Kampot

Kampot Travel Guide

Photo by sasint on Pixabay // CC0

Photo by sasint on Pixabay // CC0

Introduction

A region popular with the French for its fertile soil and the cool highlands located nearby, Kampot is a small Cambodian city that is somewhat off-the-beaten-track but slowly growing in popularity with in-the-know travellers.

With pepper plantations, a hill station with historic sites and refreshing air, and a number of other highlights, this place is worth a stop of at least a few days on your Southeast Asian travels.

Cultural Attractions

Much of the backstory of Kampot is based on its history as a centre for growing pepper. While there are many farms in the area worth exploring, we suggest exploring the grounds of La Plantation if you are pressed for time.

It continues producing pepper to this day, with modern day operations adhering to organic standards. With tours offered in a variety of languages, there’s a good chance everybody in your group will be able to get the most out of their trip here.

While there is a store where you can buy products produced with the produce and spices grown on their property, you’ll be pleased to learn they do not employ pressure sales techniques, so feel free to browse here at your leisure.

Is the heat of Cambodia’s tropical lowlands starting to get to you? Take a break by heading up to the lofty heights of Bokor National Park. Established as a hill station during the French colonial period, there are a number of structures here that will interest the cultural tourist.

Its former hotel and casino are the ones of principal interest, as its former grandeur is only matched by the amount of degradation that has taken place ever since it closed. In addition to this, there is also an old Catholic church and the ruins of a Buddhist temple, both of which look especially mystical in the fog that often cloaks this elevated park. For this reason, it is a good idea to pack a sweater or jacket in your daypack, as the weather can often turn on a dime here.

Looking for a beautiful temple to tour in the Kampot area? If so, do not miss your chance to check out the Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple. Found eight kilometres along the road to Kep, this Hindu place of worship was built inside a limestone cavern back in either the 6th or 7th century AD.

With one of many local kids serving as your guide, they’ll happily point out the many images common to this exotic religion, as well as the many natural features (stalactites, stalagmites) this cave offers.

Want to check out a local Buddhist temple as well? Make room in your schedule to tour Wat Sampov Pram. Located in the highlands above Kampot, the temperate, damp climate has given its walls and chedis character that few other temples in the area have.

Take plenty of photos, but be wary of the monkeys roaming the property – they are habituated to humans and will think nothing of snatching food or any object (like the shades propped atop your head) faster than you can react to them.

Other Attractions

Brush up on prior generations of history in the region by spending an hour or so exploring the exhibits in the Kampot Museum. Situated in the mansion where the governor appointed by French authorities used to live, its tiny footprint means you won’t have to sacrifice too much of your day here if you have bigger sightseeing priorities. However, the time you spend here will allow you to view artifacts that tell this city’s story.

Ranging from the time before Christ was born to the bad old days of the Khmer Rouge, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for what the people in this part of the world have been through over the course of countless generations.

Want to connect with some of the best nature the Kampot area has to offer while cooling off in the process? Spend a few hours tubing down the Teuk Chhou Rapids. A popular activity for backpackers visiting Kampot, those wanting to have a day of fun will want to book this tour through local operators.

With water that has descended from the highlands behind the town, it is cool enough to serve as relief from the heat, but not cold enough to be uncomfortable. Not into hanging with young travellers? There are also beaches along the shore where visitors can jump in for a quick dip, as many locals do the same.

Fans of falling water will want to make a pit stop at Popokvil Waterfall while heading to or from Bokor National Park. While its flow can be on the anemic side near the end of dry season, visiting during the wet season or shortly after its conclusion will allow you to witness the beautiful spectacle created by multiple tiers of frothing water spilling over shapely limestone rock.

Got time to kill before catching your bus to Kep or Phnom Penh? Take in a movie at the Old Royal Cinema. While the exterior looks a touch on the grungy side and the inside consists of little more than plastic patio chairs and a blank wall for the projector to show features, the prices are cheap, the popcorn is buttery, and the films shown are fairly recent.