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 the 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 laid back, Kep is the perfect destination to escape the hustle of the cities and simply relax on the picturesque beaches.