If there is one place in Southeast Asia to seriously chill out, Kampot would be it.
A small, quiet riverside town with excellent access to Bokor National Park makes this a lovely place to kick back and stare at some palm trees with a cold Angkor beer in hand. I honestly didn’t spend much time in town, though it is a lovely place with a heavy French colonial influence. My time was spent hanging out and chilling hard at Arcadia Backpackers on the river (more about them below).
I did, however, spend a day touring Bokor National Park with a guide named “Shrek” (super smiley dude pictured below). The park was beautiful with lush jungle, a very old temple on a cliff, and a variety of old abandoned buildings including one that was once a luxury casino (again, photos below).
The one dark shadow over all of this (as I understand it) is the construction taking place within the park. Apparently the Chinese have bought up a bunch of the land and are building casinos and other horrific eyesores.
If you’re thinking of buying land abroad, I urge you to look into Kampot and stop this travesty.
Ok, so I’ve got to give you my unadulterated review of Arcadia Backpackers. There are a lot of good things about this place, but there are other things that need some serious attention. And to be fair, I visited Arcadia nearly a year ago in January so things may have changed since my time there.
The best part of this place is the location. It’s situated right on the river about 4 kilometers out of town. After having been on over-packed beaches during the holidays, the serenity of the place was a welcome respite. Not to mention they’ve got inner tubes, a rope swing, and a sweet spot to jump in the river from about 10 feet up. There are ample spaces to lounge around, read a book, drink a beer, and have a meal. Which brings me to my next point…
The food here is fantastic, but you have to wait a LONG time for it. I think I waited two hours for breakfast most days. This drove me – and several other rumbling tummies – crazy. The staff would reason that there was only one lady in the kitchen, but for the basic meals she was creating, that reasoning didn’t make any sense. I could have whipped up breakfast for everyone in 30 minutes and then taken a nap. Another option? Hire more cooks!
Quite frankly it made for a lot of crabby, hungry guests. And while the location is great for getting away from it all, it’s not so great to pop out elsewhere for a bite to eat.
The staff at Arcadia I found to be wonderful in that they were friendly, welcoming, and genuinely loved their lives in Kampot. However they were quite useless at helping plan adventures that didn’t involve simply hiring a car. The one thing I wanted to do was to hike around Bokor Park and it didn’t happen during my 5 days in Kampot. They assured me it would happen, but then one person would tell me to come back later to arrange an excursion and when I came back, another person would tell me I didn’t need to that. I could just go walk down the street by myself and find a hike.
This resulted in me spending nearly 2 hours walking down a hot dusty road looking for a trail and never finding one. They did manage to get a climbing guide on the phone, but this “guide” told me I didn’t need proper climbing gear, though we would indeed be using ropes. Needless to say, I did not end up climbing in Kampot.
Overall, I would go stay at Arcadia again, but I wouldn’t rely on them to help me plan any real adventures.