Where to eat, drink and explore in Kep, Kampot and Sihanoukville
The full flavours of Portuguese cuisine are being celebrated in Kampot thanks to Tertúlia, a restaurant aptly named after a term that describes an informal gathering of friends, family or regulars. A wide variety of seafood dishes, from a traditional cataplana stew to octopus served on a warm bell pepper salad, feature at this relaxed eatery. But save room for the chef’s favourites of Portuguese black pudding with apple purée or slow-cooked beef cheeks in a red wine and mushroom sauce.
Tel: +855 (0)89 850 358 Website: tertulia-kampot.com
Kampot’s dining scene is constantly evolving, and another jewel in the crown is tapas joint Baraca, which doubles as a tiny guesthouse. Crowd favourites such as patatas bravas and Mediterranean olives appear on the clever yet compact menu, but those in the kitchen also have a healthy measure of creativity up their sleeves, with regular specials and dishes such as albondigas meatballs and flammenkuchen – sour cream, roasted pumpkin, onions and basil on a homemade flatbread – on offer.
Tel: +855 (0)11 290 434 Website: baraca.org
Kampot’s Café Espresso has been the go-to spot for those looking for a quality brew in the peaceful riverside town since it opened in 2011. Now safely ensconced in a stylish new home – a warehouse space split with the ethical clothing company Dorsu – the café boasts an in-house roastery and makes its own bread. With a focus on simple food done right, try the bacon and eggs, which we’ve been assured aims to go “above and beyond” anything previously available in the country.
Tel: +855 (0)92 388 736
Creative Cambodian cuisine takes centre stage at Sihanoukville’s Sandan restaurant. A long-standing favourite in the coastal hub, located near the unmistakable Golden Lions roundabout, the eatery is run by M’Lop Tapang, an organisation that has been working with vulnerable children and youth for more than a decade. With the bounty of the gulf close at hand, try the extensive seafood offerings washed down with Sandan’s signature tom yum caprioska cocktail.
Tel: +855 (0)34 452 4000 Website: tree-alliance.org/our-restaurants/sandan
A steaming plate of seafood is always dish of the day at the gloriously ramshackle crab restaurants that line Kep’s coast and are collectively known as ‘the crab market’. The pick of the bunch is Holy Crab, where diners can settle down in a cosy wooden dining room that overlooks the calm waters of the bay, as waves lap at the shore beneath the restaurant. Crack crustaceans freshly plucked from the sea to get your fill of the area’s famous crabmeat or relish huge prawns doused in kroeung curry paste, all washed down by a refreshing beer.
Tel: +855 (0)97 6323 456
Recently restored to its former glory, the Fishmarket has been named after the original use of the striking 1930s art deco building that provides its home. Vintage touches are evident throughout, with the interior possessing soaring ceilings and handmade floor tiles, but for the best view head outside. Located directly on Kampot’s riverfront, the establishment offers an ideal spot to appreciate the comings and goings of the languid waterway – the lifeblood of this charming town.
Tel: +855 (0)12 728 884
The Sailing Club
A firm favourite on the Kep coastline, the Sailing Club is synonymous with blazing sunsets and creative cocktails. Stroll along the long pier that stretches over the waves to make the most of the striking outlook, before salivating over seafood or partaking in the activities on offer, such as kayaking. Having recently been the recipient of major renovation works, the new-look complex is bigger and better than before, but its sense of family-friendly fun remains.
Tel: +855 (0)12 349 742 Website: knaibangchatt.com/the-sailing-club
Aromatic pepper hailing from Kampot province is a favourite of foodies worldwide. To learn more about Cambodia’s ‘black gold’, head to Sothy’s Farm, nestled amongst jungle-clad hills about 20 minutes from Kep. The farm’s guided tours reveal the fascinating history of the spice and the laborious processes involved in cultivating it today. Learn how red peppercorns are transformed into white and how lemongrass is used as protection against insects before buying some of the plantation’s pepper for a true farm-to-table experience.
Travellers to Cambodia’s south quite simply must visit the islands dotted around the coastline. From Sihanoukville, the beautiful Koh Rong Samloem is just a short boat journey away and comes complete with idyllic white sands and diverse wildlife. Nature enthusiasts will also love the Koh Sdach archipelago, a collection of 12 islands, many of which are completely uninhabited and unspoiled by human activity. Sunset seekers with an appreciation for coconut palms, fresh seafood and serenity should definitely consider making the short trip from Kep to Koh Tonsay, also known as Rabbit Island.
While Cambodia might not be home to the region’s greatest peaks, there’s plenty to climb. Thrill-seekers will delight in Climbodia, the country’s first outdoor rock-climbing site, based approximately 5km east of Kampot. A number of via ferratas and climbing routes crisscross the area’s cliff faces, facilitating a variety of programmes for novices and experienced mountaineers alike. Staffed by friendly, professional guides, Climbodia also offers abseiling and caving opportunities.
Tel: +855 (0)95 581 951 Website: climbodia.com