Kampot Travel Guide
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Kampot Travel Guide
Kampot is a small town in southeast Cambodia and capital of the province of the same name. It is a gateway to Bokor National Park.
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.
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 large 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 it is viewed as an insight into 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. (updated Feb 2018 | edit)
- 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. edit
- Pepper Farms (N 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. edit
- Phnom Chhnork (8 km E 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 a torch. USD1. edit
- 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 of 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.
- 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. Seems to be undergoing road and bridge upgrading for the new swamp-side housing estate at the end of this road. Has a great view of the Cham fishing village across the river on the island.
- Salt Fields, some are a kilometre out of town on the Kep road. You will see the fields off to your right (leaving 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. Be sure to get your jump-shot photo in front of the hairy nuts.
- 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, now closed to heavy traffic as its structural integrity is questionable. It is still open for motorcycles, bicycles and foot traffic. It is very picturesque with light bulbs at sunset.
- 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 W (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. edit
- Tada Waterfall (14km north west of Kampot), a waterfall and swimming hole on a small stream. US$1 entry fee per person for locals and foreigners.
- 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 Vacation Rentals : Holiday Lettings in Kampot
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