Kampot is a sleepy town on the riverside known for its relaxing setting and was once Cambodia’s primary trading port until it was replaced by the deep sea port in Sihanoukville. Aside from the atmosphere, people stay in Kampot to explore nearby Bokor National Park, one of Cambodia’s top attractions along the coast. You’ll find some of the better nightlife in Cambodia here with a solid food, drink, and music scene along the water.
Kampot is also known to grow the best peppercorn in the world and is a great place to learn a little more about traditional food and drink in Cambodia. During French colonialism demand increased and production boomed, but was then abandoned during the Khmer Rouge regime. Since then farmers have returned to their ancestral land and revived the industry, thanks to the help of private businesses and development organizations. Go ahead and visit the pepper farms to learn more and support the farmers who supply the globe with the only authentic Kampot peppercorn.
Bokor National Park
Bokor sits higher than the surrounding areas, once serving as a retreat for colonists escaping the heat in Phnom Penh, and settlers built a single grand palace that housed vacationing French socialites which was repurposed in the 1950s as a casino. Later it became a battleground for the Khmer Rouge and the Vietnamese, leaving behind ruins that are rather romantic in the present day. A great way to get here is to take a motorbike up to Bokor National Park and as you drive up the mountain you will pass a variety of great sights like an old creepy ghost town, a large statue of Buddha, and a monastery, all surrounded by mist. For many travelers, a trip to Bokor National Park is often described as being one of their best experiences in Cambodia.
Aside from all these great sights, a variety of wildlife is known to inhabit the park, so beware when going off track. Although most visitors stay in nearby Kampot, Bokor is also accessible from Sihanoukville in just under 2 hours by car.
Kampot is a pleasant stay and a convenient stop for anyone looking to explore Bokor. However, if riverside lounging doesn’t appeal to you, Bokor can easily be reached from the seaside Sihanoukville as well. A couple of days are usually enough to explore Kampot and Bokor and buy bundles of Kampot pepper for friends and family back home.