SOUTHERN COAST– KEP, KAMPOT, SIHANOUKVILLE
Whether you’re looking to relax in a hammock, read a book, and soak up the sun, or do some partying and island hopping, the southern coast of Cambodia is the place for everybody! Between KEP, KAMPOT, and SIHANOUKVILLE you’ll find something that is perfect for you. Read to find out which place is your perfect vacation getaway!
KEP– Is a VERY quiet town with not much to do. This might be exactly what you want in order to relax by the ocean… For people looking for a party scene, this is NOT the place [you’d be more interested in the towns described below].
Pepper. Kep is the closest town to where the pepper farms are. This area is known internationally for its pepper so you might be interested in seeing where the 5-star restaurants from around the world import their pepper from. If you’re really interested, you can take a tour of these pepper fields.
Crab Market. Kep is also known for its crab market. In fact, besides a pepper tour and relaxing, going to the crab market and eating crab is really the only thing to do in Kep. It’s right in town and happens every evening… but don’t get there too late!
Take a short boat trip from Kep to Koh Tonsay Island [Rabbit Island] if you want more socialization, bungalows for US$6, relaxation on the beach, US$5 massages, cheap food and drinks, etc. Right along the beach there are a few different establishments. Each place is a restaurant, bar, and accommodation. Although they are pretty much all the same, walk along the beach and find exactly which one works best for you. Some bungalows are US$6 with a shared bathroom outside, some are US$8 with a private bathroom inside, and another type is one huge bungalow that houses about 6 rooms with 2 shared bathrooms for US$5.
Take another boat trip from Koh Tonsay to other islands around if you want to see true island living. There other islands around do not have accommodation, but you can take a day trip to see how the locals really live on this islands.
Koh Pou Island:
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KAMPOT– about an hour north-west along the coast from Kep. Kampot definitely has more to do in terms of bars, cafes, hotels and other accommodations.
Chim’s Family Café.
This place might not look like much, but it’s an amazing little restaurant located on a corner in the middle of Kampot [right near the “park”]. I stopped here to get a quick bite to eat and was very surprised. Everything about this place is amazing: the service, the food, the prices, the location, etc. An older woman was the server and treated me like gold! The food was SO good. I ordered a burger and it was HUGE with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, cucumbers on the side, extra mayonnaise, and french fries. To top it off, my huge meal was only US$3… oh, and this is one of the more expensive meals… fried noodles, rice and vegetables, etc. are only about US$1.50. I also tried these and was definitely not disappointed!
A lot of food when traveling [especially the cheap food] is OK, but nothing worth writing about… most food that backpackers seek is cheap and will keep you alive and well while traveling, but that’s about it – not much flavor and not much substance… Well Captin Chim’s is different and whether you’re backpacking or not, you will love it! I mean, who doesn’t love a place with the best food in the city AND the cheapest?!
NY NY Hotel.
This hotel is really great! Super clean, hot water, fan, TV, free bottled water, a great view, and WiFi… all for only US$6!!! I’ve stayed in places that have been cheaper, but DEFINITELY not as nice… I’ve stayed in more expensive places that have been nicer, but not by much! This really is THE place to stay when you’re in Kampot!
Other Accommodation: If you’re traveling alone and want to spend less than US$6, then there are hostels across the street of NY NY Hotel for dorm bed for US$4… but for US$2 more, you can live in luxury…
Did You Know? …that the Kep/Kampot area is known for its PEPPER?! Not the red, yellow, or green peppers, but the pepper next to the salt on the table. In fact, the best restaurants in the world import Kampot pepper!
I like pepper, but it’s not like I reach for it in restaurants when I’m home to put it on any meal. However, when I was in the Kep/Kampot area and even the street venders have this world-renowned pepper, I actually found myself putting this pepper on everything! I later learned that it was the best pepper in the world!
When you walk the streets of Kampot, there are pepper corns in bags that you can buy. Small bags are about US$2 and large bags about the size of a liter are about US$10.
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SIHANOUKVILLE – a little more than 2 hours north-west of Kampot. Sihanoukville is VERY much a party town – clubs, bars, parties all night, drinking on the beach, etc. If you like your peace and quiet and a non-“college scene”, then this is NOT the place for you…
There is a main street that leads you down to the beach. The obvious turn is to the left and this is where about 99% of the partying takes place… However, if you take a RIGHT at the end of the main road, you find a small stretch of beach that is tranquil with calm bars with people just trying to relax.
Islands. There are a few islands you can get to by boat from Sihanoukville. Some are more party oriented and others are more relaxed. I went to Koh Rong Island which I thought was a good mix of both. Read about KOH RONG ISLAND and see my pictures HERE!
CCPP Art Gallery. Check out some artwork done by local students in the Cambodian Children’s Painting Project! At this gallery right in town on the main street, you can purchase big paintings or small postcards to send home. Read more about this amazing school HERE!
On the Beach, to the Right! If you’re walking on the main road towards the beach and turn RIGHT [away from the party scene], there are very relaxed hotels. I asked a few of these places what they charge and it was around US$25. However, I met some travelers that had told me they found one place in this area for US$12 for an entire bungalow overlooking the water! If I go back to Sihanoukville, I will stay there because it’s the best location and really great atmosphere.
Sea Sun. This place doesn’t even look like a guest house – it just looks like someone’s private property… It’s right on the main road directly across from Utopia Hostel. I got a room here for only US$7 with toilet and hot shower inside, and two big double beds – they didn’t mind 4 people sleeping in one room so it turned out to be less than US$2 per person!
Utopia is the cheapest place to stay in town if you’re traveling alone. It’s a hostel with US$2-US$3 beds. A US$2 bed is a thin mattress with more people in the room and no air conditioning. There are free lockers and free WiFi and, apparently, free beds for most of the year during the off-peak season. There is a pool and a bar, but it is very noisy at night – it is the ultimate party scene whether you want to sleep or not… but it IS cheap…