Cambodia: 24 hours in Kampot

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I’d like to share this little gem of a place called Kampot – a tiny town by a river in Cambodia, about 3hrs away from Phnom Penh (a lot of Jetstar deals – SG to PP!).

It’s not where someone would typically go to in Cambodia but it’s a good place to just relax. There’s nothing much going on there, but you get your fair share of really fresh seafood at a good price.

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Important tip: use the Giant Ibis bus to get from Phnom Penh to Kampot or vice versa! We took Hua Lin and the journey was 5hrs long – it just kept stopping everywhere to drop people or pick people up. Giant Ibis provides a relatively smaller bus but you get a bottle of water, a wet towel, movies to watch and mobile wifi. Plus, it doesn’t make any stops except toilet stops. Worth the USD$8.

Another tip is that I realize Cambodia’s service industry is rather rigid – not a bad thing, but like if they’re told to do something a certain way, they won’t stray from it. As a result, we had to pay for 2 nights of stay at Moliden even though we just stayed a day because we didn’t notify them that we’ll be checking out at 2pm. They refused to budge thought it was apparent we were two of four or so guests. Though Moliden has a really good location I’d advise giving it a miss because we had such a nasty experience with the service staff there. He kept insisting that it was not his fault but ours – when nobody had told us about the checkout time.

So we got charged $50 Instead, I’d suggest going budget and staying further out by the river – it’s a very unique experience! A place called Bodhi Villa actually offers floating rooms for about USD$10. Olly’s has bungalows for $5/night and paddleboards for rent. Pay a little more for a good room at Rikitikitavi (from $43) or La Java Bleue. (from $35) that includes airconditioning.

Here’s how we spent a day at Kampot:

2pm – Arrived at Kampot, didn’t make any prior bookings so we just walked around to find a room. Moliden seemed charming and promising, so we settled with that. Picked up 2 bikes for $1 each from a roadside shop opposite Moliden.

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Lunch – headed to Ta Eou Restaurant for lunch – almost every dish is USD$5. Everyone was eating the kampot pepper crab, so we did too. And prawns. And fried rice. And fish. And tom yam soup. And 4 cans of winter melon tea. Nice place by the river! Bill was about $25.

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Cycled down to another shop for ice cream… it’s a cute pop up shop by the road but the ice cream was rather nyahhhh. Cycled around a little more to check out the Durian roundabout and grab some souvenirs.

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Took a sunset river cruise which was nice, but rather painfully long… you could also opt for a slightly more expensive option that includes wine and cheese and occasionally a barbecue dinner!

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Our captain.

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Our company

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Riverside views

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Dusk

Went for a massage by blind masseuses. There are a couple out there and we chose to pay a dollar more ($5? $6?) for the airconditioning. Be warned, it’s pretty funky smelling. I couldn’t even keep my head down in, you know, that hole that you’re supposed to keep your face in because it was suffocating. The massage was really good though.

Refreshed, we had a reasonably priced dinner of barbecued seafood (fresh catch of the day) and ribeye steak – excellently cooked at La Java Bleue. Not the cheapest – cost about $35, but so worth it! The owner Jean Claude was so hospitable – and he has a huge burnese mountain dog that he shipped in from France that stays in an airconditioned room lol?

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BBQ seafood platter

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Ribeye

My pics really don’t do it justice!!

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Doggie that only comes out at night!

Got a few drinks and retired for the night.

The next day, we’d initially wanted to travel up to the Tek Chou waterfalls – but someone mentioned it was the dry season and we’d only face an unimpressive trickle. Anyways, we got up at about 10am and weren’t left with much time before we had to get onto the bus back to Phnom Penh at 2pm.

Got back on our bikes and took another leisurely cycle to explore the other side of the town – beyond Rikitikitavi. Nothing much, actually.

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Headed back to the “heart of town” to grab coffee at Kampoccino.

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Coffee wasn’t great, but they had some really good freshly baked pastry!

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And a cat too.

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Typical sight at Kampot – streets are lined with 2-storey shophouses.

Rode out to another cafe with a good cause – Epic Arts Cafe

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Grabbed a few quick bites. We were like, the only Chinese people there. Scratch that we could’ve been the only chinese people at that time in Kampot lol.

We were quick to learn that there really isn’t much else to do in Kampot but to cycle and eat. We’d initially wanted to check out Ecran Movie Theatre but it wasn’t due to open till 1pm.

So we ate, again, at a bakery beside Ecran called Sister’s

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Beautiful pumpkin spice pancakes with maple syrup.

As stuffed as we were, we finally could take a peek into Ecran – they have a bigger theatre (pictured below) and a smaller one (not pictured, because my battery was too flat). You could rent movies and have a little private screening in a really cosy setting. naaaaise.

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That about marks the end of our time at Kampot! We hastily got back, packed, checked out, got the nasty news that we had to pay for one more night, argued till the bus came, reluctantly handed him $50 and went back to Phnom Penh absolutely broke.

Other things to check out at Kampot:

– Tek Chou waterfalls
– Bokor Mountain
– Kep, about 1/2h away (beach + fresh crabs)
Kampot’s caves, on the way to Kep

Again, nothing extremely exciting and unmissable. But it’s exactly that that makes Kampot so charming. It’s hard to find a place that’s relatively untouched by tourism; still, there are enough enterprising expats who have chosen to settle in Kampot that offer quality food and lodging to cater to travelers who are still looking to be a little spoilt.

Would definitely return to this place. Hoping to stay in a floating hut by the river next time! Will probably give the touristy Sihanoukville a visit too.

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