This pictures province is located in the Southwest of the country, having an eighty kilometres costal strip with the Gulf of Thailand. The provincial capital is named Kampot and sits near the base of the abundant green Elephant Mountains and the famous Bokor Hill Station. Compete to crowded Sihanoukville in the North of the province you may find quietness and almost no tourists around here. Most visitors come here to have a look at the old French colonial architecture, which is one still in charming condition, to have a vantage point for visiting the near beaches or the small islands of Kep. Kampot province is also renowned for the quality of its fruits (durian, coconut, mango, etc.), its sea salt and of course the famous Kampot Pepper. The special fresh climate and soil type of Kampot as well as the experience from several generations of pepper farmers make this pepper unique and much sought-after by gourmets’ worlwide.
The small town of Kampot on the Tuk Chhou River is 5km inland from the sea. Fishing and farming are the main activities; durians and melons grow in abundance. To the south end of the town is a large dusty traffic circle with three hotels arrayed around it – Phnom Kieu, Phnom Kamchay, and Tuk Chhou.
Each has its own restaurants; Tuk Chhou offers a seedy nightclub. Also on the circle is the Prachummith Restaurant, which is close by is the Amar Restaurant. To the south near the river is the GPO and telecommunications building. At the north end of town, about 1.5 km away, lays the Central Market, with quite a lot of food stalls. All Kampot transportation is concentrated within the range of the market - cycle, motors, taxis, trucks, and buses. The railway station lies further north, but isn’t used anymore.
There’s almost no interest in Kampot, except to walk around the town and look at crumbling French-built blue-shuttered shop fronts. You can reach Kampot by irregular plane service from Phnom Penh. It’s not the best and more comfortable way to get there by car. It takes about 5 hours to cover the 150 km from Phnom Penh to Kampot on a bumpy road, which but goes through a scenic changing nature.
Kampot province is 4.873 square kilometres big. It’s located in the Southwest of the country and is bordering to the North with Kampong Speu, in the East with Takeo, in the West with Sihanoukville and Koh Kong and to the South with the Gulf of Thailand. The East of the province consists of the typical plain area for Cambodia, covering rice fields and other agricultural plantations. The Western part of the province shows up with the well-known Bokor National Park, being a part of the grant Elephant Mountains, which is rich in lush forests and a huge range of wildlife. The two highest points in the province are the Bokor Hill Station with 1,027m altitude and further north another hilltop with 1,050m altitude. Some people consider the countryside similar to the sharp Vietnamese limestone rocks shooting up of flat plains – an impressive aspect.
The current population in this province is about 619,088 people or 4,31% of the country’s total population (14,363,519 person in Cambodia, 2007, provincial government data), with 299,814 male and 319,274 female. The population density is therefore 127 people per square kilometre.
The country has a tropical climate - warm and humid. In the monsoon season, abundant rain allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of crops. This year-round tropical climate makes Cambodia ideal for developing tourism. Travellers need not to fear natural disasters such as erupting volcanoes or earthquakes, and the country is not directly affected by tropical storms.
Climate: Cambodia can be visited throughout the year. However, those plans to travel extensively by road should be avoided the last two months of the rainy season when some countryside roads may be impassable. The average temperature is about 27 degrees Celsius; the minimum temperature is about 16 degrees. December and January are the coolest months, whereas the hottest is April. Kampot itself is one of the cooler regions of the country, due to its situation next to the sea and high rainy mountains – its cooler and fresher.
General information about the provincial climate:
- Cool season: November- March (20-26c)
- Hot season: March- May (29c -34c)
- Rainy season: May - October (22-30c, with humidity up to 90%.)
Various actors, according to the needs of the most important target groups, implement rural development measures effectively and efficiently. Above all, the rural population should be able to sustainably better satisfy their basic needs.
Beside the profitable fruit cropping such as durian, mango or coconut Kampot Pepper has been renowned for decades as one of the best peppers in the world. This pepper has a very distinct flavour and smell, especially when its fresh harvested. It develops an enthralling aroma, strong, delicate and aromatic. Therefore it is famous in the world and exported to many countries.
