Culture & Heritage, Southwest - Sihanoukville

Be charmed by the coast

Fishing boats in Kep (All Dreams Cambodia/shutterstock)
Fishing boats in Kep (All Dreams Cambodia/shutterstock)

Bathed by the blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand, the coastal region stretches from the pepper plantations of Kampot and Kep to the heavenly islands scattered off Sihanoukville.

Tracing the cultural heritage means seeking out temples and sanctuaries, walking through a bewitching countryside, exploring fishermen villages, beaches and islands and meeting locals who share their traditions.

A journey in the South will lead you to provinces of Kampot and Kep. While pepper plantations, salt marshes, famous markets, and national parks are the main attractions, there are some cultural sights to explore as well. Don’t miss Kampot’s Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple, an ancient complex of intricately carved caverns and underground chambers, as graceful as a Gothic cathedral. Within the main chamber stands a remarkable 7th-century (Funan-era) brick temple, dedicated to Shiva. In Kep, Wat Samati, perched in the jungle on top of a small hill, is also worth a visit for its beautiful murals and stunning view over the bay.

Aerial view of Wat Samathi and the Kep plain (All Dreams Cambodia/shutterstock)

Once a laid-back beach destination, Sihanoukville has been transformed by Asian investors into a new Macau, with lavish casinos and luxury resorts, as well as cruise ships docking in the busy port. It can appeal to urban beach lovers or provide a beach alternative for holidaymakers who don’t have time to travel to the islands. If you only have a day in port, go with a guide to the nearby temples and markets.

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