Kep City is a municipality in Cambodia with the status of a province. Kep is just a few kilometres from the border with Vietnam located and used to be Cambodia's most popular beach town but has fallen on hard times in recent years (especially due to the Khmer Rouge). Many of Kep's, mostly French villas are abandoned, but some of the town's former splendour is still apparent. The see is lined with huge sidewalks and some large statues that now seem largely out of place. The king built a palace overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, but it was never furnished and now sits empty. A good, paved road connects the small town with the 15km far away Kampot. The slightly darker beaches than in Sihanoukville are mostly scattered with mangroves and black rocks, but Koh Thonsáy (Rabbit Island) is just a short boat ride away (approx. 1/2h). Kep appears to be experiencing something of a renaissance, with several mid-range and luxury guesthouses and bungalows recently opened or still under construction. The seafood is cheap, plentiful and delicious - particularly the quite famous crabs. Kep is also home to an extensive national park covering some mountains with deep green jungle.
The French established Kep City during the colonial time in 1908. Today Kep is mainly popular to the domestic tourists, who choose Kep as their holiday destination. What's more, Kep offers great seafood and magnificent views of the mountains and the beaches. Taking a boat to the nearby islands is also a breathtaking experience. Another itinerary, which must not be missed, is an excursion to the serene waterfalls of 'Tuk Chhou" situated about 10 km from Kampot. Kep City is located in the Southwest of Phnom Penh. The city is accessible by the National Road No 3 from Phnom Penh via Kampot province (173 km) or by the National Road No 2 from Phnom Penh via Takeo province.
Especially during the Sixties, during the time of Sang Kum Reas Ni Yum the city was developed as a beautiful seaside tourist resort for the rich and government. The story related to the name of Kep said that there was a king named Sa Kor Reach, who had a mighty spell. He put a sleeping spell on a commander at AngKor Thum, than stole the commander's white horse and fled together with his troop to the Southwestern seaside. When he took a rest at the seaside, he was overhauled by the commander's troops, who chased him from behind. Suddenly, he got on the horseback; the horse reared, and made him fall down on the ground together with the saddle. Then, he got on the horseback again and fled away without picking up the saddle, because the commander's troops almost approached him. So that’s why this area was called ' Kep Seh ' meaning ' the saddle ', nowadays it’s only called ' Kep '.
Kep City municipality is 336 square kilometres big. It’s located in the South of the country and is bordering to the North, East and West with Kampot and to the South with the Gulf of Thailand. The province has not so much typical plain wet area like other provinces of Cambodia, as there are some foothills from the Elephant Mountains coming from Kampot province. You can see not so sparse grey limestone hills akin to the Vietnamese ones. Nevertheless there are areas covered with rice fields and other agricultural plantations.
The current population in this municipality is about 40,280 people or 0,3% of the country’s total population (14,363,519 person in Cambodia, 2007, provincial government data), with 20,130 male and 20,150 female. The population density is therefore 119 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.
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%.)
Beside the profitable fruit cropping such as durian, mango or coconut Kampot Pepper, which is also grown in Kep, 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. Kep also tries more and more to focus on the tourist sector, as there is quite a lot of interest by local people and by foreigners, who still can discover Kep and it’s rural countryside as a very natural, remote and docile place being situated on the beautiful costal line of Cambodia.
How to get there
To/From Phnom Penh:
Via paved and in comparative good condition National Highway No 3 from Phnom Penh to Kampot and from there additional 25km to Kep. This road is more recommendable than the alternative National Highway No 2 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). You may also take a bus directly to Kep taking National Highway No 2 and for the last strip Major Road No 31, which is a little bumpy. The prices with a usual old air-con bus for both ways are around US$4 per a person and trip. The trip usually takes approx. 4-5h. To go back to Phnom Penh you just have to contact your guesthouse in Kep and they’ll organize everything for you with pleasure.
From Kampot: The road from Kampot to Kep is paved and smooth. 25km, 30-45 minute trip. Follow the road from Kampot to the White Horse Monument and turn right. At the next main turnoff, turn right to the beach/market area. Moto dups charge about $2-$3 one-way and $6 round trip.
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 between 22,000 -28,000Riel/person or $26-$32 for a private taxi. The 3 hours ride is shorter as with the slowly bus.
Via paved and in comparative good condition National Highway No 3 from Phnom Penh to Kampot and from there additional 25km to Kep via Major Road No 33. This road is more recommendable than the alternative National Highway No 2 leading to National Highway No 3 via Takeo province. You may also head directly to Kep taking National Highway No 2 and for the last strip Major Road No 31, which is a little bumpy and dusty during dry season.
From Kampot: The road from Kampot to Kep is paved and smooth. 25km, 30-45 minute trip. Follow the road from Kampot to the White Horse Monument and turn right. At the next main turnoff, turn again right to the beach/market area. You’re in the centre of the town.
Where to eat
Kep's most popular tourist activity is having a fresh seafood picnic on the waterfront. The road opposite Kep Beach is lined with picnic platforms. Just rent a mat or find an empty platform and the vendors will present you fresh, sometimes still alive crabs, prawns, squid and fish from which you can choose. Be clear about how much food you want and the cost before they begin to prepare your meal. All of the other restaurants/bars in Kep are connected to the guesthouses.
