Enjoy Rural Cambodia
If you have the time to spare and are keen to see more of Cambodia than Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat, you could combine a day trip to Takeo with a longer trip (2 or more days) to the southeast coast of Cambodia. The visitor can spend the first day in Takeo province and then finish in Kep for the start of another adventure quite different to the preceding day
Kep was a former retreat for the French in the early 1900s followed by a favourite holiday destination for the Khmer elite some years later. It was hit hard both during the Pol Pot regime and then during the Vietnamese occupation however in the past ten years, there has been a resurgence and interest in the place. There is now an increasing number of guesthouses and luxury accommodation available
Kep is often cooler than other parts of Cambodia and when the rest of Cambodia is dry and dusty, the lush green of the tropics is likely to be seen in and around Kep due to higher rainfall than other areas. On the way from Takeo you'll see the changing landscape with limestone outcrops dominating the horizon in numerous places. There are many coconut and sugar palms scattered throughout the rice fields and if you are lucky you may stumble across someone selling their palm juice from their bamboo storage containers
As a consequence of the higher rainfall, this area is a major vegetable growing area of Cambodia. Depending on the season you can see fields of pumpkins, sweet potatoes, watermelon, marrow, eggplant, peanuts, sugar cane and pepper. There are also many fruit trees including mangoes, bananas, durian and papaya to name a few
The limestone outcrops are home to various caves which, for the adventurous can be fun to explore. If you are lucky you might be able to see a few families making clay pots in the small village of Samrong Leu
Once in Kep, it is a quiet and restful place with spectacular views over the ocean. For the seafood lovers you won't be disappointed after you have feasted on delicious crabs, prawns, squid and fish which are available at most times of the year (crabs are best in the dry season). There are delicious local sweet snacks made of sticky rice which are wrapped in local leaf which are easily bought on the waterfront
There are many places to stay - many of which are very beautifully decorated and with great views. We will send you details of our recommendations should you like to stay in Kep
The beaches of Kep are not as spectacular as Kompong Som but swimming is possible and a welcome relief after a day of travelling. Rabbit Island lies close to Kep and is a short trip for those wanting to explore islands. Swimming is much better at the island than around Kep (white beaches/no mangroves) so for the swimming buffs, you'll surely be happy. The island has a few Khmer families who farm seaweed which is used in the production of agar agar - the Asian equivalent of gelatine, and commonly found in Asian desserts. Coconuts and seafood are in a never ending supply on this island even if it means a fisherman collecting crabs from his crab pots when you order them! The island is not yet developed therefore decent accommodation is only available in Kep however a day trip here is always pleasant and relaxing. Massages are available on the island and of course, seafood is plentiful
Both salt and pepper are farmed in this region. On the flats between Kep and Kampot, salt fields are easily seen and worth a look for those who are unfamiliar with salt farming. The Ministry of Health has been working with these farmers to introduce iodisation of the salt as iodine is lacking in many parts of Cambodia. It is not uncommon and the visitor is bound to see numerous Khmer with large goitres
Also found around the hills of Kep, are numerous pepper farms. This pepper was loved by the French and exported in great amounts in days gone by. A visit to one of the pepper plantations makes for an interesting trip to see how this is cultivated. You will also see many different types of fruit orchards in this area - some fruits you have never have heard of or tasted
Between Kep and Kampot a quaint riverside town some 30 minutes from Kep, are a few caves which are worth visiting. Phnom Chhnork has a 7th century brick temple inside the main chamber and Phnom Sorsia has a white stalactite formation resembling an elephant hence the name 'White Elephant cave'
Kampot is a charming town with numerous colonial buildings lining the riverfront and dotted throughout the town. In the past few years, more tourists and expatriates have found the beauty and charm of the place so numerous guesthouses have opened
