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Kampot is a sleepy little riverside town on the southern tip of Cambodia, along the coast from Kep. Lying at the foot of the Elephant Mountain range, scenic vistas, picturesque mangroves, atmospheric waterfalls and natural limestone caves surround its tranquil river. This river, Praek Tuek Chhu, is home to local fishermen’s colourful boats and riverside cafes. The calm atmosphere is ideal for those that are in need of relaxation and a complete break from the hustle and bustle of city life. There is no better time to enjoy this natural serenity than in the evening as the sun goes down to form a striking sunset across the still water and the fireflies come out to cast their glow as they flit about.

A gentle stroll, cycle or tuk tuk ride through the town takes you past crumbling French colonial architecture, the Old Market as well as Kampot Wat, the main Buddhist temple. Unspoiled countryside is one of the main attractions here as the rural scenery, including paddy fields among which traditional farmers tend to their rice, provides an almost meditative feel as well as insights into everyday life. This town is also the perfect base to explore the Bokor Hill Station on top of Bokor Mountain, which is often coated in a thick mist adding to the mythical feel of the place.

Kampot produces some of the world's finest pepper from its pepper plantations, which are worth visiting to learn about the creation process and admire the remarkable array of natural colours that the corns grow in, from green to white to red to black. Despite its fame for its pepper, Kampot is home to great salt fields too, which are surprisingly beautiful as the bright white granules sit in neat cone-shaped heaps on the reflective fields.

We recommend visiting this quiet coastal town as an addition to or a day trip from its neighbouring Kep as the hotels here do not match up to the standard of those offered there. Visitors desiring a laid-back pace will appreciate the tranquillity here, while those feeling more active can choose between adventurous activities around the mountain or on the river.

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I can't think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.
Bill Bryson

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