Kep is a small coastal town in Southern Cambodia, often skipped by western tourists in favour of the more hedonistic town of Sihanoukville. Kep is a holiday town that is more popular with tourists from within Cambodia and consequently, it has a very different feel to the bigger tourist destinations in the country. And if only for a day or two, I reckon it’s totally worth a visit. But what can you actually do in Kep?
Have dinner at the crab market
If you’re a seafood fan, Kep is your paradise. The crab dinners here are supposed to be the best in all of Cambodia and are traditionally served with a pepper sauce made from the famous locally grown Kampot pepper. There is a crab market in Kep that is lined with seafood restaurants, where people tear off claws, suck out the crab meat, and get messy fingers. And if seafood isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other local culinary options as well. A meal of freshly caught crab with green pepper will generally set you back $7.
One of many crab restaurants.
Visit a cave
There are a few caves around Kep and I visited the Phnom Sorsia cave complex. The most impressive-slash-terrifying thing here was a bat cave. Upon entering, my guide and I were surrounded by dozens of bats flying above us. I had seen bats in caves before but never like this. As if that wasn’t enough excitement, with all of the bats flying around me, I shone my torch on the ground in front of me and saw an absolute massive spider. Then upon leaving the cave, there was a snake right outside, which even the guide seemed to be shocked by, and he promptly battered it to death with a branch.
The snake – freshly battered to death.
Visit a pepper plantation
Kep and Kampot are towns famous for pepper production. There are a few plantations in the region that are open to the public, so why not take a wander around and see how the pepper you grind on your dinner every night is grown? On the farm I visited, mangoes and durian were also grown, and there was a raised deck that allowed for a stunning view of the surrounding area.
An amazing view of the countryside around Kep.
Cycle around the surrounding countryside
Kep itself is really small, and all around the town is green countryside where you’ll see kids riding bicycles, local people working in the rice fields, and you might find the odd local market as well. I was really blown away by how beautiful the countryside here is. The people are coy and friendly and I managed to find the cheapest coffee I’ve just about ever had – sold at a local market for 1500 riel or $0.40.
Probably the cheapest coffee I ever had.
Take a day trip to Rabbit Island
Just 4km off the coast, away from Kep town, is Rabbit Island – a small island with a very laid back feel. Tour operators in Kep charge just $7 for the return trip to the island, where you can eat some great food, sunbathe on the sand, kayak in the sea, and get a cheap massage on the beach.
And one other tip. If you find yourself in Kep, you absolutely must stay in Treetop Bungalows – probably the best value accommodation I’ve found on my trip so far. The lovely gardens have multiple bungalows, some on high raised stilts so that you have a great view of the ocean. My room was only $5 and perfectly comfortable. Plus, the owner is lovely, the food is great, and just next door is the more expensive Kep Lodge where you can use the pool.