Kep was once Cambodia's premier beach town able to draw in the travellers to its pristine shores and the nearby Bokor Hill Station. Up until the 1960s, this region was rich in luxurious villas enjoyed by the privileged class. But, many of these villas are no longer in existence or in a ruined state.
Today, Kep is more known for its relaxed tropical atmosphere, excellent seafood and its oceanfront crab market. Plus, Kep Beach is a short but quite picturesque area at the southern tip of the peninsula and an attractive area to explore for its cluster of restaurants and guesthouses.
Even though Kep has plenty of luxury resorts, guesthouses and hotels, it is still regarded as a rustic getaway in view of its ocean side crab shacks, the quiet beach and jungle-rich mountains. For travellers on the Cambodia travel package that wishes to relax, a visit to Kep is certain to be appreciated for its relaxing atmosphere and ability to serve as a base for those planning to move on to Rabbit Island (Koh Tunsay) and explore the National Park with its rural countryside and caves.
Cambodia has a rather pleasant climate that makes it possible to enjoy the Cambodia package holiday at anytime throughout the year. But, for those that are planning to tour the country by road, it is practical to avoid the rainy season because many of the roads can be quite dangerous and impossible. The average temperature in Cambodia is in the region of 27°C, while the lowest temperature is about 16°C. The hottest month is likely to be April and the coldest months are December and January.
Kep City is about 336 km² in size and bordered to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and to the north, east and west with Kampot. There are plenty of areas that are covered with agricultural plantations, such as rice fields, while it is also possible to see several limestone hills similar to those that can be seen in Vietnam.
How to get there
Kep is easily reached when travelling on the Indochina tour packages by road from Sihanoukville, Kampot and Phnom Penh. The closest international border (Prek Chak with Vietnam) is about a 60 minute journey away. Most of the major roads that lead into the city are in a relatively good state of repair, although there are certain sections that are less favourable. Kep and Kampot are within a relatively short distance from each other. By road, the trip can take about 30 to 40 minutes using local transport such as a taxi or tuk-tuk. Plus, there is a regular bus service to and from Phnom Penh. Kep does not have an air service.
Where to stay
Kep is starting to become an attractive resort area for the mid and upper range guests with hotels and guesthouses that are more expensive than similar accommodation in other coastal towns. However, there are still opportunities to find the low-cost rooms that attract the backpackers, especially in areas close to the main town (near the Fisher Village area).
Some of the finest hotels and guesthouses are situated along the base of the mountains which give a stunning view of the local jungle surroundings, and only 5 to 10 minutes from Kep Beach and the crab market.
Eat and drink
Kep is famous for its fresh crab and other seafood with plenty of restaurants on the oceanfront that serve the freshest seafood meals. One of the local classics is the Kampot Pepper Crab which is a fresh fried crab with local Kampot black pepper. There are plenty of seaside dining gazebos and shacks that serve these world-class local specialties.
Whether you are looking for the home style authentic meals or the more upmarket establishments with a full bar and cocktails, there are plenty of opportunities in the Kep Beach. Beyond the local cuisine, there are several restaurants that are influenced by Italian and French dishes.
The best shopping opportunities in Kep are at the daily market that is relatively close to the water's edge. This market can offer everything needed for the household. Plus there are plenty of local shops that trade in meat, vegetables, fruits, fish and other consumer products. For the more specialized needs such as medication, the best option is to visit nearby Kampot. A great souvenir to take from this city is the famous black pepper.
Read more: Shopping in Cambodia
Things to see and do
The most famous beach in the area is Kep Beach. This beach stretches approx. 1 km and is close to the Kep peninsula to offer warm shallow waters. It is a relatively pleasant destination to feature in the Cambodia travel packages and is quite peaceful and relaxing, so perfect for relaxing and enjoying the cool breeze and local seafood dishes.
The best time to visit the beach is midweek when it is relatively deserted compared to the weekends when it can get quite busy.
The other beach in the local area is Angkuol Beach which is about 25 km from Kep and a pleasant sandy tropical beach. This beach is relatively untouched by tourism and only has a few drink or snack vendors in the local region. The trip to Angkuol Beach can be quite pleasant with the need to pass salt flats and rice paddies en route.
The Kep province offers some fantastic rural countryside to explore that is within a relatively short distance of the main town, and includes small villages with traditional stilted houses, countryside pagodas, water buffaloes and rice paddies. For a longer journey, the trip between Kep and Kampot has great rural scenery to admire. The countryside tours of Kep by tuk-tuk are one of the most popular activities in the local region. Most of the tourists take the off the beaten track route that isn't over touristy that makes it possible to fully appreciate the authentic local surroundings.
Kep National Park
The Kep National Park gives a perfect opportunity to get in touch with nature and experience the local animals and exotic plant life. The best time to explore the park is early morning to catch the different species of monkeys, squirrels, butterflies, snakes and birds.
Cambodia adventure tours around the Kep National Park can take about 1.5 hours to reach the summit, which gives stunning views of the nearby surroundings (Bokor Mountain, pagodas, plantations and islands). A complete trek of the region can take up to 3 hours to complete and costs $1 per person to enter the park. Other activities at the Kep National Park include exploration and climbing of a massive old ficus tree.