The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - MELITA HUNTER

On the south coast of Cam­bo­dia close to the Gulf of Thai­land, Kam­pot is the cap­i­tal of Kam­pot prov­ince and it’s a dis­tinctly serene and nat­u­rally beau­ti­ful river­side town, sur­rounded by na­tional park; it’s equally agree­able dur­ing wet and dry sea­sons. Be­fore the days of the Kh­mer Rouge, Kep, 24km to the southeast, was a play­ground for the rich and fa­mous (and known as the Riviera of the East), where roy­als and celebri­ties sunned them­selves by crys­tal wa­ters. It was eclipsed as a port when Si­hanoukville was founded in 1959; tourism­cam­bo­

Villa Romonea in Kep is a beau­ti­fully re­stored prop­erty avail­able for ex­clu­sive rental, or in­di­vid­ual rooms can be booked, and it’s where I al­ways stay in Kep; Rik­i­tik­i­tavi guest­house, with seven ground-floor gue­strooms with rat­tan ceil­ings and four-poster beds and restau­rant/bar on the above level, is set in a con­verted river­side build­ing in the heart of Kam­pot. It has been a rice barn, a theatre and home to a for­mer gover­nor of Kam­pot, and is a re­cent TripAd­vi­sor Trav­ellers Choice win­ner; vil­; rik­i­tik­i­tavi-kam­

Hike through beau­ti­ful rain­for­est in the Bokor Na­tional Park; there are many trails to ex­plore, suit­able for hik­ers of all lev­els of fit­ness. Catch a long­tail boat along the Kam­pot River to the is­land in the mid­dle; or do a walk­ing tour of the aban­doned French colo­nial man­sions in Kep, which are eerily frozen in time; trav­

Fa­mous Kam­pot pep­per is used all over Cam­bo­dia in Kh­mer cui­sine and is also found in lead­ing restau­rants in Paris. Kam­pot pep­per crab is di­vine, with the best spec­i­mens com­ing from the mud flats; the sweet­ness of the crab meat contrasts beau­ti­fully with the kick of the pep­per. We use Kam­pot pep­per in our dishes at Song Saa and pro­vide it to guests as a gift with turn-down ser­vice;

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