If you’re heading to Cambodia then Kampot should definitely be on your list of places to visit. This sleepy riverside town has a great relaxed vibe, some excellent coffee shops, some of the world’s best pepper and a good number of places to eat vegan food. Here’s our Vegan Guide to Kampot to help you get the best out of your time there.
What to see and do
Visit Bokor National Park
One of the best things we did during our stay in Kampot was to hire a scooter and ride up to Bokor National Park. You can go with a group or private tour but we really enjoyed the beautiful ride up the mountain on our own transport (the road is great).
Ride up the winding road and see the landscape change, you’ll feel the temperature change too so you might want to take something warm to put on! Once you reach the top you can explore the crumbling abandoned buildings of the old Bokor Hill Station (highly recommended), see the waterfalls (highly recommended) and pop into the new casino (highly recommended as somewhere that has a nice free, clean loo:).
The iconic Bokor Palace Hotel and Casino has been partially restored (sadly in our opinion) but it’s still an interesting place to wander around and the views from the garden at the back are awe inspiring. The Catholic Church, crumbling a little but still standing, is well worth a visit to soak up the atmosphere.
Visit the local market
The bustling local Kampot Central Market should be on your must visit list if you want to see some local life in action. Find delicious fruit, fresh vegetables, mountains of freshly baked baguettes and vegan friendly street food. There are also clothes, household goods, hair salons and a number of other intriguing things to discover. Take an hour out of your day (preferably at the beginning to avoid the rising temperatures) and immerse yourself in local life.
Watch a beautiful sunset
The sunsets over the river in Kampot are heartbreakingly beautiful. You can take a river cruise or just sit on a bench by the water’s edge and watch the sky light up with colour.
Buy Kampot pepper
Kampot pepper has been grown in Cambodia since the Khmer Empire had it’s hey day (that’s over a thousand years ago). Many pepper farms were destroyed during the time of the Khmer Rouge and replaced with rice fields. It wasn’t until relatively recently that the farms were restored and people began to regain the lost knowledge of farming which had previously been passed down through generations.
There are several farms where you can go and see pepper being grown and produced as well as shops in town selling pepper (of varying quality and price). Kampot has long been famed for its high quality pepper which before the Khmer Rouge seized power was gaining critical acclaim with chefs around the world. It’s now been awarded ‘Protected Geographical Indication’ by the EU (this basically stops fake Kampot pepper being sold in EU Member Countries) and people are once again getting to spice up their food with this wonderful ingredient.
Cafe Espresso (closed on Mondays) is not only the best place for coffee in town but it’s also where you should go to stock up on supplies of Rumble Fish coffee. You can get a really good brew there and buy some to take home with you too.
Take a day trip to Kep
We spent a few days in Kep at a wonderful private luxury villa and explored a bit outside too. The eerie run down derelict buildings are interesting but there isn’t much else about the town that is vegan friendly so we suggest visiting Kep as a day trip add-on to your time in Kampot.
People mainly visit Kep to eat freshly caught crab. Sorry Kep, but us vegans would rather see crabs in the sea than have to walk over their shells on the road. Sad face.
Take a selfie with a giant durian
Because who doesn’t want a selfie with a giant durian?
Where to stay
Rikitikitavi is a great boutique hotel right in the centre of Kampot. The service is excellent and they went out of their way to make sure we got a giant, delicious vegan breakfast every day; they also have vegan options on their menu and it’s a great spot for a cocktail at sunset 🙂
Where to eat
Now for the important part of our vegan guide to Kampot, lots and lots of delicious vegan food for you to enjoy!
Who doesn’t love noodles? Or dumplings? Or noodles and dumplings? Go here for a fix of cheap, tasty, freshly made vegan noodles and dumplings. They also do takeout meaning you can take your delicious vegan dumplings with you as a perfect travel snack.
(Located on Street 722).
Ciao is a street-side Italian restaurant selling freshly made pastas, pizza and gnocchi and is hugely popular. The only vegan option if you want to join in on the fun and soak up the atmosphere is pizza-no-cheese. Get there early though as the restaurant (and kitchen are tiny) and space fills up quick.
Simple Things is a vegetarian / vegan restaurant and yoga studio which is reported to have amazing vegan food. Our travelling vegan friends report that the tempeh scramble is awesome; go and tell us if it’s true please 🙂
Good juice, smoothies and a tasty tofu salad were discovered on our fact finding mission to Ellie’s Cafe. They were happy to help us pick out the vegan stuff and seemed very vegan friendly to boot. Yum.
Epic Arts Cafe is social enterprise that exists to increase the number of jobs for people with disabilities in Kampot. They have a giant vegan flapjack so it makes for a good afternoon tea choice.
Rikitikitavi is not only one of the best places to stay in Kampot but they also serve excellent vegan food (labelled on the menu). Try their ‘Kuree Krahom’ vegan curry for a taste of Cambodia or go Mexican with the ‘Vegetarian Burritos’.
Located at the front of the all female run spa and yoga centre Bantaey Srey Spa, Deva Cafe has great vegan food. The vegan tapas are really tasty, with some delicious hearty dishes to fill you up; it all tastes home cooked and healthy too.
Opposite Ciao on street 722, Kabul Eco has some decent vegan friendly options like dahl, aubergine and okra dishes and freshly made flatbreads which are divine. It’s a good (very simple) no frills, cheap option with the veg dishes costing around $2 and some great drinks promos.
Our favourite place in town for a pizza-no-cheese and a spaghetti with tomato sauce. Fresh, authentic and reasonably priced alongside being really tasty and a good place to sit and people watch.
We didn’t see any non-vegan food during our 3 or 4 visits here so this may well even be a vegan food stall in the local market! It’s highly recommended for those seeking an authentic, local experience as well as those looking for a budget option (meals costing a little over $1). It’s difficult to find but don’t give up…
Enter the market via the entrance at this dropped pin and walk straight down the middle to the edge of the food stalls. Look for a stall with white tiles (one of the tiles has Vegetarian scribbled on it) on your left hand side.
The lady there doesn’t speak English but just sit down, point and smile and she’ll make you a bowl of Khmer noodle soup with mock meat. Delicious.
Wander around the rest of the market; grab some Cambodian vegan street food, fresh fruit and veg and freshly baked baguettes to make a vegan picnic.
Getting to and from Kampot
The only other way to get to Kampot is via road. The ‘Move to Cambodia’ website has plenty of helpful information (e.g. check out getting to Kampot from Sihanoukville).
The passenger train route between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville has re-opened and you can now take a train to and from Kampot. The schedule is limited (it currently only runs Friday to Sunday) but it’s well worth doing. The scenery is pleasing and you don’t have to drive on the crazy Cambodian roads.
We hope you enjoyed our vegan guide to Kampot and get to eat as much delved vegan food as we do every time we visit!
When we aren’t travelling, you’ll find us in Siem Reap, Cambodia. You can come and stay with us in our 100% vegan Airbnb in Siem Reap. and tell us all about your own vegan travels – we hope to see you soon!
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