Kep is a gorgeous coastal province southwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Typically famous for its fresh crab markets, it’s a seafood lover’s paradise. Kep (also named Krong Kaeb) was founded in the early 1900’s as a seaside resort town for wealthy European travellers (especially the French), and soon became equally popular with wealthy Khmer.Located just a few kilometers from Vietnam, Kep is rapidly putting itself back on the map after years of slumber, with remarkable variety in boutique hotels and bungalows sprouting up. The remnants of French colonization still remain, blessing charming Kep with historical villas, wide streets and tree-lined promenades.
The beach in Kep is calm, offers gorgeous sunsets and serves as a gateway to tropical islands, the most popular of which is Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island). Nature lovers also flock to Kep National Park for hiking and taking in the natural scenery.
Kep is still largely underdeveloped, making it a perfect destination for those who desire authentic local experiences and is close enough to Kampot and Sihanoukville that it makes for a satisfying getaway on its own, or combined with its neighbouring towns.
Due to its proximity to the sea and surrounding mountains, Kep is one of the cooler regions in Cambodia.
- Cool Season – Nov – March (20c – 26c)
- Hot Season – March – May (29c-34c)
- Rainy season: May – October (22c-30c)
Kep is still underdeveloped and full of local Khmer charm, especially in the food on offer and the local architecture. There are many pagodas in Kep, some old and in ruins and others that have been newly constructed. The stunning National Park is of great cultural importance and many religious relics are still hidden away deep in the jungle.
Things to do
Kep has quiet relaxed beaches with white sand. Naturally, the sand is darker in colour but the beach is beautified by importing whiter sand from nearby Kampot. The water is calm and the beach is not overcrowded, offering picturesque scenery.
Kep is famous worldwide for its crab. Here the crabs are as fresh as you can get, plucked straight from the ocean and cooked to order. Fresh fish, squid and other seafood are also on offer, served at many ocean side wooden shacks with views right over the sea.
Visit a Pepper Farm
Like neighbouring Kampot, Kep is the perfect climate for growing world-class pepper. Here you can visit a farm and learn about the production of pepper, with some plantations using very innovative and environmentally friendly processes.
Koh Tonsay Island
Also known as Rabbit Island, Koh Tonsay is idyllic and still full of natural beauty, being relatively undeveloped by man. A 25-minute boat ride will take you to this island paradise. The beach on the island is around 600 metres long and graced with seafood sellers, coconut trees and hammocks. You can stay on the island also, in little bungalows with minimal facilities for around $6 – $15.
Kep National Park
Kep National Park is full of lush greenery and wildlife, including a number of endangered birds and animals. The main circuit is around 8km’s and the jungle is also accessible by motorbike. There are interior and exterior trails and if you trek early in the morning, you are likely to spot squirrels and monkeys. Sunset Rock, Little Buddha and Phnom Kep are all accessible within the National Park and the by following “Nun’s Path” you will discover many abandoned old villa’s, reminders of Cambodia’s more prosperous years in the past.
Phnom Kampong Trach Cave
The limestone cave of Phnom Kampong Trach was once used as a hideout during the Khmer Rouge era. The caves are carved into the mountain in the jungle and are dotted with pagodas and shrines. Ensure you bring a flashlight and suitable walking shoes when you visit, as the path has been left untouched for many years and is crumbling. The caves are accessible from both Kep and Kampot towns.
Other recommended activities include hiring a bicycle or scooter and exploring the many old abandoned villas and other abandoned examples of French architecture, visiting the white lady and crab statues and enjoying a sunset drink at the Kep Sailing Club.