Prior to flying to Phnom Penh on a whim in 2016, I had no idea how interesting the coastal cities of Cambodia are. From Phnom Penh, you can catch a van that will take you to the coast. The first major destination from Phnom Penh is Kampot, which is a lovely river town with beautiful villas and cafes lining a wide river. The pepper grown in Kampot is its most famous export, and is well worth the price.
From Kampot, you can continue along a road lined with rice paddies and small villages to reach Kep, which is a coastal town that was once the redoubt of French colonial government officials during the French rulership of Cambodia.
French Colonial Ruins
All around Kep, you can see the ruins of the French Colonial vacation homes that French government officials kept while in Cambodia. Many of them were built in the modernist 1960s style, which makes their ruins even more interesting.
If you make it to Kep, you are likely to spend most of your time sitting by the water eating crab, drinking Cambodian beer, and looking off into the sunset. There are local and more luxury places to do this. Along the main waterfront there a series of beach restaurants that take fresh fish in from the fishing boats and prepare it in front of you. You can also go up the road a bit to to a new modernist hotel called Knai Bang Chatt that was established in an old 1960s French villa. There your environment will be a bit more expatriate in feeling, with many French guests. The hotel has a beautiful pier where you can sit sipping cocktails while the sun sets, and even take a dip in the warm waters if you feel like it.
Fish amok, a delightful and light Cambodian curry