Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Travel guide to Kampot, Cambodia

Sleepy Kampot sits on the east bank of the Kampot River and enjoys spectacular views across to Bokor and Elephant Mountains, which make up the sizeable Bokor National Park. The town was once a trading centre and until the establishment of a deep sea port at Sihanoukville in the 1950s, Kampot was Cambodia's primary port. A smattering of small fishing boats can still be seen unloading every morning a short walk south of the main town on the dirt road parallel to the river. Given Kampot's proximity to the Vietnamese border, fish often isn't the only catch being unloaded, with smuggling - particularly of cigarettes - a handy extra earner for the fishermen.
Kampot River, Cambodia

Today, Kampot is best known for its pepper, which is truly excellent. Pepper plantations as well as a few low-key sites can be visited from town, which also forms an ideal base for trips up to jungle-clad Bokor (when possible), a highlight of any visit to the Cambodian coast. Atop Bokor are a church and a casino, remnants from Cambodia's French colonial period. Today they're both in a seriously decrepit state -- the Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese spent a long stretch shooting at each other here, with one team in the casino and the other in the church.

Kampot is both somnolent and pretty, in a rundown kind of way. Plenty of villas and old shopfront trading houses, especially along the river road, make it a pleasant area to wander through -- thankfully Kampot hasn't lost too many of its older buildings to the glass and brass brigade. Given time and sufficient interest from travellers, many of these buildings will hopefully be retained.

Along with its relaxed ambience comes a host of friendly locals and an excellent selection of places to stay, from cheap backpacker-orientated guesthouses through to some fine flashpacker and midrange hotels. Kampot also boasts plenty of decent places to enjoy Cambodian and Western food and just hang out. 

Kampot, Cambodia

Within town, activities include taking a walk over the once-bombed but now repaired river bridge for a view of the town, enjoying a sunset boat cruise up the Kampot River or just hiring a bicycle and meandering about. You also, of course, need to enjoy at least one sunset over Bokor by the river with a drink in hand. 

A small but growing number of people are also attracted to Kampot to spend some time with a volunteer project. Choose from a range of options, including teaching English to children through to longer-term projects working with disadvantaged groups. Blissful Guesthouse and the Little Garden Bar Guesthouse are two good places to start with enquiries.

Biking around Kamot, Cambodia

Spend your time relaxing with the breathtaking natural backdrops of Cambodia's provinces, local treats and French colonial architectures, worth to witness in every pace of your ride. Biking Coastal towns_The best Cambodia has to offer cyclist with ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA.

ITINERARY: Phnom Penh - Sihanoukville - Kampot - Bokor - Kampot - Takeo - Phnom Penh - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat - Siem Riep
13-day tour with 8-day biking
Biking grade: Moderate to Challenge

Highlights 
Beautiful cycling roads
Sihanoukville beach
Impressive Angkor temples
Boat trip to Siem Riep

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