When people talk about crab in Cambodia you will inevitably here that the best is in Kep, and they’re not wrong. Although they don’t look like much, the crab shacks down by the Kep Crab Market serve up some of the most delicious crab I’ve ever eaten. Visiting one of these waterfront wooden restaurants was the first thing I did when arriving in town (after checking into my Luxury and Boutique Hotel, of course!).
After watching the ladies in the market handling the live crabs at what appeared to be the end of their working day, I headed to one of the restaurants that still looked open at 3pm. Being in Kampot pepper country, I chose the fried crab with fresh green pepper. For $7 I wasn’t expecting more than one or two small crabs but the mountain of shellfish that greeted me was a treat to the eyes, and taste buds. I spent the next hour dissecting and savouring the crabs, as I watched the sun sparkle over the ocean. I made a huge mess and loved every minute of it. Probably a meal best enjoyed alone!
Kep’s other main attraction is its white sand beach (imported but still dazzling in the blazing sunshine). The water is usually warm, and always shallow, making it great for young children who can jump around in the small surf under the watchful eye of Sela Cham P’dey, the Lady Who Waits for her Husband.
Kep, once the retreat of French elite in the early 1900s, and wealthy Cambodians in the 1960s, is a sleepy seaside resort town where you could while away your time doing nothing but strolling the beach and coastal walkway and eating crab.
But scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find enough to entertain you for days.
After a lazy morning, I spent three or four hours walking through and in Kep National Park. There is an eight kilometre circuit around the park with many paths cutting through and up the hills. The main path is wide, with a gentle gradient and wide enough for cyclists. The rangers and caretakers have created a pavilion perfect for picnics and posted information signs telling you about the flora and fauna in the park and the differences you might see during wet or dry season. Some of the alternative paths have excellent views across the province or out to sea. Sunset Rock is a popular spot for the evening.
In Kep, you’re in Kampot province, home to what many top chef’s consider to be the best pepper in the world. So it makes sense to visit a pepper farm in the region. At Sothy’s Pepper Farm, I learnt more about pepper than I ever imagined existed and how most of the pepper plantations follow organic practices.
Rabbit Island, just off the coast, is easily accessible on a day trip, as are the many limestone caves in the region. The Sailing Club will also keep you busy, hiring out kayaks, windsurfers and Hobie Cat sailing boats. I had a sailing lesson during my stay and had a lot of fun, sailing and turning along the coast.
Blog and pictures by Simone