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- Kep -

"Our next stop was Kep, which is a bizar place that doesn't really has a center and is a long city along the coast with many hotels and guesthouses. The city is famous for its delicious crab, therefore we took the occasion to try a crab in a kampot pepper sauce in one of the many restaurants along the coast.
The next evening, we relished a cocktail at the sailing club with one of the most spectacular sunsets we have seen till now."

Kep is a small seaside town located on a group of hills going down to the beach. This beautiful beach town is the quiet version of Sihanoukville, a nice place to relax near the ocean without the party atmosphere that is Sihanoukville. Cambodian and Vietnamese islands are just offshore. It's a half hour drive from Kampot, Cambodia and the Vietnam border; and 2 hours from Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The road from Kampot to Kep is paved, smooth and picturesque. Itís a 25km, 30-45 minute trip from Kampot though the scenic Cambodian countryside. Motodups from Kampot start at about $3-$4 one way and $8-$10 round trip. Tuk-tuks will cost you about $8-$15 for a round trip. Thatís depending how long you spend in Kep and the number of passengers.

Het strand

Kep is the coastal tourist town located southwest of Royal city of Phnom Penh of Kingdom of Cambodia. Located on a group of hills going down to the beach. Bungalows, guesthouses, and hotels are available on the hillside and the beaches. From the early 1900s until the 1960s, Kep was a thriving resort town for the French and Cambodian elite.
During the Khmer Rouge years, much of Kep's French colonial era mansions and villas were destroyed. Many of Kep's villas are abandoned, but some of the town's former splendour is still apparent. On Kampotís river promenade, you still can see the heavy French influence of wide boulevards, trees, and (decaying) French architecture.

The ocean is lined with wide sidewalks and large statues. King Sihanouk built a home overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, but it was never occupied and now its empty. In the sixties Kep became Cambodia's Ďpremier beach town. The name of the city is derived from the French words 'le cap' or 'cape' in English.

Modern Kampot might not be the happening destination it once was (itís small, quiet, and run down), but it attracts a lot of people because of the surrounding Bokor mountains and relaxing atmosphere.
Kampot is a black hole Ė life moves so slowly here that you get caught in its gravitational pull and find that your two day trip has suddenly turned into six. Itís hard to leave.

You still can see the old villas in the ruin. Kep is known more for its oceanfront crab shacks than for its beaches, most short or stony. The road behind the beach is clogged with seafood vendors selling everything you can (and canít) imagine. Crab is plentiful offshore, and is a local specialty. It is the paltry price of the exotic seafood that leaves many travellers with mouths agape. Of course, the freshness of everything adds to the delightful gastronomic experience. Mostly Kep is a place for relaxation, enjoying fresh seafood, going for walks, bicycling and mountain biking, sitting on the beach, and as a stopover on the way to or from Vietnam.

Verkoop van krabben.

Kep is slowly rising from the ashes. The atmosphere that attracted the French in the first place is stronger than ever. Graceful green hills give way to the sparkling blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand, where brightly painted fishing skiffs sail between blue misted islands. The fishermen supply local restaurants with fresh shrimp, fish, squid and crab, all available at unbelievably low prices. Several new hotels have opened on the hillside bordering Kep National Park. The most popular is Veranda Natural Resort, which boasts luxuries like hot-water and 24 hour electricity.

Kampot is the durian capital of Cambodia. Durian is a fruit with a very pungent smell found throughout Southeast Asia. Its smell is so strong that it is often banned from hotels. Many of the pepper farms also grow durian and thereís a big monument to the stinky fruit in the center of Kampot.

On the road to Kep, youíll find numerous old rice paddies that have been converted into salt fields. Workers bring in sea water from the coast (by hand) and dry it in the fields to create sea salt. After the water is gone, the salt is packed down, scooped up, and sold off.

At night, the street near the old bridge becomes lined with fruit shake vendors. You can move from vendor to vendor, trying different fruit shake concoctions, sit down at the stalls, and people watch.

Trips to the offshore islands are well worth making. Closest is Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island), with three good beaches. Further out, Koh Poh (Coral Island) has clean white-sand beaches, turquoise water, coral reefs and great snorkelling. The huge island that dominates the horizon is Phu Quoc, in Vietnamese waters; some Cambodians still call it Koh Kut, from the times when it belonged to Cambodia. Boats can be arranged to Koh Tonsay and Koh Poh through the townís guesthouses, or you can charter long-tailed boats on the beach Ė ask at the food stalls or at the new pier towards Psar Chas.