About 40 km from each other are the little towns of Kampot and Kep. Kampot is by far the bigger town when compared to Kep, with a good combination of Western convenience and Cambodian culture.
It’s a relaxing beach vibe town, with activities scattered around the vicinities. However, many visitors actually just spend the day in Kep. When compared to Kampot, accommodation options are scarce and pricey. There’s also no town centre, as well as food options. Aside from the beach and the crab market, there’s really isn’t much else going on in town.
In the area around Kep, you can visit the region’s world famous Kampot pepper farms and go up the mountain to see a cave pagoda.
Kampot Pepper Farms
When I was in Kep, I spent a week volunteering at a pepper farm. I learned a lot about peppers, but also the Cambodian culture this way.
Three main things I learned about peppers:
- Peppers grow on vines, just like grapes!
- Green, black, white and red peppers all come from the same type of pepper.
Green peppers are fresh and to ensure they stay fresh, they’re usually pickled.Black peppers are the most common. They are actually green peppers, just dried in the sun for 4-7 days.
Red peppers are the rarest. Only 20% of each pepper vine produce red peppers. They have a sweet, almost sun-dried tomato taste to them.
White peppers are just red peppers boiled in hot water for 10 minutes.
- Kampot peppers are known to be the best because of the soil these peppers grow on. There are peppers from other regions of Cambodia, but none as flavourful as those from Kampot. Bonus!
Be careful when buying Kampot peppers though. There are apparently a lot of counterfeit Kampot peppers on the market! Avoid buying Kampot peppers at local markets. Make sure you get it from a reputable source and the peppers are certified.
My favourite place in all of Cambodia, this town runs alongside the Praek Tuek Chhu river. It’s a fully functioning town, with all the facilities you’ll need, as well as the usual run of markets.
Kampot is pretty laid back and the only real sight is Bokor Mountain – which isn’t much more than a couple abandoned buildings and a huge (but deserted) casino. The road to the top is really smooth and fun though.
But my favourite part is the river! I splurged a bit and got a bungalow with no back door, so I literally jumped from my bed into the river every morning! And night!