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Whilst Kampot in Cambodia is the perfect town for travelling to and from the border of Vietnam due to its proximity, it is also a town worth exploring in itself. It is a charming, quiet town, filled with quirky cafes and lots of highly reviewed restaurants that you will find it hard to pick just one! We weren’t expecting much from Kampot before arriving, but we quickly became to love it. I have compiled my guide of the top things to do in Kampot, which I hope will inspire you to take a trip there too.
1. COOL DOWN AT ARCADIA WATERPARK
Arcadia Waterpark is a great place to spend the day cooling off in the river and making friends. Although it is based half an hour away from the town, you can grab a tuktuk for just a few dollars. You can either pay to use the facilities for just the day or stay in one of their rooms to make the most of the waterpark! You can just chill in a tube all day if you, like me, aren’t crazy about flinging yourself into water. Or if you are feeling daring there is a pretty crazy slide, swings, a blob and many more scary options to choose from! It is even fun just to sit and watch the tricks people try and pull off.
If you are looking to stay here, the dorm rooms are a really cheap price at just $5 or $16 for a private room.
2. EXPLORE ABANDONED BUILDINGS ON BOKOR MOUNTAIN
For a more eery adventure, make sure to rent a motorbike and head up to Bokor Mountain. After the hour long windy journey, you will start to see lots of creepy abandoned buildings. Bokor Mountain is home to Bokor Hill Station, which is a collection of French colonial buildings that were built as part of a luxury resort in the 1920’s. This included a casino, hotel, church and many grand residential buildings.
Bokor Hill was first abandoned in the 1940’s and then a second time in 1972 as the Khmer Rouge took over the area. Wandering around now, the area has a strange atmosphere, made even more creepy by the fog that often covers the top of the mountain. The main buildings to note are the Catholic Church and the Bokor Palace Hotel. Both of which have paths around the back of the buildings that lead to spectacular views over the sea. We found it quite strange that there was an up and running hotel on the mountain, we even popped inside and grabbed a drink. The hotel itself seemed great, but was also eerily quiet and I can’t see who would want to stay in a location an hour drive away from Kampot.
3. TAKE A DAY TRIP TO KEP
Whilst Kep is a great place to visit in itself, we actually enjoyed the journey there a little more. Instead of taking the main road to Kep, we continued following the river through Kampot and found this beautiful back road surrounded by rice fields with locals working on the land. This resulted in us stopping on the side of the road multiple times to take pictures. But we eventually joined back up with the main road, and arrived in Kep after half an hour.
Once in Kep, make sure to wander across the beach and take in the interesting smells at the crab market. You can even select a crab and have it cooked for you! But if you aren’t in the mood for eating seafood, make your way up the hill and into the National Park. You can spend hours hiking on the trails, passing great views whilst having it pretty much all to yourself. We only saw a couple of other hikers and enjoyed the company of two lovely dogs that followed us back to the entrance. It was sad to say goodbye to them at the end our of trek!
WHERE TO STAY
If you are backpacking through Cambodia, Mad Monkey Backpackers Hostel is the perfect place for you to stay in Kampot. The hostel is often busy with like-minded travellers, so ideal for socialising. It has a large pool, and also a roof top bar! The rooms are also fairly reasonable, ranging from $6 for a ten-bed dorm room to $20 for a double room! We were really impressed with our double room, it was fairly large and the bathroom was massive. Finally a bathroom that had somewhere to put things!
Although the hostel isn’t located right in the centre of Kampot, there are always tuktuks hanging around if you need a ride. You can also rent motorbikes from the hostel, which is the best way to get around the town and surrounding areas.
WHERE TO EAT
Given the size of the town, we were really surprised at how many great places there are to eat here. Even though we didn’t try much local food here, the cafes and restaurants were really impressive.
EPIC ARTS CAFE
If you only have time for one cafe in Kampot, make sure it’s the Epic Arts Cafe. Not only do they serve great food and drinks, but this cafe is a little different. The cafe is run by the Epic Arts organisation, and by employing mostly deaf locals they are increasing the work opportunities for people with disabilities. The cafe is used to generate funds for Inclusive Arts projects.
If you are wondering how they would be able to take your order, they give you tick sheet forms for you to fill in what you want to make it easier for the employees.
CAFE ESPRESSO ROASTERY
Another great option for breakfast and coffee. The interior has an industrial feel, and they actually brew their own coffee on site, which you can also buy to take home with you. Whilst there are plenty of cheaper options in Kampot, we enjoyed our breakfast and felt very satisfied.
Aroma House is actually the top rated restaurant in Kampot on TripAdvisor, and I can certainly see why. They serve Mediterranean, falafel dishes, and I opted for one of the plates. Which has all the ingredients which go into the wraps but laid out on a plate instead. I really enjoyed this option as I could decide how much or how little I wanted to put in my wraps. We were blown away with the food, and would have gone back if there weren’t so many other options in Kampot that we didn’t want to miss.
Burgershack is also up there on the TripAdvisor ratings, and if you are craving some familiar food, they offer a tasty selection of the classic burger and fries.
We ended up spending seven nights in Kampot, waiting for our Vietnam visas to be in date. And despite Kampot being a fairly quiet town, we never found ourselves bored. The town is really relaxed and a great place to let yourself take things slower for a week or so, before the next busy destination. If your next stop is the paradise islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem make sure to read my travel guide here to find out my top recommendations.
WHAT’S IN MY BACKPACK