area.
It’s known for its crab market and butterfly-filled Kep National Park.
From Kep, you can take a 30-minute boat ride (around $25 for the whole boat) to Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay), a tranquil place to spend the day, which we did with our friends Jenny and Tom.
We swam in the warm clear green sea, lazed on the free sunbeds and hammocks, and drank $0.75 beers and fresh coconuts.
12) Hire a Bike
Hiring your own transport is a great way to explore the surrounding countryside.
You can rent a bicycle for $2 a day or a motorbike for $5 or $6 a day.
Many guesthouses can arrange this for you, or there are numerous businesses in Kampot to hire from.
Just make sure your travel insurance covers renting motorbikes, as accidents do happen.
We recommend SafetyWing, which is available worldwide (see below).
More Things to Do in Kampot
More things to add to our Kampot itinerary next time include:
- Rock climbing and caving with Climbodia.
- Visit Secret Lake (Brateak Krola Lake) – This could be combined with La Plantation pepper farm.
Where to Stay in Kampot
Kampot accommodation is excellent value compared to other places in Cambodia.
You have the choice of staying in a guesthouse or hotel in town or a few kilometres away in a beautiful location along the river.
In town, we stayed in the guesthouse Mea Culpa which, unfortunately, is closed now.
Riverside accommodation is mostly simple bungalows without air conditioning or hot water.
I recommend hiring a bicycle or motorbike if you stay out of town, as it will work out cheaper than getting tuk-tuks.
If you want something more comfortable than a bamboo bungalow Champa Lodge has lovely double rooms. They also rent kayaks and paddleboards.
Search for more hotels in Kampot here.
Where to Eat in Kampot
All of these Kampot restaurants are vegetarian-friendly.
- Cafe Espresso—A small, funky coffee shop that not only does great coffee (Simon liked the AeroPress) but excellent food. There’s a big breakfast menu and a few vegetarian lunch options, including the best veggie burger we’ve had in Asia—a delicious spicy mix of lentils, beans and vegetables. Don’t miss the homemade pasta if they have it on special—the pumpkin and blue cheese tortellini were amazing.
- Epic Arts Cafe—Run by a community arts organisation to provide employment opportunities for deaf and disabled people. The western menu includes cakes, breakfasts, sandwiches, and some interesting options like eggplant rolls with couscous salad and feta and spinach tart with mango chutney.
- Ecran Noodle Shop—A simple place that makes hand-pulled noodles in front of you. They offer vegetarian options and we had delicious fried noodles with vegetables and vegetarian dumplings.
- Rikitikitavi—A good place for 2-for-1 sunset cocktails (4-6 pm) overlooking the river. The food is a bit pricier than elsewhere but quite good, with a few vegetarian options, including vegetable red curry, vegetarian burritos, and a vegetable crepe with pepper sauce.
- Simple Things – Vegetarian cafe with healthy food, smoothies and coffee. Vegan options are marked on the menu.
- Kampot Night Market – The best option for cheap eats in Kampot. It’s by the durian roundabout.
How to Get to Kampot
Phnom Penh to Kampot
You can take the bus from Phnom Penh to Kampot in 3-5 hours. Try to avoid taking a bus that goes via Kep as this makes the journey much longer.
Giant Ibis is the quickest way to get to Kampot on their buses, which have free wifi and power points onboard. The trip costs $12 and takes 4 hours and they have a good safety record.
You can book with any guesthouse or travel agent or online yourself for an extra $1 (and choose your own seat). They depart from Phnom Penh at 8am and 2.45pm and from Kampot at 8.30am, 2.45pm and 7pm.
It is now possible to take the train from Phnom Penh to Kampot. The journey takes 4 hrs 40 minutes and costs about $7. It’s best to book tickets direct at the station.
A private taxi from Phnom Penh to Kampot costs $35-50.
Sihanoukville to Kampot
Fortunately, there are now several bus services from Sihanoukville to Kampot, or you can travel by taxi or train.
We took a crowded minivan from Otres Beach in Sihanoukville to Kampot, which took 2.5 hours and cost $7.
A private taxi would cost about $45 and is a better option if you have lots of luggage.
The train takes around 2.5 hours and costs $7.
Sihanoukville International Airport (KOS) is the nearest airport to Kampot. It has direct flights from Siem Reap, Ho Chi Minh (Cambodia Angkor Air), and Kuala Lumpur (Air Asia). You’ll have more choice of flights to Phnom Penh.
Kep to Kampot
Kep is only a 30-minute drive from Kampot. When we visited on a day trip, we hired a motorbike from our guesthouse for $5 a day.
You can also hire a tuk-tuk ($10-15) depending on your negotiating skills) or a taxi ($20) or take a minibus (45 minutes, $4).
Don’t forget travel insurance for your trip in case anything goes wrong.
