16 Best Things to Do in Kampot
I planned on staying in Kampot for three nights, but instantly fell in love with it and extended my stay. For a small city in Cambodia, Kampot is easy to get to and there’s a lot to like about it. Here are 16 things to do in Kampot – from learning about its world-renowned pepper to enjoying the Preaek Tuek Chhu River that runs through the city.
- Visit a pepper farm
- Rent a bike and explore the countryside
- See the salt fields
- Explore Bokor Mountain
- Take a day trip to Kep
- Paddle the Preaek Tuek Chhu River
- Swim in the Secret Lake
- Go café hopping
- Watch the sunset by the river
- Ride around the roundabouts
- Go rock climbing
- Stroll around the Lotus Pond
- Go on an international food tour
- Take a yoga class
- Explore the caves of Kampot
- Find cheap eats at the Kampot Night Market
Visit a pepper farm
Kampot is known for its pepper, which is mostly exported and sold to Michelin-star restaurants. You can’t visit Kampot without touring a pepper farm. There are two main pepper farms that provide free tours and tastings: BoTree Farm and La Plantation. BoTree Farm is a smaller operation, while La Plantation is a large commercial farm.
Both have shops in town. Just turn up to their store and they’ll arrange a tuk tuk to take you to their farm. You’ll see the pepper plants, learn about the different varieties of pepper, and taste them. After the tour, I recommend staying for a bite to eat. The farms offer a menu of dishes that use their peppercorn, and prices are reasonable.
Rent a bike and explore the countryside
With less traffic and wide roads, Kampot is perfect for biking. The city is small enough that you can walk everywhere, so renting a bike is really for getting outside of Kampot and into the countryside. And even reaching the farm fields and small villages doesn’t take long.
Once you get out of the city, start heading west. You don’t have to have a destination in mind – see where your bike and curiosity takes you.
If you’re interested in a bike tour, I recommend Jason’s Tour. Jason is a Canadian expat who’s lived in Kampot since 2020. He’s become a part of his local neighborhood, making friends with the families around him and learning the country’s language, history, and culture. On his six-hour bike tour, you’ll ride to the outskirts of Kampot while learning about Cambodian history, religion, beliefs, and societal hierarchies.
See the salt fields
Kampot isn’t only known for its pepper. It’s also “Cambodia’s leading salt producing province.” Salt production takes place from January to May, with March and April usually being the peak harvest season. So depending on when you go, you could see either perfect reflections of the sky when the fields are flooded, farmers harvesting salt by hand, or nothing at all (this was the case when I visited in November).
Explore Bokor Mountain
Bokor Mountain was originally developed as a resort for the French. When Cambodia gained independence from France, Bokor was abandoned until the Khmer Rouge took it over. While the buildings that were built for the French are used today, they’ve clearly aged and you can’t shake the eerie feeling that you’re walking into a ghost town.
You can take a guided tour if you’d like context for what you’re seeing. Otherwise, most people go on their own via motorbike, since there’s only one road up and down the mountain and the sights are well marked.
Take a day trip to Kep
Kep is only about a 30-minute drive from Kampot. It’s worth visiting for two nights if you have the time. But if you don’t, you can easily do a day trip to Kep. The fastest way is by van or tuk tuk, but you can also take a two-hour boat ride on the Crab Shuttle.
Once you get to Kep, go to the crab market to test your negotiating skills and eat fresh seafood. To soak up some sun, head to Kep Beach or take the ferry to Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island). If you’re feeling more adventurous, go hiking in Kep National Park.
Paddle the Preaek Tuek Chhu River
With the Preaek Tuek Chhu River cutting through Kampot, it’s easy to rent a kayak or paddleboard and float down the river. Champa Lodge, which is 5 kilometers north of the Durian Roundabout, rents kayaks, paddleboards, and even electric river boats. Bopha Prey Guesthouse also rents kayaks.
