Kampot Location Profile

Kampot Location Profile

Overview

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Kampot is a city in southwest Cambodia and is the capital of Kampot province. The city is regarded as one of the most important seaports in Cambodia, while the province has a coastline of approximately 94 km.

Unlike most Cambodian provincial capitals, the centre of Kampot is composed of many 19th-century French colonial architecture buildings and it has a laid back feel, as the riverside city is less developed than its bigger counterparts in Phnom Penh in Sihanoukville. The Old Town of Kampot was also listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2017.

The Praek Tuek Chhu River, makes Kamot a perfect riverside setting, in the shadow of the nearby Bokor Mountain, and it offers a pleasant and fresh environment with sunset boat cruises a popular activity. Although there is a good resident population, it is a popular domestic tourist destination and seasonal hotspot.

The region is also famous for producing high-quality Kampot pepper, which is regarded and exported worldwide. It is also known for its Kampot fish sauce and durian, which are believed to be among the best in the world.

Although Kampot is quiet and chic and very popular for weekend visits from residents of the bigger cities, it is also earmarked for changes as new development and better infrastructure is slowly transforming the sleepy river town. 

Close to Kampot, there are also a number of natural key tourist attractions, including waterfalls, river rapids and mangroves and caving so it's an ideal eco-tourism hub.

With more international property developers investigating opportunities, a new seaport under construction, and a tourism blueprint in development, the future of Kampot is bright.

Key Information

Historically, Kampot was one of Cambodia's most important ports under French colonial administration.

The French colonial legacy is still evident in the many colonial buildings still standing today. Thankfully many have not been torn down to make way for new developments but they are also in need of refurbishment.

The limestone caves near Kampot house exotic rock formations and Buddhist shrines. The caves of Phnom Chhnork have pre-Angkorian ruins within the limestone caves.

Bokor Mountain is also famous for previously having a luxurious hill station built at the summit and there is a derelict Christian church nearby. The hill station has since then been converted to a 6-star hotel after lying derelict for years. Bokor Hill is located 42 km from the provincial town and was erected in 1922.

As with all of Cambodia's history, the province and Kampot city experienced decades of decline under the Khmer Rouge, but in recent years it has become a real oasis and an ideal getaway location from the bigger cities, but new infrastructure projects and developments are reshaping the city too.

Kampot province has a long coastline, which is rich in natural resources, fisheries, agricultural farms and salt farms. 

The salt farms require seawater to be brought inland 5km, which is then prepared in clay fields, left to evaporate until salt crystals form and then painstakingly collected. 

Kampot also produces a variety of agricultural products such as rice, pepper, sugar palm and tobacco. There is also a wood processing industry and textiles and breweries. Phosphorus and limestone mines and major cement plants are also located in Kampot. 

Arguably the most famous export from Kampot is Kampot Pepper, which is protected by GI Law.

The provincial government is very optimistic about tourism industry growth in the near future. As a major tourist destination, Kampot’s tourism-related food and beverage outlets, tours, and accommodation all cater to a growing domestic and international tourism industry. 

In 2019, Kampot had about 1.6 million local and international tourists. Ten per cent were international tourists, mostly coming from Vietnam, the European Union and the Asia-Pacific.

Key attractions around Kampot include the famous Kampot pepper farms, the Bokor National Park, the salt fields and the tourism based on the river. In addition, the attraction of the former colonial seaside town of Kep and Koh Seh (Horse Island) are being used to increase tourism to the region.

The provincial government is committed to improving all relevant sectors in order to attract more investors, and further support existing entrepreneurs and business. The Kampot provincial administration issued permission letters for 238 construction projects with a total capital investment of more than $3.13 million in 2019.

A new Kampot Seaport is due to be completed in 2020 - 2021 and is expected to appeal to domestic and international tourists. The seaport is costing approximately $8 million and will be 300 metres long and can accommodate vessels carrying 300 to 400 passengers.

In mid-2020 Cambodia was looking to sign a formal agreement to build a wind power station on Bokor Mountain and add to its nationwide renewable power ambitions to support the Kingdom’s total energy output.

In September 2020 a joint Cambodian-Chinese venture, Gold Coast International Development Co Ltd, announced plans to invest nearly $25 million in the construction of a mixed commercial centre in Kampot province. The development is said to include a four-star hotel, condominiums, shopping malls, entertainment centres and tourism services.

Kampot Province had a population of 627,884 in 2010, which represented around 4.3% of the national population at the time. The population density was 127 people per square kilometre.

The population of Cambodia has grown to over 15 million people by 2018, and the final results of the 2019 general population census are expected to be published in 2020.

Things To Do in Kampot

Kampot's main central market is located at the north end of town which is a traditional style market catering primarily to the locals and carrying the usual products: vegetables, fruits, meats, bulk rice, motor parts, and local money changers stalls. 

The Phsar Kronat (Old Market) on the boulevard off the riverfront reopened a few years ago and now includes some souvenir and clothing shops, several cafés, restaurants, a convenience store, some bars, tour operators and real estate agents. 

There is also a night market just off the Durian roundabout which mostly offers a mix of clothing and food.  A few convenience stores are located on Durian Roundabout, offering a selection of imported goods, food and drinks. More minimarts have popped up in the city, which also offers local baked bread and pastries, Kampot-made jams and preserves and other goods sourced locally.

There are lots of specialised boutique shops in Kampot such as Bokor Night Market, Dorsu, Kepler’s Kampot books, Kampot souvenirs and handcraft, Epic Artis café and so on. It's also great to visit the nearby farms which offer tours and some even offer accomodation. The Vine Retreat is one such hotel and restaurant on a pepper plantation or take a tour at La Plantation. You can purchase your supply of Kampot Pepper too.