How to get there
Kampot may easily be approached directly from Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and also from Vietnam via the Prek Chak (‘Ha Tien’) and Phnom Den international border crossings. Bus:
To/From Phnom Penh:
Via paved and in comparative good condition National Highway No 3 from Phnom Penh to Kampot. This road is more recommendable than the alternative National Highway No 2 to leading to National Highway No 3 via Takeo province. The buses to Kampot departure each day at 7:30am and midday around 1:15pm from the central bus station near the central market (Sorya Bus Company; No 168). The prices with a usual old air-con bus are around US$4 per a person and trip. The trip usually takes approx. 4-5h.
Taking a bus from Sihanoukville it’ll take you North on the National Highway No 4 to Veal Renh (about 40km), than you’ll turn east on National Highway No 3 in direction to Kampot. Both highways are paved and in comparative good condition. The trip from Sihanoukville to Kampot usually takes approx. 1-2 hours (110km).
If you wish to go from Sihanoukville to Kampot by share taxi you can found one opposite the market (Phsar Leu) and at the downtown bus and taxi station in Sihanoukville centre. In Kampot, taxis can be found at the taxi stand or you just tell your guesthouse or hotel that you wish one taxi, as they’ll be friendly enough to help you organizing one ASAP. The prices are around 12,000 - 14,000Riel/person or $20 for a private taxi ($25 with a proper a/c). Going from Phnom Penh with a share taxi you can find one at Phsar Dumkor in Phnom Penh or opposite of central bus station. The prices are 13,000 -15,000Riel/person or $22-$30 for a private taxi. The 3 hours ride is shorter as with the slowly bus.
The National Highway No 3 from Phnom Penh to Kampot is definitely not in the best condition as you might wish to hit the road as fast as possible, but it’s a scenic trip while you enjoy the countryside (approx. 155km). It’s worth it!
Coming from Sihanoukville you have to ride on the National Highway No 4 for about 40km turning at the junction East and heading the NH No 3 for another 75km to Kampot.
The border to Vietnam (Ha Tien) is around 60km far from Kampot. The easiest mean to go there is by hiring a moto tub or Tuktuk (prices are around US$5 for a moto tub and US$1014 for a Tuktuk; 1 1/2h trip). The border was long closet for international travellers but has recently opened (beginning of 2007). The borders full name for both sites is Prek Chak/Xaxia. Going to the border you’ll have to take Road No 33 east from Kampot to the intersection of Road 31 at Kampong Trach town. Turn south on Road 31. The roads are all paved except the last few kilometres to the border, which are sealed. Both, Sok Lim Tours (Tel: 012-801348) and Marco Polo Adventure Tours (Tel: 012-883429) offer regular transport from Kampot to the border. If you’re coming from Vietnam, moto tubs usually wait at the border crossing to take approaching travellers to Kep or Kampot.
Where to eat
Little Garden Bar: (tel: 012-256901)
This Restaurant has an open-air garden style and is situated on the riverfront one block north of the bridge. You’ll find a good selection of western and Khmer food. There are lots of sandwiches and daily specials on the board. Try the popular Pork Volcano; check out our daily specials from prime Australian rib eye filet to roast Lamb with mint sauce. We also have a number of vegetarian dishes as well as nice fish dishes. It's a perfect spot to enjoy the sunset whilst sipping your favourite cocktail. They also give you information on the Kampot area and local volunteer opportunities.
Epic Arts Café: (tel: 011-376968)
That is a project providing small restaurant to the deaf and disabled communities. Teas, cakes, fruit shakes, lunch and snacks available.
Lucky Food Restaurant and Bar: (tel: 012-806105)
You can find Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine here as well as tasty seafood dishes. Imported lamb (Australian) and chicken (Singaporean) is also on the menu. Full bar with cold beer and one dollar shots. Free drink or snack with each dish ordered. Takeaway, breakfasts and lunches are offered. Very clean kitchen and clean purified ice.
