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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.
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.
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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