The P O S H Mini Guide to Kampot and Kep
The rather sleepy old port of Kampot and its neighbor Kep don't seem to have caught on with the tourists, which is just as well. A big part of the charm of these two towns is that they're quiet and still relatively unspoiled by the vagaries of mass tourism. Of course, being off the tourist trail means there is a lack of truly luxe accommodations, but there are a number of charming smaller places that can still be quite pleasant.
The two towns are close enough that you can consider staying in one and making a day trip to the other. There isn't a lot to see in either location, so it's really a choice between a seaside location and an old colonial river port city. Both destinations are places where you'll want to just slow down and take it in, without worrying too much about sightseeing.
When To Go
Like most of mainland Southeast Asia, Kampot province is subject to an annual monsoon. The cool dry season lasts from December to February, while the wettest months are July and August. The wet season can be rather miserable and is probably best avoided.
Getting To Kampot and Kep
About the only way to get to either city is by car. There is no working airport at Kampot and the train seems to be an on-again, off-again proposition. The trip from Phnom Penh is about two hours and can be arranged through any taxi driver or through your hotel.
How Long To Stay
You probably want to stay a minimum of three nights in the area. If you want to take in Bokor Mountain, that is a full day trip, which should extend your stay at least one more night. Of course, these two cities are primarily destinations to relax in, so stay as long as you like.
Where To Stay
Both Kampot and Kep have only a modest selection of places to stay, and many of these are small guesthouses rather than large hotels or resorts. I've made a few suggestions for both Kampot hotels and Kep resorts.
There are tuk-tuks for hire to get you around either place, or from Kampot to Kep and back. They are the best option for most any trip around the area, although for the run up Bokor you're better off with a car and driver, which you can usually arrange through any hotel or guesthouse.
What To See & Do
Kampot is full of some great colonial era buildings and definitely worth a look around. Kep also still has some remains of old French vacation villas, although they are rapidly being bought up and restored to small resorts. Kep itself doesn't have a very nice beach, but a day trip to Rabbit Island will get you to some white sandy beaches where you can spend a day in the sun. Other interesting sights in the area, depending on your interests, include a few small Khmer ruins, pepper farms and salt pans.
By far, the biggest draw in the area is, or was, Bokor Mountain . The trip up there was an adventure in itself, and there are some spectacular natural sights as well as the old hill station. Unfortunately, the mountain - a national park - was leased for development, which has both limited access in recent years as well as removed or renovated some of the old hill station structures. However, it's probably still worth a trip.