A Traveler’s Guide to Kep Beach, Cambodia

Kep Beach, Cambodia, used to be the premier beach town until the 1960s. However, now this sleepy seaside village along the Gulf of Thailand is off the beaten path. But don’t let this deter you! Kep Beach is a charming, unique destination that is certainly up and coming once again. 

Best known for peaceful beaches, a beautiful national park, and plenty of crabs, this quaint town is the perfect place to rest, relax, and stuff your face with some tasty seafood!

Check out some recommendations of what to see and do while you’re exploring Kep.

Things to do in Kep

Visit Kep Beach

Best beach for relaxation

Kep Beach Cambodia with blue chairs

Kep Beach in Cambodia is slowly developing, getting more visitors each year. The primary public beach is a kilometer-long stretch of powder-soft, white sand and calm azure waters. It’s the perfect place to relax with a good book, soak up some sun, and forget all your worries. 

Plenty of restaurants and seafood vendors are dotted along the road behind the beach, so you can treat yourself to a proper meal without having to leave the area. Kep can get quite busy, especially on the weekends. Still, you have the place practically to yourself if you decide to visit during the week. 

If you are looking for a bit of adventure, The Sailing Club, a top Kep Beach resort, offers kayak and stand-up paddle board rentals. The sea is nice and calm, so you can definitely enjoy these watersports during your visit.

You should note that Kep Beach is human-made; however, it is still beautiful and a great spot to interact with some local Cambodians. There is a lovely promenade you can walk along, like many other famous beaches in Asia, so you can hardly tell that Kep is manufactured.

Pro tip: Be sure to stay for sunset. This is one of the best places in the country to catch an epic sky full of color as the sun goes down. Find a bar, order a delicious cocktail, and relax well into the evening.

Wander the ruins of Kep’s past

ruins in Kep Cambodia

After Kep’s heyday as the ultimate Khmer seaside getaway town and the Cambodian Civil War, Kep Beach fell into ruin. Many old buildings still have not been repaired, giving the town a hauntingly beautiful feel. So grab a bike and your camera, or head off on foot and marvel at the buildings in disarray juxtaposed against the new development taking place. 

Enjoy Kep National Park

Viewpoint for Kep Beach National Park

Kep National Park is a hiker’s dream. You can easily follow its trails and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Cambodian jungle. This is one of the best ways to get some exercise and enjoy the country’s stunning scenery at the same time.

Pro tip: Hike up to Sunset Rock for a fantastic view of the area.

Check out the Crab Market

Welcome to Kep crab statue over the water

Kep is the crab capital of Cambodia. You can’t leave Kep Beach without trying some world-renowned Kampot pepper crabs. There are several crab shacks overlooking the ocean serving up these delicacies. The market is also a great place to wander around and experience all the sights, sounds, and smells of a local Southeast Asian food market. 

Visit the pepper plantation

women picking through peppercorns

Kep is close to the home of La Plantation, the most prominent organic peppercorn farm in Asia. It is well worth a tour, as it is set in the breathtaking countryside. 

You can take a guided tour, shop for some pepper, and even eat at the on-site restaurant. You’ll find the pepper plantation just outside Kampot, about a 20-minute scooter ride away from Kep Beach.

Go island hopping

Rabbit Island Cambodia, by Kep

People are starting to realize how beautiful Cambodia’s islands truly are, so their “hidden gem” status is slowly fading away. 

Visit them now while they are still a backpacker’s paradise! Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) is one of the most beautiful islands to visit and is only a 30-minute boat ride away. You can even stay overnight.

Hike or explore some caves

Hiking caves near Kep Cambodia

Phnom Salei, located in the nearby mountainous area of Kampong Trach, is a great place to go hiking. Make it to the top, and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the area. 

There are also some exciting limestone caves in Phnom Ta-Aun and Phnom Sia. These caves are a system of narrow caves, chimneys, and passages with unique rock formations. You can find the elephant-shaped rock in one of the caves, which is now a shrine.

Scooter over to Kampot

ruins in Kampot, Cambodia

Because it is so close, taking a day trip to Kampot is a must! You can quickly get into town in about 30 minutes, and once you arrive, you’ll find plenty of things to do. 

Head into Bokor National Park to see the abandoned colonial hill station, an old, deserted collection of buildings. If you enjoy photographing buildings or ruins, this is an absolute must!

Kampot is also a great place to visit if you’re over eating crabs (is that even possible?). Because it is a bigger city, you’ll have more great restaurants and bars to choose from.

Weather in Kep Beach

aerial view of Kep beach Cambodia

The best time to visit Kep Beach, Cambodia, is during the dry season, from October to early May.

You’ll find temperatures ranging between 25°C and 33°C (77℉ to 91℉) and plenty of sunlight throughout the day. This makes it the perfect time to visit the beach and Kep’s surrounding attractions.

Kep’s wet season is from June to September, when the region receives buckets of rain each day. 

Temperatures still range from 26°C and 36°C (79℉ to 97℉), and it is very, very humid. While not the ideal time to visit the beach, the wet season is a good option if you want to explore the lush green national parks. You’ll just need to put up with the torrential downpours. 

Packing list essentials for Kep 

Kep City Beach in Cambodia

Kep Beach in Cambodia is the perfect place to relax. To prepare for your trip, you’ll want to pack the following: 

  • Bathing suits
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • A good book
  • Camera/GoPro
  • Waterproof bag
  • Water shoes
  • Lightweight rain jacket 

How to get to Kep, Cambodia

sunset over water in Kep beach Cambodia

Kep is located within Kep Province, Cambodia, about 25 km (16 miles) south of Kampot, close to the border of Vietnam. You can easily get from Kampot to Kep via bus or tuk-tuk. The ride will take about 30 minutes.

However, if you aren’t in the area, you can arrange to get from Phnom Penh to Kep by bus, shared minivan, or train. There are buses that leave the city twice per day and take approximately four hours to arrive. A seat in a shared minivan is also possible and is a cheap option that will take about three and a half hours. If you are interested in taking the train, double-check the schedule to ensure the route is in operation. 

Are you coming from Vietnam

Phu Quoc is the closest airport, and you can then grab a ferry to Ha Tien. The ferry takes about two and a half hours. From there, you will need a taxi for the remaining 45 minutes from Ha Tien to Kep Beach. Just be aware that this is a border crossing, and you will need a visa for both Vietnam and Cambodia to complete this journey.

FAQ

Is Kep Beach safe?

Yes–it is a small beach popular with local families, and there is little crime to worry about.

What is the closest town to Kep Beach?

Other than Kep, Kampot is the nearest town and only a 30-minute tuk-tuk ride away.

What is the closest airport to Kep Beach?

Phu Quoc in Vietnam is the closest. However, if you don’t want to cross the border, fly into Phnom Penh.

Can you swim at Kep Beach?

Absolutely! Kep Beach is an excellent place for swimming.

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