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A few hours to the south of Phnom Penh you’ll find Kep, a relaxing seaside town offering idyllic islands and national parks.
It was established as a resort town for the French elite in 1908 and became a popular beach retreat for the rich and famous in the 1960s. Once filled with grand villas and holiday homes, the town was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge during decades of war.
Today, the town is slowly rebuilding, with refurbished boutique hotels and stylish restaurants. It’s quiet and peaceful, offering excellent seafood at the seafront crab market and stunning sunsets illuminating the ocean each evening.
Beyond the town, there are plenty of activities to do. Take a trip to nearby Kampot, a beautiful riverside town with some of Cambodia’s best-preserved colonial architecture. The short drive takes you through gorgeous rural countryside strewn with traditional stilt houses.
Visit Phnom Chhnork, a pre-Angkorian pagoda cave, then roam the local plantations of a region famous for its fruit, vegetables and pepper fields. Kampot pepper is said to be the best in the world and depending on the season, you may even be able to join the locals and help them work in their fields. You’ll end the day with a gorgeous sunset cruise along the river.
Take a short boat ride to Rabbit Island, an idyllic beach paradise. It has remained undeveloped, with only a handful of family-run bungalows, restaurants and seaweed farms. The island is encircled by a golden sand beach dotted with palm trees and the water is perfect for swimming. Spend the day splashing in the sea, enjoying a massage or tasting squid fried in local Kampot pepper.
Explore the jungle-cloaked Kep National Park, teeming with butterflies, monkeys, snakes, squirrels and birds. Take a pleasant eight-kilometre hike through the park to see spectacular views over the region.
Peaceful and laidback, Kep is the perfect destination to escape the hustle of the cities and simply relax on the picturesque beaches.
Kep is warm all year round, but for maximum sunshine the best time to visit is during the dry season from November to April. November to January is the peak season with the best temperatures and lowest rainfall, although this is also draws the largest crowds for the year.
May to October is the rainy season, when conditions are humid and wet. However, Kep National Park is lush and blooming, and many waterfalls come alive during this season. Tourist attractions are also less crowded, although it is recommended to avoid visiting during September and October, as these months have the heaviest rainfall, which can make the roads impassable.
A trip to peaceful Kep is the perfect stop after the bustle of Phnom Penh. We feature a two-night stay on our suggested Complete Cambodia Holiday and Following the Mekong itineraries. You’ll enjoy a visit to Kampot, with its charming architecture and famous pepper fields, as well as a trip to Rabbit Island to soak up the sun on the dreamy beaches.
Knai Bang Chatt offers an unspoilt getaway with an exclusive beachfront location. Next door to the sailing club, a five-minute walk from the crab market and a specialist in holistic relaxation, there is something for everyone at this luxury resort. The Veranda Natural Resort is a socially responsible boutique hotel with wooden bungalows perched in the lush hillside. With breathtaking views, two pools and excellent facilities, this is the ultimate family resort.