The Crab Market:
The Crab Market in Kep is a perfect place to get all your seafood. There are plenty of small cosy restaurants which line the shore where you can eat and drink while watching the fishermen bring in their catch. Best time to pop in is for the magnificent sunset. All the seafood is fairly fresh! Ask for the Crab Curry or for the delicious stingray! Prices are quite reasonable. Enjoy it!
The Beach House: (tel:012/240090)
This restaurant offers a large selection of reasonably priced and tasty Western and Khmer food. Large range of fresh seafood. The full bar (including cappuccino machine) has a fantastic selection of fresh fruit juices and lots of cocktails. E.g. try the Teenycolada, an alcohol free cocktail!
Vanna Bungalows: (tel:012/755038)
The restaurant features lovely home cooked Khmer food with a big range of seafood. Western food is also available. The large dinning area can accommodate large groups as you may come with a bunch of people starving for fresh seafood.
Kep Beach Guesthouse: (tel: 012/820831)
This place offers a smaller range of food, but has a nice surrounding as it sits right next to the shore. The food is very delicious and comes at reasonable prices. The fresh prawns with Kampot pepper is a dish you shouldn’t miss here. It’s opened until 9:30pm.
Star Inn: (tel: 011/765999)
The restaurant is located opposite of the major beach just right next to all the small bamboo shacks. It features a rooftop restaurant serving Khmer and Western food including seafood. There is also a stylish separate beachfront bar overlooking Kep Beach. The prices are upscale.
Where to stay
The Beach House: (tel: 012/240090)
The Beach House is located on Kep Beach and features stylish rooms with air-con, hot water, satellite TV, and fridge with an en suite bathroom with 24-hour electricity and 24-hour security. A large balcony overlooks the ocean with spectacular sunsets in the evenings. Including a swimming pool with spa and a restaurant and full bar. A meeting room is also available. Prices: from $30 to $45.
Veranda Bungalows and Resort: (tel: 012/888619)
A quite hidden place with fan and air-con bungalows set back on the hill. En suite bathrooms with hot water and 24 hour electricity. Restaurant and full bar on a terrace with comfortable seating and a spectacular sunset view of the see. Prices: from $20 to $60.
Le Bout du Monde: (tel: 011/996980)
Set back on a smaller mountain with a nice view of the ocean and sunsets, this atmospheric place offers a traditional Khmer wooden house with rooms equipped with a bathroom and there is a restaurant and full bar. Prices: from $5 to $15.
Champey Inn Range: (tel: 012/489125)
This is likely the finest accommodation in Kep. You’ll find NC and fan bungalows with stylish decor in a garden setting overlooking the ocean. The rooms include satellite TV, electricity and hot water all day round. You can also relax in the swimming pool. The owner offers special tours. Restaurant: French fare with an emphasis on seafood and a big wine selection. Pleasant open air seating a stone's throw from the ocean, and stylish indoor seating. Prices: from $40 to $60.
Kep Seaside Guesthouse: (tel: 012/684241 )
This place is one of the best budget beachside accommodations. It features large breezy rooms with a bath and air-con/fan. It’s located right on the ocean’s edge with a full frontal view, but unfortunately there isn’t a real sandy beach here. Prices: from $5 to $10.
Vanna Bungalows: (tel: 012/755038)
New, quality constructed bungalows on the hillside with a fantastic view overlooking the ocean. Restaurant with home cooked Cambodian food. (TR the Amok.) Western food is also available. The dinning area is large enough for functions/ meetings. Prices: from $3 to $7.
If you would like to shop some food, especially seafood you should head for the daily market next to the water’s edge. This is currently the only place you can find the basic needs for you household. Local shops deal the local daily consumer products, like fish, fruits, vegetables, meats and some packed products. If you need something special, e.g. medicine you’ll have to go to Kampot. To take something special from this place along, buy the famous pepper.
Koh Ton Say Resort
Koh Ton Say Resort How to go: Location: Description: Is the natural resort locating at the Southeast of Kep town in 4.5-kilometer distance from the town,
Phnom Sar Sear
Phnom Sar Sear How to go: 14 km (30mn) From Provincial Town. Location: Description: Museums of All Kinds and Subjects, Location: Kep Village, Kep Commune,
Phnom Sar Sear Resort
Phnom Sar Sear Resort How to go: Location: Description: Is the natural and cultural resort locating at the Southeast in 14-kilometer
Salt Manufacturing How to go: Location: Description: Is well known in Cambodia and found in the seaside province of Kampot. The product assured for local
Veal Lumher How to go: 0.5 km (3mn) From Provincial Town. Location: Description: Koh Puor (Puor Island), Location: Kep Village, Kep Commune,
Wat Samot Reangsey
Wat Samot Reangsey How to go: 2 km (20mn) From Provincial Town. Location: Description: Historical Sites & Buildings, Location: Kep Village, Kep Commune,
Zoo How to go: 2.5 km (11mn) From Provincial Town. Location: Description: Botanical and Zooligic +D93AL Gardens, Location: Thmei Village,Prey Thom Commune,