When you begin planning your next trip to Cambodia you'll be overwhelmed with information about popular tourist destinations and attractions like the Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh, Banteay Srei, and so many others.
Khmer culture is astounding and the cuisine throughout Cambodia is unique and decadent, to say the least. But what about Cambodian locations a bit further off the beaten path? What about places like the small yet stunning town of Kampot?
The Mysterious Town of Kampot
Truth be told, most people will tell you that there is nothing to see in Kampot. This isn't really true. The town is a small fishing village located just off the Teuk Chhou River, only 5km (or about 3.1 miles) away from the sea.
Getting to Kampot is likely to be the most difficult or challenging part of your journey through Cambodia. The town is about 5 hours away from Phnom Penh by car - a trip that is not recommended. There is a train that will take you from Phnom Penh to Kampot in about 7 hours - a longer but more comfortable trip than the car ride would be. Many people opt to take the small and sometimes irregular plane service from Phnom Penh instead.
Kampot's Gorgeous Resorts
The city of Kampot has only three hotels. They are the Phnom Kieu, Phnom Kamchay, and Teuk Chhou. The hotels, all of which are located around the city's main traffic circle, each have their own restaurants and a couple have nightclubs offering evening entertainment, however seedy they may seem.
Most of the large tourist resorts are actually located outside of Kampot but within close enough proximity for tourists to visit. The Teuk Chhu Resort, for example, is located in the nearby Snom Prompi Village, about 8km (or just under 5 miles) north of the town. The resort features large, natural, rock-filled pools where tourist and locals alike enjoy the cool waters flowing from the Phnom Damy Rey and Phnom Kam Chay. The area is also well known for its abundance of fresh fruit fields, including those growing durian, pineapple, and custard apples. The gorgeous Preak Ampil Resort, also very close to Kampot, is well known for its white sandy beaches surrounded by coconut and mangrove trees.
About 38km (or 23 miles) east of Kampot you'll find the Kampong Trach Resort. This resort is located in the mountains and features several natural wells and caves once used in traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, and Cambodian worship ceremonies. The Bokor Resort, furthest way at 42km (or 26 miles), was founded in 1922 by French colonists looking for a place away from the large, busy cities to relax.
Kampot Attractions Worth Visiting
Once you're settled into your Kampot hotel or nearby resort, head out to explore the town itself. If you head towards the northern end of town you'll find the Central Market, complete with dozens of stalls serving local cuisine. You'll also find local vendors selling handmade jewelry, karmas, sarongs, and other local wares.
After browsing the market you'll want to head on over to Kampot Interact. There you'll have the chance to get out on the river and learn how to row a boat commonly referred to as the dook.
Music lovers will want to make it a point to visit the Kampot Traditional Music School for Handicapped and Orphaned Children. During the week you'll be able to see a wide variety of performances by students, ranging from local dance styles to traditional Khmer musical instruments. The students put on formal, public performances at the end of every month.
The Epic Arts Café is another incredible site to add to your agenda. Many of the community service projects in Kampot, run by both local and international organizations, focus on providing services to the disabled. The Epic Arts Café is run by deaf and disabled citizens and serves as a great place to grab a bite to eat or drink while absorbing some of the work by local artists. If you're lucky, you may even get a sign language lesson or two.
The town of Kampot is small and far removed from the hustle and bustle associated with most major Cambodian cities. Anyone looking for an out of the way place to relax should seriously consider heading towards this charming town. You'll never have a better opportunity to experience the authentic Cambodian lifestyle.