Before we left for travelling we tried to research a little into the countries we intended to visit, but we didn’t have much time to look into the specifics of each and every town within those countries. Along the way we have relied on blogs and word of mouth from our fellow travelers to plan our routes, and so with this in mind we wanted to let everybody know about a quaint town on the southern coast of Cambodia, known as Kampot.
Depending on the length of time you have to explore Cambodia, Kampot is well worth a few days to relax in between all the history of Angkor Wat and all of Phnom Penh’s main attractions. We dedicated a little over three weeks to Cambodia overall, which was only a little over two if you don’t include the week we spent at Hariharalaya and out of this time we spent a leisurely 4 days in the lovely riverside town.
Kampot doesn’t have much in the way of nightlife and so if quiet, sleepy towns are not your thing then maybe Kampot is not for you, but if moseying through back streets by foot, cycling along a near deserted riverfront or mopeding around the countryside sounds like your kind of thing then we would recommend that you make a stop off in the small town.
The main attraction of Kampot is its sleepy vibe, however there are many
things you can do to fill your time there, if like Steve you cannot sit still for more than five minutes. There are many tour options available, including a day trip to Kep, the even smaller seaside town to the east of Kampot, mainly famously for its Crab Market. We opted for the ‘countryside tour’ which included a stop off at the Salt fields, a Pepper Plantation, a Temple Cave, Kep’s famous Crab Market for lunch and then a few hours relaxing on Rabbit Island. Like most tours the stop offs were a very quick chance to take a few photo’s and we didn’t really take much learning away from the experience but it was a good day. If we had the chance again I think it would be much better to hire a moped and make the journey towards Kep on your own, it’s a great drive and you will pass all the above main attraction’s on route.
On our third day in Kampot we decided to hire a moped and head to the Secret Lake. We had met a girl at the Yoga camp who said the lake was well worth a day trip so we set off early before the midday heat with our hand drawn map in hand. The lake is not too difficult to find, but the drive there was pretty……interesting. After a short time on proper roads, these roads turned into pebble paths, which later turned into dust, with no sign of any lanes and unfortunately these uneven sand dunes were home to many huge trucks, which near on blind you every time they drive past. Keep going though, because when you get there to this peaceful, tranquil, beautiful lake the tough journey there is well worth it.
Once you arrive to the stunning scenery, drive across the small bridge to the left of the lake and you will come to a café, turn right and keep driving, leave the café behind you, you will now be driving around the edge of the lake and soon enough you will be at a small family run place with bamboo huts lined up alongside the river, they don’t speak much English but it’s a great place to chill out, read your book or just rehydrate after the dusty journey.
Other than the obvious main attractions highlighted in Lonely Planet we would recommend that you head down to Green House. This unique guesthouse is set alongside a quiet part of the river, with stunning views and their Green House Shake……banana, peanut butter, chocolate, milk and honey…..is reason enough to make the journey!
The Rusty Keyhole, a restaurant on the riverfront should definitely not be missed. A great place to watch the sunset, while enjoying a cold beer and they serve the best ribs marinated in beer and what Steve was convinced was magic, get there early though as they fill up fast and its first come, first serve.
Finally apart from walking around yet another night market/ food market, spend an evening at Ecran Movie House. They show a film in the main room every night, or you can opt for hiring out the smaller room and watching the movie of your choice on the big screen. The movie house is basically upstairs in someone’s house. They have filled a room with chairs, cushions and a cinema sized screen and it’s a great way to spend a few hours. We opted for watching ‘The Killing Fields’ to learn a little bit more about Cambodia back in the 1970’s in the time of the Khmer Rouge. Our next stop was Phnom Penh, where we would be visiting the Killing Fields themselves and for anybody else on this route we would recommend you watch the movie or pick up a book on the subject around the town to learn a bit of background on the subject before you arrive.