Backpacking Southeast Asia Third Stop: Kampot, Cambodia

After spending a night in Phnom Penh, I traveled to Kampot, Cambodia. I woke up early to take the 07:00 train to Sihanoukville that I booked online a week prior. My original plan was to spend my birthday in Koh Rong Samloem. It is a nice island off the coast of Sihanoukville. But two days before my birthday, I decided to just spend it in Kampot. I’ve been reading about Koh Rong Samloem and although the island itself is beautiful and not very touristy, Sihanoukville is the opposite. Sihanoukville is the city where you ride a ferry to get to the island. I have read reviews about the city being completely taken over by the Chinese. Casinos are everywhere, the roads are dusty, taxi drivers overcharge and the beaches are dirty. I didn’t want to experience anything stressful on my birthday so I decided Kampot is a better alternative.

I still did the train journey because the train passes by and has a station in Kampot. The train ride was very comfortable and I’ve seen beautiful sceneries. You can read about my train ride experience here.

Day 1 in Kampot

I arrived in Kampot after more than four hours of travel. I checked Google maps to see if the hostel I’ll be staying at is close to the train station. Unfortunately, I had no choice but to take a tuk-tuk because the hostel is a bit far.

Tuk-tuks parked outside the train station

I booked for two nights stay in a four-bed mixed dormitory in the Monkey Republic Kampot. It is a nice hostel that is centrally located. My roommate at the hostel is a very friendly Samoan flight attendant named Lenita who is also traveling alone. She arrived at the hostel a few minutes earlier than me. She’s spending one night only in Kampot and she wanted to visit the Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple. I offered to join her so we could split the cost for the tuk-tuk ride. We ended up doing things together that day.

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Another amazing person I met during my trip is Lenita, a Samoan flight stewardess who has been living in Australia for more than 8 years already. With us is our guide to Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple. I met her on my birthday. She was my roommate in my hostel in Kampot, Cambodia. I think she was my birthday gift. We went to the cave together and while having lunch she found out it was my birthday so she bought me a birthday cake and even requested for a birthday candle. She made sure I won't be alone on my birthday. She told me to join them on the Sunset River Cruise. I had a great time on the cruise, and laughed so hard because we had to lie down everytime the boat passes under a bridge. . . . . . #solotravel #femalesolotravel #femalesolotraveler #travel #kampot #travelcambodia #cambodia #backpacker #backpacking #southeastasiabackpacking #backpackingsoutheastasia #southeastasia #peopleyoumeetwhilebackpacking #peopleyoumeet

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Here are the places we visited:

Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple

The temple inside the cave

The cave

Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple is a Hindu cave temple built in the 7th century from Funan brick. About 8 km. from Kampot, it can be reached by bicycle, motorbike or tuk-tuk. When we got out of the hostel, there were tuk-tuk drivers outside waiting for passengers. Lenita negotiated for the tuk-tuk driver to take us to the cave and back to the hostel and they agreed at US$ 20.00 for the whole trip. It rained really hard before we went out of the hostel and when we were on the way to the cave it rained again. The streets were flooded. The road to the cave is unpaved so we had a very bumpy ride. It was a very funny ride.

Salt Fields Kampot

Kampot is famous for salt and pepper. There are many pepper plantations in the province as well as salt fields. The salt fields are close to the ocean. Saltwater is brought from the ocean to the fields. The water is allowed to evaporate, leaving salt crystals. When it is not raining, you will see mounds of salt in the salt fields.

We were supposed to go back to our hostel after our trip to the cave, but the tuk-tuk driver offered to take us to the pepper plantation. We declined because we were not really keen on visiting one and told him to just take us back to the hostel. Next, he told us he will take us to the salt fields. We wanted to see the salt fields but we knew that we won’t see anything interesting because it just rained. But the driver was so persistent, he told us we will only add US$ 3 (PHP 156) to the fare. We knew that he wouldn’t stop so we just agreed.

As expected, when we got there we didn’t see anything. The salt fields were flooded.

