Siem Reap definitely gets more attention from the millennial, but southern Cambodia deserves a little recognition as well. Kampot, a small, sleepy town known for its salt fields and pepper plantations, is a quaint little town that you can got to for a short break from the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh. This 3-day suggested itinerary will lead you to Kampot’s best destinations and will help you make the most of your trip. Depending on your traveling priorities, you can certainly fine tune this itinerary to suit your needs.
Things to consider before traveling to Kampot, Cambodia:
Language – The official language of Cambodia is Khmer (Cambodian), which is spoken by majority of the population. Most Khmer people speak a decent level of English, so you can absolutely get by without speaking Khmer language. However, not all people in Cambodia can speak English so learning a few basic Khmer words and phrases is recommended. Just like in other countries, speaking at least some Khmer phrases or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by the locals.
Currency exchange – The official currency used in Cambodia is the Cambodian Riel (KHR). ATMs can be found in airport, most tourist centers and local banks across the country. Exchanging money in Kampot is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in Southeast Asia. It’s also good to know that all establishments accept US dollars. International credit cards are widely accepted, though small businesses, especially stores and restaurants may not accept them.
Safety and security – There is currently no nationwide security advisory in effect for Cambodia. Check your country’s travel advisory website to get the most up-to-date information for your personal safety abroad. Every traveler, especially solo female travelers, should take safety precautions because there has been an increase in reported armed robberies, sexual assault and other opportunistic crimes targeting tourists. Driving on your own is not recommended because some roads are poorly maintained and locals have little regard for traffic regulations.
Where to stay – Cambodia has a wide range of accommodation options, with something for every level of comfort and budget. In Kampot, there are plenty of budget hotels, backpacker hostels and guesthouses. If you want a a luxurious hotel, then you might not get it in the city as there are really no high-end hotels in Kampot. You will, however, find plenty of wooden bungalows, which will give you riverside relaxation, or something a little closer to nature.
Hotels to consider in Kampot:
Getting around – Getting around Kampot is very easy. Transportation options include boats, small minivans (tuk-tuks), taxis, motorbike sidecar taxis (Săhm·lór), rental cars and motorbike. Although renting a motorbike is one of the most popular ways to get around, we do not recommend it to non-experienced drivers. Foreigners are also often the targets of police asking for small bribes.
Detailed itinerary: 3 days in the sleepy city of Kampot, Cambodia
Your adventure in Kampot starts today. Wake up to a delicious breakfast in your private room. You may also try local Khmer restaurants that serve local rice noodles. After breakfast, you may proceed with your tour. There’s no better way to get acquainted with the town than visiting the La Plantation. The Cambodian Kampot Pepper is high quality, thus, it once became a household name in France. In the early 20th century, Kampot Pepper became the most famous exports in Cambodia until it was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge. Following the Vietnamese liberation, most farmers tried to revive Cambodia’s pepper industry by going back to their fields. Now, the region produces different varieties of pepper including red pepper, black pepper, white pepper, green pepper and bird pepper.
On day 2, go on one of the most exciting trips out of Kampot by joining a tour of Bokor National Park. Here, you will find the Bokor Hill Station, which is home to a collection of abandoned French colonial buildings including the grand Bokor Palace Hotel, a catholic church, a post office, and others. Built in the 1920s, the station is used by the colonial French settlers as a resort. Now, the station is in a state of arrested decay, which gets quite eerie in the fog during rainy season. For first time visitors, we recommend joining a group so you will know the historical relevance of the station. Also, most tours include Sunset Firefly River Cruise.
Wake up very early in the morning just in time for the sunrise. Make your way to the Salt Fields of Kampot and wait for the rising sun to reflect in the salt fields flooded by sea water. Just like pepper, Kampot is also famous for its salt production. Here, you’ll witness the workers collect and pile up the salt crystals in the warehouses. You’ll also see how the white salt crystals are formed under the sun.
Unless breakfast is included in the price of your accommodation, start your day at one of the city’s local restaurants. A typical breakfast in Cambodia includes num banh chok (Khmer noodles dish made from fresh rice noodles with curry), kuy teav (a Chinese noodle soup) or Cambodian version of doughnuts and baguettes.
After breakfast, dive deeper into local experience by visiting other attractions you might have missed like the Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple, the only Buddhist cave temple in Cambodia. If you don’t want to go far from town, then you may try water activities in the river, enjoy a relaxing spa experience, or sun-bathe in the Arcadia Waterpark.
Have you been to Kampot or anywhere else in Cambodia? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: Abandoned church in Bokor Hill Station, Kampot, Cambodia (Francky38 / Shutterstock.com)