My Top 5 destinations in South East Asia No. 4

4. Kampot, Cambodia

It turns out that by coincidence (or not?) this list is counting down to my least touristy experience so far in South East Asia. Georgetown and Kampot are probably the most visited of the 5, but in my opinion the small ´backpacker´ influence doesn´t change the authenticity and connection with local culture. It actually makes them better for it.

Kampot I visited twice, once via minivan from Phnom Penh (4 hours) and the other time coming from the Vietnamese Mekong delta which borders Cambodia at only an hour drive away.

My foremost memory of Kampot is enjoying the views and jumping into the warm waters of the river straight from my balcony.

sunset over bokor mountain from our verandah in Kampot

(1/1250, F4, ISO100, 28mm)

Kampot is not far from the sea, but is a river town and although there are some ho(s)tels in town, most accommodation is upriver and many are on the Western banks. My favorite place is on the Eastern side with sunset views over the Bokor Mountain and its surrounding jungle. I was lucky to rent this bungalow with a verandah built on stilts over the water for both times I was there.

The main village is a short scooter or tuktuk ride South and is a tranquil place with pretty French colonial buildings.

last sunlight in the streets of Kampot, Cambodia

(taken with my Huawei P&)

Wandering around the small centre of town you will find many nice expat-run bars, coffeeshops and local restaurants. Every dish here is decorated with strings of the local Kampot pepper, which is by far the best pepper I´ve ever tasted, and the salt is coming from the salt flats nearby. These combined with all the fresh sea- and riverfood create some extraordinary recipes.

One of the great things about Kampot is the numerous day- or overnight trips you can do from there; you can visit the pepper plantations, the salt flats, the ruins of several old buildings on top of Bokor mountain with views over the vast jungle, which is reputedly a home to elephants and tigers, and the beaches in nearby Kep.
But my favorite getaway would be to drive 20 minutes to crab-village Kep and take a local fisherboat to Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island) and spent one night there.

arriving at rabbit island in cambodia

(1/100, f7.1, iso200, 28mm)

You´ll arrive at the only beach on the island that has some bungalows with restaurants run by Cambodian families.
We watched the sun go down and ate fresh crab taken from the sea cooked with the famous Kampot pepper.
Electricity goes off at night and when I walked into the sea in the dark I saw the fluorescent plankton for the first time, really something magical!

Next day we went for a hike around the island on hardly existing local paths through jungle, mangrove forests and beaches where local families were farming seaweed. Thinking we could round the whole island in 2 hours we were just blocked by cliffs and jungle at the end.

(1/1250, f8, iso200, 56mm)

But the fisherman in the picture was very friendly and took us around the corner and back to the main beach.

One thing that the backpackers community brought to Kampot is some nightlife with a couple of bars in town, but especially lots of live music and late night bars at the resorts on the East banks of the river including some floating rafts for nightswimming.

That night the local Kampot Playboys did rock the house.

(taken with my Huawei P&)

Nothing better than spending the next day on the verandah and the occasional jump in the water to ´cool´ off.

(1/1250, f3.1, iso200, 29mm)

Many people skip Kampot and go straight for Sihanoukville AKA Sinville, but Kampot is the place to be if you ask me….

57 thoughts on “My Top 5 destinations in South East Asia No. 4

  1. Amazing that you’ve also been in Kampot. I just came home from 2 weeks in Cambodia 2 weeks ago.
    I loved this place too – and the nice pepper dishes 😉
    I’m posting photos from Cambodia from now on……

    • Hi, just read your account of those days, that must have been something else than it is now, still an amazing place, but for instance around the casino are some new constructions, road is renewed, but still a laidback town to enjoy!
      Thanks for dropping by, safe travels,

    • Thanks a lot, Laurie, great to hear you went along for the journey(s), a little more travel info than good photos, but it was all about the travel 😉
      Have a good week, Ron.

  2. I loved Kampot > Was wondering if you went up Bokor Mountain and if so what its like now? I heard that it was being done up for tourists including a new hotel/casino. This is a great blog BTW > stunning photos mate

    • Hi Andy, yep Kampot is great, didnt go up Bokor Mountain but woke up every morning looking at it 😉
      Yeah, heard they improved the road and built some stuff up there, but the old buildings are still there and abandoned, with the Russian maffia running that whole area, things could be changing faster than I would like…
      Thanks, cheers, mate

    • Thank you very much, so nice to hear you like the writing, as that is totally not my thing, but hard to tell a story and info on a place without it 😉
      All the best from KL, Ron

    • Thank you very much, Cornelia, and to add the people are even more beautiful and friendly and happy with hardly anything, inspiring country, Cambodia!
      Greetings from KL, Ron.

    • Hi YC, that was such a pleasure, slowly heating up and jumping off, only problem was the water was so warm you hardly cooled off, but the sense was there 😉
      A little sunset drink there is definitely on my bucketlist (again) ;
      Cheers, Ron

    • Thank you, Richard, photos were definitely not a priority but when the sun went down there´s always opportunities with a compact or phone 😉
      Greetings from KL,

    • Hi Jane, glad you came along, thanks! The poster was just a visual joke, I experience a very woman-friendly party with lots of backpacking women dancing til late!
      Thanks for enjoying the journey, greetings, Ron.

    • Oh, yeah, thats very true you say that Nila, I always try to be in the moment wherever I go and see the luck I have by experiencing and seeing all these things first hand!
      Actually all of these are sunset shots, guess that´s what Kampot nightlife (and my company) does to me when I was there 😉
      Thanks very much, Ron

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