In Kampot City, the Durian roundabout is one of the most recognisable man-made landmarks. Some of the streets are seeing redevelopment as the infrastructure is being improved, but the Old Market near the riverside still remains a key focal point and has many bars, restaurants and guesthouses nearby.

Bokor Hill is Kampot's most popular tourist attraction in Kampot. The colonial remnants include buildings such as the Catholic Church, but the Bokor hotel and casino, have in recent years been renovated to be a functioning hotel in the form of the 6 star Le Bokor Palace. The high-end hotel offers magnificent views and has all dining at its restaurants. 

The Bokor Hill is 1,075 meters high, and en route to the summit, there is also a large Buddhist statue, while the Thansur Sokha Hotel has a huge number of rooms, dining options, a casino and events and exhibition spaces.

Seven kilometres away from Bokor Hill is the popular Popork Vil Waterfall which is popular for picnics and tourists. It is best viewed after the rains for a full flowing waterfall.

You can also visit the Secret Lake, known locally as Tomnop Tek Krolar or the nearby town of Kampong Trach.

In May 2020, it was announced that there are plans to build a Renewable Energy Museum and the Samdech Hun Sen National Park in Kampot to attract more tourists to the province.

Kampot is one of Cambodia’s culinary hotspots with an excellent range of options for such a small town. There are fine-dining restaurants, comfort foods, local and international options and deliveries are also available through Tuk-Out and FoodPanda.

The food and beverage scene does change quite frequently, with new gastronomic gems opening up all the time, and some don't last as long. It really is an incredible and mouth-watering foodies paradise in Kampot, and the local Kampot FB Groups offer a good insight into what is current and trending in the city.

The Kampot Fishmarket restaurant is known for its great setting and atmosphere, located on the riverside, it is a great sunset spot and easily accessible.

Some of the best cafes in the country are in Kampot too. Notable mentions include Café Espresso, who roast their own beans on-site, and have gourmet affordable food and hot drinks. Epic Arts, Simple Things and Deva Cafe are other great options and also have vegetarian choices.

Around the Old market near the riverside and in the nearby streets are many budget food options such as BurgerShack, Gringo Loco (Mexican), Ecan Noodles and many more.

La Fringale is one of many French-styled restaurants in Kampot while Max’s has Italian fare.For night time diners, Twenty Three Kampot is probably one of the best restaurants in the country. Tertúlia offers beautiful Portuguese food, but it's always best to check the latest additions to the booming Kampot food scene.

Kampot’s nightlife differs from the other major Cambodian cities due to its smaller size and the laid-back nature of the town. There is an endless supply of bars to hang out though. There are even some ‘party boats’ and local karaoke-style (KTV) clubs on the western side of the river.

There are less full-scale clubs compared to the bigger cities but the many bars have a loyal following of local residents and they get flooded in the tourist season. An increasing number of venues also offer live music (Monkey Republic, Kenny’s Korner) or other entertainment (Levels Entertainment Bar has board games and events too).

You can still watch movies in the enchanting Ecran Movie House or go see live sports at a number of venues such as Couch Potatoes or RustyKeyhole 2. 

Along the riverside, some local expat hangouts include O’Neill’s Irish Bar, Max’s and Stumble Inn which offers a good selection of craft beers.

Backpackers tend to flock to Kampot in the peak season and places such as Mad Monkey Hostel Rooftop or get very busy.

Further away from the town centre are The Greenhouse and Banyan Tree, and also more family-friendly villas such as Villa Vedici.

There is no airport in Kampot but it's only a few hours from either the Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville international airports, with a new airport also under construction in Koh Kong.

Kampot can be approached by road directly from Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh, Kep and from Vietnam via the Prek Chak and the Phnom Den border crossings. Most inter-city travel is done by bus, van or taxi.

The Cambodian railways are also undergoing development and currently, the Southern Train line operated by Royal Railways connects Kampot to Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville.

Within the city itself, a number of bus services are available which can get passengers to destinations across the country, or even into Vietnam and up to Thailand. There are many daily trip options from Phnom Penh to Kampot and vice versa. You can hire taxis (usually an SUV or large family car) for between $35 and $50. Prices go up during public holidays, however, and the drive usually takes around three hours.

If you want to travel between Kampot and nearby Kep, famous for its crab market and beach, you can travel by river using The Crab Shuttle which offers a daily 2.5 hours boat shuttle.

There are also tuk tuks in Kampot which can be hailed, or passengers can use the PassApp app. Some of the tuk tuks are more reluctant to take passengers to the family-friendly resorts at the edge of town due to the condition of the dirt roads which access these popular holiday destinations.

Kampot is among the most popular cities for expats living in Cambodia- one of the key reasons is the laid back lifestyle and the beautiful backdrop of the river and mountains. With a great selection of good restaurants, cafes, and bars, it is also more affordable than Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville.

Tourism is popular with Khmers and expats but international tourism is more seasonal with the optimal time to visit is the winter months (November-January). Some of the popular day trips include: rock climbing and caving with Climbodia, or visiting the Secret Lake (Brateak Krola Lake).

The expat community has also steadily grown over the past decade in-line with the accompanying increase in tourist numbers and modernisation of local infrastructure. Despite this, it is still a transient community of expats and it peaks in the tourist season. Some of the recurring issues are power outages and roadworks.

The city attracts a wide variety of people from all backgrounds, mainly retirees, tourists and all manner of entrepreneurs, especially those who have opened businesses related to the tourism and hospitality industry. Many of the hotels and guesthouses are situated on the Kampot River- Its small-town feel and cheap housing make the town ripe for an influx of foreigners and investment.

Real Estate in Kampot


Khans in Kampot