Our next destination on our Cambodia tour was Kampot. This sleepy town is definitely one of Cambodia’s little gems. We booked 2 bus tickets directly through Ekareach Express in Phnom Penh. We left Phnom Penh at 12pm and got into Kampot around 4pm.
Missed our previous Phnom Penh & The Killing Fields post? Read it here
Phnom Penh Kampot: Check out bus options on Camboticket.com. You can book directly through this site or you can use the site as a means for bus reviews and book directly through the bus company. We booked through Ekareach for 7 USD per person. The ride took about 4 hours down to Kampot. The bus was not nearly as luxurious as Mekong Express, which we used in northern Cambodia, but unfortunately Mekong Express does not operate in the south.
We arrived at the Ekareach offices in Kampot during a downpour. We used the Pass App to order a local tuk-tuk driver. One of the tuk-tuk drivers sitting in his tuk-tuk outside the offices accepted it immediately. It’s as if he was waiting for us fresh fish.
He took us over to our accommodation. We booked 3 nights at Kool Kampot. The staff were very welcoming, checked us in straight away, and gave us a tour of the property. We had a ground-floor double room in a 2-story house that had been converted into a hotel. The rooftop had a cute bar with happy hour specials. The Australian owner and the entire staff are all very hospitable. At 18 USD a night, Kool Kampot is a great deal.
Luckily the rain cleared up soon after we arrived so we decided to get out and explore the town. Kampot is situated along an estuary that flows out into the ocean. There are many floating restaurant boats docked along the banks of the river. We noticed a large expat population and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why expats love the small town. What’s not to love? Clean streets, beautiful scenery consisting of mountains and rivers, cheap food and drinks, and it’s close to the coast. We decided to stop at one of the floating restaurants and enjoy the beautiful sunset over a snack and cocktail.
After the sun had set, we had a delicious dinner at the Lemongrass Bistro. Don’t miss this cute little outdoor corner restaurant when in town.
The following day we rented a scooter through our hotel for 5 USD a day. Our plan for that day was to ride out to the pepper plantation and then watch the sunset over the salt fields. But before we trekked out we had to make a very necessary pit stop for some delicious Khmer coffee.
We stopped at Cafe Espresso Roastery. This coffee shop is run by an expat family. The interior is very cool indeed. It has a large and open factory feel about it with exposed rafters. We ordered two coffees and a chicken sandwich to share. The coffees were great but the food was bland and slightly overpriced. But then again, we might have just ordered the wrong thing. They have a great menu and would be worth it to try their other options.
After we acquired our desired daily dose of caffeine, we jumped back onto the scooter, punched in our first stop, La Plantation, into google maps, and set off. The ride out there was quite bumpy for 2 people on a scooter. Some parts of the road were also extremely muddy so we had to take it very slowly.
Once we arrived, we locked up the scooter and headed over to the main building. The property here is absolutely stunning!! Lush plants, gorgeous flowers, and peppers. Definitely, a must-stop when in Kampot.
We were soon ushered inside and asked if we would like to join a small tour group for free. Of course, we did! We were given a brief history of the plantation and then we had a tasting session. The peppers were really good by themselves! We especially enjoyed the salted pepper in brine and the unique long peppers. After the tasting, we were given a tour of the plantation. The whole plantation is a social and sustainable project. Besides pepper, they grow a variety of different fruits, vegetables, and herbs which are all used by the plantation workers. The plantation also funds and looks after a primary school located next to the property. We were both very impressed with the whole initiative. You can read more about this amazing project and product at kampotpepper.com.
We departed La Plantation and made haste for the salt fields. From what we had read, the best time of day to visit the salt fields was sunset. Unfortunately for us, it was overcast that day. However, we still made a trip passed the fields but they were nothing to write home about on a cloudy evening.
That night we grabbed dinner at Kampot River Food and called it a night.
The following day, after breakfast, we jumped back on our trusty steed and aimed our sights at Preah Monivong Bokor National Park which lies at the top of the adjacent mountain. What did we bring with us for this ride? Just ourselves, 3/4 tank of gas, and Celeste brought a light sweater. Was this adequate? Absolutely not. The ride to the base of the mountain is about 20 minutes from Kampot. In Kampot and at the base of the mountain, the weather is dry and warm. As we started to ascend the mountain, the temperature started to drop rapidly. As we started to enter the clouds, everything suddenly got very wet. Just before we got to the top, our gas supply became critically low and there is no source of gas up on the mountain. So, what was supposed to be a fun trip up to the national park at the top of the mountain turned out to be a very wet, cold, and almost-a-long-walk-down disaster. Take heed to the tip to follow.
Riding Up Preah Monivong Bokor National Park Tip: Bring warm clothes to put on at the base of the mountain. Preferably long pants, a thick sweater, and a rain jacket. Make sure to fill up with gas at the gas station at the base of the mountain. You will need a full tank to get up and down.
After our disaster of a day, we scooted back into warm Kampot for a food and iced coffee break to come up with a plan for the rest of the day. We made our way to Ecran Noodles for some soup and delicious dumplings! Also, their prices are ridiculously good. We then shot over to Lotus Cafe for a caffeine boost.
From there we decided to head up the river to explore a river resort we had read about which allows outside guests to swim. We rode along the river until google maps announced our arrival at the Greenhouse. This place was beautiful and the rooms were very affordable. We asked ourselves why we hadn’t booked a room along the river instead of in town. The main building/restaurant overlooks the mirror-like and completely peaceful river. Down along the river bank is a platform with chairs and tables. We ordered a drink, grabbed a table with chairs on the platform, and jumped in. This place was absolute bliss. We enjoyed the sunset view over the river and felt like never leaving. Check out the Greenhouse website for availability.
After the sun had set, our stomachs started to rumble. We had read about a really good burger place in town and we hadn’t had a good burger in quite a while. We rode back into town and stopped at the Laundry Cafe which, given its name, used to be a laundry shop. The Laundry Cafe is owned and operated by an American and Cambodian couple. What about the burgers you ask? Absolutely legit! We were on a tight budget that night so we just shared one burger but we totally could have wolfed down a burger set each. Hands down best burger in town. Don’t waste your money elsewhere. Full of cheese, bacon, fries, soda and grease, we paid our bill, said goodbye to the friendly owner and his wife, and made our way back to our hotel.
The following morning, we packed our backpacks, checked out of our hotel, and made our way to Kep. Soon to follow…
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