Rheaj’s Burger House: (tel: 012-333361)
Friendly riverfront restaurant serving western and Khmer dishes. Western breakfasts, burgers, pizzas, BBQ, seafood, desserts, fruit juices and shakes. Full Bar. Indoor and curbside seating.
Jasmine: (tel: 012-927313)
That’s a popular, stylish, welcoming riverfront cafe serving a good selection of western and some Asian dishes. Indoor and curbside seating with a very nice river view. Great place to enjoy sunset over a glass of wine and have a good, reasonably price western meal. Lots of books and magazines. Wifi wireless is available.
Bokor Mountain Lodge: (tel: 033-932314)
Lovely old French Colonial-era building in a perfect sunset location on the riverfront road. Serving a variety of Khmer and some western dishes. They serve Italian, Thai, and burgers, specializing in fresh crab dishes. Weekend BBQs. Pizzas. Equipped with a full bar with cold beer, wine and cocktails and coffee facilities. Wonderful curbside seating overlooking the river. Western managed.
Rikitikitavi: (tel: 012-274820)
Lovely rooftop restaurant and bar with a gorgeous view overlooking the river. Serving a wide selection of western dishes prepared by a professional chef. Full bar with cocktails, cold beer and a selection of wine.
Where to stay
Bokor Mountain Lodge: (tel: 033-932314)
This hotel is a classic French Colonial building located directly on the river front road. You can enjoy fantastic sunsets from here. Equipped with clean air-conditioned rooms with en-suite bathrooms, some of which have river views. Including a popular restaurant and bar on the ground floor. Wifi internet is available. Prices: $15 - $36.
Hang Guesthouse: (tel: 016-389170)
This guesthouse is located on the riverside and also includes a restaurant with a beautiful garden with mango, coconut trees and lots of flowers. The rooms are pretty and have a nice view of the river, the mountains and the rice fields. It’s located 2 minutes outside town. Internet facilities. Free bicycle use. Free transportation into the city. Tour services. French, English and Khmer spoken. Prices: $5 - $10.
Little Garden Bar: (tel: 012-256901)
This is a villa-style guesthouse with a view overlooking the river and the mighty Bokor Mountain. Equipped with clean rooms, including fan and attached bathroom. One apartment with a/c. Restaurant. Information on various volunteer projects around Kampot. Prices: $10-$25
Mealy Chenda Guesthouse: (tel:012-831559)
This is one of the older locations in the centre of the town. It’s a very old French colonial villa with huge rooms, including fan, small bathroom and some come with cable TV. Restaurant and bar. Inexpensive tours and transportation. Bokor tour for $8. Prices: $2 - $5.
Orchid Guesthouse: (tel: 033-932634)
This guesthouse offers fan and a/c rooms as well as bungalows. They come with cable TV, hot water in Khmer decor. International/Khmer restaurant with lots of seafood. Full bar. Motorcycles, bicycles and boats for rent. Quiet area and secure parking. Contact for Wild Orchid Tours offering trips to Bokor, Kep, jungle treks and more. Prices: $4 - $15.
Kampot Riverview Guesthouse: (tel:011-717818)
This guesthouse is located at the river’s edge. Its one of the backpackers places due to its moderate prices. Fan rooms with cable TV and en suite bathroom. Riverside veranda restaurant with a nice sunset view of the mountains. Serving reasonably priced western and Khmer dishes. Range: $4 - $7.
Long Villa : (tel: 012-908619)
That’s really a unique wooden ‘long villa.’ Fan and a/c rooms with attached bathroom. Dormitory beds are also available, as it is a common budget travellers place. Restaurant with seafood dishes, Cambodian and western food, and pizza. Reasonably priced. Pool table. Lots of information on tour services and guides. Located near the market. Range: $3 - $10.
As it is quite common in Cambodia even small cities, such as Kampot have at least one big market. You may also find a market in Kampot centre, which are very busy areas with local shops dealing the local daily consumer products, like fish, fruits, vegetables, meats and packed products. Most of the food and drink shops are surrounding the market. To take something special from this province along, buy some famous Kampot Pepper.
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