We recommend SafetyWing, which is available worldwide and is very affordable. It’s designed by nomads for nomads and is ideal for those on longer trips. It covers riding motorbikes.
We love its flexibility—you can purchase it abroad when travelling on a one-way ticket, pay monthly, cancel anytime, and you don’t need to choose your destinations (just decide whether to include the US or not).
It’s also great for travelling families as up to two kids under 10 are covered for free. Our SafetyWing review has more details.
Get a quote for SafetyWing nomad insurance here.
Kampot Cambodia Map
Where is Kampot?
Kampot is located in southern Cambodia, a few hours from the beach resort Sihanoukville.
Is Kampot Worth Visiting?
Kampot was our favourite town in Cambodia. It’s a charming, laid-back place that’s perfect if you want a relaxing, affordable break from travelling around Southeast Asia with good food and interesting countryside to explore.
We much preferred it to touristy Sihanoukville, where we struggled to find comfortable, affordable accommodation. We will certainly return to Kampot for a longer stay.
More Cambodia Posts
- Planning a Trip to Cambodia
- A Lightweight’s Guide to the Temples of Angkor
- Beyond Angkor Wat: Alternative Things to Do in Siem Reap
- Vegetarian Survival Guide to Cambodia
- 31 Random Observations About Cambodia
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Thanks for sharing your experience in Kampot !
we are going there in a few days and would definitely use your advice
Is it better to pay in USD or local currency ? Thanks !
It’s been a while since our visit but we paid for most things in USD unless it cost less than $1.
That relates to a pre-covid visit.
Nice presentation but few recommended places are not there anymore like… while very nice new ones popped up too 👌
As resident, despite I don’t approve every developments, Kampot keeps a Great Athmosphere and worth to experience taking your time at the slow pace of the River 🕊
What a great review of Kampot that we were only using as a one night stay. We very quickly extended that to 3 nights before flying home to Australia (would have been longer if time allowed). Cambodian people are incredibly friendly, although those in Kampot are next level. What a beautiful and unexpected way to complete our 3 week Cambodia experience. We look forward to returning, but more importantly, sharing this wonderful country with our friends.
I’m really glad you enjoyed it!
hopeing to get to kampot 2022 march stay till then mick
We are contemplating a move to Kampot and your comments helped me immensely. Thank you for being so thorough and helpful!
Excellent review and site.
I live in Kampot, and my wife and I own a pepper farm nearby to La Plantation that sadly you didn’t discover in 2014. We also have The Kampot Pepper Shop in town that was opened after your visit too.
Your blog is glowing about our wonderful Kampot and I would like to ask your permission to repost it on our own blog (www.botree.asia/blog). It would just be an intro with a link to your page. If you are happy with that, would there be any objection to me using one of your pics as the headline pic for the post? BTW my farm is Bo Tree Farm, which I hope you will visit the next time in Kampot or Kep. We were not yet open to visitors when you came here! We started our modest little visitor centre just 2 years ago, although the farm is actually a year older than La Plantation (and a lot smaller!).
We’ll keep you in mind for next time! And yes, you are welcome to republish an extract of this post and a photo with a link back. Thanks!
Hi Erin, I am going to Cambodia next year and have a few spare days that I would like to spend in southern Cambodia before heading up north. I think that going to Kampot and exploring the neighbouring places seems like an excellent idea. Greg
Kampot would be perfect – enjoy!
Thanks for the exhaustive list of things to eat and do in Kampot, detailing the beauty of this town. While researching, I came across a blog that I felt was very similar to the content you have for this article. I am pretty sure this is plagiarism and would like to alert you to it. The site paraphrased your work but the order of activities and recommendations of food places were a quick giveaway:
Thanks for letting me know David. I’m afraid plagiarism like this is all too common.
The most inspiring article about Kampot! Because of you guys I stayed there!!!
Stayed in Kampot last year and can definitely confirm the opinion on Mea Culpa. Very nice hotel, good food and cheap scooter rental.
If you have some energy to discover the surroundings, I’d recommend Kep (if you want to go quite far) and its islands. A bit closer is Bokor Hill, really lovely scooter daytrip, but don’t forget warm clothes ;-)
You could also go to SUP Asia, they provide SUP and kayaking. I went for a tour on my own through the jungle, was quite an experience!
Yay! Glad you enjoyed it Paul. Kep is lovely – we had such a relaxing day on Rabbit Island. We’ll have to go to Bokor Hill next time!
I stayed in Kampot for a few days in 2015. Sadly I was sick so I had no energy to visit the surroundings…was kinda stuck in my hostel, and that one was a little outside of the town.
I went into town once and it was quite sleepy and not very touristy..which I liked.
