Exploring Kep, Cambodia by Motorbike
From the chill town of Kampot, we took a 30 minute bus ride to neighboring seaside town Kep. Although we had a great time in Kampot, we were looking forward to our next stay which would finally have Air Conditioning!
To recap, our stay in Kampot was our first attempt at “roughing it” to try to save a little on funds. Minh was literally counting down the days until our “suffering” would be over and we even splurged a bit more to have a cute private bungalow to ensure we would have a good night’s rest.
Not more than 10 minutes after arriving to our room, I see a small mouse scurry across the room and I have no idea where it went! Later that night, I also spot this large gecko right beside our bed (this one isn’t even that large, as before entering our bungalow, I spotted a HUGE lizard on the outside side wall!).
Minh and I are major city folk, so we were not anticipating so many bugs and creatures around, so we definitely were always on high alert and tried our best to keep the mosquito net around our bed as our literal safety net from other creatures. The next morning we saw an ant colony somehow dug up a huge mound of dirt in the corner of our room! Because we didn’t want to encounter any random creatures scurrying across our feet when walking around, we would throw small pillows on the floor to use as our pathway from the bed to the restroom (like the lava game that all kids play…lol). So much for a relaxing and comfortable stay!
On the positive side, at least we were in an air conditioned room. That night, we heard a lot of scurrying going on the roof of our bungalow, which made it really difficult to sleep. We told the owner about it the next morning, and the owner let us know he would take a look. Later that night, while peacefully sleeping, we heard a trap go off, a lot of struggle of wood hitting tile, and yelping and whimpering from an animal that was obviously dying a slow and painful death. The next morning the owner asked us how our sleep was – we tell him something definitely happened on the roof and he tells us he put some traps up on top. We find out he caught 2 jungle rats! That last night we were praying we wouldn’t hear anymore creatures being killed or find anymore bugs or other surprises – we were so ready to move onto our next stay in a hotel high up off the ground (spoiler alert/not so surprising: also not as great as we’d hoped! lol). In retrospect, it’s funny to write this up, as we eventually got more used to all the geckos and bugs, but since this was the beginning of our travels through SE Asia, we were having a hard time dealing with all of it!
Besides our lodging difficulties, our time in Kep was really great. We decided to rent a motorbike during our time there, as the town isn’t really walkable. This was our first time renting a motorbike during our travels, so it was really fun and exciting! Minh has a motorcycle license, but it was a while since he last rode. Kep was a good town to ride around on a motorbike for the first time, as there are wide open roads, and hardly any traffic (at least when we were there).
Kep is a very sleepy beach side town, even more relaxed and chill than Kampot. It was a little difficult for us to really slow down and relax, as we’re the type of people that usually have plenty of activities scheduled. So if you’re anything like us and are wondering what activities there are to do, here are some ideas of what to expect when visiting the small town of Kep.
Things to do in Kep:
Visit the Waterfront Crab Market
The main attraction of Kep is the Waterfront Crab Market. It has several vendors selling all types of seafood at affordable prices. Grab some seafood snacks and enjoy them on the beach! Shrimp, squid, etc
Grab a few cocktails and enjoy the sunset
There are a handful of waterfront restaurants right beside the Crab Market – some with mid-day happy hours! Minh and I would joke with each other each night while sitting around for hours just watching the sunset, locals fishing for crab, and muttering to each other, “This is our life…” as we were struggling between boredom and relaxation. The grass is always greener on the other side, as we definitely miss this lifestyle now that we are back home!
The sunsets were pretty incredible to watch
Have a Crab Dinner
After the sun goes down, order dinner, or restaurant hop to get your fill of seafood – especially crab! We’d highly recommend getting the Crab Amok at Holy Crab. This dish definitely makes our list of top things we ate during our travels. It costs a tad more than the other restaurants (but still very affordable), but the ambiance is great, and the flavors are so delicious! We went back a second time after trying the crab amok at some of the other restaurants and Holy Crab was still the best.
Take a Tour of a Kampot Pepper Farm
A specialty you’ll find throughout Kampot and Kep are dishes made with Kampot peppers. They’re peppers special to the region due to the quartz in the soil and have a distinct and tasty flavor. We visited Sothy’s Pepper Farm which offers free English guided tours. We were able to tour around the farm and learn about the different peppers – green, black, white, and red peppers.
The farm is completely off the grid, complete with this cool solar cooker they use as their stove, so bring cash with you if you want to buy any peppers to take home with you!
Visit Kep National Park
We originally were planning to hike this park as it’s a 8km loop (about 5 miles), but as we pulled up on our motorbike to the entrance, we saw that the road continued and we could just ride our motorbike through. We decided to just continue on through instead of looking where to park the motorbike and risk getting bit up by all the bugs during our hike. We stopped a few times along the route to take in the views.
There was one particular viewpoint we stopped at, when we heard a bunch of rumblings in the trees. We were expecting a worker trimming the trees or someone to appear, but were surprised to see monkeys jumping from tree to tree! It was pretty exciting to see that as we weren’t expecting that, and as I learned during this trip, Minh has a soft spot for monkeys!
Our motorbike ride through Kep National Park were apparently two very different experiences. Minh, who was driving the motorbike, was very stressed out and concerned about not tipping over on the bike, as the pathway had lots of pebbles and rocky patches. Besides the few times we had to get off the motorbike and walk it across the questionable path, I, on the other hand, was on the back of the motorbike loving every minute of it, taking in all the beautiful surroundings unaware of the rough to motorbike through terrain. Lol, lucky me!
Note, there’s a $1 foreigner fee to go through this park, and if there isn’t someone manning the gate at the entrance, there will most likely be someone at the exit.
Explore the Fishing Villages and Salt Fields by Motorbike
Probably one of the best days exploring around Kep was when we ventured outside the central Crab Market area and motorbiked through the Fishing Villages and Salt Fields. It was such a unique and memorable experience to ride a motorbike parallel to the shoreline, passing through traditional fishing villages that have probably been there for years and years.
It was definitely off the beaten path, as when we rode through, there were little kids that would come out excited to see us and wave hi as we passed by. We even reached the end of the pathway along the beach, as it wasn’t completed.
From there, we rode into the small surrounding area where we passed by the salt fields. It was a great cruise through such traditional ways of life and would absolutely recommend adding it to your itinerary while in Kep.
Tip: make sure to wear sunblock, as you’ll be riding around in the sun all day with no shade. Otherwise you’ll most likely get a nice permanent tank top like Minh!
Kep was a great little town. Being the first town that we got to ride a motorbike around in, it holds a lot of fond memories for us. Being able to go outside of the main area on our own and having the freedom to finally go “off-the-beaten-path” opened up a whole new experience of exploring for us. In addition, having nightly crab dinners at an affordable price is a great bonus!