One of the major attractions in Kampot has been Bokor mountain which lies over the river from the town of Kampot. The mountain provides beautiful views, including glorious sunsets which are best seen from the restaurants lining the Kampot river. This mountain was a French hill station and with its elevation (>1000m), makes for a much cooler place than on the plains below. The mountain may be covered in cloud when the remainder of the sky is blue and cloudless. The views from the top of the mountain are spectacular however with the mist rolling through you sometimes needs to wait for the fog to clear before you are fortunate enough to see the entire view. The road has recently been upgraded as a developer has built a new casino and hotels which stand beside the ruins. More buidlings are in progress. Many say this has spoilt the former atmosphere and lure to visit Bokor but for those who don't mind the mix of old and new, it may be something that is of interest. We can arrange a 4WD trip for you (at extra cost) if you would like to take this trip. This trip would be scheduled for day 2 as it takes all day, or you can stay a day or two longer in Kampot and explore this areas yourself
For those interested in textiles, visit the local weaving training school where products such as fruit skins are used to dye the cotton prior to weaving the famous Khmer kromar. If you missed out on a massage at the Seeing Hands massage in Phnom Penh you are able to try a relaxing massage from one of the local masseurs. Other activities in Kampot include a tour the town to see the various architectural styles of the town (French, traditional Khmer, Chinese), river trips, kite surfing and the Kampot market which has the best variety of seafood in Cambodia
Phnom Chhisor/Phnom Da/sleep in Kep
Phnom T'mao Zoo/Prasat Neang Kmao/cave Kompong Trach sleep Kep
Prasat Neang Kmao/Phnom Da/cave Kompong Trach sleep Kep
Stop and see pottery being made in a local village on the way to Kep
We will help you choose the activities that are of most interest to you. All trips will include stops to see and taste local foods, take photos if interested etc
Rabbit Island/seaweed farming/cave/pepper farm
Rabbit Island all day
Bokor (see below)
salt pans/cave/fishing village/tour of Kampot and return to Phnom Penh
salt pans/cave/market to see seafood/Kampot tour and return to Phnom Penh
A trip to Bokor mountain can be arranged on day 2 however extra costs would be incurred
It is also possible to have a day trip to Takeo and then another day or two in Kep with Cambodia Uncovered before being 'dropped off' to spend some time in Kampot where you can explore for a few days yourself. We will help you plan your trip and help you organise accommodation and transport back to Phnom Penh or other destination if required
Another possibility for beach lovers, is to go further to Kampong Som (Sihanoukville) or go from Kampot to Koh Kong in the southwest where there are forests, rivers and few inhabitants. Just ask and we can help you plan your trip south
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Trip does not include:
When travelling with Souen in the provinces, he will drop you off by dinner time and pick you up the next morning rather than staying in the same hotel as the guests. If however the guests prefer he takes them out at night for dinner, this can also be arranged
One village between Takeo and Kep makes clay pots and stoves which are used all throughout Cambodia
'.....Try and make the time to experience Cambodia from a different perspective than most travellers - you will be rewarded mightily....'
Takeo is famous for the silk they make. during your tour you will visit a home where they first dye the silk and then weave it into amazingly intricate patterns
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'.....We were most impressed with the effort you made to ensure that we got all that we wanted from our vacation and we left feeling that we had seen Cambodia in a way that we could not have done without your expert guidance.....'
'.....there is not a day that has gone by since our return, that I don’t experience a flash-back memory of turning my head in disbelief at something we saw or did with Souen - driving some red-dust country road, swimming in a cool jungle river, checking out unfamiliar foods at roadside food stalls, walking through a remote fishing village, floating down the Mekong, cruising the ancient canals, rowing the Salt pans, watching villagers at their work, or listening to Souen's many stories. With a big smile on my face, I quietly mumble, "Thank you for this Incredible, absolutely amazing experience!" I need to pinch myself to believe I was really there, and am grateful to have had the good fortune to witness some of these great Khmer sights with my own two eyes, and experience everyday Cambodian life with Frances and Souen....'
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'.....Try and make the time to experience Cambodia from a different perspective than most travellers....'
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