Kampot's main draw is its relaxing riverside setting. While there is a sizable town set back from the river, most tourists will spend most of their time enjoying the river. Most tourist businesses are scattered along the riverside promenade or are within one or two blocks of it. The riverside's main reference points are the old bridge, a mongrel of various styles and temporary parts thrown together after its breaching in the Khmer Rouge days, and the French-built market building (which is currently being restored). Back from the river, the town is centred on the bizarre durian roundabout. From where the buses drop passengers, walking down the wide boulevard leads towards the river and the French-built market.
By bus from Phnom Penh:
Rte 33 heading to Kampot north of Kep, taken by all the buses that go through Kep, is undergoing serious road work in mid-2013. The trip Phnom Penh-Kampot via Kep can take up to 7 hr instead of 3.5 hr. The road between Kampot and Kep, and further on to the pepper farm is dangerous for motorcycles (mud, potholes) and will be until the end of the rainy season around the end-2013.
Hua Lin buses depart at 07:00 and 12:00 from their bus station on St 182 near Olympic Market. The bus travels to Kampot via Kep and the trip takes about 5 hr (normally).
Capitol Tour buses depart at 07:00 and 13:00 from their bus station near Orrusey Market. The bus does not currently go via Kep and the trip can take approximately 3.5 hr. The fare is USD4.25.
Sorya buses depart at 07:30 and 14:30 from their bus station next to Central Market. In the high season (Oct-May) there may be an additional bus at 09:30. The bus travels to Kampot via Kep and the trip takes about 5 hr. The fare is USD4.50.
Paramount Angkor Express buses depart at 07:30 and 13:30 from their bus station near Olympic Market. The bus travels directly to Kampot (does not go via Kep) and the trip takes about 3 hr. The fare is USD4.50
Giant Ibis buses depart at 08:00 and 14:45 from St 106 next to the Night Market on Riverside. This company promotes itself as a luxury service. Tickets are USD8 and the bus arrives at the Durian Roundabout (approximately 300 m from the bus station) in Kampot.
All of the above buses, with the exception of Giant Ibis, end at the central Kampot bus station which is about 150 m from one of the main guesthouse streets in Kampot. Walk to the Salt Workers Monument and take the first turn to the left.
Many guesthouses in Phnom Penh offer direct transport to Kampot. While convenient, it is expensive (at least USD8).
These buses do not generally have an on-board toilet, but do usually have a 15 minute rest stop at the half-way point between Phnom Penh and Kampot. Note also that while there is no difference in the fares charged for locals and foreigners on the Phnom Penh-Kampot route, fares generally increase for everyone during major public holidays/celebrations.
Kampot Express uses 12 seat Hyundai Starex mini buses. They provide an 08:00 and 13:00 service on weekdays with an additional 16:30 service on Saturday and Sunday. Buses are based at St 215 in Phnom Penh at the Sokimex petrol station. The trip taking about 2.5 hr depending on the traffic leaving Phnom Penh. The fare is USD8 for foreigners, with locals paying less, and additional baggage fees may apply.
- M.T.T (call/text TOM on mobile: +855 16 994161) newly-launched daily air-con vans serving all most destinations twice, plus Trat, Thailand
Private Taxi: your guesthouse/hotel should be able to arrange this for you and expect to pay between USD35-50 for the whole taxi with the trip taking approx. 2.5 hr. Again, prices quoted will generally be higher during major public holidays and you will almost certainly be quoted a higher price if you attempt to negotiate the fare yourself with one of the taxis at Phnom Penh airport.
Shared Taxi : There are a number of shared taxis that regularly ply the route between Phnom Penh and Kampot and your guesthouse/hotel should be able to arrange a seat for you. If you want to make your own arrangements, taxis generally depart from Psar Damkor. Be aware that a shared taxi, generally a Toyota Camry, on this route will normally carry eight people including the driver so if you are a large Westerner, have a lot of luggage or have issues with your personal space, you might want to book two seats at the front of the taxi which in effect gives you the front passenger seat to yourself. Prices are generally around USD5 per "chair" so the front passenger seat to yourself should cost around USD10.
There is no passenger rail service between Phnom Penh and Kampot.
From Sihanoukville, take a shared taxi, minibus or bus. Most taxis depart from the traffic pickup point next to the market. The 2 hr drive should cost USD3-5/person in a shared taxi, though haggling is required. Bus operators can help arrange a minibus with pickup at your guesthouse. Shared taxis are generally cramped, with up to 7 passengers: 4 in the back, 2 in the front passenger seat and one next to the driver.
