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We Get Stuck in Kampot

kampot

 

She came for three days

ten years ago.

 

kampot

 

He planned to stay a week.

Now he runs a business.

He never went home.

 

Kampot - 03

 

I set my bag down for one night.

Then lost track of time.

 

kampot

 

People get stuck in Kampot all the time.

 

kampot

 

The sleepy river seduces

 

kampot

 

stay one more night

take one more sunrise swim

 

kampot

 

in Kampot it’s so easy

to laze through one day

 

kampot

 

and the next to sneakily begin.

 

kampot

 

You remember all the activities

you said you would but didn’t do

 

kampot

 

hike Bokor mountain

 

kampot

 

shop in the market

 

kampot

 

kayak down the river

 

kampot

 

cycle the salt flats

 

kampot

 

eat crabs in Kep

 

kampot

 

 

climb in dark caves

 

kampot

 

take a sunset cruise.

 

kampot

 

With further reflection you recall

you haven’t done anything at all.

 

kampot

 

Its not your fault

the town’s easy rhythm

 

kampot

 

lured you into its laze

 

kampot

 

looks like you will just have

to stay one more day.

 

 

How to Get to Kampot

 

Buses run regularly from Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville to Kampot and are efficient and comfortable. Your hotel or hostel can book you a seat or you can purchase a ticket at a travel agency. I recommend booking a seat on the Giant Ibis bus, which is roomy, clean, air conditioned, and even has wifi. The journey from Phnom Penh takes about five hours, while it’s just two from Sihanoukville.

 

 

Where to Stay in Kampot

 

Kampot has plenty of guesthouses and hotels in town, but I highly recommend staying across the river instead. Outside of town you can stay in cozy treehouse style lodges with great food, docks for lounging, and easy access to river activities. I find it much more relaxing and scenic than the town itself. You can always rent a bicycle or scooter to go into town at night, and a tuk tuk should only cost about $2 depending on where you stay.

 

Bodhi Villa

$3 dorm, $5 private

I loved staying in this wooden riverside hostel a mile outside of town. The dorm room was big and open with real beds, not bunk beds, and reminded me of a deluxe cabin in the woods. With a big dock right on the river and a restaurant with delicious healthy food like steamed pumpkin salad and chickpea curry, its easy to spend all day here. I met cool, laid back travelers here and they have a crazy party on Friday nights. For this reason, you may want to stay elsewhere that night and just come for the party. Expect live music and DJs until 6am.

 

Naga House

$3 dorm, $5 private

Just a few doors down from Bodhi Villas is Naga House, also with a great dock on the river and a social setting to meet other travelers. It’s easily the most popular backpacker and expat pad. They host a party every Saturday night with music and dancing.

 

Green House

$10-40 for private bungalows

It’s a little further outside of town, about five miles, but the peace and tranquility at Green House is worth it. With a dock on the river surrounded by gorgeous nature and lovely bungalows, come here if you want to get away from it all. The water here is some of the cleanest because it’s far upriver from the town, and they rent kayaks and SUP boards at discounted rates for guests.

 

Villa Vedici

$30 – $100 for private rooms and bungalows

If you want a little more luxury, stay at the beautiful, modern Villa Vedici which is located on the river but also has a swimming pool and full athletic court. They offer unique activities to the area like kiteboarding, wakeboarding, and kneeboarding. Big bungalows can sleep up to eight people and have big living areas and fully equipped kitchens; a great deal for families or groups of friends.

 

Rikitikitavi

$43 – $60 for private rooms

If you do choose to stay in town, Rikitikitavi has beautiful rooms in an old converted rice barn overlooking the river. Each room is luxurious with air conditioning, fine linens, a mini fridge, even breakfast in bed! The onsite restaurant serves some of the best food in Kampot and has a fun bar, great for meeting more mature travelers.

 

 

Where to Eat in Kampot

 

If you end up staying on the other side of the river chances are you’ll eat most of your meals at your hotel, but Kampot has some of the best restaurants in Cambodia. Make sure to venture out and try at least one of these restaurants.

 

Epic Arts Café

$4-6 for breakfast and lunch

Eggs Florentine, Moroccan salad, chewy fudge brownies… say what?? Believe it. Epic Arts Café serves perfectly executed flavorful Western food in an open airy loft… all for a good cause. The organization trains and employs Khmers with hearing, speech, and physical disabilities in hospitality and the arts. Support them by dining in the restaurant, which ahem you should anyway because it’s some of the best food in Cambodia, or purchasing some of their art and handmade goods.

