Kampot

Kampot is a small town (pop.~40,000) in southeast Cambodia and capital of the province of the same name. It is a gateway to Bokor National Park

Sunset over the river.

Understand

Kampot's main draw is its relaxing riverside setting. While there is a sizable town set back from the river, most tourists will spend most of their time enjoying the river. Most tourist businesses are scattered along the riverside promenade or are within one or two blocks of it. The riverside's main reference points are the old bridge, a mongrel of various styles and temporary parts thrown together after its breaching in the Khmer Rouge days, and the French-built market building (which is currently being restored). Back from the river, the town is centred on the bizarre durian roundabout. From where the buses drop passengers, walking down the wide boulevard leads towards the river and the French-built market.

Get in

By bus from Phnom Penh:

Rte 33 heading to Kampot north of Kep, taken by all the buses that go through Kep, is undergoing serious road work in mid-2013. The trip Phnom Penh-Kampot via Kep can take up to 7 hr instead of 3.5 hr. The road between Kampot and Kep, and further on to the pepper farm is dangerous for motorcycles (mud, potholes) and will be until the end of the rainy season around the end-2013.

Hua Lin buses depart at 07:00 and 12:00 from their bus station on St 182 near Olympic Market. The bus travels to Kampot via Kep and the trip takes about 5 hr (normally).

Capitol Tour buses depart at 07:00 and 13:00 from their bus station near Orrusey Market. The bus does not currently go via Kep and the trip can take approximately 3.5 hr. The fare is USD4.25.

Sorya buses depart at 07:30 and 14:30 from their bus station next to Central Market. In the high season (Oct-May) there may be an additional bus at 09:30. The bus travels to Kampot via Kep and the trip takes about 5 hr. The fare is USD4.50.

Paramount Angkor Express buses depart at 07:30 and 13:30 from their bus station near Olympic Market. The bus travels directly to Kampot (does not go via Kep) and the trip takes about 3 hr. The fare is USD4.50

Giant Ibis buses depart at 08:00 and 14:45 from St 106 next to the Night Market on Riverside. This company promotes itself as a luxury service. Tickets are USD8 and the bus arrives at the Durian Roundabout (approximately 300 m from the bus station) in Kampot.

All of the above buses, with the exception of Giant Ibis, end at the central Kampot bus station which is about 150 m from one of the main guesthouse streets in Kampot. Walk to the Salt Workers Monument and take the first turn to the left.

Many guesthouses in Phnom Penh offer direct transport to Kampot. While convenient, it is expensive at around USD8.

These buses do not generally have an on-board toilet, but do usually have a 15 minute rest stop at the half-way point between Phnom Penh and Kampot. Note also that while there is no difference in the fares charged for locals and foreigners on the Phnom Penh-Kampot route, fares generally increase for everyone during major public holidays/celebrations.

Mini Bus

Kampot Express uses 12 seat Hyundai Starex mini buses. They provide an 08:00 and 13:00 service on weekdays with an additional 16:30 service on Saturday and Sunday. Buses are based at St 215 in Phnom Penh at the Sokimex petrol station. The trip taking about 2.5 hr depending on the traffic leaving Phnom Penh. The fare is USD8 for foreigners, with locals paying less, and additional baggage fees may apply.

Private Taxi: your guesthouse/hotel should be able to arrange this for you and expect to pay between USD35-50 for the whole taxi with the trip taking approx. 2.5 hr. Again, prices quoted will generally be higher during major public holidays and you will almost certainly be quoted a higher price if you attempt to negotiate the fare yourself with one of the taxis at Phnom Penh airport.

Shared Taxi : There are a number of shared taxis that regularly ply the route between Phnom Penh and Kampot and your guesthouse/hotel should be able to arrange a seat for you. If you want to make your own arrangements, taxis generally depart from Psar Damkor. Be aware that a shared taxi, generally a Toyota Camry, on this route will normally carry eight people including the driver so if you are a large Westerner, have a lot of luggage or have issues with your personal space, you might want to book two seats at the front of the taxi which in effect gives you the front passenger seat to yourself. Prices are generally around USD5 per "chair" so the front passenger seat to yourself should cost around USD10.