Giant Ibis are now operating a return bus service to and from Sihanoukville with departures at 08:30 and 12:00 in both directions. Price is listed at USD7 one way.
Driving from Sihanoukville to Kampot on a rented scooter can be fun, but if road conditions are poor may take 3.5 hours or more.
Getting around Kampot is easy on foot or on a bicycle, given the town's small size and flat terrain. Alternatively, hire a motorcycle (100cc-125cc scooter or 250cc dirt bike, from USD5/day) or bicycle (from USD1/day) from hire shops near the durian traffic circle, or from just about any guesthouse or tour shop.
It used to take about 2 hr by motorbike from Kampot to the Ha Tien border with Vietnam, the scenery is very beautiful. If you start early you can catch the 10:00 ferry to Phu Quoc Island. The border procedure is hassle free.
The most impressive sights in Kampot are the river and surrounding hills, which grandly frame views from the riverside promenade. Kampot retains many of its colonial buildings and there are many interesting old structures in various states of repair. The two cinemas stopped screenings long ago but the buildings represents a charming, art deco vision of the future. The market, an angular structure similar to Battambang's, is undergoing renovation.
- Bokor Mountain (1-2 hr out of Kampot). Bokor National Park is being destroyed by a USD1 bn casino development. The eerie charm of the abandoned French hill station that included a shell of a church and the isolated upland nature reserve are rapidly becoming a tacky casino resort for Asian gamblers. The road up the mountain is now paved and provides easy access. The cooler climate and sublime views from the mountain remain and may provide some reason for a visit.
- Tigers were rare to start with and will likely soon be non-existent. Gibbons and birds such as the chestnut-headed partridge, blue pitta, and orange-headed thrush will also been much harder to spot in what is now a construction site. The waterfall, which only flows in the wet season, may still provide some sanctuary for humans and animals wanting to get away from bulldozers.
- Tours still run up the mountain and cost approximately USD10, depending on bargaining skills. Lunch is included. Except for the Bokor Palace Hotel and old casino, the old French buildings are occupied by the families of construction workers. The excursion can still be worthwhile provided as it is viewed as an insight into seeing Cambodia's Great Leap Forward rather than as an atmospheric expedition into a remote and haunting environment.
- Several tracks enter the forest, one from behind the old tea plantation, the second from near the waterfalls. It is possible to stay at the ranger station which is basic but comfortable and, contrary to some reports, offers food and French wine. Free.
- Phnom Chhnork (8 km east of town on the Kep Rd, Hwy 33). A pleasant ride through paddy fields and village life to these caves with pre-Angkorian (Funan) shrines and "lost worlds". Just after the rhino statue turn left (there is a sign to Phnom Chhnork Resort), cross the railway into a village. Straight ahead is Phnom Sera with some interesting caves and a quarry which feeds the local gravel industry. Follow the road 90 degrees left and 2 km or so to Wat Ang Sdok, pay the monks and walk across to the mountain. Take your torch (flashlight). USD1.
- Pepper Farms (North of the Kep hills and Hwy 33). Enquire in town about how to see pepper being grown and processed. For a guided tour visit The Vine Retreat in Chamcar Bei village. Genuine Kampot Pepper is sold at Blissful Guesthouse.
- Also to be experienced is the fresh seafood (especially the crab with local Kampot pepper) and beaches at Kep (25 km 25-45 minutes east from Kampot by moto or shared taxi) which makes a fun day trip. Although the beaches are not as nice as those in Sihanoukville (1 small brown sand beach and more rocky), it is quiet and during the week you will likely be the only visitors. Fishing boats can also be taken out to Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island), approximately 45 min from the mainland.
- Kampot Mangroves (From Kampot and around). A traditional Khmer longtail boat floats you to beautiful places where the flora, fauna, and people dwell harmoniously. Voyage up the Kampot River and towards the heart of Bokor National Park.
- Cham Fishing Village, about 2 km out of town past the Governor's Residence on the road that runs along the east bank of the river.
- Salt Fields , about two kilometres out of town on the Kep road. You will see the fields off to your right (coming from Kampot) and there are a number of access roads.
- Funky Statues, The Big Durian, The Vietnam Friendship Monument, The 2000 Roundabout, The Salt Workers Monument.
