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Travel Stories | Countryside Cambodia – Kampot

Over the past few years, the Kingdom of Cambodia has been a vacation hotspot for many travellers from all over the world. With numerous amazing sights such as the iconic Angkor Wat, its rich history with the Chinese, Indians, Khmer and French have all contributed to the dynamic culture, its cuisine and their way of life. There are still many unspoilt destinations to discover in Cambodia, and many pleasantly rustic towns that we should visit if you’re thinking of getting away from the main tourist crowds. We interviewed Ling, from Singapore, who shared with us how the town of Kampot made her want to stay a little longer.

Hi Ling, can you give us 5 words that sums up your trip to Kampot, Cambodia?

Rustic, charming, delicious, haunting, real.

What were some of the attractions that you visited?

I did a one-day tour up Bokor National Park where we got to see the Summer Palace of King Sihanouk, an abandoned Church, the former Bokor Palace Hotel and old casino as well as walked the riverbed which in actually fact is a waterfall during the wet seasons. Also, we cruised down the river that ran through the town of Kampot and took in the beautiful sunset.

Recount your most unforgettable experience whilst in Kampot.

My friend and I had arrived in Kampot just before the new year. We were travelling in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh before that and the locals in Kampot were distinctively and genuinely more friendly than the ones we met in the two big cities. We both fell in love with the town the minute we got off our taxi. It was rustic, nonetheless, but the lifestyle was definitely less hectic than Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. The locals smiled and waved whenever we passed and we felt welcomed here.

My most unforgettable experience in Kampot would probably be the trip up Bokor Mountain where we got to see the summer palace of King Sihanouk that has been left behind since the Khmer Rouge and from there you could see stunning panoramic views of Rabbit Island. When we were there, the Bokor Palace Hotel was under works and there were scaffolding all around it. My friend is a photographer and abandoned historical buildings only mean intriguing, engaging photos. So we got a little adventurous and sneaked into the eerie, rundown palace to take photos. Unforgettably exciting definitely, but I’d recommend that no one should do it because it’s very dangerous.

It is also on tours like these that you get to interact with fellow travellers who were as interested in Kampot as you are, and we’d share travel stories about what we did and make recommendations to each other. Be it a certain pub to visit after dark or a pepper farm to check out the following day, it was certainly fun being able to meet like-minded people who loved this town as much as we did.

Any must-try recommendations for food in Kampot?

There is a restaurant by the river by the name of The Rusty Keyhole which serves possibly the Best Ribs in Cambodia. I kid you not, the meat was so tender, succulent and perfectly marinated over the grill that it simply melts in your mouth. It is a bonus too that for a huge portion, we only paid about SGD $5.00 for a large plate of delicious barbecued ribs.

The pepper in Kampot is also very famous and I’d recommend everyone who visits the sleepy town to bring some home!

Where should we go for after-dark entertainment?

Bodhi Villa is a very nice place on the opposite side of the river, where you can mingle with a younger crowd over some drinks and very good live music. They also have a cosy deck that floats above the water where you and your friends can sit and enjoy the night breeze and look at a whole sky full of stars.

How do you get to Kampot?

You can get to Kampot by bus. There is a daily bus running from Phnom Penh to Kampot and the bus tickets are priced quite reasonably. The journey lasts about 4 to 5 hours so if you leave in the early morning, you will still have the rest of the afternoon and evening to walk around the town and enjoy the lovely sunset.

From Kampot, you may also consider travelling to Kep or Sihanoukville, both very pleasant beach destinations just 1 or 2 hours’ drive away.

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