The Green Cathedral, or Green Loop, is a relaxing small loop off the river that you can kayak. It takes about one to two hours to kayak, depending on your speed and how frequently you stop. It’s a beautifully serene experience where you’ll float under a canopy of branches reminiscent of a cathedral’s vaulted ceiling.
Swim in the Secret Lake
The Secret Lake isn’t actually a secret. It’s also not a natural lake – it was created using a dam. And beneath its beautiful, peaceful views, the lake has an unfortunate, tragic history. The dam was built by slave labor during the Khmer Rouge. Also, locals say the bodies of those killed during the Khmer Rouge are buried in the lake.
Despite its sad past, the Secret Lake is a nice escape from town and an alternative to heading to the beach for a swim.
Go café hopping
For a small city, Kampot has a good café scene. If you’re staying in Kampot for a couple of days, there are enough cafés to go to a different one every day. Or, hit up three in one day. There are no rules for café hopping.
Watch the sunset by the river
Sitting along the Preaek Tuek Chhu River and taking in the sunset is popular among tourists and locals. In the evening, food vendors set up on the sidewalk, families come out, and locals pull up their motorbikes. It’s the perfect way to wind down the day before dinner.
Ride around the roundabouts
There are a few roundabouts in Kep – each with their own unique statue in the center. The most well-known one is the Durian Roundabout. You can’t miss it and it’s exactly what it sounds like.
At the center of the roundabout is a huge orange and red-ish durian sculpture. There’s something special about Kampot’s soil, which makes anything that’s grown here taste stronger. This applies not only to peppercorn, but also to fruit – including durian, the most pungent of all fruits.
Go rock climbing
Climbodia maintains the outdoor rock climbing area in Kampot. There are currently 16 climbing routes, and five more are being set up inside the cave.
If you’re an experienced climber, you can rent your gear through Climbodia, pay the $10 entry fee, and go on your own. Otherwise, Climbodia offers courses and tours for beginner and experienced climbers.
Stroll around the Lotus Pond
Besides the river, the Lotus Pond is another popular place to take a stroll. You’ll see others, locals and expats, going on their morning walk around the pond.
When the flowers aren’t in bloom, the Lotus Pond isn’t much to look at. But when they have bloomed, it’s a gorgeous oasis. You’ll have to be quick though, since locals harvest the plants for food.
Go on an international food tour
There are many expats in Kampot, which means you’ll find diverse and authentic cuisine that isn’t available elsewhere in Cambodia. There’s Mexican, Italian, German, and even Portuguese food.
If you’re craving pizza, I recommend Al Cioccolatino. It’s run by two Italian guys who import most of their ingredients from Italy. They also have a wood-fire oven, so you know it’s the real deal. For spicy lovers, be sure to drizzle their spicy oil on your pizza.
Take a yoga class
There’s adventure to be had in Kampot, and a good amount of relaxation too. Breathe, stretch, and take a calming moment for yourself in one of the yoga classes offered at Monkey Republic, Simple Things, or Yoga Barn. You can drop in for about $6 USD.
Explore the caves of Kampot
There are a few small caves outside of Kampot where you’ll find pre-Angkorian ruins and Buddhist shrines: Phnom Chhngok, Phnom Kbal Romeas, and Phnom Sorsia. You can easily explore them on your own, and most are free to enter.
For a guided caving experience, Climbodia has tours where you’ll climb, descend, and traverse caves. They also offer a tour that combines caving with rock climbing.
Find cheap eats at the Kampot Night Market
Even though there’s plenty of Western food in Kampot that comes at a higher price tag, it’s still easy to find cheap eats. The Kampot Night Market is where most of them are. You’ll find stall upon stall of food vendors cooking Cambodian, Thai, and Indian food.
Some of the vendors are open as early as breakfast, but the evening is when the night market comes alive. Locals and travelers congregate around the plastic tables and chairs for food, drinks, and fun.