A diverse mix of low key activities
What we say:
Kampot's keynote attraction is Bokor National Park, which encompasses much of the Elephant Mountains and overshadows Kampot. The summit is home to historic buildings including a magnificent ruined casino, as well as the source of a large waterfall. See our Bokor National Park section for more information.
Aside from Bokor, Kampot's attractions are low key. Probably most popular is a sunset cruise on the river -- this sounds a bit boring, but it's actually excellent value as the further north you go the more and more rural the scenery becomes. Make sure the boatman takes you as far as possible upriver.
A series of caves is within easy motorcycle distance of Kampot at Phnom Chhnok, where you'll find a 7th century ruin in remarkable condition and loads of eager kids with flashlights to show you through for a small tip. Further along the way, Phnom Sorsia is known for two things -- a large formation that vaguely resembles an elephant and some great views of the surrounding paddies. Both of these sites are easily visited on the way to Kep, or combined with a visit to the caves at Kompong Trach.
There's a small zoo around 8km north of Kampot, just after Utopia Guesthouse, on the west bank of the river. It's no great shakes and we'd say you'd really need to be on a mission to see all Kampot has to offer to venture out here. If you do decide to visit, combine it with a trip to Tek Chhouu rapids. Bart, a committed expat, runs boat trips for cheap up to the rapids, and he came recommended by friends living in Kampot. Contact him at (T:(092) 174 280), or look for his boat near the new bridge.
Some also choose to use Kampot as a base to visit Kep, but we'd say if you have the time, Kep warrants at least an overnight stay in its own right. See our Kep coverage for more information on both there and caves at Kompong Trach.
Back in town, Kampot has a couple of good massage places and a few little shops for a dose of retail therapy. If you've got a little more time on your hands, look into the Khmer for Tourists classes at Chumkriel Language School on the outskirts of town. Fees are very reasonable and all funds go to scholarship funds for students. See their website at http://www.chumkriellanguageschool.com or contact the Little Garden Bar Guesthouse for more information.
Something else which we didn't have time to check out in person but sounded promising was a visit to Wat Chamcar Bei, a hilltop temple a bit over 30km from Kampot. We were told the views are breathtaking, especially in the late afternoon. To get there, head out of Kampot on the road to Kep, continue straight at the White Horse monument (rather than turning right for Kep) and continue for another 14km till a marked turn-off for Chamcar Bei village. Take the turnoff and follow it past the school, turning left after the school then following the road to the temple.
We also recommend stopping into Epic Arts Cafe to see if they have any upcoming events at their new performing arts centre just outside town. Every three months, the 11 students, all with various physical and mental disabilities, will stage a performance. You can also stop in on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 16:00 to watch a rehearsal.
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