 

Om Café

$1.25 for green smoothie, $3-5 for dishes

I remember waking up in my little wooden jungle house in Costa Rica and making myself a big smoothie full of organic kale, spinach, coconut water, and whatever fresh tropical fruit I had on hand. Since then, traveling in Southeast Asia, I’ve felt seriously nutrient deprived. In Indonesia I begged café kitchens to throw as much spinach as they could into my pineapple smoothie. They looked at my green drink with fear and disgust. Enter Om Café. I thought I died and went to heaven when I saw that they had an entire green smoothie menu… for less than $2?!?!?! You can choose any combination of fruit and veggies you want, carrot, beet, parsley, lime, ginger, you name it. I ordered mine with lettuce, cucumber, spinach, dragon fruit, and banana, which was surprisingly smooth and potent. They also have a small selection of organic raw coconut oil, all natural soaps, and some special powders and teas.

 

Rikitikitavi

$4-10 for Western and Khmer dishes

Possibly the most “upscale” joint in town, Rikitikitavi has a cozy, social ambience and tasty food. The balcony makes it a great spot for people watching and as a solo traveler I made friends there immediately. Go here if you’re in the mood for Western classics like burgers and kebabs or elegant Khmer specialties like loc lac and amok. They have a great selection of vegetarian food including a veggie burrito.

 

Ecran Noodle Shop

$2-3 for noodle soup, fried noodles, and dumplings

Typically I steer clear of wheat, but when I heard rumors of traditional homemade Chinese dumplings for $2 I knew I had to check this place out. Ecran is best known for its vintage movie house with daily screenings and private rooms you can rent out. However many travelers also flock to the street facing café that serves homemade dumplings and hand pulled noodles. I ordered a big plate of twelve steamed veggie dumplings and stir fried pulled noodles with cabbage, carrots, and bok choy and shared with a friend. They were super delish but I hear the wonton and noodle soup is the best of all.

 

Ellie’s

$3-6 for pastries, sandwiches, salads 

So, I’m a little heartbroken that I didn’t discover this place while I was in Kampot, but based on the reviews and the photos I just had to share it with you. The menu sounds incredible with daily homemade quiche, tiger prawn salad, and a pumpkin spinach feta sandwich. I imagine it’s the perfect place to escape the heat for a delightful brunch or tea and cake late afternoon.

 

 

What to Do in Kampot

 

Swim, SUP, Kayak on the river

It’s easy to spend days doing nothing in Kampot but chilling on the river. Plenty of guesthouses across the bridge from town have floating docks where you can lounge in between swim sessions. Arcadia and Green House take it up a notch with rope swings, an inflatable blob, and kayaks ($1/hour) and SUP ($4/hour) rentals. There’s even SUP Yoga, ask at Banteay Srey for more details. Keep in mind, the further upstream you go from town, the cleaner the water will be for swimming.

 

Drive up Bokor National Park

Avoid tours of Bokor National Park at all cost. They involve a van ride up to the top of Bokor Mountain to see a big parking lot with a casino in it. Sad, and what are you even paying for? I recommend renting your own scooter and driving up; the ride itself is beautiful. At the top try to get off the beaten path and find areas of undisturbed rainforest. You can also hire a guide, hiking is not permitted without one, and trek to the top, stopping and swimming in the waterfall.

 

Rock Climb with Climbodia

$30 for a half day of absailing and rock climbing

The very first rock climbing outfit in Cambodia is based in Kampot and leads absailing and rock climbing tours for people of all levels in some of the limestone caves around Kampot. I haven’t taken the tour personally, but everyone I met who did said they had an incredible experience. One girl told me it was the best thing she did in an entire month in Cambodia.

 

Take a Sunset River Cruise

$5 for a two hour cruise

This simple tour is a relaxing way to explore the mangroves and enjoy the sunset. Plenty of guesthouses and tour companies in town offer trips, the most popular and highest rated being through Captain Chim’s.

 

Catch a Flick at Ecran Movie House

Watch a movie in this vintage theater house which screens classics, new releases, and informational films about Cambodia in cozy rooms. If you gather together a group you can even rent out a room and screen any movie you choose.

