Kep Cambodia invites the visitor to move at a slower pace. That doesn’t mean all activity stops, just that it proceeds at the rhythm of the waves and breezes. Here are seven things you can do to get into the vibe of Kep while keeping it mellow and laid-back.
1 – Kep Beach
The beach at Kep town known as Kep Beach is relatively small running for only a couple hundred meters. But the powdery sand and the views out over the Gulf of Thailand toward Cambodian and Vietnamese islands enhance its offering. And the forested hills of the national park which back it mean that even looking in the opposite direction will afford pleasant views. While that is all well and good, the best bet is just to grab a towel, blanket or hammock and enjoy the chill vibe of the spot. No one is hurried or flustered and even the abundant saffron-robed monks out for a surf-side stroll validate the meditative quality of this beach. But don’t plan to swim unless you don’t mind plastic bottles, cigarette butts and other assorted rubbish bobbing at your side.
2 – Crab Market
The Kep Crab Market is perhaps the town’s greatest draw. It is a vibrant collection of wooden shacks spilling over the seawall. And inside — and outside for that matter — you’ll find all manner of sea creatures being sold. Of course, the freshly caught crab is the specialty. And even as a vegetarian, I enjoyed the sight of the catch and the bargaining. The salesladies in wide-brimmed hats pace along the dock hawking the animals. And along the distant wall still others will cook your selection to order. Meanwhile, piles of shrimp, fish, rays crawl skyward from stalls and tables amidst fruit, vegetable and spice dealers. Speaking of spice, the locally grown peppercorns make for a fantastic souvenir.
3 – Colonial mansions
Before the Indochine wars set in, Kep Cambodia was a star coastal destination of the colonial French. And the visible remnant from this time is found in the dilapidated mansions dotting the town. Some have been restored into resorts and hotels, but most sit abandoned and waiting. Organized visits can be arranged but for me they offer more magic just by observing them from the street and imagining their moments of forgotten splendor.
4 – National park
The small Kep National Park occupies the heart of the Kep peninsula. Stretched over a hilly forest, there isn’t much to recommend it except the views and the calm. A red dirt road makes a loop around a peak and the southernmost half gives wonderful vistas to the sea and town. Animal life is limited to squawking monkeys, colorful birds and the occasional lizard or snake.
5 – Sunset
Being a peninsula jutting out southward into the Gulf of Thailand, Kep Cambodia offers amazing sunset views. From almost any spot in town, you can see the brilliant interplay of light and water, distant and close, hot and cool. So you’ll find others out strolling or sitting along the coast taking in the warm-colored site.
6 – Rabbit Island
Reachable by boat in 20 minutes or less, a visit this little pimple of land that is Rabbit Island is a must. With only one small inhabited area and the rest jungle, a chill mood permeates the very air. Accordingly, the list of available activities is short. You could spend a couple of hours hiking the coastal trail which circumnavigate the island. Additionally, there is excellent water for swimming and snorkeling. But for me, the most opportune thing to do is grab one of the plentiful beach hammocks or lounge chairs and relax. Listen to the sound of Mother Nature showing off and retreat into your own dreams. Most visitors make the journey as a day trip from Kep, but a special treat is in store for those who stay the night. With only rudimentary bungalows and electric generators to mark human presence, the night-time is quite other than the chill-out music of the handful of beach bars. You can read more about this jewel here.
7 – Relax
As I stated earlier, Kep Cambodia conjures up relaxation. Don’t fight the feeling. So, grab one of the beach-side hammocks hanging in a cabana, and give in. Still not convinced? The soaring midday temperatures should help you see the wisdom of staying put in the shade.