Koh Rong Island to sleepy Kampot

From Koh Rong to Kampot, could you get two more different towns!

Koh Rong, an idyllic island in the South China sea off the coast of Cambodia.  An island of no roads, loads of backpackers and intermittent electricity.  It’s a place to relax and a place to party but sleepy it is not.

Kampot on the other hand is a nice, sleepy little town.  If you ask anyone travelling in Cambodia that’s been here, they will tell you, ‘It’s a nice little town’.  Ask anyone who hasn’t and they will tell you, ‘I hear it’s a nice little town’.  Now I’ve been here, I can tell you myself, it IS a nice little town.

KOH RONG ISLAND

My exploration of Cambodia started with a direct trip to Koh Rong Island from Bangkok.  An island where there are no cars and I didn’t wear any shoes the entire time.  An island full of partying people’s, beach huts, sunbathing, snorkelling and surprisingly a lot of long term westerners.  Koh Rong Island is the type of place many backpackers get stuck in.  People go there for a week and here they are months later.

The tourist area of Koh Rong Island really has to 3 parts to it. At one end you have the local Cambodia village type area, where cheap guest houses can be found along with local noodle shops, children running about playing and lots and lots of puppies.  Honestly, it’s a puppy epidemic!

In the middle part of the stretch you’ll find more cheapish guest house and lot’s of bars.  A great place to party, not such a great place to stay if sleep is anywhere on your agenda.  Head right and you will find some still, reasonably priced guest houses – such as Bongs – where I stayed, just before you hit the expensive end of town. 

The far end of the beach has a lot of Bungalows, the type with hammocks swinging out the front. Nice for a relaxing holiday, not so nice on a backpackers hip pocket at up to $80 a night.  What is kind of incredible is that you can have all of these tasted catered to in one small strip that cannot possibly take more than 10 minutes to walk from one end to the other!

Koh Rong was pretty much the first stop (after Bangkok) for me on this trip, so I was readjusting to backpacker conditions.  After about 8 days of doing pretty much nothing on Koh Rong island it was time for me to get my travelling shoes on and move.  I am, after all the type of traveller that moves!

KAMPOT

I hadn’t really heard of Kampot until I got to Koh Rong. As it turns out, many people on Koh Rong go to Kampot for a break from island life.   So I took the boat from the microcosm of Koh Rong back to the mainland and journeyed onto Kampot.

Situated on the river, Kampot has a few guesthouses, a few restaurants and is surrounded by salt flats.   As Koh Rong is an island mostly full of westerners and western run places I felt that Kampot was really my first experience of Cambodia and it’s people.  Friendly is the first word that springs to mind when I think of the Cambodian people now.

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Cambodian girls on  the salt flats

I spent my time in Kampot indulging in a seeing hands massage and using foot and pedal power to see some of the surrounding countryside.

I went for a long walk out to find a wat (Buddhist temple) one day.  I had a peaceful afternoon contemplating the drawings of Buddhas life that covered the inside walls. 
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Buddhist Wat (temple) outside Kampot
On my way back to town several people stopped on their motorbikes and scooters offering me lifts back to town.  I actually wanted the exercise and declined, but when two young girls showed up and asked so politely if they could please give me a lift I just couldn’t refuse them.  So the girl on the back of the scooter slid back and I jumped in the middle and off the 3 of us went back to town.

Kampot and surround has plenty to keep you busy for a few days at a very slow pace.  Nothing seems to move fast here, locals, expats and travellers amble calmly through their days.  Visit the salt flats the falls or maybe even the dragonflies at night.

Should I Go?

Koh Rong Island – Yes. It’s beautiful.  It does have a reputation, and is a bit of a party island, but it is also possible to relax and enjoy other activities there, although this blogger admits to not really doing any activity and just lazing around.  Just beware costs in general are more expensive than on the mainland and there are no ATM’s – so take all your cash with you.

Kampot – It’s a really nice little town and definitely worth spending a few days at least in.  Yes, I know ‘nice’ is a vague term, but go there and you’ll see what I mean.  Watch the river flow by and relax.

What’s one of your favourite little towns?
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