Kampot, Cambodia: Hanging out near the Main Downtown Area
Thursday, May 4, 2017
Cambodia has some of my FAVORITE places. One of those places is Kampot. It is a small riverside town that somehow seemed to have everything I needed to be happy and only that. There were great international restaurants along with people from all over the world, a little movie theater, fair rides, bars, natural attractions, and a beach a few minutes away. I stayed there for two weeks while waiting for a visa to process (I stupidly decided to apply during the Chinese New Year). They even have a cool light-up bridge. I believe the best time to go is during the cool season which is between November and March (I went in February). Temperatures at that time are around 20-26 degrees Celsius.
How I got there
To get to Kampot, I booked a van through a van company in Sihanoukville. The trip is about 2 hours (80 kilometers). When we arrived in Kampot we were taken to a hostel I think the van company had a deal with, but you don’t have to stay there. I shared a tuk-tuk (a vehicle with 3 wheels used as a taxi) with other people who had also traveled from Sihanoukville and headed to my first hostel, the Mad Monkey Kampot.
The Mad Monkey
Mad Monkey is actually a chain of hostels located in different cities all over Cambodia. The Mad Monkey Kampot is supposedly much more relaxed than other Mad Monkey hostels in Cambodia and is located fairly near the riverside. The hostel was not bad. It had a huge swimming pool, a restaurant, and pretty nice hostel rooms with nice bathrooms. They also offer motorbike rentals. The hostel is walking distance from the main city area so it is very convenient.
I recently went on the Hostelworld website and looked for a hostel (I did not do that while I was there). I would highly recommend you do that. I saw some places like Karma Traders and Ganesha Kampot that, at least on the Hostelworld website, looked much cooler than my place. They also seem reasonably priced (like $5-$10 a night), not really that bad for a place to sleep. Maybe you should take a look at those places. There are also several hostels away from the main city area that you could check out as well.
My favorite way to get around was by scooter. Kampot is a perfect place to learn to ride a scooter and the path to Bokor Mountain is a great place for a first practice. Scooters are super cheap to rent and not too bad to use. If you are not into scooters, that is okay. There are tuk-tuks available and Kampot is also very walkable so you should not have any problems.
When looking for things to do in Kampot, one option is to get to know the people at your hostel! At many hostels, I met neat people and we went on adventures or even just played card games at the hostel. Each of the hostels also had various organized activities. The Mad Monkey had a rooftop dance party, trivia competitions, and one time some of the workers even organized a birthday party trip out of the main downtown area for a paintball tournament.
Activities near the main city area
I felt like every day I would discover something new in Kampot. There were several bars and restaurants. One night a bar downtown turned into a “club” and played music off of YouTube. That was fun. Fetty Wup’s “679” had come out recently and it was great to dance to. Another place had an open mic night that was pretty entertaining. The best thing to do is to keep an eye out for flyers all over town. That will give you a good idea of what is going on. There was also a lot to do during the day time. There was a neat movie theater, a bookstore, a night market with fair rides in the middle, and much more.
Ecran movie theater
Ecran movie theater was one of my favorite places in Kampot. It was like $2.50 a movie for recent movies. You could watch one of their pre-set movies or rent a private room for yourself and your friends and choose from their large selection of movies (many of them very recent). The inside of the main theater was set up like a living room with a bunch of couches scattered all over the place. The inside of the private rooms (at least the ones I visited) had one big couch/sofa a large screen and even a private bathroom. They sold popcorn and iced treats in the lobby area. I would buy one or the other and go to town. I saw the Big Short, Mad Max Fury Road, The Steve Jobs movie with Ashton Kutcher, and Sicario. It was wonderful! Right across the street, there was even a bookstore (Kepler’s Kampot Books)! And a place where you can get your Vietnam visa processed (if you are so inclined).
There are at least two markets in Kampot. One is the night market and the other, I believe, is called the fish market. You should check out the fish market in Kampot if you have time. This should not be confused with Kampot Fishmarket, that is a restaurant. I mean Kampot Fish Market which looks like an actual market, not a restaurant. You can eat a lot of delicious things for cheap. It is not far from the main bridge that crosses the Praek Tuek Chhu river. I, unfortunately, discovered it later on during my stay. They offer very many unique and interesting local foods!
Also, I can’t forget, there is a night market in the city with fair rides in the middle! It is near the Durian fruit statue (yes there is a Durian fruit statue). The night market itself is really nothing to write home about. I bought nothing there, but the fair rides in the middle make it interesting. A friend of mine and I went there. They have a couple of traditional fair rides…and ice cream :). I went on the rocking pirate ship ride that actually looked more like a rocking chicken. The bad part (or fun part depending on how you look at it) about this ride is that there seemed to be no standard. I honestly think that each experience is based on how the ride operator is feeling at that moment. You go high enough that you have that weird feeling in your private parts when you come down. If the guy operating the machine is having a good time he will keep going forever and you get that awful feeling over and over and begin to wonder why anyone drops from things. Anyways there are also bumper cars and a lot of food stalls. It’s for real a night market mixed with an amusement park. How innovative! Kampot is so random.
There was a lot of food in Kampot. There was even a southern US restaurant called NOLA, which had, of course, food from New Orleans <3. I did not go there :(. Which is shameful since I am from the south (It is not my fault. They were always closed when I tried to stop by). There was a cool bakery that I went to which was called Kampot Pie and Ice Cream Palace which wasn’t too bad. There is also a British restaurant and pub, burger places, frozen yogurt, Kebab places, and of course Cambodian restaurants. A nice thing to do at night is to go around the main downtown area on the way to the Durian Fruit Statue and sit outside on one of the stools and get food from one of the local vendors. That is pretty neat and a good price. My choice picks, however, for places to eat were Ellie’s café and an Italian restaurant I don’t know the name of.
Ellie’s was a French desert place that seemed like any other cafe except that it served THE MOST DELICIOUS apple crumble with whipping cream. Meals, drinks, and other desserts were offered as well, but that apple crumble stands out as one of the best desserts I have ever tasted. I would go there all of the time when I was in Kampot just for that apple crumble. When I finally left I had to go back there one more time to say goodbye to the delicious apple crumble.
Random Italian stall
There is an outdoor Italian restaurant in the main city area that is under a tarp. I don’t remember the name of it. I think it only opens from around 6:00 pm to…when the food is finished. It is owned by an Italian man and his very nice mother…or at least she seemed nice. She didn’t speak English. It did not matter. It wouldn’t have mattered if she spoke space alien, that restaurant had AMAZING food and at a good price too! I tried to look up the place online. I saw a place called Divino. I’m sure Divino is great, but I don’t think it’s the place. But anyways, just search around and I’m sure you will find it. I and a friend I met got there EARLY (like 5:00 pm) and waited just so we would be sure to get delicious gnocchi before it ran out (happened to us every other night before that) and it was soo worth it. That stuff was GOOD!
Check out Kampot! 🙂
Kampot is a wonderful place. There is just so much to do. I was there for two weeks and would have maybe stayed longer if I could have! I hope you get a chance to visit it! It is just the chillest city ever. This article only focused on accommodation and activities within the main city area but there is also tons to do just outside of the main city.