The salt field after the rain

Ecran Noodles

After our tour, we decided to go for lunch. It was already past three in the afternoon so we were already very hungry. We decided to have lunch at Ecran Noodles. We thought it must be something good because it was marked on the map that the hostel provided. And it was good indeed.

Kampot Map provided by Monkey Republic

While eating, Lenita asked me what I wanted to do next. I told her I’m thinking of looking for a cake shop because I feel like eating a cheesecake (earlier that day, while texting my friend, he told me I should buy myself a cheesecake (we both love cheesecake) because it’s my birthday). I didn’t tell her that it was my birthday. But she later found out it’s my birthday when she saw birthday greetings on my Facebook wall. I added her as friend on Facebook so I could send her our pictures at the cave. She told me I definitely need a cake. So after eating, we looked for a nice cake house. Kampot Pie and Ice Cream Palace has good reviews on the internet so we decided to check it out.

Kampot Pie and Ice Cream Palace

The cakes on display in Kampot Pie and Ice Cream Palace looked very delicious. We ended up ordering four types, including a birthday cake. And they put a birthday candle on the cake, because Lenita requested them. She also paid for everything that we ordered. She said it’s her birthday treat for me. Very nice of her. I think she is God’s birthday gift to me.

Sweets overload!

Everything we ordered tasted really good, and for me the best was the cherry cheesecake! After eating everything, we decided to go back to our room to freshen up. Then at 5:00 PM, we met up with Lenita’s guide in Cambodia because we were doing the sunset cruise. I was having second thoughts of joining at first, but Lenita convinced me to join. She said she didn’t want me to be alone on my birthday. And I’m glad I joined. Everything that happened that day was good, and the sunset cruise was the best.

Sunset Cruise

We did the sunset cruise together with fellow backpackers from the hostel. There were eight of us including Lenita’s guide. We walked to the riverside and boarded one of the boats there. We paid US$ 5 each and the fee includes 2 free drinks. I chose Coke because I don’t drink beer. We decided to stay at the upper deck of the boat even though it was drizzling. We were supposed to see sunset in that cruise but because it was raining there’s no sunset.

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This is how I look like when Im happy. And today has been one of the happiest birthdays I've celebrated. My roommate from my hostel here in Kampot and I visited Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple. It was raining so hard on our way to the cave. The streets were flooded and we had a really bumpy tuktuk ride, it made us laugh so hard. Afterwards we visited the salt fields. Unfortunately because it just rained, we didn't see anything. After that we had lunch at Ecran Noodles. I told her I wanted to eat cake after and later on she found out it was my birthday so she said I definitely need a cake. And so we went to Kampot Pie and Ice Cream Palace and ordered 4 types of cake, one of which is a birthday cake with a candle. Then at 5pm, we together with some friends we met did a Sunset River Cruise. I had a great time with them and my favorite part was when we had to lie down everytime the boat passes under a bridge. We ended the day with a visit to the night market.

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The boat sailed to a part of the river where you could see fireflies. We passed under three bridges on our way there. It was so fun because we were at the upper deck and every time we passed under a bridge we had to lie down to avoid hitting the bridge. That was my favorite part of the cruise. Here is a video taken by Lenita while we were passing under one of those bridges:

Night Market

After the sunset cruise, we walked to the night market to check out what is in there and to find if there is a shop doing henna tattoo. Lenita wanted to have one. Unfortunately, we didn’t find any. Also, there’s not much to see in the night market. After checking out all the shops, we walked back to the hostel. We were so tired of all the things we did that day and decided to have dinner at the hostel’s restaurant.

Day 2

My second day in Kampot was chill day. Lenita left the hostel early because she had an early trip to Phnom Penh. I stayed in bed until almost lunchtime. The only thing I had planned that day was to buy postcards and look for the post office.

I went straight to the souvenir shop I saw the previous day and there I chose a postcard that would remind me of the sunset cruise we did. It has been my practice that I send myself a postcard every time I went on a trip overseas. I think that it is a better alternative to buying souvenirs like ref magnets and keychains.

