Phnom Penh is an amazing place to live in. But it’s nice to sometimes get away from the city life for a change. Where to go if you want to relax and only have a weekend?
Easy answer: travel to Kampot. It’s only 2.30h drive south from the capital and it is everything you need. It’s a small town by the Praek Tuek Chhu river, and its laid back atmosphere is diametrically opposite to chaotic Phnom Penh. Here is a brief Kampot travel report from my backpacking trail across the region.
“IS THAT A SIDEWALK?”
In Kampot the grass is greener, the sky is bluer… and the beer is cheaper
While Kampot itself is pretty small, there are plenty of guesthouses stretching along the river bank. You can find many backpackers who will tell you that they have been there for a long time. There seems to be something about this place that doesn’t let travellers leave.
“I had planned to leave a week ago”
“I only have 70 dollars to get back to London so I’m staying here until my flight”
Not surprisingly, this sign was hanging in one of the guesthouses.
We were a group of 11 people, so we hired a van for 70$ each way. It’s very convenient because you can set the timings and pick up location your own way. Even if you are a smaller group, you can get other vehicles for cheaper. Another possibility that people often choose is to get a big van and post on expat Facebook groups to get more people to join and share the costs. Contact CamboTicket team for details for transport – they are an awesome bunch.
Our guesthouse was called Samon Village. Cool place with very exotic bungalows and a big terrace where you can chill by the river. Prices are good too.
During the day, there are a lot of things to do. Everything is very spread out so it’s very handy to rent motorbikes. We paid 5$ per moto per day. They are very handy to move about.
There are very cool backpacker guesthouses like Arcadia Backpackers, where you can meet a lot of travellers and do some water sports. We stayed there for the whole of Saturday afternoon.
The surroundings of Kampot are ideal for doing some exploring. We had heard of a pepper plantation in the area, but there were mixed opinions about it. There was also a word about some kind of temple inside a mountain cave. Clear winner.
It’s called Phnom Chhngok, and it is definitely worth a visit. It’s about 30 minutes by moto from Kampot, and the ride is very cool. You have to take NH33 and turn left about 5.5 km from Kampot. There’s very big signs leading to it so you won’t get lost. The entry fee is 1$.
Once we got there, we found a bunch of friendly local kids who offered their services as guides. We were a bit weary, fearing a classic tourist scam. We kindly declined the offer, but they still followed us to the top. The view from there is outstanding.
Once we got to the cave, we realised we needed a guide. It’s very narrow and dark, and not easy to climb down – not for everyone! Next to the temple, we found a Mexican art teacher who was painting the temple, amazing skills!
When we were leaving, the tour guides asked us if we wanted to go to “The Secret Lake”. Too mysterious to say no. To our surprise, we ended up In this huge lake of Brateak Krola, definitely way too big to be “secret”. Also worth a visit, is following south the road from Phnom Chhngok,and turning to the left at the big bridge – you will see it. If not, just ask the tour guides! I’m sure they will take you happily.
See you soon Kampot!
© Photo Creds: Antoine Pichu
Written by Tayo as part of the CamboTicket traveler memoir section. Tayo is a young traveler backpacking through South East Asia.