Thanks so much to all who’ve contributed their experiences while in Kampot, it is really quite informative and a lot of fun to read your individual experiences and see the place through your eyes! I have been researching different cities in Cambodia and after much ‘search and research’ online I am planning my trip now for 1st week of April — I’m excited! I just want to take my time, and if Kampot strikes my fancy I may just stay around awhile, it sounds very laid back but with enough to do and see and experience to keep one occupied for more than a month-of-Sundays, so I plan to see. I’ve an idea to maybe find a job teaching my native English while there so I’m hoping it all goes well, hoping to meet some of you fine fellow travelers someday and thanks again for your perspective and insight.
I totally agree. Kampot is the best place in Cambodia. And it is just few hours away from other tourist destinations like Kep and Sihanoukville. People are honest and friendly. Great city indeed. We had amazing experience doing the sunset river cruise for only 5 dollars each.
In 2015 I was in Kampot. It is a very nice place. I have made a trip with a boat the sunset Trip. With Mr. Lee I was for one day in school. My friend lives in Kampot. Best wishes from Germany.
Kampot is my second home. I spend 7 weeks living in the town each year supporting Chumkriel Language School. I love the location and especially the people. Your article encapsulated the ambience perfectly. When I want to escape the hustle and bustle of languid Kampot I go to Kep on the Crab Shuttle to totally relax.
Thank you for sharing Information !! I will visit this place next year, depends on Visa-Regulation for how long I can stay… after 2 years living and working in Krabi / Thailand, I need a place where I just can stay without any People trying to kill me – think I found it !!! LOVE and PEACE, markus
Kampot the little nice River Town is changing it’s ambience dramatically ! Far to many barangs flocked into this place within the last years. Far too many wasted Australians, drinkers, bald Tattooguys and other decandent Misfits who just wanna survive on a cheap! Because at home they are just creeps. I don’t really see the benefit for this town. Leave these people alone they don’t need you!
Great post Erin. We are here at the moment. We love this awesome town. It is very peaceful and everyone is so friendly. We love chatting with the locals and trying to practicing our Khmer (which is not the best but we try). There are great organisation here too helping out the community in so many different ways. We have been hanging out at Epic Arts Cafe learning Khmer Sign Language and loving their delicious food. There are a lot of expats here which is great to meet more new people and find out very useful information. Espresso Cafe roast their coffee beans right there on the premises. If you are a coffee lover, they make a great latte. Thanks for sharing guy. Will have to check out that place on the river for a paddle board and a swim. :)
I’m so glad you are enjoying Kampot – we miss that place!
Like most posts I see on the web, you list all the ‘Western’ places to eat and hangout, excepting Ecran.
How shallow and disappointing for supposed seasoned travellers.
When Kampot is completely overrun with foreign themed restaurants like the horrible riverfront in PP it won’t be so attractive. It’s already gone a long way down that path. Neo-colonialism runs strong in Cambodia, shame really. And the poor locals are just the hired help.
Go eat at a Khmer owned business and stay in a Khmer owned hotel, not a foreign owned one, and send your Reil in the right direction for a change !
I agree that there is an issue in Cambodia of too many Western run places, although many of them are providing training for locals and support good causes, and I hope that means the next generation of Cambodians will be better trained to run their own businesses.
The reason we mostly ate at Western places is because we’re vegetarian and it can be hard to get meat and fish free options in local places.
Thanks so much for this great post – we arrived in Kampot today without a clue as to what to do (last-minute change of plan landed us here) and this is really helpful!
I hope you have a fantastic time!
Hello this is Angus from Espresso- we are back in Australia having our first child but don’t fret. this is just a sojourn and we will be back in june. Nidhi- sorry you missed us. Erin- thanks for the write up glad to hear you enjoyed the cafe.
That’s great to know, thank you!
That’s great to know too!!! My mouth is watering at the prospect!! Hope to see you later!
We enjoyed sleepy Kampot too! Thanks for your suggestions. We definitely took advantage of them!
We were really excited to try Cafe Espresso and headed there one day, but we couldn’t find it. We thought maybe it was just closed for the day, so we went back the next day, but still couldn’t find it. A few days later, on the bus to Phnom Penh, we were chatting with a man who is the owner of Ellie’s (another cafe that looked good, but that we didn’t try) and he told us that the Cafe Espresso had closed for good. The owner is moving back to Australia as his girlfriend is pregnant. We were sad to have missed it! But we went to Epic Arts Cafe a few times and liked it. It’s for a great cause as well.
Oh no! That is such sad news, it was such a great place.
We just left Kampot last week! We stayed at greenhouse and it was so amazing that we tried to figure out a way to extend our stay for a week. Unfortunately timing didn’t work out, but I know we will be back. Kampot was absolutely our favorite place in the country.
Two other eateries to check out there: Rusty Keyhole for the most amazing, fall-off-the-bone ribs (call ahead to reserve your half rack), and Captain Chim’s for the ambiance and very tasty food and inexpensive coffee and beer.
