I often get asked what are best Cambodia destinations to visit and my answer is always Kampot. Kampot is a sleepy seaside town in the South of Cambodia. It also just happens to be our favorite spot that we visited in all of Cambodia. With relaxed vibes, plenty of surrounding nature, and a great food scene… Nate & I were reluctant to leave this beautiful town. Although at first glance some tourists might think there isn’t anything to do in Kampot, it’s quite the opposite case. Kampot is surrounded by incredible and often free attractions such as caves, plantations, and secret swimming holes.
DAY 1 – A Taste of Kampot
Kampot is a small city compared to Siem Reap or Phnom Penh, but it is jam packed with terrific restaurants ranging from authentic Khmer food to international specialities. If you’re wondering which Cambodia destinations are worth your time and money, this town has your name written all over it. Not only is it highly affordable, but it offers something for everyone including kid-friendly tours and romantic get-aways.
Start your morning off with a wholesome breakfast at Ellie’s. Located in the center of town, Ellie’s is a favorite amongst the expats who are looking for traditional Western cuisine. Their dishes range from eggs and hash browns to granola bowls. ($3-5 per dish).
After a walk along the river taking in the sights and sounds of local boats and fishermen, head towards the best noodle shop in town called Ecran Noodles. Not only does this place make fresh noodles everyday but they also specialize in creating mouth-watering dumplings. This restaurant is a mix between Chinese and Khmer cuisine, and is a popular spot night or day.
If you’re lucky enough to grab a seat at a table, you’ll be rewarded with a gigantic bowl of steaming soup packed with delicious dumplings and noodles (prepared right in front of you). Ecran Noodles even offer a noodle making class if you want to learn how to make these chewy, and perfectly tender noodles on your own.
Unwind on the river at one of the best places in town to get a dose of the great outdoors. Greenhouse is another favorite amongst expats who come here for their fabulous dock. Situated on the Preaek Tuek Chhu River, Greenhouse is a picturesque wooden restaurant and hotel offering delicious food and amazing views of the surrounding jungle.
Alternate between munching on delicious fish amok ($5), a regional dish and taking a dip in the crisp water. The price of food and drinks are a little higher than elsewhere, but this facility is worth visiting for their swimming hole alone.
Greenhouse offers free tubing, hammocks and a toes in the sand experience you won’t forget. Kayaks are also available for a minimal fee. Greenhouse is located about a ten minute drive from the center of Kampot and is a bit tricky to find, but is totally worth getting lost for. Even the drive to this place is breathtaking!
DAY 2 – Hit the Road
Bokor Mountain is one of the best attractions in Kampot. It took Nate & I about two hours to reach the entrance of Bokor Mountain on our scooter. (50 cents USD entrance fee). Scooters can be rented for as little as $4 per day and enable you to see beyond the small touristic town of Kampot. Once you reach the top of the mountain, there are a myriad of attractions to visit on Bokor Mountain from an ancient Buddhist pagoda to abandoned French colonial buildings (Free).
We made our way to a dilapidated French church which still had many markings from the heinous slaughtering that took place by the Khmer Rouge. We also visited the hauntingly gorgeous abandoned casino which overlooks the jungle. Bullet holes can still be seen everywhere and a strange somber feeling can be felt all around the mountain.
After a drive down the mountain, watch the sunset at the salt fields (Free). Drive out of town to an area called “Fish Island” where local life prevails and tourists are a rarity. The best time to arrive is around 4pm when the workers are still out on the field collecting fresh sea salt into neat mounds. Nate & I visited during the Khmer New Year which is the one time of the year when locals get to relax at home with friends and family and take time off from work.
Although the fields were barren except for pools of white salt, we had a fantastic time watching the sky turn pink and purple. The glistening of the sunlight against the salt is a very special experience and one that I won’t forget. The red dirt roads that lead to Fish Island are also very fun to drive on which makes the entire event a true adventure.
Take an evening cruise on the river at night to ring in the day ($5). Small boats glide gently along the quiet water in search of firefly. This magical experience is the perfect way to end your day with a relaxing view of river life and the sound of water lapping against the wooden frame of the boat. The drivers speak English and will tell you a little bit about the city of Kampot.
Cruise along the river and take in the sights such as the neon-lit refurbished bridge which was rebuilt after being bombed. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can come prepared with swimming trunks or a bikini and dive off the boat into the water. Cruise tickets can be purchased at the pier and usually include a free drink.
DAY 3 – Explore the Pepper Fields
Kampot is famous for its pepper fields and this is what most people come here strictly to see. Flanked by massive pepper fields on all angles, the city of Kampot is rich in natural resources. Book a tour or drive out to a local pepper field on your scooter to see how this amazing spice is grown and harvested.
Fresh pepper is actually a national pride, and after one taste of this incredibly fresh spice, you’ll understand exactly why.
After walking around pepper fields all day, take a load off at one of the best Happy Hours in town at Kon Tiki Restaurant and Bar. If you go between 5-7pm, delicious cocktails start at only $2. Our favorite is the Bloody Mary made Kampot style with fresh ground pepper for an extra kick! Kon Tiki offers beautiful views of the river and is the best place to enjoy dinner while taking in the sunset. If gets packed here quick, so make sure to come early and grab a spot!
Taste a little bit of Spain in Cambodia at Baraca, the best tapas bar in town! Baraka was founded by two expats from Belgium who had a love for Mediterranean cuisine. Their eclectic menu includes a splattering of offerings from freshly made meatballs to grilled octopus ($1-3).
Whatever you order, you’re stomach will be delighted! Baraca also offers great array of European beers and fancy cocktails for those looking to throw back a couple and enjoy their night.
If you’re looking for Cambodia destinations to visit that offer culture, nightlife, and relaxation – Kampot is the perfect match.
Our Favorite Cambodia Destinations – My Conclusion
Kampot is a wonderful place to visit in Cambodia. From natural wonders to quaint restaurants, there is a plethora of budget activities to do in Kampot. After strolling through town numerous times, I soon came to realize that Kampot was the perfect little city in Cambodia. Kampot should be at the top of your lists of Cambodia destinations to visit!
A perfect mix of friendly locals and enthusiastic expats makes this one of the most welcoming cities in Cambodia.. In fact, we loved this town so much we are thinking about living there one day. We of course also loved Siem Reap and Kep, so it would be a really hard decision to make between the three.
We really enjoyed the chilled out atmosphere and slow pace of Kampot.
Watch our Youtube video
In this video, Nate & I visit Greenhouse for a late lunch and a dip in the river. If the video doesn’t load, you can watch it here.
We fell in love with the sights and sounds of river life, the way the palm trees swayed casually in the wind, the sound of children splashing in the river, the smell of freshly cooked noodles, and the feeling of driving down a rickety bridge with the sun caressing my skin.
Thanks so much for reading our Cambodia destinations guide. I hope after reading this short article, you understand why we love Kampot so much. Feel free to check out our other blog articles about this beautiful country.