Depending on how much time you want to spend in Cambodia, there are a few things that are a must. Probably one of their nice beaches, Phnom Penh, the capital, and Siem Reap, where you can see the truly amazing temples of Angkor Wat.
If you have a month or so you can spend time visiting all of the south and some remote parts in the north, which is not very much explored and, apparently, has many nice places to go.
But I was only planning to spend like 2 weeks and a half in Cambodia and wanted to visit one of its beaches and Siem Reap for sure. But I also wanted to see something else, so I decided to go to Kampot as it was recommended on the Lonely Planet guide.
And don’t get me wrong, sometimes travel guides are awesome, but I didn’t quite enjoy Kampot that much. Don’t get me wrong, the town is lovely, but the main areas of interest (which are why you visit Kampot) were not that interesting to me.
Kampot is a small village near the coast and near Bokor Natural Park where you can have a look at Bokor Hill, a mountain around 1000 metres high with a cool climate and a nice view, surrounded by a dense rain forest. The town itself is crossed by a river and has many buildings with French influence. You can tell just by looking at the houses by the riverside.
On top of this hill there’s an old French station/house and church from the 1930s. Apparently they have been decaying for years and had a really mysterious look, but these days they are being refurbished and so there’s not much to see there apart from builders working on scaffoldings.
Now, what has struck me as ludicrous is the construction ongoing in the very natural park of Bokor. As in, the protected natural park of Bokor. The Sokimex group, founded by Oknha Sok Kong, is not only a petrol station company in Cambodia, but they also control the concession for the entrance fee to Angkor Wat. And they are building a tourist complex that includes a 5 star hotel, a casino, and some 400 houses. In the middle of the National Park, the protected National Park!.
So ridiculous that if you go on a tour to this National Park, you will be taken to a place where there is a model of the park, with all the planned construction for this park. As if that would be a tourist attraction in itself!. Ridiculous. No need to say, if you are in the area, don’t bother taking one of these tours (in my opinion), hire a scooter and drive up yourself to the National Park.
And enjoy walking around Kampot. It’s really small and pleasant to see. With a lot of french influence there are quite a few places where you can have dinner by the river that are nice. That’s worth the visit, or at least it was for me!