Beaches in Cambodia: Kep

by - December 30, 2018

Once more, my work took me to Cambodia, this time to the quaint seaside village of Kep. As someone who is visited the better known Sihanoukville, I can guarantee you that Kep is one of the nicest beach towns to visit in Cambodia, and only some 30 km from Kampot. It can even be frequented over the weekend through a bus from Phnom Penh.

Interestingly, Kep used to be a bustling beach resort during the colonial times and loved by the French. Then followed the Cambodians who took a liking to it. This former glory was destroyed in the Khmer Rouge, and some bullet holes are still seen in the buildings.

My day was spent on the Kep beach where I stayed at a lovely place called Saravoan Hotel, which is just 10 m from Kep Beach. It is a beachfront hotel with an outdoor pool, a coffee shop, a bar and really good WiFi throughout the hotel. 


Plus, it is within walking distances from the nearest seafood restaurants, supermarkets, pharmacy, ATM machine and bus station. The hotel offers tour bookings and motorbike/bicycle rentals. Be careful though of the monkeys! They are everywhere!

              

The best thing about Kep beach, is it's right in the centre of town and no vendors hassle you as you sunbathe. The water is shallow for a good bit out to sea so it's very safe to swim and the water is lovely and blue.  The sand remains mostly empty. Instead, the Khmer families gather on nearby bamboo pavilions to laze in hammocks and enjoy picnic.
 




In terms of food, you cannot go to Kep and not sample the crab, it's everywhere from street stalls to buckets at the beach to the restaurants. The blue crab of Kep is famous across all Cambodia. And they want you to know that, so they put up a massive statue of a blue crab right in their harbor. But all the drama aside, the crab from Kep might just be one of the most delicious meals in Cambodia.

For crab, we can head down to the Crab Market to buy some crab fresh out of the ocean. There's tons of other food nearby!



If eating crab straight out of the sea in an open market isn’t your style, there are several restaurants perched on the edge of the sea just next to the market. There's also a really fancy bar to check out though overly priced. 

Moreover, Kep also had to offer a National Park, which encompasses 53 square kilometers on the small mountain that rises out of the center of town. An 8 km road wraps around the mountain, making for a nice motorbike drive or mountain bike ride. From there, you'll get some great views of the city, and Kampot. To get further up the hill, you can hike up the narrow trails and explore all the way to the peak. There are several different trail options to choose from, each with their own benefits.

Once you're tired of Kep, head over to Rabbit Island, called Koh Tonsay in Khmer. Rabbit Island is unlike most other tropical islands in Southeast Asia, in that it is still truly off the tourist path. To get there, you can take a thirty-minute ferry!



Once on the island, find a small shack right on the beach to set down your bags and claim your bed. After the last boat of the day leaves, you’ll find yourself close to alone on a strip of tropical sand, with just a few other tourists and some local Cambodians. Its a great place to try the crab too!

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