There is no passenger rail service between Phnom Penh and Kampot.

From Sihanoukville, take a shared taxi, minibus or bus. Most taxis depart from the traffic pickup point next to the market. The 2 hr drive should cost USD3-5/person in a shared taxi, though haggling is required. Bus operators can help arrange a minibus with pickup at your guesthouse. Shared taxis are generally cramped, with up to 7 passengers: 4 in the back, 2 in the front passenger seat and one next to the driver.

Giant Ibis are now operating a return bus service to and from Sihanoukville with departures at 08:30 and 12:00 in both directions. Price is listed at USD7 one way.

Driving from Sihanoukville to Kampot on a rented scooter can be fun, but if road conditions are poor may take 3.5 hours or more.

Get around

Getting around Kampot is easy on foot or on a bicycle, given the town's small size and flat terrain. Alternatively, hire a motorcycle (100cc-125cc scooter or 250cc dirt bike, from USD5/day) or bicycle (from USD1/day) from hire shops near the durian traffic circle, or from just about any guesthouse or tour shop.

It used to take about 2 hr by motorbike from Kampot to the Ha Tien border with Vietnam, the scenery is very beautiful. If you start early you can catch the 10:00 ferry to Phu Quoc Island. The border procedure is hassle free.

See

The most impressive sights in Kampot are the river and surrounding hills, which grandly frame views from the riverside promenade. Kampot retains many of its colonial buildings and there are many interesting old structures in various states of repair. The two cinemas stopped screenings long ago but the buildings represents a charming, art deco vision of the future. The market, an angular structure similar to Battambang's, is undergoing renovation.

Tigers were rare to start with and will likely soon be non-existent. Gibbons and birds such as the chestnut-headed partridge, blue pitta, and orange-headed thrush will also been much harder to spot in what is now a construction site. The waterfall, which only flows in the wet season, may still provide some sanctuary for humans and animals wanting to get away from bulldozers.
Tours still run up the mountain and cost approximately USD10, depending on bargaining skills. Lunch is included. Except for the Bokor Palace Hotel and old casino, the old French buildings are occupied by the families of construction workers. The excursion can still be worthwhile provided as it is viewed as an insight into seeing Cambodia's Great Leap Forward rather than as an atmospheric expedition into a remote and haunting environment.
Several tracks enter the forest, one from behind the old tea plantation, the second from near the waterfalls. It is possible to stay at the ranger station which is basic but comfortable and, contrary to some reports, offers food and French wine. Free.

Do

Take a boat trip up the river

Kampot has a relaxed and sleepy atmosphere apart from the droves of motor-cycle riding school children that flock here when school is in. It is a great place to go and just soak up the atmosphere and catch your breath for a couple of days.

Do Kampot province by dirt bike: Ride enduro style through the Elephant mountains, take on the hill climb up Bokor or relax.

Buy

Eat

A delicious breakfast found in Kampot is Koh Kor Num Pain, a thick beef stew served with French bread.

Riverside restaurant

Drink

Kampot has the best teuk rleuek (fruit shake) in Cambodia. Visit any of the numerous vendors on the main avenues in the evening.

Sleep

There are many guesthouses in Kampot, mostly in the USD5+ price bracket. It is best just to have a look at the rooms. In the city most of the guesthouses are located along "Guesthouse Street". There are also a number of guesthouses just outside of town across the bridge and along the river front.

Budget

City

Countryside

Riverside

Mid-range

Connect

Internet access is available downtown for 3,000 riel/hour.

Go next

Routes through Kampot

Phnom Penh Kep  E  W  Sihanoukville



This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, December 24, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.