3 hours south of Phnom Penh overlooking the Gulf Of Thailand on Cambodia’s South Coast you’ll find Kep, famed as a Khmer retreat and the country’s premier seaside town. This high profile led to its downfall during the Khmer Rouge’s rule, but its superb location has guaranteed its resurgence again.
An atmospheric stay by the sea
Kep simply offers an atmospheric stay by the sea, with authentically renovated hotels lining the shore and nestling in the hills to create a special feel. Except for a crab market and some simple restaurants there is little else here, but this is what adds to its allure. Developments will come soon, but for now it offers a rare backwater in this busy world. This is reflected by the people you meet in the hotels and town as there is a genuine warmth and openness that will make the most cynical smile. The town does not boast a classic beach but has off shore islands that are easily reached.
Rabbit Island: A mini Shangri-La
For the best beach don’t miss Rabbit Island. Just 20 minutes away it boasts the traditional palm fringed beaches and is a great place to escape for a day. For those who really want to get away from it all we can arrange a romantic overnight stay in a simple bungalow by the beach.
Don’t expect a pure white beach with azure sea and coral reef what makes it special is that all the bungalows and restaurants are owned by an extended family that refuses to sell out to the big resorts. This creates a mini Shangri-La where the families live their life amongst the tourists and are happy for you to become involved in perhaps a game of boules, fishing or Sey (Khmer keep-it-up game with adapted shuttlecock). If a shoal of fish is spotted then the boats are launched and the games forgotten.
A beach resort that still revolves around real life not the tourist, don’t miss it. As a footnote, one of the bonuses is the journey down to Kep, which once you escape the city is a joy, revealing the real rural Cambodia made up of sporadic villages, never ending paddy fields and small farms. Your driver will be happy to stop for photos, answer any questions and help make the journey part of your holiday. Look out for children catching frogs with a fishing pole in the paddy fields. For the brave you can stop and sample barbecued frog along the way.