15:02:53.4370000 | 3.15.2011

Kampot is a small town (pop.~40,000) in south-east Cambodia and capital of the province with same name. It is a gateway to Bokor National Park.

The main reason for most travellers to venture to Kampot is its close proximity to Bokor National Park with its ruined French colonial resort town at the top Bokor Mountain in the Elephant Mountain range. This is one of the most spectacular sites in Cambodia and well worth a visit.

Most Bokor National Park tours used to consist of a grueling and eventful three hour ride up the mountain (32km), but as of 2008 the road has improved considerably and the tours now spend more time on the mountain itself rather than on the drive. The tours include seeing the ruined buildings (includes a Catholic church that the Khmer Rouge squatted at for years during the armed struggle) and the waterfall (which only has water falling during the rainy season), lunch at the French Casino, and the same 3 hour drive back. While Bokor national park is also an important wildlife reserve the average visitor is unlikely to see much of interest. Tiger are present but very rare, although Gibbon can often be heard. The area is of note for bird watchers as the only accessible site for the Chestnut-headed Partridge as well as species such as the Blue Pitta and Orange-headed Thrush. Several tracks enter the forest, one from behind the old tea plantation, the second from near the waterfalls. It is possible to stay at the range station which is basic but comfortable and contrary to reports some food (as well as French wine) are available.

In addition to Bokor, also to be experienced are the fresh seafood(especially the crab with local Kampot pepper) and beaches at Kep (25km 25-45 minutes east from Kampot by moto or shared taxi) which makes a fun day trip. Although the beaches are not as nice as those in Sihanoukville (1 small brown sand beach and more rocky), it is quiet and during the week you will likely be the only visitors. Fishing boats can also be taken out to Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island), approximately 45 minutes from the mainland.

Another nice day trip is a visit to Teuk Chrreu, a waterfall/rapids area up the river from Kampot town. It's a nice place for swimming and relaxing, and local vendors sell fruit and water.

Photo is taken by The Association for Asian Studies

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