Established as a colonial French seaside retreat in the early 20th century, sleepy Kep lies on a small peninsula that juts into the Gulf of Thailand. It was a popular destination for Cambodia’s wealthy in the 1960s and several Modernist villas still line the coast today. In addition to its small crescent of sand and butterfly-filled national park, Kep lies on the doorstep of the rugged Kaoh Tonsay.
Things to do in Kep
Near the tip of the Kep peninsula is a small stretch of sand where you can swim in the Gulf of Thailand’s enticing waters. Seafood restaurants line the beach and there’s a crab market at one end selling the daily catch. A short boat ride from Kep will take you to Kaoh Tonsay (“Rabbit Island”), which is ringed by coral reefs that are ideal for snorkelling.
A trail leads from the town centre through Kep National Park, which encompasses a small mountain range offering sweeping views towards the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc and the Bokor Range. Further west lies Preah Monivong Bokor National Park, a jungle-covered landscape that encompasses the French colonial buildings of Bokor Hill Station.
Foodies shouldn’t miss a visit to the Phnom Voar Pepper Plantation, which produces some of the best organic pepper in the world. Guided tours offer an insight into how pepper is grown and processed before being exported to countries around the globe. Learn how to find authentic Phnom Voar pepper in the local markets or purchase it directly from the grower.
Getting around Kep
Kep is around 45 minutes’ drive from Krong Kampot and just under three hours from Sihanoukville. Phnom Penh is 3.5 hours away. Tuk-tuks are readily available for getting around Kep or you can hire a motorcycle or bicycle to explore.