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Cambodia’s Next Hotspot: Kampot

Enjoy the idyllic scenery at Kampot

Most travelers in Southeast Asia make only a short stop in Cambodia, visiting the temples, capital city and a beach if time allows, yet there is a rural town undergoing a trendy rejuvenation that is well worth a visit.

Kampot is just a short detour from the beach and only two hours from the capital, it sits on a tranquil river that runs down from the Cardamom Mountains and is mainly known for its pepper farms. However due to its idyllic scenery and influx of creative expats, this sleepy town is now budding with outdoor activities, a lively arts scene and great restaurants.

Once Cambodia’s largest port, Kampot is a great place for fresh seafood and although it may not be as busy as it once was, most locals are still farmers and fishermen, everywhere you look, people are out on their boats or reeling in their nets. While each day at dusk, it is difficult to miss the informal procession of boats returning from sea due to the noise of their engines; for half an hour, it is a parade of local industry along the river, showing off for those on shore. Just be considered lucky if you miss their departure at dawn in the morning.

The town center is an interesting mix of overgrown decaying French colonial buildings and renovated cafes full of dreadlocks, tattoos and graffiti. Backpackers are abound, but professionals from the capital also visit in need of nature for the weekend. Most people drive themselves around as this is the perfect place to rent a scooter for only $5 a day. The roads are very quiet, minus a few farmers bringing their goods to town and Kampot is a great base point for exploring in the rural countryside.

Some scenic areas nearby that you won’t come across elsewhere in Cambodia include, Bokor mountain hill station, a winding, well paved road leading up to colonial ruins and amazing views, most frequented for the journey up and down. Further out are the pepper farms and waterfalls that spot the rolling landscape, or continue upriver, where a few hidden guesthouses have their own beaches, great food or even wannabe waterparks with swinging contraptions, kayaks and tubes that make a day in the river a lot more fun.

Laid back Kampot

Kampot is a different way of experiencing Cambodia without the bustle of the city or hassle of tuk-tuks and hawkers, it flows at the pace of rural Cambodia but with amenities and comforts of larger tourist cities with surprisingly good coffee. Cambodians are happy to meet you, and local expats that run many of the businesses are laid back, choosing to live here more for themselves than for any other reason.

This quaint little town is changing fast, but as it grows, the colonial history, lush nature and vibrant activities mix well to make Kampot a unique yet modern Cambodian village.