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 and watch a beautiful sunset
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. 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.
Stock up on coffee
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. We almost forgot to tell you about the chance to take a selfie with a giant durian when you’re in Kampot!
Ecran Noodle and Dumpling House
Open 11am-9pm Wednesday to Monday
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, Ecran Noodle and Dumpling House also do takeout meaning you can take your delicious vegan dumplings with you as a perfect travel snack.
Open daily 6pm-12 midnight
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.
Open daily 8am-10pm
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?
Open daily 8am-4pm (closed Wednesday)
Pilgrim is a vegan/vegetarian restaurant in the heart of Kampot. Fine, elegant & generous dishes including this orzo Salad with cashew cheese combined with unique interior design will make the experience tasty & memorable.
Epic Arts Cafe
Open daily 7am-4pm
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 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. It 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’.
Open daily 8.30am-6.30pm (closed Tuesday)
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.
Divino Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria
Open daily 11am-10pm
Our favourite place in town for a pizza-no-cheese and a spaghetti with tomato sauce was Divino Italian, expect fresh, authentic and reasonably priced alongside being really tasty and a good place to sit and people watch.
Vegetarian Food Stall in Kampot Market
Open daily 6am-1pm
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.
Getting to and from Kampot
For all transport options 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.