Kampot

World-famous for its pepper, this southwestern province is also the source of much of the country’s salt production and a range of tropical fruits, from the spiky and pungent durian to lychees and longans.

Just outside the main town, a series of rapids which flow from the wilderness of Elephant Mountain above provide a beautiful backdrop for a picnic or to meet locals flocking there to cool off after work or on the weekends. These rapids, called Teuk Chhou, flow all year round with the bracing cool mountain water flowing over a series of boulders which stretch for more than a kilometre and are said by locals to clear the mind and cleanse the soul.  Vendors are keen to offer picnickers traditional sweets and local fruit, including pungent durians and sweet mangosteens and lychees.

Limestone karsts are particularly common in the area, often dotted with caves and small shrines to various ancient deities and providing a perfect opportunity for rock climbers and explorers. Kampot  also  offers  its own white sand beaches, virtually unmentioned in most tourist guides, such as Prek Ampil, ringed by coconut palms and mangroves from where locals glean delicacies such as lobster, crabs, and shrimp and cook it as it arrives onshore. The meal is usually washed down with the sweet juice of young coconuts, fresh from the shell.

Kampot is one of the less developed provinces for tourism, though that is rapidly changing, and good hotels can be found in the town and there is no shortage of restaurants serving delicious seafood, often sauced with strings of green pepper fresh from the vine – a signature dish of the area. Foreign-owned guesthouses and bars are numerous nowadays, and the formerly quiet little town is now bustling with visitors in high season.

There are also some stunning examples of French colonial architecture, particularly along the riverside.  

To escape the heat, the former French hill station of Bokor provides some hauntingly beautiful French-era buildings, such as the abandoned Catholic Church. The famous Bokor Palace Hotel – as seen in the 2002 film, City of Ghosts –  has now been transformed into a 5-Star hotel, though many visitors feel this development has taken away its former charm. The area at the rear of the hotel offers some of the most stunning views to be found in Cambodia. The area is currently being developed with a large 5-star resort and casino dominating the area.

Kampot also boasts great opportunities to encounter nature and an astonishing array of birdlife. A river cruise is a must-do excursion, especially at the end of the day when the fireflies gather above the river.

REGIONAL PRODUCE

Sea salt, fish sauce, pepper, durian, seafood.

GEOGRAPHY

The East of the province consists of the typical plain area for Cambodia, covering rice fields and other agricultural plantations. The Western part of the province is rich in lush, mountainous forests.

MUST SEE

Brateak Krola Lake. Also known as Secret Lake, Brateak Krola Lake is a man-made lake, constructed by the Khmer Rpouge in the 1970s at the cost of many lives. A beautiful spot to spend a few hours, the area also has a number of Kampot pepper plantations which you can visit and see the world famous pepper (the first Cambodian product to gain Geographical Indicator status) being grown and processed.

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