Cambodia days 27-30: final days in Kampot & Phnom Penh + day trip to Kep feat. crab market + last river day + trip reflection

I can’t believe this is my last Cambodia post! My final days in Cambodia were just lovely, filled with spending time with great people and doing some final activities in Kampot and Phnom Penh.

Day 27: Day trip to Kep + Kep National Park + Kep Beach + crab market + small home dinner

My next activity was a day trip to Kep. Kep is another riverside town close to Kampot (~45 minutes). It’s smaller than Kampot but known for its natural scenery, fresh seafood, and sleepy vibes. I was originally planning to stay 2-3 days here, but I loved the atmosphere in Kampot so much, I decided to stay put and do a day trip to Kep instead.

My first stop was Kep National Park. I was excited to get my heart pumping with a hike, but the park was under construction and the trail I planned to hike was cut off. So instead, I took my motorbike up the mountain on the main road. I didn’t get all the way up due to the construction, but I still got some lovely views of the province below.

Then I parked my moto and walked around Kep Beach. The beach was pretty small especially after coming from the islands, but it was still a nice change from the riverside scenery in Kampot. The beach attracted a lot of locals who hung out there.

For lunch, I headed to the Crab Market, one of Kep’s main attractions. The market itself was very intense – lots of vendors selling the same seafood and aggressively trying to get your business! But I found a lady who spoke English and sold me 1 kilo of crab. They caught the crab straight from the ocean which was cool to see.

They also cooked the crab on the spot – it doesn’t get fresher than that. πŸ™‚

The final product was 100% the best crab I ever had. The sauce was SO tasty and they even added fresh Kampot pepper. I thought I would just have a few pieces but I ended up eating the entire kilo by myself. πŸ˜›

After a fun day trip, I rested at my hostel. Then in the evening, a new friend from the U.K. who I met at Epic Arts Cafe (the place I frequented for lunch almost daily) invited me to a group dinner at Ciao. The group included a few expats, and I was touched they included me! Ciao was a small home restaurant (2 tables) run by an Italian expat and his Khmer wife. The food was INCREDIBLE and cheap too! I’ve been craving Italian food but didn’t trust the Italian spots in town, and so I was thrilled to finally eat delicious homemade pasta + pizza. πŸ™‚ I definitely would not have found this place if it weren’t for these expats. The evening was just lovely, filled with yummy food and great conversation with this fun-loving group.

Day 28: last riverside day

This was my last day in Kampot, and it was truly the best last day I could ask for. I relaxed in the morning, and then I had lunch with Marlene. We ate at a vegetarian spot called Simple Things and chatted away one last time, and then we did some shopping at a fair trade clothing shop in town. Marlene is such a dear and has an amazing ability to make everyone feel like themselves. I feel so blessed we met on the islands and reunited in Kampot, and I will miss her! ❀

Later that afternoon, I met up with the same group from dinner yesterday. We went to The Hideaway, a bar right on the river. After hanging out in several riverside spots in Kampot, I think the Hideaway was my #1 favorite. They had a super comfy common space and they had kayaks/floating tubes. They even built swings and platforms to jump off of. πŸ™‚ It was the perfect last session on the river with wonderful company as well.

Day 29-30: travel days in Phnom Penh + trip reflection

After 9 wonderful days in Kampot, it was time for my last city in Cambodia. The last two days were spent traveling to the capital, Phnom Penh, and then flying out to my next country. I was originally going to spend a few days in Phnom Penh, but I loved Kampot so much I traded off some days to stay longer. I’ll take a chill riverside town over a big city any day. πŸ™‚

With only one day in Phnom Penh, I ended up taking it easy at my hotel for most of it as I was pretty tired from the 4-hour bus ride. I walked around for some sightseeing just around my hotel, but the city was very intense so I didn’t get too far (10x busier than Siem Reap). I was grateful for some peaceful moments by the Royal Palace.

I can’t believe my month in Cambodia is over!! It really flew by and was filled with so many amazing experiences and memories. When I was planning my big trip back in December, I half-heartedly added Cambodia to the list because it was one of the few SE Asia countries open, but I think things worked out exactly the way it was supposed to. I fell in love with Cambodia’s calm backpacker vibes (versus more active places like Thailand), natural scenery, and its ruggedness that gave me new challenges a traveler.

The #1 thing I gained from Cambodia was regaining confidence as a solo backpacker. My last big trip was 2+ years ago in Kenya, and I was scared I was too rusty to handle this extended trip. Fortunately like riding a bike, all my knowledge/confidence from past trips came back to me quickly, and I feel like I picked up right where I left off.

I definitely feel like I changed as a person the last 2 years from the pandemic (as many of us did), and it’s interesting seeing how my personal changes manifested in Cambodia. The main thing I noticed is that I’m a lot more independent than before. The old me would enter a new city and NEED to find a friend to cling to, but Cambodia made me realize I am genuinely happy with my own company. It might also be a stage-of-life thing as I’m now in my late-20s, and SE Asia tends to attract early/mid-20 year olds, so I’m more picky with who I spend time with. πŸ™‚

I might sound like a broken record, but another thing I gained from Cambodia was learning to travel slow. I remember when I first arrived to Siem Reap, I considered cutting Cambodia short because I thought I would get bored here, but I’m glad I stuck it out as I ultimately learned to slow down. The old me would move cities every 3 days when I was on vacation, but by the end of Cambodia, I stayed in Kampot for 9 days! I’m loving this pace and definitely want to maintain it for the rest of the trip.

One thing I want to work on is feeling present. There are so many things to consider for long-term travel, and I’ve definitely struggled with balancing planning ahead versus enjoying what’s in front of me. Simple tasks like choosing a hostel sometimes takes me multiple days, as I am a perfectionist and fear making the wrong choice. I think I’m a very thorough and thoughtful person, but with that I struggle with being decisive. So my next personal growth area will be learning to be present and live with my choices. I love how much you can learn from traveling. πŸ™‚

It’s bittersweet leaving Cambodia, but I feel whole closing out this chapter. My spirits are high as I am very excited for my next destination…next time I blog will be from SRI LANKA!!!

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