Ready of a sunset river cruise in Kampot Cambodia? This up and coming town has is a blossoming cultural scene that travelers have started to gravitate towards. It’s location along the river is the perfect setting to stroll through the night market, and sample local delicacies like the famous Kampot pepper. Although there’s plenty to do and see in Kampot Cambodia, our favorite activity by far was ending the day on the river. Let’s dive right in!
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Kampot Cambodia History
Kampot is a small, but flourishing river town on the southern coast of Cambodia. Many years ago, Kampot was the biggest port in the entire country and commerce flowed freely through the area.
Once the community opened its doors to European traders, the biggest export was Kampot pepper. Starting under French Colonial rule and continuing up until the civil war in 1970’s, the the popular spice was exported and widely consumed in France.
Kampot’s glory years as a main port town came to end during Sihanoukville’s rise in the 1950’s. Yet, the history lives on through the French Colonial architecture around town.
Exploring Kampot Cambodia
Most of the action in Kampot can be seen on the riverfront where there’s many bars, restaurants, and guesthouses welcoming patrons. It’s become a good mix of local and western food as tourism has started to pick up.
If you wander into the back streets of this interesting little town, you can find plenty of delicious street food as well. Due to its size, you shouldn’t need more than a couple days to explore Kampot Cambodia. Still, you’re sure to have fun with whatever amount of time you have!
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Finding Your Kampot River Cruise
Our favorite thing we did while visiting was the Kampot River Cruise. Here’s some things to consider when choosing a boat that’s right for you!
What kind of crowd is it?
You should be able to look at the boat before you get on and tell what type of experience you’re going to have. Some boats cater to the younger backpacking crowd, while others are a more laid back family oriented cruise.
Where do they go?
Almost all the cruises do the same route where you’ll see bridges, the sunset, and fireflies. They start boarding between 5:00-5:30pm and take off as soon as they fill up with passengers. It should take about 2 hours to complete, so plan to return after dark.
What do they offer?
The ticket prices for the Kampot River Cruise can range, but they’re typically around $5 USD per person. They all serve food. However, your options will differ depending on which boat you choose.
We had some delicious clams with Kampot Pepper and lemongrass on our boat. One thing they do all offer is 1 to 2 free beers with your ticket. You may have to bargain the 2nd beer into your ticket price though!
Is it a Kampot River Cruise?
Sounds silly right? Well there’s actually a couple boats in the harbor that are just stationary restaurants… So make sure you actually get on one that’s going to be floating down the river for sunset!
Kampot River Cruise
Once leaving the port you’ll head upriver slowly and peacefully. The beginning of the Kampot river cruise passes under many low hanging bridges so watch your head!
After you make it past the bridges it’s sunset time. Get comfortable on your provided seat cushion, grab your 2nd Angkor Beer, and watch as the sun dips over the Kampot Cambodia mountains.
After sunset the boats will pull off to the side of the river and line up next to each other. We were kind of confused at first by this, but quickly realized this was the firefly spot!
Once it gets dark enough you’ll hopefully see them come out in swarms surrounding the boats. This magical moment will be the perfect end to your night in Kampot Cambodia. Enjoy!
More Things to do in Kampot Cambodia
Kampot Night Market: Food stands set up near the Durian Roundabout. Good chance to try a bunch of different Cambodian street food you may have never heard of.
Visit the Kampot Pepper Fields: Awesome day trip from the city. See the spice that made Kampot famous, and learn some history at the same time!
Bokor National Park: For those who want to hike and see some nature. Stunning views of the ocean and Cambodian countryside.
Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple: Great add on to any day trip! Fun place to explore.
Kep Crab Market: Must do for any seafood lover. You can go in, pick your own crab, and have them cook it right there inside the market for you.
Where To Stay In Kampot Cambodia
Ultra Luxury – Boutique Kampot Hotel – You won’t find many luxury options in Kampot, but this boutique hotel is as close as you’ll get. In a perfect location just outside the main town.
Fun Vacation – The Columns – Just a 2 minute walk from the old market, you won’t find a better option for the price on your trip to Kampot. The French colonial architecture and bright colors will draw you in and make you feel right at home in the heart of the town.
Budget Travel – Happy Family Guesthouse – The location is within walking distance of everything, and the rooms are clean and equipped with televisions and A/C.
Have any questions on this article or want to share your own experience on the Kampot River Cruise? Comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
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I am writing a book about my travels in Cambodia, beginning with my first visit in 1992, and I thought your article might benefit from my research:
Pepper cultivation originated with the Chinese who migrated to this area and into Ha Tien in present-day Vietnam after the Manchus toppled the Ming Dynasty in 1644 and established the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912)
The international port at Kampot, established by King Ang Duong (r.1841-1860), had a fatal flaw, the water was shallow, and the shifting channels and the sandbars at the mouth of the river made navigation too difficult. Nature provided one set of problems, and France contributed the rest.
Once the French turned Cambodia into a French Protectorate in 1863, Saigon became their port of choice. It was more dependable than Kampot, better located, and as a deep-water port, it was capable of accommodating large steam-powered ships. Consequently, the demise of Kampot as an international port predated Sihanoukville by a century.
Very interesting! Thanks for the info
Hello, this is a great information. Thank you very much. Which company did you choose for the sunset cruise?
Hey thanks for reading! Honestly, we can’t recall the name I’m sorry. There’s so many to choose from and some of them don’t even have names advertised. Hope the article was still helpful and you find a good boat though ( :