Kampot Town is the capital of Kampot Province in southern Cambodia. Kampot sits on the east bank of the Kampot River and enjoys spectacular views across to Bokor and Elephant Mountains, which make up the sizeable Bokor National Park.
The little town of Kampot is somehow sleepy with the slow pace of life. You can find everything laid-back here, from unrushed dusty streets, dilapidated buildings to the crumbling architecture, a mix of French colonial and Chinese style. There’s not much to do in Kampot town, but you can engage in plenty of things to do in the surrounding countryside. Kampot is a land of rice paddies, palm trees, water buffalo, stilted wooden huts, orange dirt, salt field workers, and waving children.
The laid-back town of Kampot
A growing number of people are also attracted to Kampot to spend some time with a volunteer project. Choose from a range of options, from short-term through to longer-term projects working with disadvantaged groups. Along with its relaxed ambiance comes an excellent selection of places to stay, from cheap backpacker-orientated guesthouses through to some fine flashpacker and midrange hotels. Kampot also boasts plenty of decent places to enjoy Cambodian and Western food and just hang out.
Fishing village in Kampot
History of Kampot
The town was once a trading center and until the establishment of a deep sea port at Sihanoukville in the 1950s, Kampot was Cambodia's primary port. Kampot's economy is based on Salt and Pepper production, fishing, fruit growing (particularly Durians), and light industry with domestic and foreign tourism becoming significant contributors over the past three years. Most Western tourists probably have no idea that Kampot is also practically synonymous with durian. That might explain the prominent setting of Kampot's durian statue, the roundabout in the center of town.
Kampot's durian statue
Together with much of the rest of Cambodia, Kampot is undergoing development and a population boom. The expatriate population in Kampot has also grown dramatically over the past five years and with it the number and range of restaurants, hotels, bars, and general services.
Main attractions in Kampot
Located at the height of 1,080m from Kampot and Sihanoukville, Bokor National Park is an old Friend hill station built in the 1920s. It was used as an escape from the heat of Phnom Penh and pre-air conditioning, a casino as well as a movie location at different stages in the past. There are hauntingly beautiful colonial buildings and a great diversity of flora and fauna, especially nepenthes flower, wild elephant, and tiger.
Bokor National Park in Kampot
Kampot province is also renowned for the quality of its fruits (durian, coconut, mango…), sea salt and of course the famous Kampot Pepper which is truly excellent. The special fresh climate and soil type of Kampot as well as the experience from several generations of pepper farmers make this pepper unique and much sought-after by worldwide gourmets. Pepper plantations as well as a few low-key sites can be visited from town, which also forms an ideal base for trips up to jungle-clad Bokor, a highlight of any visit to the Cambodian coast.
Kampot Pepper Farm
The most exciting place downtown must be Kampot’s Central Market, where a variety of products from clothes, jewelry, fish to household goods are sold. You can find pretty much everything to buy in the market and in the surrounding streets. The busiest time in Kampot’s Central Market is from 8 am to 10 am, but you can visit the market anytime until night. It’s a great place for an an-hour walk, shopping, and photography.
Salt fields in Kampot
The Kampot area also offers several other attractions including pre-Angkorian ruins and caves, jungle trekking, cycling tours, river cruises, island trips, fishing trips, isolated beaches, salt fields, Khmer cooking classes, bamboo train rides and some beautiful rural countryside. In the vicinity, there’re verdant coast east towards Vietnam and nearby beaches in Kep and Rabbit Island.
Islands in Kep
Weather in Kampot
The average temperatures in Kampot are relatively high and feel hot all year. The humidity in Kampot is so high that there’s a chance of rain throughout most of the year. The hottest months range from April to June. Peak foreign tourism months are November through to mid-April with January being the busiest month. The densest concentration of foreigner-oriented tourist businesses is along the riverside promenade, in or around the renovated "Old Market" or within one or two blocks back from the river in the old quarter.
- Getting there: Kampot is situated in southern Cambodia, a few hours from the beach resort Sihanoukville. From Phnom Penh, you can take the bus in 3-5 hours or take a train in almost 5 hours. From Sihanoukville, there’s no suitable bus service to Kampot, so take the private taxi or minibus. If you’re already in Kep, it’s easy to take a tuk-tuk, taxi, minibus, or drive in 30 minutes to Kampot.
- Getting around: In Kampot, the traffic is minimal then getting around is flexible by bicycle, motorbike, and on foot. You can take a tour or hike a tuk-tuk to explore the Kampot town, but it’ll be less independent.