Set along the river, Kampot is a small city with a fair amount of tourist oriented restaurants and shops along the riverside promenade. There are guest houses scattered around town as well as guest houses right on the river side about 2km away from town. Downtown there is nothing to do as ‘sight seeing’ goes but go out a bit further and there is much to discover. Kampot is a good base for exploring the areas surrounding it. All are accessible by motorbike or tuk-tuk if you are not wanting to self-drive or in a large group. Renting a bike in town should set you back about 4$ for a 24 hour period. We rented a bike mid morning and set off along the old bridge to explore the salt fields. We ventured down the bumpiest clay roads I have ever been on and waved at children passing by on their way to school, avoided horses and cows, and arrived at the salt fields. Unfortunately for us there was no salt being collected at the time we were there but it was still interesting to see the large pools of water.
Next we zipped around the countryside exploring more local village life until our backsides were too sore to continue. We headed back to Kampot for some quick lunch at the Noodle House, filled up on gas and water (important!) and started the climb to Bokor National Park. Its about 8km to the entrance gate where we paid a 50 cent motorbike fee to enter. After this, it is one road the entire way up to the old hotel/casino that was abandoned after the Khmer Rouge period. The road is about 30km long but takes about 45 mins-1 hour due to the turns and photo ops along the way. As you head up you will notice the air gets much cooler as you approach the top. We have heard that visibility can be a big issue if a storm rolls in but we lucked out with pure sun all day. We reached the top and visited the a temple, the old church, the old hotel/casino, and explored many other abandoned houses dotted along the roads and trails. I was looking forward to the erie vibe that the abandoned ‘haunted’ hotel had but was disappointed when we arrived and found bus loads of tourists and workers setting up for a wedding inside! It was still worth the climb though because the view from the balcony is breathtaking.
The way down offers great views of the gulf of Thailand, Phu Quocc island and a few other islets. Even with pure sun there was a slight fog making photos not as crisp but still a nice photo op. Many websites may warn you about renting your own motorbike as the roads are ‘the worst in Cambodia’ and ‘riddled with pot holes and danger’. After 2005 this is no longer true, after the new casino was built at the top of the hill there was a brand new road put in and it is in excellent condition and freshly paved (2014).
Its an experience not to be missed and going on a group bus tour would be disappointing in my opinion when more than half of the fun was just getting there and coming back!