 

Get Pampered at Banteay Srey

$3 yoga class, $10 for spa service

In a quiet garden setting along the river, Banteay Srey is the perfect place to have some feminine indulgence. Sorry, no boys allowed. This little oasis offers twice daily Hatha and Ashtanga yoga classes, a steal at $3, and has a full spa menu. They even sell organic raw coconut oil and serve healthy food and drinks. Best of all, the center trains, employs, and houses at risk Khmer women, making it a true sanctuary for ladies.

 

Take a Day Trip to Kep

One of my favorite things I did during my month in Cambodia was take a day trip from Kampot to Kep on a scooter. Along the way we drove through beautiful countryside with the dramatic Cardamom Mountains in the distance. We stopped at local salt fields and pepper farms and explored some of the caves. In Kep we shopped in the famous seafood market and dined on fresh steamed crabs and whole grilled barracuda for just a few dollars. Make sure to stay for the sunset in Kep which is just breathtaking with the silhouettes of crab fishermen against the hot pink sky.

 

Volunteer

If you plan to stay for at least a month, consider volunteering with one of the nonprofits in the area. Bear in mind, volunteering especially with children, is not to be entered lightly. Be sure you can commit adequate time and that you are involving yourself with a reputable organization. Here are some organizations I can highly recommend based on my experiences and the recommendations of friends:

Banteay Srey Project  (Women’s Spa)

Kep Gardens  (Education Center)

Epic Arts (Education Center)

Chumkriel Language School

 

 

 


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Comments

  1. LOVELY. Of all your posts, this is my all time favorite. Thanks.

  2. This is an fantastic article! And it came at the perfect time… I should be heading to Kampot tomorrow :) Thanks for the awesome write up and all the helpful tips – looking forward to trying some of those smoothies!

    • Camille Willemain Says: April 25, 2014 at 9:17 am

      Awesome hope you enjoy your time there! How much longer are you planning to stay in Cambodia?

  3. Thank you so much for the great write up Camille – it sounds like you really got stuck in Kampot & loved every moment of it! We are really glad you enjoyed this fabulous little town as much as we do and took the time to share it with the world

  4. Great blog !! Enjoy your travel and keep it up with your GREAT pictures ! Frank, Simone,Hans and Sjors

  5. I absolutely fell in love with this city, actually left for Kep en route to Phnom Penh and came back 2 days later! As if that return wasn’t enough I’m headed back in a few months to teach yoga/volunteer at Banteay Srea and could not be more excited to do so! Great post.

    • Camille Willemain Says: September 25, 2014 at 10:43 am

      Hi Stephanie, awesome that you’re planning to teach at Banteay Srea!! It’s such a sanctuary with a beautiful and inspiring message. Please let us know how it goes for you :)

  6. Yay I’m so happy to see Kampot here. I stayed at Bodhi Villa for a few days (spent more time staying in Kep) on a visit a few years ago. I love their deck on the water.

  7. Gil Diamantine Says: November 18, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Thanks Camille, great info and photos. Arriving in Kampot this December. Spent time in Ubud,
    Luang Prabang & Thai islands back in the pre-
    internet days. Things change quickly but I know
    the magic still exists. Thanks for keeping it alive.
    Gil
    Did you get a chance to check out Nicaragua?

    • Camille Willemain Says: November 18, 2014 at 2:02 pm

      Thanks so much Gil :) Yes I’ve been to Nicaragua. Check out my Travel Destinations page I have info on Granada and Little Corn Island.

  8. Lovely post! I’m heading there in January but cant decide whether to stay in Kampot or Kep, or both!?

  9. Going to Kampot from Sihanoukville tomorrow for three days. Why do I get the feeling I’ll be staying longer! Haha.

    Also can you chill on the platforms on the river or do you have to be staying/eating at the places that have them?

    Thanks

    • Camille Willemain Says: July 28, 2015 at 9:57 pm

      Awesome!! Yes, I believe you need to be staying there or drinking/dining, but I definitely recommend staying at one! Way better than staying in town 😉

    • Camille Willemain Says: July 29, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      Hey Jade, you need to be staying at or spending money at the places on the river, but I definitely recommend staying on the river either way 😉

  10. Wonderful insight of Kampot! Last minute planning my trip and this post is full of gems! Thank you so much:)