- The Two Old Cinemas, art Deco design and both have been out of regular service for some time however the one on the old bridge road does show the occasional Khmer-made horror movie. If you are an art Deco enthusiast, the Tourist Information building, about 400 m up from the Salt Workers Monument, is also worth a look.
- The Old Bridge, still in regular service for traffic although it probably shouldn't be as its structural integrity is questionable. It is very picturesque at sunset however.
- The Colonial Railway Station, the rail line through Kampot is under construction. For the present the old station still stands in all its untouched glory and is worth a look. Head out of town on the Phnom Penh road and take the last turn to your right before you come to the rail lines. The station is sign posted and approximately 1.5 km out of town.
- The Kampot Traditional Music School for Orphaned and Disabled Children, across the road from the Acleda Bank building and adjacent to the park that runs down to the Old Market. The school holds occasional concerts. There is a notice board outside the building advising dates and times. It is possible to attend music rehearsals (Mon-Fri) if you make an appointment. Tel: +855 33 932992 (Field Manager: Mr. You Chhuy)
- The Old Prison, still in active use and would make a great set if anyone ever decides to do a remake of the movie Papillon. This is not a place where you would want to do time. About 200 m from the Salt Workers Monument.
- The 2000 Olympic Stadium, in the centre of town behind the Durian Roundabout. Classic Khmer-style stadium and the grounds are often used for fairs or live music concerts during public holidays.
- The Market, large, rambling, well stocked with just about everything that an average Khmer family could need (have a look at the section behind the fish mongers for examples of local produce) and well worth a wander around.
- Teuk Chhouu (8 km upriver of town on the west (far) bank). An area of rapids with eateries and an island. It is a nice place for swimming, tubing, and relaxing, and vendors sell fruit, coffee and water.
- Get Out Of Town, head out of Kampot for 1 km in any direction and get off the main roads and you are in rural Cambodia. Some of the local cottage industries include palm sugar and wine making, basket weaving and furniture making using liana and rattan.
Kampot has a relaxed and sleepy atmosphere. It is a great place to go and just soak up the atmosphere and catch your breath for a couple of days, either in town, at the beach, along the river, or up on Bokor.
Do Kampot province by dirt bike: Ride enduro style through the Elephant mountains, take on the hill climb up Bokor or relax.
- Kayak and Boat Trips. Standard Boat Tours (Morning and Evening Cruise) available (USD5), Kayak Tours (USD9) or daily rent (USD7) (e.g. at Captain Chim's Family Restaurant at the Old Market).
- Petanque (Boules). Play at Blissful for free. Have a cold beer or Pastis while playing. The court is floodlit, so play morning, afternoon or evening.
- Minigolf (at the Magic Sponge GH). Play a few fun rounds of 9-hole mini golf for free. Have a cold beer before, during and afterwards and try to get a tricky but not impossible hole in one!
- Fat Lewie's Bicycle Tours (next to Sister II Restaurant), ☎ 089 863 670. New, Western mountain bicycles for rent. Half and full day countryside tours also available.
- Banks/ATMs. Canadia Bank at the traffic circle (Durian roundabout). Acleda Bank on Old Market Rd near Central Bus Stand.
- Kampot Pepper. Given its reputation for quality, this is probably the most popular purchase made by visitors to Kampot. Such is its popularity that a host of imitators claim to be Kompot pepper. Genuine Kampot pepper is available at Blissful Guesthouse. If you want to be confident that the pepper you buy is the genuine article, buy it from a reputable supplier. The packaging should have an authenticity logo and possibly a tracking code identifying the farm where it was grown. Black pepper, USD12-18/kg; white pepper, USD13-20/kg; red pepper, USD18-25/kg.
- Tiny Kampot Pillows (At the 2000 Traffic Circle), ☎ . Hand made in Kampot. Quilts, pillows and cushions, coasters and place mats, belts and bags.
A delicious breakfast found in Kampot is Koh Kor Num Pain, a thick beef stew served with French bread.
- Cafe Espresso Kampot, 17 Rte 717 (Across from 333 Bakery in the side street from Epic Arts Cafe), ☎ . 07:00-23:00. Speciality coffee, roasted and ground on site. Australian-style café fare and fresh baked goods. Free Wi-Fi. USD5.00.
