Chill out

Long described as “sleepy”, the Kampot of today is transforming into a lively tourist destination, with plenty of good restaurants, bars and music to be found. But that doesn’t mean they’ve given up on the hardcore riverside lounging that the city has built its name on. Not by a long shot. It’s also an excellent base from which to explore Bokor National Park. And of course, you must pick up your own peck of the best pepper in the world, straight from the source.

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The town was once an important trading centre and until the establishment of a deep sea port at Sihanoukville in the 1950s, Kampot was Cambodia’s primary port. A small fleet of fishing boats can still be seen unloading each morning a short walk south of the main town. Given Kampot’s proximity to the Vietnamese border, fish often aren’t the only catch being unloaded, with smuggling — particularly of cigarettes — a handy extra earner for the trawlers.

They don't make them like they used to. : Nicky Sullivan.
They don't make them like they used to. Photo: Nicky Sullivan

Pepper plantations (though perhaps easier visited from Kep) as well as a few low-key sites can be visited from town, but Bokor is the one unmissable spot, a highlight of any visit to the Cambodian coast. From atop the hill, an abandoned church and casino, remnants from Cambodia’s French colonial period, stare bleakly out into the passing clouds, trying to remember the sounds of pious hymnals and pompous affairs that once ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 1,100 words.)

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