Kampot is not a place that many backpackers get around to visiting when they visit Cambodia. They visit Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, maybe Sihanoukville, and then leave for Vietnam or Thailand.
However, the sleepy riverside town of Kampot is actually one of the prettiest, most laid-back places in Cambodia, and it really is Cambodia’s best kept secret.
Kampot was my second stop in Cambodia, and boy was it a contrast to the dirt and chaos of Phnom Penh! As a solo traveller, it was important to me that I meet people, and so I checked into the Mad Monkey, a hostel famous for its party backpacker vibe.
(Sidenote: although I had a great time at the Mad Monkey, I highly recommend Karma Traders if you want a great backpacker vibe but with less “lads on tour.” Karma Traders has a rooftop cocktail bar, table tennis, cinema room & Nintendo 64! Not only that but it is staffed by ex-Koh Ronguns’ who will be more than happy to chat to you about all the best places to see/stay on Koh Rong.)
Anyway, It didn’t take long until I met a group of guys travelling together. They’d all started out as solo travellers but, as is the way sometimes, they’d formed connections with each other and so their group had grown.
Our first proper trip together was to Bokor Mountain. We hired scooters and proceeded to make the long trip up the mountain, stopping along the way to see the various things that Bokor has to offer, including, but not limited to: a string of abandoned hotels and guesthouses; a waterfall; countless viewpoints at various spots up the mountain; an abandoned casino and an abandoned church that the locals used to take shelter in during the Khmer Rouge rule. We also stopped for lunch in a fancy Chinese resort and spent some time in the on-site arcade.
The following day, we paid a tuk-tuk driver to show us the main sights of Kampot province, and show us he did! We explored some caves, saw the famous ‘secret lake,’ visited a pepper farm (Kampot pepper is the most famous in the world!) and visited a couple of cool viewpoints.
And what else did is there to do in Kampot? A ton of things! You can go to see the salt fields, take a walk around the rice terraces up Bokor Mountain, indulge in a Seeing Hands massage, get drunk at riverfront hostel Arcadia, and go on a sunset boat trip to see the fireflies.
Whatever kind of traveller you are, Kampot will not disappoint. It may be a sleepy town but it’s a beautiful one full of amazing things to see and do, and honestly, no trip to Cambodia would be complete without a few days in Kampot. It truly is Cambodia’s best kept secret!
Have you ever been to Kampot? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!