- Captain Chim (Old Market). 07:30-22:00. Khmer family-run café and restaurant with local specialities and Western and vegetarian dishes. Also offers tours, cooking lessons, bus tickets, motorbikes.
- Epic Arts Cafe, Old Market Street (North side two blocks from the river). Breakfast until 17:00. Modern cafe cuisine, juices and Italian coffee. NGO-run to help local disabled people. Second-hand books for sale.
- Kampot Pie and Ice Cream Palace (One block north and one block inland of the old bridge, behind Little Garden Bar), ☎ . 07:00-late. Khmer bakery with good cheap fare. Great brownies, no croissants.
- Rikitikitavi, Riverside Rd, ☎ . Western and Asian food in atmospheric terrace restaurant overlooking the river and mountains. Notable saraman (Cambodian beef curry) and amok trai (fish curry). A little more expensive, but good quality.
- The Rusty Keyhole (On the river, just south of the old bridge and next to the French-built market building), ☎ . Western and Asian food with tender BBQ ribs, relaxing river side location. Beer provided in 568 ml vessels for those who love the pint.
- Samon's Village (Formerly The Lazy Farmer), Touk Chou Rd (2 km from town centre. Cross the bridge and go right along the river about 1,5 km), ☎ . 07:30-21:00. Serves a wide range of Khmer delicacies in a romantic garden on the river.
- Sisters II (Two blocks off of the river (turn beside Bokor Lodge off the river) near the roundabout), ☎ . 07:00-17:00, closed Su. All day breakfast and bakery, great carrot cake (3,000 riel).
- Srey Mom Cafe (East side two blocks from the river and next door to Tiny Kampot Pillows), ☎ . 17:00 until late. Western and Indian food.
Kampot has the best teuk rleuek (fruit shake) in Cambodia. Visit any of the numerous vendors on the main avenues in the evening.
- OM House (OM House Kampot), Old Market Street no. 38 (In the old French Quarter between Old Market and park), ☎ . 08:30-20:30, closed every second Wednesday. Restaurant and organic shop. Wide range of fresh juices & smoothies, crepes, Khmer and Western delicacies. Healthy food, herbal teas, coffee and cakes. A meeting place for green thinking people. Free Wi-Fi. USD0.50-5.00.
- WunderBar (on the river front), ☎ . 6 days a week, 16:00-01:00, closed M. Stylish bar with garden area and great tunes. Serves Western & Khmer food. Kitchen open till 23:00. Big selection of beers, cocktails, fruit juices. Darts, chess and new pool table with competition on Sunday at 20:00, admission USD2. Good meeting point at night. Friendly Swiss-German run. Cover USD2.
There are many guesthouses in Kampot, mostly in the USD5+ price bracket. It is best just to have a look at the rooms. In the city most of the guesthouses are located along "Guesthouse Street". There are also a number of guesthouses just outside of town across the bridge and along the river front.
Budget city guesthouses
- Blissful Guesthouse, Guesthouse St (100 m south of bus station, east of Salt Gatherers' Roundabout), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Longest running Western guesthouse in Kampot. Lush tropical garden, restaurant with a wide range of traditional Khmer and Western cuisine, busy bar with great music, clean rooms, and laid back atmosphere. The perfect place to meet other travellers and backpackers. All rooms are fan cooled with private or shared Western baths, cold water showers (hot water if the sun has been shining). 24 hour access. Free Wi-Fi. USD5.
- Homestay Café, close to the river, opposite the hospital, ☎ . All rooms with en suite bath, hot water, and fan.
- Kampot Guesthouse, Guesthouse St. Another straightforward guesthouse with fan and air-con rooms and food, next to Orchid. This one has clean rooms, no fridge, great Wi-Fi and it's quiet because it's at the end of the street.
- Long Villa Guesthouse (North of the market on New Bridge St). Nice garden restaurant, clean rooms, fan, and air-con.
- Magic Sponge, Guesthouse St (East of salt gatherers' roundabout), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Funky converted villa run by Westerners with free Wi-Fi, 9-hole mini-golf course, pool table, 50-inch HD widescreen TV for live sports, great Western and Asian food including excellent Indian dishes, and a well stocked bar open late and with incredibly cheap draft beer, especially during happy hour between 12:00 and 16:00. A great place to hang out and meet other travellers, with no shortage of entertainment. Air-con or fan rooms are spotlessly clean and feature superb quality mattresses and hot showers, and now there is a penthouse dormitory for just USD3 per night per bed. Laundry, travel tickets, motorbike and bicycle rental and up to date travel information available.
