Have you ever thought about a seaside break to Cambodia? Cambodia offers up a variety of beach spots – from Sihanoukville to Song Saa private island. The charming town of Kep is located on Cambodia’s south coast, close to Vietnam. In the early 20th century, Kep was the number one beach destination of Cambodia’s colonial elite. However, once the Khmer Rouge came to power, much of Kep became abandoned. Nowadays this sleepy fishing village offers up some of the best seafood in the country and the perfect spot for a relaxing getaway.
Tamazine and her husband escaped to Kep for a 5 day break in July. This was rainy season so it was a bit drizzly at times.
How did you book your accommodation?
We found the newly opened Khmer Hands Bungalows through Tripadvisor. Khmer Hands offers accommodation with a difference. In addition to a guest house they run a school of arts and hospitality providing disadvantages youth with job-skills training and an opportunity to find rewarding employment.
Did you get a visa in advance?
No, we bought one on arrival at Phnom Penh Airport. Tip – get your $USD in advance – we were ripped off at the airport!
How did you get to Kep?
We flew to Phnom Penh (Cambodia’s capital) from Hong Kong with Malaysia Airlines, via Kuala Lumpur.
Kep is approx. 4 hours by car from the airport. The Manager of Khmer Hands had advised us to pick up a regular taxi from the airport and kindly gave us all the directions and rough price (USD $60).
What did you think of the hotel?
We loved Khmer Hands Bungalows! At the moment there are only 4 rooms but they are expanding. On the first night we stayed in an elevated hut which was fun (USD $14 per night). We then moved to one of the regular bungalows which had a great outdoor seating area.
The bungalows are exceptionally clean. There is no air con although there are fans. However electricity can be unreliable in the area. There are no facilities e.g. pool but the grounds are lovely and you’ll find the owner’s kids running around playing.
There is a small restaurant and food is available throughout the day whenever you request it. Naomi who runs the restaurant, also offers cooking demos. The bungalows are a 40 minute walk to the beach (or short drive in a scooter/tuk tuk).
Khmer Hands is run by an American teacher and his Cambodian wife who live onsite and run the training school. Here they teach locals skills from sewing to computing – all with the intention of providing kids with the tools to become more employable. You can read more about their great work here (you might even wish to donate your time teaching skills at the school).
What did you do in Kep?
- Visited the Kep Butterfly farm (free admission)
- Hired scooters and went on adventure round the countryside. Especially interesting to see the remains of the abandoned old colonial villas.
- Walked around the Kep crab market
- Visited the caves at Kampong Trach. These were absolutely spectacular. As you approach the caves, young kids will run up to you and request to be your tour guide (they make great tour guides!)
- Visted the temples of Kampong Trach
- Drove to Kampot (1 hour from Kep) and went for a stroll around the town (far more industrialised than Kep).
- Enjoyed a swim in the sea (far cleaner water than in Hong Kong)
- Walked around the nearby Nature Park.
- Enjoyed the super cheap and delicious seafood of Kep, including the famous crab! Also beers are only USD $1!
Would you recommend this trip for families?
Absolutely although perhaps not for those with babies/very young kids. We felt very safe. Kep was the perfect place to relax and get away from the hustle & bustle of Hong Kong.
Jetlag & Mayhem’s Tips For Visiting Kep
- It takes approximately 3-4 hours from Phnom Penh Airport to Kep by car. You can either prebook a private car or hop in a taxi.
- The best time to visit Kep is November to May, Nov and Dec being the coolest months. The rest of the year you might be chancing it with the monsoon.
- Whilst there are a few country exceptions, most people will require a visa to travel to Cambodia. There is an e-Visa, which enables you to apply for a Cambodia tourist visa online. All you need to do is to complete the online application form and pay with your credit card. After receiving your Visa through email, print it out and bring it along when you travel to Cambodia.
- If you are thinking of combining Kep with a visit to the capital, Phnom Penh, please check out my previous post which also includes the amazing work done by the Cambodian Children’s Fund.