Sometimes, you arrive at a place you’ve never been to before and it instantly feels like home. You get that warm, cozy feeling and immediately feel connected to the community there which makes it hard to leave. I’ve encountered that feeling in very few places and today’s blog post shows you the beauty of one of those special places!
Kampot is located in the south of Cambodia, around 3 hours by bus from the capital Phnom Penh. It’s a very small town on the banks of the Praek Tuek Chhu river. What makes it so different from other towns in Cambodia, is the old French colonial architecture.
Most houses in the city centre are built in this style which almost gives the city a mediterranean feel! The city is also famous for it’s durian, hence it has a huge Durian roundabout!
Salt Flats & Pepper Farms
The Kampot Province is mostly known for it’s high quality pepper farms and salt flats. I took a day tour to see the salt flats in the country side.
Kampot’s salt fields are fuelled by sea water that is let in from the Gulf of Thailand 5kms south of Kampot. Then workers rake the salt left over from the evaporating water into baskets and bring it to the factories. You can buy the salt at the local market in Kampot.
It’s the pepper though that made Kampot famous among world-class cuisine. There are multiple farms in town. I went to Farm Link to see how they grow the pepper and learn about the different types.
They produce black, white and red pepper there and you can see the whole process from it growing on the plant to the drying process and the hand-selection of the best peppercorns there.
I bought 2 little sachets that I took back to Germany with me and honestly, it was the best pepper I’ve ever tried! I’ve seen Kampot pepper being sold in Germany at ridiculously high prices, so get your hands on some when you’re in the area!
Sunset River Cruise
Kampot’s chilled vibe has a lot to do with the river running through it. It’s not only a fishing ground for many families, it also offers a lot of recreational opportunites.
Further up the river, multiple hotels/hostels are located on the river front to enjoy the views and go for a dip in the hot weather.
Captain Chim’s Guesthouse offers a lot of tours, including a $5 Sunset Firefly Cruise. Starting in town, it brings you up the river to some bushes where you can see lots of fireflies. It’s truly magical!
This tour took us to the Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple which isn’t only a spectacular cave, it also offers an incredible view of the countryside.
The way to the temple takes you along the salt flats mentioned above and into the more rural parts of the province.
We stopped at the cave on our daytrip to Kep. Kep itself is a tiny beach town that is famous for its crab market! Don’t miss out on that!
Phnom Bokor National Park
I’ve been saving the best sights last for you with this one! The National Park is one of the most captivating experiences of Cambodia. It used to be a residence for the French colonialists in the 1920s that liked to come here for the cool climate. The park is very high up and you have to drive up a very windy road for around an hour.
When the French disappeared from Cambodia, they left the buildings there to rot (basically). So what makes the park so special, is tons and tons of old abandoned French colonial style buildings that you can roam through and that take you right back to the time of the colony.
On the picture above you can see the Black Palace which was King Sihanouk‘s residence. There is also an old catholic church with surpringly well kept interiors.
The highlight of Bokor is doubtlessly the Le Bokor Palace which used to be a French Palace Hotel & Casino. Upon entering the building, you will instantly feel like being taken back in time with old tiles still intact on the floor and exquisite stair cases.
Inside, you can climb up to the main balcony and even the rooftop from where you will have spectacular views of the coastline!
We were insanely lucky with the weather, it didn’t rain and we got to catch some insanely good views! On the picture below you can see the adjacent Vietnamese island Phu Quoc in the distance.
Another attraction you shouldn’t miss on Bokor Mountain is Wat Sampov Pram, a temple built on the cliff of the mountain.
The temple itself is very old and one of the nicest, most well.-kept ones in Southeast Asia thanks to the lovely monks that live in the monastry nearby.
Again, the views here are incredible. Through the jungle, you look out onto the coastline on a clear day.
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