- Beach / Seaside Resort
- Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
I really liked the relaxing city of Kep; it's an ideal place for sun and nature lovers. I spent two whole days here, which is the minimum amount of time required: it gives you the chance to spend an enjoyable day exploring the nearby islands by boat followed by a day trekking around Ream National Park.
Where the islands are concerned, I strongly advise avoiding the most famous of them, Koh Tonsay ("Rabbit Island"): it gets too crowded in the high season and really is a filthy place!. Head for the lesser known islands instead therefore.
To fully experience the thing that Kep is most famous for, I couldn't resist taking a cookery lesson to learn how to prepare crab in Kampot pepper sauce.
There really are a lot of hotels in Kep. However, they do blend in well with the scenery and the space inside is so well arranged that even in the high season I didn't feel intruded upon or get the impression that everyone was on top of one another. When it comes to restaurants, those located next to the crab market are generally of very good quality; and for a special little treat I strongly recommend a visit to the Sailing Club, which belongs to the Knai Bang Chatt Hotel: a seaside setting, superb sea views, and, most importantly of all, it's the city's only gourmet restaurant!
Kep can also be a nice place to visit as a family, especially with the butterfly farm to go and see. This can be reached via a bicycle or horseback ride through Plantation Ranch, which is owned by a Frenchman called Didier. The Veranda Resort Hotel also has a kid's club, which is pretty useful when it comes to keeping them occupied!
When I arrived in Kep, I bought a ticket for Rabbit Island, so that I could spend the day there. Before catching the boat, I just had enough time to visit the town. My first stop was the Crab Market. Though I should really have taken a tuk-tuk to get there, the walk along the seafront was enjoyable.
The market itself is a very lively, bustling place. Crab and grilled fish are sold there, and negotiations to buy the day's catch can be observed busily taking place all around. There are also several restaurants where you can sample the local specialities. I couldn't allow myself to leave the town without taking a corny picture of the giant crab on the seafront.
The trip to Rabbit Island takes around thirty minutes. It's a nice place, with its white sandy beaches; and on them, beach huts, where you can go to eat and drink between bathing sessions. However, tourists who'd spent the night on the island said there were rats in the simple, rustic bungalows there!
On returning to Kep, it was off to spend the evening at one of the hotels with sea views and private swimming pool: a much appreciated touch of luxury after several nights spent in backpacker hotels.