It has that effect on people doesn’t it? Glad to hear Greenhouse is as good to stay at as it looks.
We heard about Rusty Keyhole but as vegetarians gave it a miss :) Captain Chim’s is super cheap and we found the food OK, but I wasn’t that impressed my noodle soup was made with instant noodles (what is it with that in Cambodia?!).
We had breakfast at Captain Chim’s — maybe that’s a better bet! I particularly liked the price for my yogourt muesli/fruit combo which was huge, and i managed to top it off with pancakes, which were also very well done :) (i am a total convert to the lime / sugar combo). PS: we also found Cambodia to be surprisingly on the expensive side, as compared to even Thailand or Vietnam.
That sounds delicious!
Oh god Erin yes why oh why the instant noodle – I don’t quite get it’s popularity in restaurants either – when there could be a delicious fresh rice noodle instead!! Swings and roundabouts – Cambodia is a fantastic country :) agree with you if Thai food is outstanding then Khemer can be good at most – but there’s normally some other good choices of non traditional food – apparently there is a great tapas bar in Kampot now excited to find that later – if there s any room left after trying that great veggie burger – still the yoga will work it off!!
Or maybe not as the next post suggests!! Damn!! Thanks for the update Nidhi.
I’ve lived in Thailand for 12 years and been to Cambodia many times. Never heard of Kampot, though, but it looks lovely. Awesome hotel room as well and what an amazing deal for Cambodia (which I’ve always found to be more expensive than Thailand when it comes to decent quality rooms).
Gorgeous photos, btw!
It’s often those smaller less touristy towns that are the best! I’m definitely going to check out Kampot the next time I’m in Cambodia! Great pictures, cheers for the new destination idea :)
Kampot clearly left a good impression on you. We passed it over and went to Kep instead, which we absolutely loved, but maybe we should have stopped in Kampot! You make it sound really peaceful.
We do recommend it. We didn’t spend much time in Kep as it seemed a bit more expensive and spread out but we did love Rabbit Island and the pepper plantations.
Wow! You make Kampot sound so peaceful and relaxing, and the best of all for me is the salt and pepper. Now, I must go!
Sounds lovely! What kind of Wi-fi speeds were available at Mea Culpa?
I don’t know exactly but it was the best we had in Cambodia. We could stream Netflix.
We live in a town with buildings which seem a bit like these – it’s Mysore in India. Laidback and just what we needed after London. Been here 16 months now!
All the best for your next adventure!
We loved our time in Kampot too and also enjoyed our stay at Mea Cupla!
Wow – it looks completely idyllic ! The architecture is absolutely beautiful !! I cannot wait for my gap year – I’ll definitely try and fit Kampot into my itinerary.
Love all these reasons. I never made it to this sleepy town when I went to Cambodia. Another reason to return!
Heading to Cambodia on April 9th. Thank you for this detailed information. I will definitely be making a stop in Kampot now!
Amazing pictures there. I can find a striking resemblance between the architecture of Kampot and that of India. I’m yet to be in Cambodia but have been to India twice. Your post made me feel like I’ve strong connect with Kampot, without even visiting it- reason enough for me to head for this town soon !
ITs perfect guide to Combodia. Awesome rivers and life
We didn’t make it to Kampot on our last trip there but after reading this, it is definitely on the list for next time!
Great post and photo’s Erin! It looks very sleepy indeed and the perfect place to just take things slow and relax a bit. Will be keeping it in mind for when I return to Cambodia one day.
Those sound like fine reasons to be in love with Kampot! We didn’t make it there, but I would likely live for that beautiful yoga spa and those burgers if we went!
I miss yoga there, and the burgers…
Something about that place grabbed me too. Very relaxing with really friendly people and even the expats seemed a bit different than other places. Like David above I spent a bunch of time in Kep as well. That crab is unbelievable!
Glad you enjoyed it too Malcolm! As vegetarians we didn’t get to sample the crab.
I love those sleepy coastal towns in Cambodia too. Although, I pretty much love everywhere in Cambodia apart from Sihanoukville. I think I preferred Kep, but that may be because of the place where I was staying. My memories are primarily of eating huge amounts of crab with Kampot pepper. Yummmms!
We only passed through Kep but it seemed quite spread out compared to Kampot. It does look like there are some amazing places to stay there though. Glad you enjoyed it!
Ahh David I understand re Sihanoukville it’s a bit like Blackpool but the market is fantastic and close by sleepy Otres is an amazing place the sea air is clean and the vibe is chillaxed – hope you enjoy your future adventures and thank you Erin and hubby for an amazing guide ….I am off to Kampot today can’t wait to try out some of your suggestions :)
This looks like my kind of town. Im sad I didn’t get there when I was in Cambodia. Maybe next time….
Good reason to go back!
Yes . You should come again .