Kampot: I Want To Bottle This Town And Drink It.

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I have fallen in love with the riverside town of Kampot, Cambodia.

What is it about this place?  Is it the crumbling architecture?  Is it the French influence, from the lampposts to the baguette carts?  Is it the peaceful riverfront and the walkability? Is it the fact that everywhere has free WiFi?

Seriously, though, more than anything, I think it was the architecture. I’m a big architecture fan, and I was crazy about the crumbling French colonial villas that line Kampot’s streets.  I don’t think I would have liked them as much if they were pristine.

Kampot was a great place to catch my breath. There’s not a lot to do in town, so there’s no pressure to fill an itinerary.  I spent a lot of time getting writing done in the cafes and taking long walks, taking photos of the incredible architecture.

There’s a great used bookstore in Kampot.  There are salons and massage places and cute boutiques.

If you’re feeling more active, you can take a day trip to nearby Bokor National Park, or do what I did – rent a motorbike and ride to the beach town of Kep for some unbelievably fresh seafood!

And my favorite activity in Kampot: at sunset, everyone in town gathers on the green to play badminton, do aerobics to dance remixes of “Hotel California” (seriously!), or just hang out and people-watch.  In Kampot, if there’s a place to see and be seen, it’s there!

Tourists are just starting to arrive in Kampot – there aren’t a lot of them yet, but there are enough to have a small scene, and the guesthouses are excellent.  Now is the perfect time to visit.

Before the tourist crowds arrive, you’ll get to be a bit of a celebrity in town.  Teenagers will come up to practice their English with you and little kids will start posing, wanting you to take their picture!

Kampot is one of my favorite destinations of the trip so far. If you’re swinging through Cambodia, take a detour down from Phnom Penh and explore Cambodia’s south coast.  You’ll be glad you did.

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28 thoughts on “Kampot: I Want To Bottle This Town And Drink It.”

  1. I had a lovely time in Kampot in 2007. I was cycling from Pnom Penh to Sihanoukville and was absolutely exhausted. I had a love fish amok near the river, a long nap and then a sunset river cruise. It was just magic.

  2. I love it when you find a place that you just adore. My advice is not to leave until you’re ready or you’ll always compare new cities to it and they’ll never live up.

  3. Looks like a cool like town. We flew threw Cambodia and just did Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang, which was great but sometimes its nice to find the cute, quiet spots to get a better feel for the people and culture.

  4. The architecture does look amazing. For me I find that those out of the way places without many tourists are always worth the extra trek. Also: any city or town with lots of free wifi instantly grabs my attention.

  5. Kate, I stumbled upon your site and it has become a great resource for planning my SE Asia trip (which starts next week!) I have read some great things about Kampot and am now thinking of adding it to my list of places to check out!

  6. Very nice. I still haven’t left the confines of America, but perhaps I will one of these days. Glad I can refer to this blog to get the “411” from hippie Kate before I begin my journeys. 🙂 🙂

  7. That’s awesome. Badminton and funky dance music while exercising seems to be popular all over Asia; I think that’s actually what I appreciated most about the Chinese culture. Very fun atmosphere and great people watching.


  8. Hi Kate!

    I know it’s an ancient post, I was just wondering if you’ve been in Kampot since? I’m on my way to Cambodia and am super sick of cities and tourists, so I was curious how much it has changed in these year.

    Cheers and thanks for a great post!

      1. Oh, really? If you don’t mind me asking, what changed with Cambodia if Kampot was the only place you enjoyed? Never been here in Cambodia before, I can imagine that the tourist industry is one reason, for me it seems like this country will be totally overrun in just a year or two which is a shame. This phenomena is something that made me sad in all the other SE Asian countries I’ve been to so far.

  9. More of an observation than a criticism – I’m an Architect and I find it fascinating when people say ‘I’m a fan of Architecture’; the word encompasses not a love of a particular set of buildings, but the practice of organised and designed space. It’s a bit like saying ‘I’m a fan of food’ – its umbrella covers perhaps too many guises to be applied to the above case, in my view. The last time I quizzed someone on this, they replied saying ‘I like the Houses of Parliament’; it’s a bit like saying ‘I like Europe’ after spending 3 days in a luxury villa in the Algarve.

    The fact that you like the way in which these buildings crumble does not make you appreciate the Architecture as such, but rather the ageing effect on a set of buildings that were probably at no point designed – but rather built – in some form of colonial style.

    It’s something you could debate for hours – or perhaps the last 7 years as I have – but ‘I am a big fan of Architecture’ is becoming a term that grates on me as someone in the building industry! I am of course welcome to your take on this however, there is of course no objective answer or definition to that statement either way.

    I did come on to read what you’d written, and it was interesting so kudos for the post.

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