The postcard I sent my friend and myself. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive this postcard. I received all the postcards I sent myself during my backpacking trip, except the one I sent from Kampot

I got lost looking for the post office because the one pinned in Google maps is wrong but I ended up seeing interesting looking buildings like the National Bank of Cambodia Kampot Branch and the Kampot Museum. There isn’t much to see in the museum and there is an entrance fee of US$ 2 (PHP 104) so if you’re not into museum, just admire the building outside.

The Kampot Museum

The National Bank of Cambodia Kampot Branch

After walking back and forth, I finally found the post office. I stayed at the riverside for a while after mailing the postcards. Then I went back to Kampot Pie and Ice Cream Palace to have another slice of cheesecake. After that, I checked out the shops nearby. I found one shop selling second hand books. I looked for a Paulo Coelho book but the one they have is in Portuguese.

Don’t know how to get to the other side of the river, so I just checked it out using the zoom feature of my phone’s camera

The second floor of the book shop in Kampot

When I got tired of walking, I decided to go back to the hostel. It looked like it’s going to rain again and I didn’t have an umbrella. I spent the rest of the day working on a post on my blog.

Expenses

As with my previous posts, I’ll be using the conversion rate of Php 52 for US$ 1 for this post. The official currency of Cambodia is Cambodian Riel. However, US dollar is the main currency used. Prices in most establishments such as hotels and restaurants are quoted in US dollars. Cambodian Riels are used only as small change at a rate of around 4000 Riels to US$ 1.

Day 1

Train to Sihanoukville- US$ 11.00 (PHP 572)

Coke- US$ 0.75 (PHP 39)

Water- US$ 0.50 (PHP 26)

Tuktuk to the hostel- US$ 3.00 (PHP 156)

Tuktuk to cave and back to the hostel (shared with my roommate at the hostel)- US$ 10.00 (PHP 520)

Guide fee at the cave (shared with my roommate at the hostel)- US$ 2.00 (PHP 104)

Lunch (chicken noodle soup and coke)- US$ 3.50 (PHP 182)

Sunset cruise with 2 free drinks- US$ 5.00 (PHP 260)

Dinner (Tofu nuggets with chips and salad + coke)- US$ 4.50 (PHP 234)

1 bed in a mixed dormitory in Monkey Republic Kampot: US$ 5.50 (PHP 286)

Day 1 total expenses: US$ 45.75 (PHP 2,379)

Day 2

Lunch (chicken curry with rice and coke) – US$ 3.75 (PHP 195)

Cheesecake and coke- US$ 4.25 (PHP 221)

Kampot Museum entrance fee- US$ 2.00 (PHP 104)

2 Postcards- US$ 2.00 (PHP 104)

2 Stamps- US$ 1.50 (PHP 78)

Dinner (Tofu nuggets with chips and salad + coke)- US$ 4.50 (PHP 234)

1 bed in a mixed dormitory in Monkey Republic Kampot: US$ 5.50 (PHP 286)

Day 2 total expenses: US$ 23.50 (PHP 1,222)

Total expenses for 2 days: US$ 69.25 / PHP 3,601)

For Kampot, I failed the US$ 20 a day challenge even if I don’t include the train fare. The tuktuk fare to the cave already ate up half my daily budget, and then I did the sunset cruise. But I don’t regret doing all of it. I was already there so why not do it. And it’s my birthday, I have a reason to splurge. 🙂 I had a really great time in Kampot and a very memorable birthday.

From Kampot, I traveled back to Phnom Penh but I didn’t stay there overnight. Watch out for my next post to find out what I did for a few hours in Phnom Penh.

If you have any questions regarding this trip, feel free to leave a comment. Subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss any of my posts. And please follow my Facebook page @iwentanyways and like my Instagram accounts @iwentanyways and @tnadeperalta for updates. You can also check out my backpacking highlights in my IG @tnadeperalta.

Related posts:

Train Ride Experience in Cambodia: Phnom Penh to Kampot

Backpacking Southeast Asia Second Stop: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Backpacking Southeast Asia First Stop: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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