Road-Tripping in Southern Cambodia

Wild encounters on the backroads of Cambodia 

Wild encounters on the backroads of Cambodia 

In Kampot we decided to embrace local culture and overcome our fears by renting a moto. Fortunately, we could rent one from our hotel for only $5 USD a day.

Despite Joel expressing to the hotel management that he knew basically nothing about how to drive a moto, we received keys, helmets, and very little instruction. It was a bumpy start. Learning to ride a moto on a muddy dirt road isn’t the easiest. Joel practiced by himself first, then I said a little prayer and climbed aboard behind him. It wasn’t long before we got the hang of it and headed into town for dinner at Simple Things. We navigated some busy traffic circles along the way and purchased gas from a barefoot roadside attendant - who was otherwise, oddly, well dressed.

The next morning we booked a stand-up paddle board tour with SUP Asia. It was a nice day to be on the water and check out the mangrove reforestation project. I’ll need a few more lessons though before I can master the “stand up” aspect of paddle boarding!

A drone shot of us paddling down the river, we're the two over on the left. 

A drone shot of us nearing the end of our tour, coming out of the river into the sea, we're very tiny on the lower left of the image. 

Afterwards we decided to test our moto road skills up the steep, winding, road to Bokor Hill Station atop Bokor Mountain. It was a gorgeous ride up through the clouds. I was excited to explore the abandoned French Colonial buildings at the top and was hoping for some great photos. However, just as we were arriving it started to pour. We took refuge in a old church and hoped it would pass. It didn't. So we decided to head back down stopping at one more old building in route. Despite the rain, we had a great time and it was good practice driving the moto in those conditions.

Inside the old church where we took refuge from the rain. 

Road Trip from Kampot to Kep

The next day we were back on the moto again for a road trip from Kampot to Kep, making a few stops along the way. If driving directly there it's about 19 miles but we decided on a slower, more scenic route. Much of our drive was on some lovely village roads. On a moto you can really take in the sights and smells of your surroundings - which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Our first stop was Phnom Chhnork, a Hindu cave temple built in the 7th century. The main chamber was huge. Joel opted to venture further. With two little girls from the nearby village as his guides, he headed into the dark, damp, narrow passages. I thought to myself, “no thanks” and happily headed back to the entrance to await their reemergence. Joel had a blast and tipped his guides well. Before hitting the road we tried to have a snack and were quickly joined by the monkeys who wanted some too. One of them even attempted to hijack our moto!

Kampot is world famous for pepper, so our next destination was the Sothy’s Pepper Farm. An, admittedly, ineffectual tour guide showed us around and we learned all about peppercorns. Their peppercorns are actually sorted by hand which I imagine would take a very long time!

From there we headed into Kep to meet a friend for coffee and lunch at the Kep Sailing Club. Before heading back to Kampot we made sure to take some photos of the famous giant Kep Crab.

That evening we reluctantly returned our little moto after a fun few days together and boarded a bus for Phnom Penh - a very different mode of transport! 

Until next time! 

Until next time! 




Unlike most of my trips, we put this one together relatively quickly. We only just solidified our plans and we depart in less than two weeks.

Some people were surprised to hear that we’ll be spending our full two week vacation in Cambodia. While the temptation to fit in a neighboring country is strong, I also love the idea of giving Cambodia our full attention.

While we tried hard to fit in some time at an elephant sanctuary, it unfortunately wasn’t in the cards for this trip. They were either too remote, weren’t a true sanctuary, or required too long of a stay to be feasible. I’ll miss them, I have such fond memories of my time at the Elephant Nature Park during a 2014 trip to Thailand.   


On my previous trip to the region I popped into Siem Reap for a just a couple days to see the temples. Having been before, however briefly, takes some of the edge off. I’m less concerned about fitting everything in and instead am looking forward to a much more relaxed pace. It will be nice to be there for a much longer stretch.

After a long flight, with a brief layover in Guangzhou China, we’ll arrive Siem Reap around 7pm local time. We’ll have the evening to recoup and adjust to the new time zone. Then in the morning we’ll be hitting it hard with a full day of temple exploration at Angkor Wat. However, I’m certain we’ll find time for massages once we’re back in town that evening - we’ll need it! Day two is another temple day, and on one of these days we’ll aim to catch the famous sunrise over Angkor Wat. When I was in Siem Reap back in 2014 the sunrise left a lot to be desired, it was more like a gradual lightening of an overcast sky. Hopefully this time we’ll have more luck. The following day we’ll explore in and around town, and shopping and kitschy mini golf might also be on the menu, along with some more r&r.

The next day we plan to head over to Banteay Srei for a homestay with a local family, we’re not quite sure what to expect but it will be an adventure. After that, we’ll make our way back to Siem Reap to catch a flight and subsequent ferry ride over to Koh Rong Sanloem for a few glorious days relaxing in a beachfront bungalow.

From there it’s another ferry ride back to the mainland and a short bus ride over to Kampot. We’ve got what sounds like an excellent little riverside bungalow booked over there. We plan to have some fun on the river with a stand-up paddle board tour and to explore the town for a couple days before heading up to Phnom Penh. 

We’ll be in Phnom Penh for a long weekend, meeting up with friends before flying back home. I can't wait!