I was always excited about visiting Kampot in Cambodia. I never got around to it during my first whistle-stop tour of the country and as a result had high expectations of the town for when I returned. Which is partially why I wasn’t that impressed with it, because I expected too much. Truth is, people rave about this emerging coastal town, that’s mostly full of stoners and the worst type of backpackers. However, there’s still a few things to see in Kampot that make a couple of days of exploration there worthwhile.
Some points to note about Kampot:
- I didn’t always feel that safe – not so much in the day time but particularly at night when trying to get from town to the pitch black Tuek Chhu Road where many well-known guesthouses are. Walking between them to see friends was adrenalin fuelled few minutes that’s for sure!
- One bar per night from Thursday-Saturday was designated as the ‘go to’ place to be, and apart from Saturday night at Bodhi Villa the nightlife atmosphere didn’t live up to much.
- Kampot is full of the worst stoners I’ve met in Cambodia. While I’m not against it, it’s hard being around the kind of travellers who think they ooze cool by being stoned to the point of oblivion in a hostel. They weren’t chilling out, they were completely out and that became a boring sight too, as did the use of the word ‘maaan’ copious amounts of times in a single sentence.
- The one thing that did impress me about Kampot was the architecture – run-down old French colonial buildings and ‘ghost’ buildings left to crumble in the wake of independence and war-time conflict in both the town and at the Bokor Hill Station.
Things to Do in Kampot, Cambodia
Wander Old Streets for Architecture
There is something picturesque about the old once-upon-a-time-prosperous town being left to fade in the background that makes Kampot exude an ‘arty’ presence. Hire a bike and cycle for a few hours around town and explore randomly. You’ll be surprised what old buildings you come across.
Kampot Day Trip to Bokor Hill Station
A day trip from Kampot to Bokor Hill Station is easily arranged via an operator in town or by hiring a driver or moto and takes around an hour to get to. A French ghost town in Preah Monivong National Park, it was built as a holiday resort by the colonial French in the 1920’s and abandoned during the 1940’s during the Indochina War. It was later abandoned by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970’s.
The Bokor Palace Hotel & Casino was to be the star attraction of the colonial show, although now stands as an empty reminder of a long-gone era. However, it’s been cleaned up a little – word has it that a new investor has moved in to turn it into a colonial themed museum.
Before you reach The Bokor Palace Hotel you can visit the remains of The Black Palace – which was once King Silhanouk’s summer residence (he wasn’t a particularly big spender).
Further along from the hotel you will come to an abandoned (Blair Witch Project’esque) church which stands solitary next to the roadside.
I wouldn’t go up to Bokor Hill Station at night that’s for sure.
Is a Trip to Kampot Worth It?
The Ghost-town architecture of Kampot provides a fascinating window into the once prosperous colonial power that operated here, now left to crumble in the wake of modern Cambodian life yet eerily remaining in the background as a reminder.
Let’s just hope that this scattering of architecture, which gives Kampot a unique feel, doesn’t get pulled down. It’s the one thing I love about this town.