Kampot wasn’t even on my list of places to visit in Cambodia, but I found myself with a couple of days to play with and decided to give it a whirl. Kampot is renowned for its production of pepper. The town is in an idyllic location nestled beside the river Kampot, and bordered by the impressive Bokor National Park. The scenery makes it a perfect place to relax, but there are still plants of activities to keep you entertained.
A few companies offer sunset boat tours ($5 including complimentary drink) where you can soak up the peaceful atmosphere. If you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of he fireflies that embellish the trees bordering the water.
A trip to Bokor National Park is a great way to escape the heat; the temperature drops dramatically as you make the incline. If you want to go trekking you must take a guide as there are still lots of unexploeded ordnance in the countryside. Otherwise, rent a scooter and pay $2 to enter the park. The mountains offer spectacular views of Kampot and the coast as you drive. There are also a few impressive waterfalls dotted around the park.
In recent times there has been an uproar in the local community about the new casino that is ruining the park. However, this flashy building seems to mirror what the area once was under French rule. Abandoned buildings – including a church and a casino – sit majestically overlooking the town. It’s evident that this once was a grandeur establishment, but it’s not slipped into disrepair.
If you do make it to Kampot there is a superb little Italian roadside shack called Ciao (722 street). It’s run by an Italian who speaks in his native tongue to his customers giving the establishment an authentic feel. There’s a magnificent array of homemade pastas to choose from and a large margarita is only $3; paired with cheap wine it makes the perfect evening.
From Siem Reap there’s various bus companies who do the route for $7, and it takes about 3 hours. There’s also plenty of companies who go from Kampot to Sihanoukville for around $5, (for an extra dollar most drivers will drop you in Otres at your hotel).