Angkor Wat in Siem Reap is not the only interesting place to visit in Cambodia. If you’re looking for some proper relax, head to the riverside town Kampot in the south. You will love its laidback atmosphere and nostalgic colonial architecture. To spice up your stay you can organize a few day trips. Kampot is not far from the town Kep and the mysterious Bokor Hill Station.
Visit Cambodia: Because you’ll love it
What to expect from the places that we’re gonna describe in this article? Great food, an authentic local atmosphere, seaside and some outdoor adventure in Bokor National Park. And everything close to each other! You should spend at least 3 days in this area, but we had time and Kampot stole our hearts, so we simply couldn’t leave. We planned to stay to nights there, and we ended up staying almost a week.But first, we ask for a second of your time: click here and like our Facebook page! Thank you!
This peaceful town has become a base for a lot of backpackers. As we said, most people extend their stay right after the first walk through its picturesque streets. Most of them look exactly the same as 50 years ago. If you visit Cambodia, include Kampot in your itinerary. You will find very few new buildings in the center. Most of the time it feels like the town is one huge town machine that takes you a few decades back. The riverside promenade is definitely the most remarkable place for a nice evening stroll. Hopefully, the old trading houses will be preserved for the future generations.
However, you don’t have to very about having only a few dining and accommodation options. There are plenty of hotels, bars, restaurants and shops which offer anything an average tourist could wish for. Kampot is also famous for its pepper plantations that all the good restaurants in town swear by. Another “specialty” is the so called happy pizza. Yep, you guessed right, your pizza will be heavily sprinkled with “substances” (meaning, weed!) that make you happy. It’s not exactly legal, so… Be careful of what you order 🙂
If you need help with planning your trip in Cambodia, you can check our two-week itinerary.
The coastal town Kep feels much quieter than Kep and it is a good choice for those who simply want to enjoy a few days by the sea. There is not much to do there but you can always spend a day on the beach and have a nice lunch in one of the local restaurants. The beaches are definitely not the most beautiful ones in the world but good enough in case you don’t plan to visit any of the Cambodian islands. During the weekend the beach is full of local people so you might think about showing a little less skin than usual. Maybe go for an old T-shirt. Those who visit Cambodia should always be recpectful towards the locals.
One thing that you might be interested in is the local crab market. Fishermen pass fresh crabs to vendors. Many of them grill or boil them so you can taste crab meat right at the market. If you are worried about hygiene you can visit one of the nearby restaurants. It’s gonna cost you more money but you’ll have more choice. In our opinion, the best combination is the famous pepper from Kampot and crab meat!
Check the gallery of the crab market: IF you’re into photography, this is a great chance to get some cool photos.
Bokor Hill Station
Here’s the thing: We are fascinated by abandoned places. We love how mysterious they are and how we almost never know why people left them. The Bokor Hill Station was once a rich resort town built by the French colonists. Its construction was rather tragic: A huge number of workers died before it was finished. The strange thing is that Bokor Hill Station has been actually abandoned twice throughout its macabre history.
First it happened in the 1940s. The big houses, hotel and casino were not enough to keep the French there. In the 1950s the Khmer took over the already shabby Bokor Hill Station but didn’t last long either. The last residents were the infamous Khmer Rouge, When the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge refused to leave. You can still see the signs of fighting. You are getting curious, right?
How to get there
You have two options. Either you join an organized tour or you explore this fascinating place by yourselves. We chose the second one and it is perfectly easy. It is around 15kms from the centre of Kampot to the entrance of Bokor Hill Station. After that prepare for a long but comfortable ride up the hill. It is actually more enjoyable by motorbike as it is a very scenic ride. You will want to stop along the way and take a picture of the view.
Points of interest
There are several points on the way that you might find interesting. The first one is the giant statue od the lady deity (Ma Chor). There are a few abandoned houses nearby that must have been really nice decades ago. After that you’ll come across a spooky abandoned church. When we visited the weather was a little foggy which made the church look like a perfect setting for a horror movie. You will also see a few new buildings that kinda ruin the whole magic.
On top of the hill there is an old casino and hotel and more ruined buildings. Unfortunately, the hotel is under reconstruction at the moment and in a few years it’s gonna change into something modern. The locals visit Bokor Hill Station a lot since it is much cooler up there. On weekends you will see whole families having a barbecue. We feel sorry that the charming abandoned buildings will soon disappear and give place to something new. If you visit Cambodia, make sure you’ll find time for Bokor Hill Station as well!
Have you visited these places? Is there anything else that you would recommend? Let us know in the comments!