- Nature Bungalow (North of New Bridge 50 m). River front bungalows with over-the-water dining.
- NyNy Hotel, Guesthouse St. Relatively (3 stories) high rise building. Clean Rooms, Wi-Fi.
- Orchid Guesthouse, Guesthouse St (East of salt gatherers' roundabout, opposite Pepper). Straightforward guesthouse with fan and air-con rooms and food.
- Paris Guesthouse (Corner of Old Market St, 3 blocks from bus station). Multi-storey purpose-built hotel.
- Pepper Guesthouse, Guesthouse St. Converted villa guesthouse with simple restaurant and Wi-Fi.
Budget riverside guesthouses
- Bodhi Villa (1.5 km north of New Bridge on the far (west) bank), ☎ . Hugh and Jos have done well to make this place a lot of fun and a great place to relax. Friday night live music sessions are not to be missed, though this place fills up rapidly on weekends, so booking is suggested.
- Greenhouse, Papaya Salad Road (Cross the new bridge, follow Teuk Chhu road for 6 km, then turn right on Papaya Salad road when you see the white sign on the right side of the road), ☎ . Small private bungalows set in an orchard with a fantastic view. Great bar and restaurant in beautiful old wooden Khmer house with a large balcony overlooking the river. Free bicycles, kayak rental, free Wi-Fi, popular swimming spot. USD7-20.
- Kampot River Bungalow (100 m before Olly's Place). Comfortable bungalows and rooms with mosquito nets. Diving board, inexpensive high quality food and great communal atmosphere. The cheapest of the three. Food and drinks menu. For reservation H/P: 011 52 36 27, 033 66 66 418. USD6.
- Olly's Place (By the river, 500 m north of the west side of the new bridge, next to Bodhi Villa), ☎ . Comfortable bungalows and rooms with mosquito nets. Paddle-boarding and swimming in the river included. Wind-surfing available. Food and drinks menu.
- Samon's Village (50 m behind Bodhi Villa). Clean bungalows with mosquito nets, terrace, access to the river and good local food. Very friendly and family-like atmosphere. No party crowd and a place to easily get to know the locals. USD8 (shared bath), USD20 with bath.
Budget countryside homestay Bungalows
- Kampot Eco-Village Retreat (phone for free pick up in Kampot or drive over the new bridge and follow the road until the temple on the left side. Go into the little path on the right side and keep going for 600 m), ☎ . Check-in: anytime, check-out: noon. Kampot Eco-Village retreat is a home stay guesthouse that features traditional bungalows and free use of a bicycle as well as Cambodian specialities and Western favourites. Friendly family country-side location, motorbike rental available. USD5 per day, USD25 per week, USD80 per month.
- Les Manguiers (East bank of the river, 2 km north of the new bridge on a rough dirt road.), ☎ +855 10 2489376 /+855 12 823400. Garden bungalow resort with table d'hote menu, kayaks and boat trips. Very French. Trilingual staff. Call for pick-up. USD10-25.
- Mea Culpa Kampot (Behind Governors Mansion), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. New guesthouse and restaurant in a nice garden setting, in a quiet part of the old French quarter of town. Clean, new nicely decorated fan and air-con rooms with cable TV, DVD player and en suite bath with hot water. Balcony. Complimentary tea and coffee. Patio restaurant and bar serving Khmer and international fare including pizzas from a wood-fired oven. USD20-25.
- Villa Vedici (East bank of the river, 2 km north of the new bridge on a rough dirt road, just north of Les Manguiers.). Swanky new garden bungalow resort.
Internet access is available downtown for 3,000 riel/hour.
- Ha Tien (Vietnam) - Motorbike drivers usually ask for USD10-15 for a ride to the border, but you can also get a motorbike taxi directly to Ha Tien for USD9 (around 2 hr). Some of the roads are not paved, but you will get to see some nice rural areas on the way. There are taxis leaving for the border around 09:00 for USD6 per person.
- Kep - another resort town 25 km east, famous for seafood, motorbike for USD3, tuk-tuk USD8.
- Sihanoukville - Cambodia's best-known beach resort. Big bus, minivan or Sihanoukville's G'day Mate Western-run van service.
|Routes through Kampot|
|Phnom Penh ← Kep ←||E W||→ Sihanoukville|