The Kep name is used for the province, area and a small town, all centred around the headland with the Kep National Park mountains. Resorts and restaurants are few and far between along the coastal road here, which is great for privacy. The densest knot of shops is at the crab market, which can be found on the east coastline close to the headland’s tip. Crabs are raised and picked fresh from the water here but the best part is the dozen or so restaurants you’ll find on the waterline. Some are mere shacks, but the seafood and sunsets here are to die for.
Down on the southern coast is Kep’s jetty, where you’ll find a few convenient stores and boats that will take you to Rabbit Island (Koh Thonsay). The trip is short and rewards you with sandy white beaches with shallow water perfect for swimming and with plenty of coral and marine life to gawk at. Its dry land is also green and naturally beautiful, with small hotels hidden among the trees where you can grab refreshments.
Back in Kep, you may be hesitant to step into the jungles and trails of Kep National Park, but an expatriate named Christine took it upon himself to make the choice an easy one. He has put signs with directions and information, as well as trash cans all over the hillside, so it is almost impossible to get lost. You won’t regret it after taking in the views of Bokor Hill to the north, and small islands and coastline of Vietnam to the south.
Travel northeast of the park and deeper into Kep Province and you’ll pass many pepper plantations, eventually reaching the limestone caves at Kompong Trach. They are a collection of openings in the rock gathered in a circular area that is quite tranquil. A few Buddhist relics are left over even though most were destroyed by the Khmer Rouge, but there are still things to see here. The caves themselves are not daunting, especially if you run into local boys with flashlights who will take you on a laughing and joyful tour for a small tip.
Kep is a beautiful place with a serenity that makes it even more attractive. It’s easy to see why foreigners settle here. In fact, you may just meet some at some of the Kep accommodation on our list. Couple that with a flight to Cambodia and you’ve got a holiday. It’s that simple.
Hotels in Kep start at AU$30 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.